A week without Arsenal playing football can feel very long around this time of the year. It is a real shame we are out of all cup competitions and only have the league to supply us with the much needed footie-drugs. However, the waiting is over as we will be playing the Baggies at the beautifully named The Hawthorns tomorrow afternoon.
There can be only respect for Steve Clarke. With Villa fighting for survival at the bottom of the league and Birmingham playing a division lower, WBA are punching well above their weight at the moment. The Baggies BoD obviously know how to select and attract high calibre managers, and although Clarke is not a big name as such, he clearly is doing a fantastic job at the moment. Of course, this is only Clark’s first season, and as his counterpart at Villa will know, a manager can go from rising star to having to endure a season-long dogfight from one season to the next.
West Brom are in a not too dissimilar position as Swansea at the moment. They are save and know they have done relatively very well this season. It is now all about finishing as high as possible in the table, but that is not necessarily the best driver for starting a game really motivated. Arsenal on the other hand, are fighting for every point till the end of the season, and a win tomorrow will put us, at least for 24 hours, above Chelsea in a Champions League spot.
That is the sort of incentive that should get the boys really up for tomorrow’s encounter, and I expect us to be hungry and focussed from the start. Despite Theo and Jack’s continued absence, and Diaby being out for the rest of the season, Arsene still has a strong squad to choose from. He will even have to disappoint a number of players who have had plenty of first team football already this season.
I reckon Arsene will start the same back-five as he did against Reading last week. I am pretty sure the central triangle of GK and CB’s will remain unchanged: Fabianski – BFG – Koz. Arsene has the luxury of having four quality and fit FB’s to pick from; I reckon he’ll go with experience and pick Sagna and Monreal, but he could surprise us once again, with going for either Jenkinson or Gibbs, or both, in tomorrow’s line-up.
I am going for Arteta and Ramsey in the double pivot, and I reckon they will be given instructions to play once again conservatively: stay close together and in line, and focus hard on keeping it tidy in front of the defence. For Arteta this comes naturally, but Ramsey will once more have to play really disciplined. In front of the Spanish-Welsh pivot, I am expecting Rosicky to direct our play tomorrow. Rosicky’s experience and ability to give our team focus and shape will be much needed against the Baggies.
I would love Podolski to start up-front, but I reckon Arsene will stick to what he has preferred most of the season, and play Giroud in the CF position instead. I would also like to see Gervinho start with either Cazorla or Podolski on the other wing, but I feel that Arsene will want to start with both Pod and Cazorla on the wings, which means Gervinho, and also the Ox, will miss out tomorrow.
Arsenal won five out of their last six PL games and let’s hope we’ll make it six out of seven tomorrow. However, WBA have lost only four out of their fifteen home games until now, so it won’t be easy. There is no time for complacency: only a fully committed and focussed performance against The Baggies will give us a good chance to come back with all three points. Anything less and it could all turn sour again.
Come on You Rip Roaring Gunners – Do us proud!
Written by: TotalArsenal.