Short Match Preview today, as 17HT and I are busy. Crystal Palace are coming to the home of football and like our previous opponents Everton, Watford and West Ham, they have FA cup footie on their mind. Palace are almost safe in the PL so a chance to make it to the FA cup final, against fellow Londoners Watford next weekend, will be featuring strongly on their minds.
Nevertheless, we have to be careful as Pardew is a wily fox who is good at team tactics and game strategy, especially, it appears, in away games against the stronger teams (on paper). He will have noticed how badly we dealt with the neanderthal approach to attacking football by the Hammers last week, and with Adebarndoor and Wickham they have two guys who could rule the airways against us once again. So time to restore some balance in defence and in the spine, and add some vital inches to the team, with the reintroduction of Cech, the BFG and Giroud.
I love Ospina but Cech is calmer and organises his CBs better. I like the dynamism of the Koz and Gabriel combo, but they lack organisational control between them and have to work far too hard to control the aerial threat of opponents when constantly put under pressure; so reintroducing the BFG makes sense to me. Welbeck is a mobile CF and his mobility and unpredictability allow others to shine, but at set pieces I prefer Ollie any time. The Frenchman is also a lot more clinical and will be hungry to start.
You could argue, why should we be so defensively minded for this game: we are the Arsenal playing at home; let’s get at them and constantly attack. But playing for the home crowd can be a nervy business, especially if and when the opposition keeps pumping balls into the box and one of those Adebarndoor or Wickham headers goes in. So a sensible approach with the aim to keep a clean sheet and score at least a goal is what we need.
A win today and a loss by the Foxes, and then an Arsenal win against West Brom midweek, would mean a reduction of the gap to ‘just’ six points. A lot to ask for but definitely not inconceivable, so let’s focus on our part and play with focus and deadliness.
My Arsenal team for today:
Alexis and Iwobi have to work hard to link up with their fellow FBs, by playing close to them in defence and tracking back constantly. But we will also need the full backs to support the mid-wingers, by providing width and penetration from the flanks. So for me, these four positions and players are key today. The rest is there to keep the spine strong and defend calmly and decisively, as well as provide the creativity and forward thrust from the centre.
Really looking forward to seeing the boys in action again, and if we can win today and follow it up with two wins in the next seven days, we might get very close to the leaders. Let’s make sure the fat lady will not be singing for a while longer, at least. 😉