It's FA Cup time of year again this weekend and with it comes Arsenal's only realistic chance of a trophy this season. With the Premier League season only just over half way complete the league is beyond them and to think they have a genuine chance in the Champions League is foolish. The Capital One Cup has already ended in bitter disappointment at the hands of lowly Bradford.
Tomorrow's trip to Swansea is far from an easy game for Arsenal. Swansea have beaten Arsenal twice in the three meetings between the clubs since their promotion to the Premier League. They were a little lucky to win at home to Arsenal last season, but they fully deserved their 2-0 win at the Emirates at the start of December.
The difference between the teams on the day was two well taken goals by Miguel Michu. Both of those goals came at the very end of the match but there can be no doubt they were the better team on the day. Arsenal have put in some bad performances at times this season and that was one of the very worst.
Arsene Wenger has spoken of Michu this week and said he was not the type of signing Arsenal fans would be happy with. He has scored 13 league goals from an advanced midfield position and if he had done so for Arsenal there would have been no complaints from fans. Whether he ever entered the Arsenal line of vision or not is another thing entirely.
After four league wins in a row over the festive period Arsenal could only draw at Southampton on Tuesday evening. The draw might have been acceptable if Arsenal had performed well, but in truth they were probably lucky to get a point. Arsenal only managed one shot on target in 90 minutes and their goal was an own goal.
Arsenal have really struggled against teams that defend in numbers and close them down quickly. Swansea have shown on numerous occasions this season that they are capable of doing just that as well as playing some very good football. They will really fancy their chances of progressing to the next round against an Arsenal team that are very inconsistent.
The Arsenal team against Southampton was unchanged despite the upcoming FA Cup game and possible fatigue from the hectic schedule. It seems that the boss doesn't think he has too many options outside of his perceived starting 11. There are a few players who will feel they deserve a chance to show what they can do, but the question is whether the boss has enough trust in them to start them against Swansea.
Gervinho has found himself excluded from the team since the defeat to Bradford and that's not a bad thing in my opinion. He's off on international duty for at least a month very soon and the club will have to do without him anyway. I simply don't think he's good enough for a team looking to challenge at the level Arsenal are and I'm quite happy to see him disappear for a month.
Gervinho has been played as a striker on a few occasions this season and he had some success early on. Despite scoring a few goals I never saw him as a striker and his subsequent performances only proved that. At best he has speed and skill, but he doesn't seem to have a clue what to do on far too may occasions.
He has played very little recently and I wonder if he will go the way of so many other players in the past two years and become a forgotten member of the squad. I know the squad is being thinned at the moment(unfortunately with more loan moves), but I think the club should consider cutting their losses if they can get a reasonable price for him. Players who can make a real difference in the team are needed and the difference he makes is not a positive one.
Aaron Ramsey could possibly come in today too and there is still plenty of hope for him despite his inconsistent performances this season. When fans criticise him they should also remember how inconsistent the team has been this season and he has been no worse than others.
There's a possibility of Tomas Rosicky playing as he was playing well on his return from injury until he picked up an illness recently. He is a player who has certainly got something positive to add to the team when he is fully fit.
The player who has to start in my opinion is Olivier Giroud. Swansea have been shown to be vulnerable in the air on many occasions this season and Giroud is the Arsenal player most likely to take advantage of that weakness. If he can be given the service he needs I think Giroud can find some joy against Swansea.
I don't think fatigue will be too much of a factor for Arsenal as the game is five days after the Southampton match. That should mean there are few changes to the team that performed so poorly in that game. Certainly the Arsenal players should be no more fatigued than their Swansea counterparts.
There can be no doubt that Arsenal are a very hard team to predict this season. They are as likely to play Swansea off the park as they are to struggle to create one decent scoring chance in the whole game. I can only hope that it's Dr. Jekyll who shows up against Swansea and not Mr. Hyde.
Arsenal have the players to really hurt Swansea, but those players need to find a way to beat a massed defence. At the moment the tactic is to pass the ball endlessly in the hope of finding a way through and it isn't working. I think the team needs a player who can make things happen all on his own and it's up to the boss to try to find one in the transfer window.
With only the FA Cup left to win this season I really hope the players can put in a performance worthy of a team who want to win their first trophy in eight years. I'm trying to stay positive and I'm predicting a 2-1 win for Arsenal. A win would be a great boost for the team ahead of some very tough league games this month.
That's it for today.
See you tomorrow.