Sunday, 30 April 2017

Can Arsenal Wave A Fond Farewell To White Hart Lane

It's been a pretty good week for Arsenal with an FA Cup final place booked and three points gained late on at home to Leicester on Wednesday night. They face a trip to local rivals Spurs this afternoon with a lot riding on the game for both teams. Arsenal are pushing hard to try to catch the top four while Spurs are the only team still with a chance of catching league leaders Chelsea.

As bad as Arsenal have been there are real signs of recovery with that win against City and 10 points from their last five games. In the middle of that they lost 3-0 at Crystal Palace though in what was probably their worst display of the season. They are still far from a good team and it will take a much better performance than anything we have seen recently to get anything from this game.

In contrast Spurs are on fire at the moment with eight league wins in a row and 12 home league wins in a row to boot. They are the only team unbeaten at home in the Premier League so far this season and no other team has scored more or conceded less goals at home either. It's going to be an enormous task for an Arsenal team who are really struggling away from home to get a result that keeps them in the fight for a top four finish.

They did win their last away game, but only just with a 2-1 win away to struggling Boro and they lost their four previous away games as well as conceding three goals in each of those games. Their away record against the rest of the top seven is abysmal with defeats at Chelsa, City, Liverpool and Everton and just one point with a last minute leveller at United. They will have to become a completely different team away from home today.

The switch to three at the back has seen them become a somewhat different team in recent weeks and I would be surprised if Arsene Wenger didn't stick with it today. There will probably be a few changes in personell from Wednesday's narrow win over Leicester with more options available to the manager. I think we are more likely to see the same team which started against City today although I would like to see Danny Welbeck start up front instead of Olivier Giroud.

I can understand Giroud possibly being important in a team with attacking wing backs, but we just don't get the right crosses in for a player of his abilities. I think Welbeck offers more movement, pace and ability to beat a man even if his finishing isn't up to scratch at the moment. Ideally I would like to see Alexis Sanchez play the central striking role where he was so effective earlier in the season, but that experiment seems to have been totally abandoned by the manager despite all the goals he got from that position.

This season is already a success for Spurs by their standards as they are going to finish above us for the first time since 1995. They should finish second in the league too unless they completely implode between now and the end of the season and that's success for a club who have only won the league twice ever and haven't won it since 1961. That was before I was born and our fans are pretty fond of telling them "you won the league in black and white."

In fact we have won the league at their ground twice in my lifetime with our titles of 1971 and 2004 secured there. It's been a happy hunting ground for us and we need to make it a happy hunting ground again today. It would be the perfect way to wave goodbye to their stadium if we were to put an almost fatal dent in their chances of catching Chelsea as well as keeping our top four hopes alive.

Before the game starts we will know how both United and City have fared and I expect them both to win which will put more pressure on us. If Chelsea win at Everton it should put pressure on Spurs too although I think an Everton win or a draw would put even more pressure on them as it would open a door for them. They have bottled things quite considerably in the past when opportunities have presented themselves and maybe for pressure of actually being able to catch Chelsea could be too much for them again.

Of course I would prefer Chelsea to win and us to beat Spurs to put an end to their chances with four games still to play. I hold absolutely no affection for Chelsea, but them winning the title is infinitely superior to the thought of Spurs winning it and we would then have to be the ones to stop them doing the double in the cup final next month. We're going to have to play at our very best that day if we're going to beat them and the best way to get into that vein would be with a win today.

Spurs recent form suggests they could blow us away today and it could be a very tough afternoon for Arsenal. There's huge pressure on both teams though and whoever deals with that pressure in the best way should get the edge. We need our big players to step up and make a difference in all areas today and hopefully they can do just that.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. Be wary of the ref. The ref in Mu game has given the rd a penalty.
    Some of these guys are anti Arsenal and would like nothing better
    than to put down the gunners.
    Spurs have won 8 matches in a row. The epl is very competitive unlike other
    euro leagues. Hopefully Arsenal can win and dent the Spurs momentum.