Friday, 30 March 2018

Welcome Back Arsenal

It’s been far too long since we’ve seen Arsenal play football and international friendlies just do not make up for the teal thing. By the real thing I mean Arsenal of course and not competitive internationals which are only marginally better than their friendly cousins. The season is drawing towards a close now and there’s still a lot to be decided at the business end of it.

Unfortunately we have to wait an extra day for Arsenal to play this weekend as they don’t face Stoke at the Emirates until 1.30 on Sunday. It’s another must win game for us as most of our games will be from here until the end of the season. A top four finish might be beyond us at this stage, but we still have to make sure we finish sixth to at least assure ourselves of Europa League football next season.

The teams below us haven’t really put any pressure on us at all, but both Burnley and Leicester are capable of closing the gap if we drop points. We have crucial games against both of them to come and the outcomes of those games will probably decide whether we have to fight to finish sixth or whether we can really concentrate on trying to win the Europa League. There is no doubt that the Europa League has to be our number one priority with the prize of Champions League football on offer to the winner, but we cannot completely ignore our bread and butter.

Ahead of Sunday’s game there’s fairly good news on the fitness front of the squad with almost everybody available to play. Of course Santi Cazorla is still injured and who knows if we’ll ever see him in an Arsenal shirt again, but Jack Wilshere looks likely to recover from the knock which kept him out of the England games and Alexandre Lacazette is almost ready to play again too. It’s going to give Arsene Wenger a few selection headaches for Stoke on Sunday and against CSKA next Thursday too.

I think he’s going to go with a pretty strong team against Stoke and the strongest team possible against CSKA. His options are a little easier with Pierre-Emireck Aubameyang ineligible on Thursday so he should be unleashed against Stoke. It will be a straight choice between Danny Welbeck and Lacazette agsinst CSKA with Welbeck likely to get the nod and Lacazette probably gradually introduced in the next couple of games from the bench.

We have had our run ins with Stoke over the years and it would be great if we could push them even closer to the Championship for next season. The treatment their fans dish out to Aaron Ramsey is still a bone of contention and it would be nice to see the player who shattered his leg that day getting relegated. Maybe his mother will come and collect him if it happens and wipe the tears from his eyes.

Besides that horrific incident we have had to listen to their constant chants of our players always cheating when they have the termerity to go down after being kicked by Stoke players. We have struggled up there far too often for my liking, but their record at the Emirates is hardly one to write home about. If we can play our part in relegating them it will at least put s smile on my face in a season which has given us very little to smile about.

That’s it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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