Not quite 2005 sadly. Arsenal have a score to settle..
Back in December, we travelled to St Mary’s having not lost a match in twenty two. Admittedly, we’d not always played scintillating football but what we were doing is grinding out results. Unai Emery was animated on the sidelines, the players responded and the substitutions were having positive impact. During that good run though we drew a few matches which we really shouldn’t have. We’d also played really well at home against Toots and Liverpool. Chelsea too but that came much later.
Southampton had had an awful start to the season, so much so, Mark Hughes was sacked with Ralph Hasenhuttl replacing him. That night was his first home fixture in his new job. Much to everyone’s surprise, he pulled off a victory and by doing so, ended our unbeaten run. The cracks had been showing but then again, Unai Emery had to field a make-do defence thanks to injuries hitting us hard.
Anyway, since that awful evening on the south coast we’ve been pretty average at best. Still are really but at least now, Bellerin and Holding aside, we should have a better back line than we had in the away fixture. Koscielny should be ok, Sokratis is back and then we have Mustafi, Mavropanos and Medley too. The right back problem remains and with AMN a doubt, I’d imagine it’s a toss up between Lichtsteiner and Jenkinson.
Lacazette returns to the squad and the rest bar Welbeck are fit I believe. Whether or not Mesut Ozil gets another game or not remains to be seen. If he doesn’t, perhaps we’ll get to see Denis Suarez start for the first time. Or Ramsey. We need a bit of creativity that’s for sure and personally, I’d like to see the Spaniard has to offer from the start of a match.
Southampton remain in the relegation places but something from this game could change that. It’s all to play for for them. Premier League survival and it doesn’t come much bigger than that. Financially I mean.
It’s no different for us though. Slightly different reasons of course but in principle, it’s about the finances too. We are desperate to secure the fourth spot and we really can’t afford to drop many more points. Certainly not at home.
Long, Ings and Austin have caused us problems in the past and they will again if we’re not at the races. It’s all very well breezing past a side like BATE but it’s these kind of matches which matter most. The grit of the Premier League, an opponent who will fight from start to finish for a point knowing it might make a difference, the rough and tumble from big players, the scrap for a bit of pride together with a decent end to what’s so far been a very mixed season under a new manager.
I’m one of a number of fans who believe Unai Emery needs more time in his job, more players of his own choosing but it’s been a while since an Arsenal performance has convinced me that I might be right.
The next three months are crucial to how our season ends which I know sounds crazy as a season starts in August but if we can finish well, with confidence and much better performances each week, next season might be a more settled one. A more productive one too.
Finally. Not a good day for the women yesterday after they lost to City on penalties. Over the 120 minutes though it was a fair result as the woodwork spared us on more than one occasion. When City had their second spot kicked saved, I thought 2005 all over again. However…
Have a good Sunday guys, a good performance and three points will do just fine.