Arsenal travel North to Blackpool, a trip to the seaside which has to show a maximum points return to keep the title flame that is currently flickering wildly in the hot air that surrounds the club. Manchester United found that Fulham were not interested in improving their woeful form at Old Trafford, rolling over letting the Premier League leaders tickle their tummies.
Arsenal, club in crisis. It is a headline that has not been written for a while, Liverpool’s debacle took care of that yet the media has been able to seize on the ‘civil war’ apparently engulfing the club. Following hot on the press conference fall out, the Arsène clear out of players, comes the ‘news’ that Manchester City will be bidding £40m in the summer for the services of Jack Wilshere.
Nothing will come of it, of that you can be sure. But it puts Barcelona on notice. £40m for a player just completing his first full season of Premier League football seriously inflates the value of a World and European champion. It is of course rubbish but then what do you expect of News of the World journalism, a News International organ that gives the bad name of journalists an even worse name.
On the pitch, it feels like a lifetime since the last Arsenal victory. March was awful. Simply appalling. The five goal romp over Orient was the last victory of any sort. Three Premier League draws were accompanied by two cup defeats. That sequence of results has to be broken with victory.
Wenger will be choosing from a partially depleted squad. Alex Song is definitely out whilst there are doubts about Bacary Sagna and Theo Walcott. The latter seemed to be raising more concern during the week but the presumption must be at this moment that neither will make the trip.
The players seem to be aware that simply stepping onto the pitch is not going to be enough today. Blackpool are involved in the relegation dogfight, their expected position but membership of Premier League is not being cheaply surrendered.
Warnings of the potential pitfalls stare Arsenal in the face, a two goal lead against Manchester United and 2-1 / 3-1 victories over Liverpool and Spurs respectively. The potential is there, a focussed performance negates these.
The line-up I would expect Wenger to go with is,
Almunia; Eboue, Squillaci, Koscielny, Clichy; Fabregas, Diaby, Wilshere; Nasri, van Persie, Arshavin
Personally, I would prefer Wenger to go with a 4-4-2 formation with Rosicky making way for Bendtner. The Dane wittered on about DNA – where has this obsession with genetics in football sprung from? – of champions. Frankly, I’m not interested in that. Putting the ball into the back of the Blackpool net on more occasions that they breach the Arsenal backline is all that matters. To be honest, I don’t if the winner comes from the flukiest goal this side of Christendom so long as Arsenal take the three points on offer.
Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it. ’til Tomorrow.