Despite Sunday games being the norm for a couple of decades, once in a while, it feels weird to be writing a match preview on a Sunday morning. I know what you’re thinking; it’s weird for me to be writing anything in the mornings recently. And that’s a very loose flinging around of the term ‘recently’.
At least it isn’t a long journey to Selhurst Park for the team today. Not in mileage, at least. Travel time might be the same as travelling to Manchester and back given the traffic but I’m sure we won’t be as slack-jawed as United in that respect.
Palace haven’t scored in a home Premier League match this season and that’s usually a record we like to end. Whether that is the case in the Unai Emery era will be revealed this afternoon.
For Arsenal, the obvious aim is winning. Twelve in a row – someone said equally Arsène’s best-ever run; whether that’s true I know not – is a great confidence booster. Winning breeds confidence and despite the good results, it seems to be a fragile thing. The longer the run, however, the less irreparable the damage when results go against you.
Which is, I admit, something of a glass half-empty kind of thing.
The biggest boost to confidence would be a 90-minute performance. Unai is on the case:
How can we improve? One is to be more consistent in the first half, controlling the game and imposing our ideas. For the 90 minutes, we have a good balance but our ideas is also in the first half to do better in each match.Unai Emery on the first half problem
It’s not an answer, of course. But it is good to see the issue isn’t ducked, in interviews at least.
Dynamic Duo Strike Back
Which, in no contrived manner whatsoever – and it genuinely wasn’t – into the latest from the dynamic duo. Raul and Vinai spoke about life going forward – expect a splurge of gushing pieces this week about Ivan – and the reality of the Premier League era.
Venkatesham spoke unashamedly as a suit would:
We want to win the biggest trophies in the game and, if you compete in the Premier League, there are only two – the Premier League and the Champions LeagueRobin on trophies
Nothing wrong with that ambition but any supporter will tell you, any trophy will do in between titles. Aim high, but never lose sight of the things below either.
We’re some way off winning either the Champions League; a little closer to the Premier League but still not challengers yet. Batman and Robin know that and are focused on the steps to bring glory to north London. “That is a step on the journey,” Robin said before distancing himself from the old regime; “but not the ultimate ambition.”
Well said. Just the small matter of delivering. And that won’t come with the help of a ‘Sugar Daddy’.
I’d completely get that if there was one team who was winning the league every year by 20 points who had a completely different model to the rest. But that’s not what I’m seeing generally in the Premier League. That’s not what’s happening.Should have gone to Specsavers
Which is disingenuous to say the very least. Eight of the last fourteen titles went to ‘Sugar Daddy’ backed clubs and I dare say this one will as well. United’s self-sustaining model works when they have a great manager rather than the trash artists of recent years. I prefer them to have trash artists as managers before you ask.
Who’s the Daddy?
While I don’t rule out a title challenge, we’re struggling to match their finances. Batman thinks it is down to “efficiency” in building the squad and using the moneys.
He too said getting back into the Champions League was a key objective; it’s the money-making machine. Reinventing the wheel isn’t his job but next summer’s departures of Welbeck, Ramsey and Cech aren’t going to be repeated. The concern right now is how they are replaced which is why I think both the former will be sold if offers come in during January.
Apparently, Enos and Junior are more committed than ever now they own the club lock, stock and barrel. Committed but no more inclined to invest in it. Paso a paso m
But that’s enough of the suits for today. There’s a match to enjoy. I’d expect the team to be close to the one which beat Leicester on Monday. Mustafi and Holding at the centre of the defence with Monreal or Lichtsteiner on the left.
Which leaves the question of Cech and Leno. The German has done nothing to warrant being axed for the Czech but then Cech was in no danger of being dropped before injury struck. It’s a tough love story either way. Personally, I’d keep Leno in the first XI with a long-term outlook prevailing.
It leaves my XI:
Leno; Bellerin, Mustafi, Holding, Monreal/Lichtsteiner; Torreira, Xhaka; Iwobi, Özil, Aubameyang; Lacazette
Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.