Friday night pints pre-preview, followed by a three o’clock Saturday kick-off. The world is in equilibrium. Sort of. It’s a big day tomorrow, for one reason or another, so let’s crack on.
For the second time in three days we play a team within a point and a place of us in the Premier League. It’s an important game, for sure. As Arsene himself noted in his pre-Swans interview with Arsenal Player the month of December gives us four home games in six fixtures to get ourselves back into contention for at least a top four berth. Surprisingly these next two home games against Swansea and West Brom could be the biggest tests we will face in the month given the start that both have made.
The visitors impressed last season, and have replaced manager Brendan Rodgers with Michael Laudrup, a classy player in his day now proving to be a shrewd coach and buyer of talent. They went unbeaten in November and before I scare myself thinking about what could happen I should point out they will be missing Pablo Hernandez, one of their standout performers thus far.
We will be without Laurent Koscielny, ruled out in Arsene’s words for the dreaded three weeks. Let us hope that is not Diaby weeks. That means the skipper can return to his preferred berth alongside Per Mertesacker where the general view is that he looked far more comfortable on Wednesday.
More important, in my view, is that Theo Walcott is fit to start. He is changing my opinion with his performances. Just seven starts so far this season, but he is leading scorer with ten goals. True, part of the desire for him to play is down to the fact that the options are not that clever at the moment. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be a great player, as better judges than I will confirm. At the moment though he is going through the footballing equivalent of ‘that difficult second album’. Aaron Ramsey is a midfielder, not a wide player. Stop hanging him out to dry.
The ‘holic pound looks nervously at 2-1 to the home team, assuming we can get a balanced side out and impose our style on the visitors. Gunners Gaming will give you 15/2 against that, and can be reached via the banner ad above. Thanks.
Much has been written and spoken about the walk by the Black Scarf Movement tomorrow. The original wearers of that particular garment are long standing Gooners, and the amalgamation with others who care deeply about the club mean they deserve a more balanced hearing than has been afforded to them in many quarters. I have some sympathy when they talk about supporters who have been priced out of games. As a season-ticket leaseholder I have been protected from the changes I would have faced on my silver membership this season.
I feel for parents who want to introduce their kids to the Arsenal, but just cannot afford it. Yes I know tomorrow, as a grade C game, represents pretty good value to red and silver members this season. Now add in two tickets for the kids, three train fares from wherever, three quid each programme, and the GDP of a small republic for a couple of pizza and cokes. If I were growing up today my old man might well be saying “be a Barnet fan”. Long gone are the days when he had two season tickets in the East Lower and we would still pay to go and stand in The Clock End.
However I will save my walk to the ground until half past two. I cannot get behind a movement that is aiming its sights at ‘the board’, now just a ceremonial body in the modern Arsenal world. After years of service Peter Hill-Wood deserves better than to be an easy target, whatever one feels about his style of communication. This club is now entrusted to others. I am also a bit puzzled at the bad press afforded to the board for cashing in their shareholding, whilst a desire to see David Dein return is espoused. Guess how he filled his pockets?
Even more I cannot walk to support Red & White getting a place on the board. By their actions this season they have clearly shown themselves to be opportunists quick to criticise, and as such can surely not be surprised to find themselves on the outside looking in. Fundamentally they are at odds with the majority shareholder about the way forward for the club. It is better that such disunity is kept at arms length.
Above all I hope tomorrow is not hijacked by a vociferous minority taking advantage of the mood of unrest to whip up an entirely different protest. That will only end one way. It is time for Arsenal supporters to get behind the team on the pitch, and forget the infighting. That is a part of the pre-walk publicity I can endorse. Have your peaceful protest, then get inside and shout yourselves hoarse in support of a side that needs all the help they can get right now.
And The Emirates Family Legends Tour Winner Is…
I had to smile when our very own Steve T’s name came out of the hat for the prize so generously donated by Experience Days for an Emirates Stadium Family Legends Tour. Thanks to those who entered, and to Experience Days for making at least one family’s Christmas. (For my pedantic friend I should point out that Eddie Kelly and Charlie George were the correct answers, although as Eddie was on the Experience Days site but no longer on the arsenal.com listing I accepted just Charlie as correct.)
You might like to write it up for us when you go, Steve?
Have a great weekend, ‘holics.
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