Just a few hour to go to one of the most important games in Arsenal’s season, and the nerves are building to a crescendo. I am sure that Man City will dispose of Aston Villa earlier in the day (well you never know!) and Arsenal will be under pressure to keep pace ahead of the boring interlull.
There will be many stars on show on both sides and we will be pinning our hopes on trusty Olivier Giroud, who has come back to form with a bang recently after a dismal start to the season. Wenger believes that Giroud needed the break when Walcott was leading the line. “The finishing is a bit cyclic and it is linked with sharpness, with form, with confidence,” Wenger said. “Sometimes when Olivier has a breather, he comes back with even more desire and his physical strength is very good.
“After, when you have scored in the game before, you are always convinced that you will score again. Once it leaves you, that’s where you have the fight. At the moment he is on fire.”
We are all hoping he can keep this run up as long as possible as we have very few other options at the moment, but we will certainly be stronger after the enforced break.
Tottenham too have a striker in form, the young Harry Kane, but Wenger believes the key to beating Spurs is that Kane is not provided with too many chances. “It’s always a bit similar because you need somebody who gives the ball to the guy who scores,” said Wenger. “Eriksson can be this guy, so when you play against the team, you need to nullify the player who provides. The player who provides can be Eriksen.
“I believe they have a good level of workrate,” he added. “They have found stability at the back, they have the spine of the team with Lloris, Vertonghen, Alderweireld and Dier in the middle, with Kane in front. They keep that stable, which stabilises them defensively. They have a good energy level as well.”
With ten players on the injury list, the team will mostly pick itself again, but I am going to put my hopes on Laurent Koscielny passing his fitness test this morning and coming back to shore up the defence and replace Gabriel. Campbell will stay on the wing as he needs a run of games to get up to speed and hopefully Debuchy will be a tad more effective today. So here is our Starting XI…..
Sanchez Ozil Campbell
Monreal Koscielny Mertesacker Debuchy
No big surprises although I hope to see Reine-Adelaide on the bench for if Campbell gets tired, and we are only a couple of players short of our best team. I am certainly not expecting this to be an easy game, but I’m still going to go for a 2-0 win to the Arsenal.
MATCH FACTS FROM THE BBC…..
*Tottenham have only won once at Arsenal in 25 matches in all competitions since May 1993 (D9, L15).
*That was their 3-2 win in November 2010, when they fought back from 2-0 down at half-time.
*Arsenal last failed to score at home to Spurs in the Premier League in November 1998. Since then the Gunners have scored 39 times in 16 home league games against their rivals.
*Arsenal have won their last five Premier League games, scoring 16 goals and conceding just three.
*It is their best run of form since an eight-match winning streak between February and April.
*Their tally of eight goals conceded is the joint lowest in the Premier League.
*Petr Cech is one short of equalling David James’ record of 169 Premier League clean sheets (awarded only in games where goalkeepers played the full 90 minutes).
*Four of Olivier Giroud’s six Premier League goals this term have been assisted by Mesut Ozil, including the last three.