Arsenal make the short trip across North London to take on Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley this afternoon, in what could prove to be a huge factor in our bid for the top four. Our side currently sit down in sixth place in the Premier League, four points behind today’s opponents, and five behind Chelsea in the fourth and final Champions League place. A loss today would see us fall to seven behind our noisy neighbours with only 11 matches remaining. If you fancy a bet on the game, then Arsenal are an extremely good price at around 5/2, which is a bit high for me given our record at Wembley.
Losing simply cannot be an option if we intend to re-emerge as contenders for a place in the CL thanks to our league position, while the possibility of qualifying through the Europa League has to be a back-up option.
We come into the match full of confidence, having put Everton to the sword last weekend as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan made their full debuts, with both directly contributing to goals in the 5-1 thriller. The striker opened his account with a sublimely calm chip over the on-rushing goalkeeper, while the 29 year-old midfielder notched up a hat-trick of assists.
Our rivals will hardly be downbeat over their form either, having gone 11 matches without losing but with only two wins from their last five outings, they will hardly be brimming full of confidence.
We have been boosted by the availability of Nacho Monreal and Danny Welbeck, who could well feature in the match, but Petr Cech and Santi Cazorla will not make it. Arsene Wenger revealed that he would not be risking the goalkeeper when he has full confidence in David Ospina, but Cech could well find himself on the bench for the tie. Tottenham on the other hand are expected to have a fully fit squad to choose from, but could well be distracted by the upcoming challenge of Juventus, who they must travel to in three days time.
The toughest decision for the Frenchman may well be whether to start Aaron Ramsey or Jack Wilshere alongside Granit Xhaka in midfield, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jack taking Alex Iwobi’s place in the side from the XI which started against Everton. The England international has been in fine form this season, as has his midfield counterpart, and Wenger may struggle to leave either out of his line-up.
This decision may well lead to a 4-3-2-1 formation with both Rambo and Jack lining up alongside the Swiss international, or one of the pairing may well be played in a more advanced role instead of the Nigerian international.
Bellerin Koscielny Mustafi Monreal
Wilshere Ozil Mkhitaryan
I cannot wait to see our new-look attack in action again, and it will be very interesting to see the duo in what will come as their first big test since joining the club.
The new signings have brought a new level of excitement and creativity into the club, and I can’t help but feel upbeat about our chances against our noisy neighbours. I would be very surprised to see either side hold onto a clean sheet this afternoon.
I hope to see both Mkhitaryan and PEA on the scoresheet this afternoon, and I will go for an impressive 3-2 win at Wembley, with Kane also likely to score, adding to his tally of six goals which he already has against us.
This win could well give us the impetus for a strong end to the season, and would no doubt put us in a great position to reach the top four, especially with Chelsea currently freefalling and appearing to be in turmoil.
What are your expectations for the crunch tie? Who will be the key man to look forward to?