Now I must confess that I didn’t get a chance to watch the game against Sunderland but I’ve seen the highlights and it seemed to be the story of our season so far. Dominate, score the first goal, create a hatful of chances and then blow it late on. It has been one of the more frustrating seasons since Roman Abramovich took over hasn’t it?
The squad is packed with talented players but the lack of a world class striker a la Didier Drogba seems to be really effecting the players. It’s almost as if the players are thinking “do I trust so and so to bury this? Or is it just better if I have a go myself?” It’s a problem that is unfortunately probably only solvable in summer. No club knows better than us of the risk of January transfer buys and it is hard to imagine the club’s hierarchy will make the same mistake. The only exception would probably be if someone like Wayne Rooney or Robert Lewandowski became available, you can never pass up players like that.
The defeat against Sunderland was disappointing but we can’t dwindle on it and our focus must now turn to Arsenal. This is arguably the most important derby against them for a while, given their remarkable resurgence this season. However, having said that I’d be loathe to say this is a “must win game”. This is far from that.
If anyone thinks that this game will define either club’s season they are deluded. City beat Arsenal 6-3 last Saturday, does that mean Arsenal’s title run is over? Of course not. If we lost to Arsenal we’ll be back to five points off them, that’s not even close to a disaster.
Of course a victory would be lovely and spending Christmas Day top of the league would be terrific. But it’s not the be all and end all; it’s not vital. A draw is probably the most likely result in all honesty and that is perfectly fine.
Jack Wilshere will miss this game through suspension although that is hardly a reason to break out the champers. Even with Wilshere missing Arsenal will still be able to field a midfield five of Flamini, Ramsey, Cazorla, Ozil and Walcott; pretty formidable. Walcott is the one I’m most concerned about. He’s destroyed us on occasions in the past and when he’s song, with his pace, he can be completely lethal. Whoever plays left-back out of Cole and Azpilicueta will have their work cut out. The former has been out of form recently whilst the latter has been solid but hasn’t really been tested.
The fact that Laurent Koscielny is missing through injury is a huge plus though, the guy’s been a colossus for Arsenal this season. Per Mertesacker has perhaps been slightly better but their partnership being broken up is good news, we need to exploit this. Torres would probably be the best bet in this situation, he gave the Manchester City defenders a nightmare at the Bridge and he could do the same thing at the Emirates.