Villa v. Arsenal: the battle for 4th

Good morning and I hope that you got everything you needed yesterday. I made biscuits and gravy and then we sat around the house all day and watched daytime television. Then we cracked open som Guinesses and ate some leftovers from the 24th; standing rib roast, roasted potatoes and Brussels sprouts cooked in bacon. Not a bad night!

Today we have all 20 EPL teams playing each other and, judging by the Chelsea v. West Brom match that I’m watching as I write this, there will almost certainly be some movement in the table today. In fact, looking at the match ups the traditionalist would have to see that this is a real chance for the top four to put some space between themselves and the also-rans. Unfortunately, Arsenal could end the day there in that “also-ran” category.

Just look at the matchups: Stoke host Man U, Liverpool have Bolton, and Chelsea have WBA at home. Come on, those should all be wins, right? Even in this wild season, where we’ve seen some unpredictable results, there’s no way that Chelsea, Man U, and Liverpool are going to drop points against those teams. That leaves just the Arsenal/Villa game as the decider.

Every Arsenal supporter the world over knows how important this game is, if everyone else wins (which they are at the moment) and Arsenal loses, they will be 11 points off first place and 6 points off 4th place. Not an insurmountable lead, sure, but certainly puts any talk about winning the title to bed and puts Arsenal 6 points from keeping the Champions League spot. With all the injuries and growing pains of this team, you’d have to think that 6 points is a lot harder to come back from for this team than it is for a big, experienced squad like Man U.

Worryingly, Wenger is warning Arsenal supporters that Champions League football is not our birthright. I’ve been saying that same thing for a while but the difference is that I’m not Arsene Wenger. When I say it, I’m just some American with an opinion, when Wenger says it, it makes me think that he has a plan. It seems kind of crazy to say it but it seems like Wenger has accepted the reality that Arsenal, as they are constructed right now, are not legitimate title contenders and are instead looking squarely at 5th place. His plan then is what? Another year of rebuilding? Given his activity in the transfer market over the last few years that seems the most likely explanation. If you have another I’d love to hear it.

Whatever the plan, or lack of plan, I do think this squad has the talent, even missing Ade and Cesc, to beat Villa. We’ve seen what they can do in the second half of the Liverpool game, we’ve seen what young talent like Wilshere and King Ramsey I can do when unleashed by Wenger. We’ve seen it before and I think we’ll see it again. Let’s hope it starts today.

As for who Wenger will play today… HA! I’ll have a guess, I… erm… guess… but even God doesn’t know who Wenger will play today. I’ll say that Wenger plays a 4-2-3-1 with Denilson and Song in front of the back 4, Nasri left, Diaby right, Chocolate Lightning in the hole and Bendtner up front. If we’re down, Ramsey and Vela will come on in the 70th minute. If we’re getting blown out, Wilshere will come on.

Right, I’ll leave you on the blow out note and just say that despite the fact that the game is on FSC, a lot of us are going to Doyle’s today for the festivities, so come on down and join us.

Oh and for the record, I’ve changed my mind on Arteta. He reminds me of a more polished version of Denilson and he’s having a very good season. Go get him Arsene, he would be a great addition to the team.

Cheers and see you tomorrow.

12 Responses to “Villa v. Arsenal: the battle for 4th”

  1. December 26, 2008 at 8:08 am

    Ramsey should come on in no.8 and Diaby rested, while Denilson moves to no.7.

  2. 2 true_arsenal-fan
    December 26, 2008 at 9:03 am

    It’s clear that we have problems . It’s all a matter of time until AW will solve them . I still think we can win the title . But I think players like Song and Denilson shouldn’t be in the first 11 . Rosicky can change things but it will take months before he will play the old Arsenal way .
    Go Arsenal .

  3. 3 Chris
    December 26, 2008 at 9:48 am

    How Diaby gets into the team ahead of Vela is mind-boggling! Silvest and Eboue are crap too. No chance at 3 points today.

  4. 4 Chris
    December 26, 2008 at 10:29 am

    And of course Diaby and Eboue combine to score the second…I’ll never understand this game.

  5. 5 WC
    December 26, 2008 at 11:18 am

    And piss poor defending at the end cost us 3 points. We have 5 defenders on the field: Sagna, Gallas, Toure, Silvestre and Clichy, yet Zat Knight is left unmarked in the box to score. Bendtner should have come on a long time ago so we could take advantage of all the counter-attacks. Too many times in the game we go forward with no one to pass to in a goal scoring position because every is out wide but somehow Clichy is sent on? Arsenal cleary don’t want Europe next season and Wenger has to justify to me how the hell we is going to pull himself out of this hole he’s dug. Yet another 3 points in our hands blown because we believe that injury time doesn’t count apparently.

  6. 6 Chris
    December 26, 2008 at 11:30 am

    Yeah, we just can’t seem to put it together all at once. Gallas’ penalty really changed the game. We always looked like we were going to concede towards the end of the match. We definitely have the talent, but just can’t figure out how to win.

  7. 7 Pascal
    December 26, 2008 at 11:35 am

    I agree that Wenger has realised that this team, which he built and watched self-destruct, is not good enough for anything.
    The team needs rebuilding, starting at the top with Wenger. Compare his record over the past 5 years with ManU and Liverpool and Arsenal’s weakness becomes obvious.
    Rumours are that Mourinho wants to come back to the Premier League. This would be a good strat.

  8. 8 caribkid
    December 26, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    I can only think of a single word to describe my feelings right now. “F##K”.

  9. 9 barnaby
    December 26, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    This game was a bit strange, deni’s goal came out of nowhere as the tide of the game was against us. Though villa had better chances they have not announced themselves with a convincing win today, but that said, they do look a real concern for us. I keep hearing how Edu and Rosicky will return and change our fortunes but can’t really see how they would have changed the game much today. We have some clever midfielders but none that can boss a match or close up shop and shut down the opposition. To go 2 up and squander it wasn’t really a surpise, we are clearly missing something.

  10. 10 caribkid
    December 26, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    We lack 3 important factors.

    1. Steel
    2. Creativity
    3. Pace
    4. Experience

    We have no steel in the MF, no Viera, Senna, Essien, Barry, etc. who can really bring it to opponents. With Clichy and Vela on the bench and Walcott and Rosicky out with injury we have no pace.

    In plain words, this team has no balance.

  11. December 26, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    Well, it could have been worse…

  12. 12 Matt
    December 26, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    Wow – what a day ruiner…

    After the second goal from Arsenal, I felt that oh so familiar feeling: “okay, here we are, things are fine, things are going to be okay. The boys are clicking, they are finally getting it together. They cowboyed up after they were Howard Webbed in the Liverpool match, and now they are going to make a nice statement against Villa and we will be sitting pretty after taking all three from Portsmouth on Sunday…”

    I had the same feeling when they were up 4-2 agains Spurs….

    And, man, then they go and pull the rug out from under me yet again. Fuck, fuck, fuck.

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