Saturday, 29 March 2014

Arsenal vs Man City: Match Preview

I've lost the thrill for Premier League matches.

After we failed to buy a striker (and invariably lost the EPL), my primary objective quickly became second place. I still think, if we play our cards right, we can do that, because on paper we are better than Liverpool and as good as Chelsea.

However, I don't believe we will anymore. Swansea proved that this team is crashing and no longer has the confidence and determination to beat anyone. My optimistic target of second remains as it is, but I don't think I'll feel anything when this team eventually fails to get there. For now, all that matters to me is the FA Cup.

I'm certain that we'll make the Champions League next season. Everton, Tottenham and United are too weak to overtake us to fourth. However, finishing fourth and winning the FA Cup is not a successful season for me. It's a decent one and certainly better than the previous 8, but it's hardly a blueprint for future seasons.

At the beginning of February, we were 8 points ahead of Liverpool. Today, we're 5 points below them. That's not progress, that's swift regress. And to fall behind a team that have less money and (supposedly) an inferior manager in the space of 2 months is downright unforgivable. If the players want to restore some pride (not the manager, he lost it years ago), they'd better start today.

I know we can win this match. Two months ago, I'd have actually backed Arsenal to nick this. If the team is cautious, ruthless on the counter and uses home ground to their advantage, then I genuinely reckon we stand a chance of winning this, even today. But that's the thing, you see - would Wenger set a cautious line up? Would he play his tactics right? Would he keep the team mentality as focused and determined going into this game?

No. I am certain he won't. If he did, we could win the match, but why speculate over something that isn't going to happen? Why give yourselves false hopes? The only way Arsenal win this match is if the players themselves impose cautiousness and have a level headed, rational approach to the game.

I don't think Arsenal will get pulverized, though. There is a huge chance that we'll lose by one goal or even two, but a repeat of the 6-0 or 5-1? I doubt it.

Anyway, onto team news. No one is close to fitness and no one is injured. So, well, yeah. That escalated quickly.

Ramsey, who was supposed to return to action by the end of January, won't be returning till after the FA Cup semis. I've already given my views on this - it seems that Wenger's incompetent medical staff and his tendency to rush players into action are at it again. It's no coincidence that our key players find themselves on a prolonged sideline spell. If Wenger leaves, our key players won't be that injury prone, I promise you.

I've lost any tingling senses of excitement, any renewed impulses of hope and relishing anticipation going into this game. Wenger has killed the Arsenal side of me. Even if we pull off the odd surprising result, I won't feel particularly excited because I know that in time, we will revert to Wenger's loser mentality one-dimensional tactical set up.

The only thing that carries me as an Arsenal supporter is reluctance and loyalty. I'm not going to be watching the match in hope that Arsenal pull off a surprising victory, but only because as a Gooner, I made a lifelong commitment. No matter how much Wenger continues killing the club, I will always be an Arsenal man. Not an Arsene man, but an Arsenal man.

Let's see what happens.

P.S. There is the real possibility that this will be my last post until 8th April. If I get time I will post my thoughts in between that period, but I don't think I will be able to.

Until then, up The Arsenal. #COYG

-Santi (Follow me on twitter: @ArsenalBlogz )