Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Arsenal vs West Ham: Match Preview

You know what's embarrassing? That we're looking at this game as a potential banana skin.

West Ham are 11th in the table. We're 5th in the table and playing them at home, which has become a real fortress. Despite injuries and fatigue, we should we walking over this team.

We won't, though. That's how low Wenger has got us.

Granted, we have just played a physically and emotionally draining 120 minutes against Wigan. Players like Ramsey and Chamberlain who were just back from injury aren't fit to play this game, especially because they also played an awful lot against Wigan. Mertesacker and Sagna deserve a breather too.

But here's the thing - isn't it purely our fault that we are in this position? No one told us to drag the game on to extra time, we were the one's who created the mess. We had Wigan in the FA Cup semi final - that's as easy as it gets. Yet we made hot water out of it.

We knew Ramsey and Walcott were out in January. Arsenal bloggers everywhere have been saying that our medical staff is one of the crappiest in the league. Yet, instead of adding much needed depth, we've signed Kim Kallstrom.

Kallstrom has been proving to be useful in these times. With Ramsey, Flamini, Ozil and Wilshere out, he's almost guaranteed a start today. But consider this - had we bought more players in January (say a striker and a centre back), wouldn't they have been useful as well? I, for one, have been crying out loud for a striker and a centre back. Both of them would have been mighty useful today. In addition, I'm firmly of the opinion that had we got these players, they would have helped us today in keeping our title hopes alive, rather than our top four hopes.

I had said that the performance rather than the result was what terrified me against Wigan. I am utterly convinced that we're going to see a similar performance today. Whether it's enough to grab three points (or even one point) remains to be seen.

I expect we'll line up with Szczesny - Sagna - Mertesacker - Koscielny (if he makes it) - Gibbs - Kallstrom - Arteta - Rosicky (if he makes it) - Cazorla - Podolski - Giroud. I also expect us to come out with a 0-0 draw if we play anything like we did on Saturday.

In a broader sense, I genuinely think we'll finish fifth this season. We actually are fortunate that we have an easy run-in while Everton have Southampton, United and City, but I don't think Wenger will take advantage of that luck.

Martinez looks possessed to get fourth. Wenger, on the other hand, looks beaten. While I don't think in any way that finishing fourth is good for the club (the board needs a bigger jolt than that to change things around), I honestly am worried that Everton will overtake us for good this season.

The players need to prove me wrong, starting today. I'm not very hopeful though.

-Santi (Follow me on twitter: @ArsenalBlogz )