Back in the race? NLD Preview

*Originally posted 20th April 2011

Well here we go again.

After United let two points slip up at Newcastle last night we have the opportunity to close the game to four points tonight, but to do that we need to go to White Hart Lane and pick up three points.

A North London Derby is always a big game but this one seems huge right now. It’s a chance to make up for the 2 – 3 defeat at The Grove in November, it is a chance to put a dent in their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League again next season but most of all it is a chance to close the gap on United and give a little glimpse into our supposed mental strength, to show that we really do want to take the title chase to the line & that we want to win it, that we believe we can. The word ‘Massive’ does not seem to do the game justice.

We’ll all go to bed tonight clinging to a new hope or crying into our pillows feeling that dejection witch we have become so familiar with of late and knowing, maybe even excepting, that it is all but over.

There was no press conference from Arsene Wenger yesterday but he did talk via the official club channels and spoke of the teams desire to keep going, the boss said –

“Let’s give absolutely everything to win this one. We are not in a period where we can calculate. I believe it is important that we give absolutely everything to win our next game.”

“I still believe it is absolutely important, essential that we give absolutely every drop of blood to do it.”

“We will play our game, don’t worry. We want to show we have the mental dimension to play for this club. The players want to show that and there is no better way to do that than against Spurs.”

He also mentioned the Carling Cup win in September, The performance that night was fantastic, totally committed. We pressed from start to finish, we never allowed Spurs to settle, we looked like we wanted it more, much more. We need that same level of performance, commitment & desire tonight and we need to double it.

It is also important to remember that if we loose we could slip into third place, Chelsea are only two points behind us and play Birmingham City at Stamford Bridge tonight. I can’t see the home side slipping up.

In terms of team news we have everybody fit except Thomas Vermaelen, although neither Almunia nor Denilson are in the squad. Bacary Sagna is likely to return at right back in place of Eboue and Alex Song should come back into midfield, possibly at the expense of Jack Wilshere. The newly crowned PFA Young Player of the year has looked jaded in the last couple of games whilst Diaby has looked a little more like the player we think he can be so I have a feeling young Jack may start on the bench, but what a player to be able to bring on.

I don’t know what more motivation the team can need but if the captain wants to give them one last lift he can point them towards many of the articles floating about today, Fabregas hits out at Arsenal ‘Finishing School’, Cesc Fabregas says Arsenal lack winning mentality & We don’t have any wow players.

Most of these articles have take snippets of what Cesc said in an interview with Spanish magazine DonBalon and turned those snippets into perceived little snipes. Thankfully The Telegraph have published a fully translated transcript of the interview  and you can’t really argue with what the young Spaniard says, it’s only what the majority of us say and/or think.

But Cesc should take all this with him to the lane and tell the players that the only way to stop the press writing articles like this is to prove them all wrong, show that they can win trophies, can dig deep and put up a fight, can protect a lead. They’ll need to do all of the above and more tonight but it is the best possible way to ram it all straight back the lazy journos throats.

Cesc also had a little pop at Perry Groves via his Twitter page yesterday after Perry had earlier suggested that Cesc should be sold – I’m pretty sure that Cesc won’t see yesterdays post on this blog, although in my defence I was suggesting that maybe it could be time for a parting of the ways not that I think he should go or that I want him to.

Anyway I’ve now got to spend the rest of the day just waiting for the match to kick off and if the nerves I felt in the build up to Sunday are anything to go by I’m likely to be a wreck by then…

Thanks for reading & here’s to three points and a big derby win.

Up The Arsenal!

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