Thursday, April 26, 2012

Only Third Place Will Do - Five Questions before Saturday's Game Against Stoke RFC

Probably my least favourite game of the season arrives this Saturday, as we travel to the town that football forgot - Stoke. Here's a few things to think about before our clash - and I use that word in the literal sense - on the weekend.

* Is it third place or bust? 
I really didn't think the draw against Chelsea was the terrible result for us, or the triumph for them, that Sky seemed to decide it was. Only because Chelsea put out such a weak first XI was the result a disappointment, but I probably would have taken a point before the game, given how weak our midfield looks without Arteta, Wilshere, and Diaby. After the game, it seemed to me that Chelsea had bet everything on beating Barca, rather than going for it in the league - a foolish strategy.

But after Chelsea's "heroic" win against Barca on Tuesday (NB, it wasn't heroic), I am a bit worried. Surely they've now used up all their possible luck, but a win in Munich, which really isn't outside the realms of possibility, reduces the Champions league spots to three. 

Hopefully Munich will smash them, but I really don't want to be in a position where we have to rely on this. I think two wins out of three will get us third place - possibly a win and a draw at a push. But Stoke is the hardest game of the three and it comes first. If we were to lose, I'd worry about our confidence going into the final two fixtures. 

* Will Diaby play 90 minutes for us this season?
Perhaps it's a silly question to ask, but maybe it does matter. With the news that he's "sick" and out of Saturday's clash, we're again without a player that is seemingly in Arsene's plans. During his brief cameos this season - and they were very, very brief - you could see glimpses of the fantastic talent he has, but it's no good if he can only show it for 60 minutes a year. In short, will he go through a whole season without playing 90 minutes, and, if so, is this it? Do we really persist further with a hugely talent player, but one who's career appears to have been ruined by injury?

* Have Teams Finally Worked Out how to Play Against van Persie? 
It's taken the rest of the Premier League long enough, but it seems a few teams appear to have worked out how to deal with van Persie. Given that he's responsible for approximately 400 percent of our goals, I'm surprised this hasn't happened earlier. I don't buy that he's tired, I think teams are just playing very deep against us, and trying to prevent him for taking shots within the area. Obviously, because van Persie is so good, this strategy doesn't always work, and he really should have put away at least one of his chances against Chelsea. Whether he can re-find his shooting boots, and whether we can get the ball to him in dangerous areas, may well decide how we do in our final three games. 

* Aaron Ramsey has completed more through balls than the entire Stoke team this season (six versus five)
That's not a question - just a fact. Make of it what you will. 

* Does Tony Pulis wear his baseball cap in the shower? 
Actually, let's not think about that. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

* I agree - no penalty for Yossi. It was a 'coming together' in the box; incidents like that don't always have to be a penalty or a dive. The fact is it's a man 7 inches shorter and 4 stone lighter trying to run past another man and connecting with him. He is bound to fall over. In pre-video evidence times, it would be better for everyone if penalties were only ever given in 100% certain circumstances.

* My patience for Gervinho has finally expired. Regrettably I don't think he will be sold, so we just have to hope that a pre-season of coaching will change his ways.

* Whisper it but The Ox has not been that great recently. He is not the Messiah, he is a young talent. Please don't take him to the Euros.

* I prefer Santos as an off-the-bench attacking midfielder than as our left back.

* Yossi will leave but should be highly regarded for his season with us. It was a good move by AW.

* I did think that Linekar was a bit tasteless & unfunny on MOTD. But, yes, let that lie.