North London Derby will not be a War of Attrition

A Wengertastic blog today – lots of words from the manager heading into our favourite fixture of the year.

In light of yesterday’s Champions League draw that saw us pitted against AC Milan (full draw to the right), Arsene Wenger has bullishly brushed aside any notion that Arsenal will struggle against such ‘almighty’ opposition.

-{…what the papers are ignoring are how slow this Milan team are…}-

In typical careful fashion, he pays his dues by noting that Milan are indeed reigning European Champions, but focuses more on the merits of his own side, saying:

It’s going to be interesting. Can we do it? I believe we can if we play our best. I believe it is a good target to make us stronger in March, and that is achievable for the squad as we have a lot of young players who are improving. They have again shown that against Blackburn, and it’s an exciting time.

The British papers that were going on about how ‘stupid’ Arsenal must be feeling for failing to top their group have really missed the point. Milan have quality players in the form of Pirlo, Kaka and….erm, well, somewhere in the back of my mind (after seeing all the shops sell so many of their kits) tells me they must have some quality in there.

A bit of sarcasm of course, but what the papers are ignoring are how slow this Milan team are – we can match them for their skills in posession, and out pace them on and off the ball. Things may be a little different come February, but at this point I would have to say I am very confident with that draw.

Friday press conferences mean that Wenger’s done most of the talking in today’s newsfeed, with the manager lambasting John Terry’s ‘tackle’ on Cesc Fabregas as dangerous and violent – and that the England captain should have been red carded long before he was injured by Eboue’s trailing foot.

Staying with defenders, Wenger has explained (not that there is much to explain) his decision to recall Johann Djourou from Birmingham. While stating the obvious, there is a little to be read in what the manager says of the situation:

The decision is made, he will come back. I have done that for two reasons. First of all Kolo Toure is going to the African Nations Cup. Secondly we may lose Alex Song for the same tournament. If that happens then we will be really short in that area.

Even with Johan back we will be left with only three centre backs.

What one can read into that is Wenger’s awareness of Arsenal only having three centrebacks come African Cup o’ Nations time. Is there a January purchase in the mix? Well, I could do what Arsenal Analysis does and completely make my sources up, and say we’re on our way to buying some Armenian holding midfielder who will be converted to centre-back, but I wont. Not yet, anyway.

{…we should be seeing a return to the 4-4-2 with our strongest possible team sent out…}-

Moving onto all things Spur-zy, and the manager has heaped praise on Tottenham striker Dimitar Berbatov, as well as Tottenham – who Wenger says will see to it that a football game will be played, and not the cynical fare that Chelsea employ. Wenger says:

It looks like Spurs have gained confidence under Juande Ramos. Playing good football is linked with confidence and the fact that they have got a new manager looks to have relieved a little bit of pressure on the players. They have had a good few results and that helps.

Wenger also makes mention of the ‘Christmas antics’ that Arsenal players get up to compared to the dispicable lot (overly paid Englishmen, one might add – but the English media prefer to dish the racist remarks out, not back at their own players) at Manchester United. What have the Arsenal players done for Christmas during their busy schedule? Wenger reveals:”

The players not at Blackburn went to the Junior Gunners party, as they do every year. Then they went on a hospital visit on Monday afternoon.

Sheer, sheer class. A few little stories to round things off – Juande Ramos reflects on his derby day experiences, and that old story of Arsenal players playing blindfolded crops its head up once more.

221207-A-TOTTo the preview to today’s match, and we should be seeing a return to the 4-4-2 with our strongest possible team sent out against Tottenham. van Persie should be reinstated in the front line alongside Adebayor; the latter of which must really be relishing this fixture with his personal goal tally against the Spurs.

The bench should see Lehmann, Senderos, Eboue, Eduardo and Bendtner ready to come on, all enjoying some nice pep-talk we’ve come to expect from Jens Lehmann these days.

The only poser of course is the conundrum the team always faces with regards to Hleb and the 4-4-2. We all know how much he and Rosicky thrive in a 4-5-1, linking up interchangeably, playing behind the striker. In the more attacking formation, however, Hleb is usually assigned to the right wing – though he has also improved vastly in that position this season as well. His crosses are improving, and he is able to drive into the centre of midfield whilst the strikers run diagonally across.

Hopefully I’ll be able to grab some sight of the match tonight. Of course, I know most, if not all people will be doing what they can to see this one – we should be winning this one, but you just never can tell with Derbies. I’m certianly confident, and the players seem to be as well.

Finally, a full-strength team to suss out. Time to show the injury-ravaged Spurs a thing or two…

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3 Comments

Filed under Arsenal, Blogging, Champions League, English Premier League, Tottenham

3 responses to “North London Derby will not be a War of Attrition

  1. that is arguably our best possible team

  2. daokta

    With people like RvP just waiting to have a go after his long absence and the confidence after the Chelsea and Blackburn games – I have high hopes for a comfortable victory tonight. Having said that – this is a derby and the form book does not apply.

    Up the gunners

  3. tehe artist formerly known as eboue's hand

    I love the way we tease them these days. Goal start in the last one, equaliser and penalty in this one. then we just bring on one of the kids to nod one in with his first touch. Truly beautiful