Arsenal Are Ready To Respond
Once again Arsenal have a chance to respond immediately to a spirit-crushing defeat. Thankfully the spirit at Arsenal is a little harder to keep downtrodden these days and our cup run has given us the gift of a rearranged fixture between a thrashing at Chelsea and the visit of City who hit us for 6 earlier this season too.
Struggling Swansea City are visitors to the Emirates Stadium tonight and on paper this is a perfect chance to pick up three easy points and keep our faint title hopes alive.
Laurent Koscielny will miss out with a calf injury sustained at Stamford Bridge so captain, Thomas Vermaelen, should get a rare start. The Arsenal defence has looked pretty good on the whole this season, conceding as many goals in 27 games as they did in the three heavy defeats to their title rivals.
This says a lot about the team. It shows they, in the main, are defensively sound and incredibly miserly. It also shows that when a game is lost, damage limitation is not on their agenda. Is this a lack of mental strength? I’m not quite sure. It’s hard on the supporters to see us lose so heavily but do the players just give it up as a bad day at the office and conserve their energy rather than risk injury chasing a game they know is lost?
I’m not suggesting that is the right attitude to have but there is something in there. Maybe I am a deluded optimist, as a few of my Twitter followers tell me (why do they follow me if I am so deluded?), but I prefer to judge the defence more on the 27 games they’ve been solid than the 3 games they capitulated in. Consistency is the mortar in the building of success. Without it, it all falls apart.
Finishing (mostly) fourth over the past 9 years isn’t what most of us had hoped for but since 1996 we have been incredibly consistent. Manchester United cannot boast that level of consistency in getting into the Champions League and whilst they’ve been successful in terms of silverware you will have to wait a year or so to judge how detrimental not getting into the Champions League next year will be for them. They might barely feel it at all but that’s a risk I’m kind of glad Arsenal haven’t taken.
Tottenham need a new stadium to push on and they hoped regular Champions League football would fund that but they have found it hard to consistently get into the Champions League and banked on using the funds from their prized asset to rejuvenate the team and achieve Champions League football again. It might pay off in the long term but it looks like they are going to have to wait at least another year.
Finishing in the top four has been Arsenal’s minimum ambition since the move to the Emirates and they have achieved it every year. We can, of course, bemoan the fact our minimum ambition has been the total of our success but this season we seem to have secured it relatively easily so should, in theory, be able to push on.
Arsenal are not yet guaranteed a top four finish but a win tonight should reinstate the 9 point gap between us and Tottenham and a 9 point swing in 8 games is unlikely. A good response tonight should set Arsenal up for a strong league finish and a real assault on the FA Cup. We might not win the league but if we can keep the fight alive going into May we can hold our heads very high.
Arsenal have allowed themselves to be knocked down far too often this season but they’ve been so good at bouncing right back they’re still in the title race despite heavy losses to rivals and the customary injury crisis.
It’s match day once again and Arsenal are ready to respond.
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