Everyone pumped for the big game later?! YEAH, COME ON! WOOOOH!
We have to play it. And look, every game matters. Even ones which don’t matter much still matter a bit. There are points to play for, pride to play for and, bringing it down to brass tacks, the higher we finish in the league the more prize money we earn. Considering there’s no European football next season, every penny counts.
That said, here’s where I am on this one:
The team news is that Granit Xhaka is out with a groin strain. It was weird on Thursday when TV pictures showed someone stamping on his foot as they announced his late drop-out, because I thought maybe it was just a hurty toe, and Xhaka, to be fair to him, has demonstrated much greater durability than that. A groin strain makes much more sense.
Also absent, Pablo Mari who turned his ankle quite badly against Villarreal. He played on, but can’t play today because of that. Gabriel should come in alongside him. The £28m centre-half we signed last summer who couldn’t get into the team for a European semi-final for no particular reason other than he can’t seem to play alongside Rob Holding (which should be a bigger problem for Rob than Gabriel).
I don’t know who else will play to be perfectly honest. Given how little these last few games of the season matter, it would be nice to see a nod towards next season with a couple of young players on the bench, at least. If Eddie Nketiah’s Arsenal race is run, let’s have Folarin Balogun on the bench. In 10 days Dani Ceballos will pack his bags and go back to Spain, so why not see if Miguel Azeez can play some minutes? His age and inexperience might mean he’s just as ineffective as Ceballos, but at least you’d be developing a player from your Academy rather than playing a lad who Real Madrid will be advertising in El Buy & Sell come the summer.
I don’t really expect that because although the importance of these games has diminished in the grand scheme of things, Mikel Arteta needs wins and I think he’ll plump for most of the same old faces we’ve seen throughout this season. Some of them I like; some of them I don’t; some of them I would happily shoot into space in a bockety rocket with just a packet of pop-tarts for sustenance (and no toaster). I’ve seen enough not to want something a bit new for a few games, but when it comes to adventurous team selection, using a midfielder at left-back is about as good as it gets under this manager.
If we win today, we relegate West Brom, which isn’t particularly something to celebrate, but we also relegate Sam Allardyce, and that’s worth enjoying. Am I a small, bitter, person holding onto grudges from way, way back in the past? Yes, yes I am. My metaphorical grudge containment unit is full to the very brim with slights, bitterness, malice, contempt, disdain and animus for all kinds of people and places and things, and the Allardyce percentage is high. So, in this season of awfulness, unpleasantness and under-performances, at least give me this, Arsenal. It’s not a lot to ask for, and I think you owe it to all of us today to be sufficiently not shit to win a game against a team in the bottom three.
Report. Arsenal 2-3 West Brom
Willian finally got on the scoresheet for Arsenal today, but a hat-trick of second-half own goals in the 11 minutes of injury time was not the goalscoring contribution Gunners fans had been hoping for …
If you can’t laugh, what can you do? Not sure what else there is to say about this game other than it feels apt that a terrible weeks ends with an uninspiring fixture at a rotten kick-off time. As ever though, we’ll be on hand to provide live blog coverage and all the post-game stuff on Arseblog News.
We do have a preview podcast over on Patreon, but it contains about 1% West Brom preview and 99% discussion of Mikel Arteta, club structures, the importance of a good Technical/Sporting Director, and lots more. Check it out here.
Right, for now, take it easy. Enjoy your Sunday until somehow, in some way you never thought possible, Arsenal make it take a turn for the worse later on.