Friday, March 17, 2006

Arsenal Preview

In all of our years in the football league, we have only visited the marble halls of Highbury 24 times, and the 25th visit tomorrow will be our last.

I made my first visit to Highbury before I even saw a game at The Valley. My first ever memory of live football was standing behind the goal with my old man as Arsenal played Man Utd. I don't recall anything about the game - I was so young. All I remember was that there was a really big clock at one end of the ground, and I was transfixed by it, probably missing most of the game whilst in awe of the minute hand clicking slowly round.

I have a real thing about football stadia, and I actually feel quite upset that we will never play at the famous old ground again. Alright, more often than not we lose whenever we go there, but there was always the odd magical day like the 0-0 draw we ground out as a newly promoted club, or Euell flicking the fourth into the net and then running towards us in the Clock End. Maybe I'm being a tart, but it's kind of sad that a lot of young football fans will never get to see a game at Highbury.
I feel the same about the old Wembley too; It may have been an awful ground, coming apart at the seams almost, yet it remains the scene of our 2 greatest triumphs, and memories seemed to echo around that concrete saucer even when there were no fans inside it. There was a gravitas about the place, a sense of history and tradition. Although both new stadiums are going to be superb, some of the charm is going to be lost. It's as simple as that.

With regards to the game, I've tried to be optimistic recently, but even an eternal optimist will have trouble in honestly believing we are capable of a victory in this match. The best we can truly hope for is a draw, and a goalless one at that. If Arsenal get their noses in front with the talent that they have in their side, the champagne football tends to flow, and teams end up succumbing to them without so much as a whimper. We are not made of as stern a stuff at the moment as we have been on recent visits, and I fear what will happen to us if an early goal or two are scored. The statistics back up this paragraph; Arsenal haven't dropped a point in any of the 13 games in which they have scored the first goal so far this season.

Robin van Persie was rumoured to be making his comeback in this match, but the latest news from BBC Sport seems to suggest that he just might miss out. Adebayor and Henry will likely continue their partnership up front.
Cole, Clichy, and Cygan (unfortunately) are ruled out.

From our point of view, Marcus Bent has been named in the squad but will need a late test in order to prove his fitness. The last two games he has played have seen him limp off during the second half. I don't think we should risk him here. He is obviously lacking match practice, so lets not worsen his injury. He can't play against Boro, so lets give him a full week or so to recuperate and train in order to get his fitness levels back up ahead of our run-in. Rommedahl and Sorondo are also back in the squad, but again are unlikely to make the bench.

Congratulations to anyone who got a ticket for this one. Make sure you get a few pictures. Your kids might ask you what it was like to watch a football match at Highbury one day...

Cynic Athletic's Prediction - 3 - 0 defeat (Adebayor, Henry 2)


Blogger Daniel Franklin Gomez said...

I think it the score may be a little closer than that. It's a london derby, so it's gonna be interesting.

I'm looking forward of "welcoming" Vieira to highbury in the coming weeks!

5:52 am  

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