Southampton Home - Tuesday 21:45 @ Brazenhead in Fourways, Leaping Frog Centre

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There’s no time to catch your breath these days with the matches coming thick and fast. Saturday saw us navigate our way past Burnley in the FA Cup although the seas were a bit more choppy than expected. Well played to The Clarets nevertheless, even though they put out a full strength side, they competed well and made The Gunners fight for everything. Well done to Wenger, that was his one thousand one hundredth game in charge, only another four hundred and one to get past Fergie’s record at Manchester. He needs to up his game in that department as Fergie had a 59.67% win rate whilst Arsene is lagging behind on 57.5%. Another seven years for Arsene then?

So on to Tuesday night and we host Southampton. I’m looking forward to Wenger putting out a full strength team, with Ozil and Ramsey back on board and Cech, Bellerin, Mertesacker and Monreal tightening up the back line. I think I would go for Giroud ahead of Walcott for this game. He gives that added option of height, he can hold the ball up well, his touches in and around the box can be quite exquisite and his link up play as demonstrated in our winning goal against Burnley was what one wants in such lightening forays. Walcott I think should be our impact player and until he shows that he can be a threat by scoring, then he must start games on the bench. He has only scored three Premier League goals this season and we have played 23 (60%) games so far.

I think this is the ideal match to have the strongest XI playing as we are approaching the crazy season and we need to ensure we don’t drop any further points having only managed 2 from the last possible 9. This coming weekend we play Bournemouth away and the weekend thereafter it’s Leicester City at home. The following weekend is the start of the crazy season when we play our fifth round FA Cup tie (opponents to be announced tonight at 8:20pm – Shrewsbury at home would be nice), then a Tuesday home leg to Barcelona, followed by MFU the next weekend (28th Feb – put it in your dairies!!) in the Premier League. March continues with two games a week until 19th and then we have the Inter-lull that are a bunch of unwanted ‘friendlies’ just to tire the players out even more! So Arsene, let’s get a bunch of points under our belts now and then we can start looking at squad rotation with all these players coming back from injury.

On Saturday we saw three players returning, Arteta, Coquelin and Rosicky with Coquelin starting the match whilst the other two were both on the bench. Coquelin had a good ‘first’ game and apart from Gibbs trying to injure him in the build up to the Burnley goal I think he came out of the match with no concerns and should carry on where he left off. Arsene brought Arteta and Rosicky on in the second half after we had taken the lead and they both accounted well for themselves. News to hand though is that Rosicky has picked up a further injury, being a damaged thigh muscle which will keep him out for a further 4 – 6 weeks. As much as we all love Rosicky, his playing days are coming to an end. It would have been nice to see him play more for what must be his final season with the Gunners, but one must question his fitness and whether he can be an asset to the team for the remaining games. Then there was also a start in midfield for Iwobi. He continues to impress and had a good all round game yesterday showing great vision and accurate passing. His challenge early in the second half to prevent Burnley taking the lead was also crucial. Finally, our January signing, Elneny, also started next to Coquelin as a deep midfielder and although it’s early days and this was only a Championship side we were up against, he accounted for himself well and I saw a stat that indicated he completed 96% of his passes. He is also one who is not afraid to have a thump of the old ball from outside the area and I think we might be seeing this fella on the scoresheet quite soon.

We’re currently third in the league, 3 behind Leicester and equal with Citeh. Spurs are two points behind us and MFU a further 5 points. Looking at our opposition’s fixtures, Leicester host Liverpool and this game could see a lot of goals (maybe not as many as the Liverpool – Norwich match), however I do not see Liverpool doing anyone any favours, least of all themselves – c’mon Klopp – surprise us! Citeh travel to the Stadium of Light to confront a Sunderland side that have won two of their last four games although they went down to Spurs 4 – 1 and only managed a draw with Bournemouth in their last home game. Citeh have beaten Sunderland on each of their last three encounters and I really don’t see anything changing this time round. Sp*rs are away to Norwich. Watching Norwich’s match against Liverpool last week gives me no hope that they can take some points off Sp*rs so I’ll save my wishes for another week. Finally, MFU receive Stoke at the Theatre of Dreams. I prefer to call it that as opposed to Old Trafford as it is more accurate with a high percentage of the supporters and staff having fallen into a deep sleep before the game ends. However, as good as Stoke are at the Britannia Stadium with their ability to beat the big teams, they do not match their feats when on their travels and I do not see them starting here, maybe a no-score draw if we’re lucky to allow West Ham to creep above them.

So, it’s a late Tuesday night kick off at 21:45 and the match is on SS3. The Brazenhead will be open for business so why don’t y’all c’mon down to the Brazenhead and have yourselves some fun?