Kick Off – 1600hrs
Now the story of Leicester’s miraculous title victory has been given an appropriate ending, you could be forgiven for thinking that the major drama has been and gone.
That would be an incorrect assumption.
With the huge wads of cash in the Premier League though, one positional place gained can make a huge difference – and the bragging rights of finishing above your rivals cannot be underestimated.
For two decades, we have had our boot firmly on the neck of tottenham, but this season looks to be the moment when they reverse the hold and their gruesome boot attempts to squeeze the oxygen from us.
No doubt, we will never hear the end of this and the upcoming DVD release will see Mickey Hazard wheeled out to sign copies. Whilst they can look forward to more ammunition in the ‘banter’ stakes – conveniently forgetting our stature is far bigger than theirs and the last twenty years – and a signed copy of an awful DVD, it isn’t set in stone.
While we have a chance, we must strive to take even the minutiae from what has been a pretty poor season – and perhaps the worst in a very long time.
First up on the agenda, if this mission is to be successful, is defeating Manchester City.
Arsene Wenger divulged the news of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s latest setback, and it will not only see him miss our last two games, he will also be sidelined for Euro2016. This will be a massive blow for him, but hopefully a full pre-season will enable him to inch nearer to fulfilling a potential that has nowhere near bloomed yet.
The only other member of our squad who will miss out is Per Mertesacker, the hamstring tweak he picked up last weekend against Norwich was more serious than first feared and it seems Brazilian hothead Gabriel will be the man to fill in alongside Laurent Koscielny.
The other headache Wenger will have is who to play in midfield. With Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla both more than ready for minutes, and Aaron Ramsey showing a semblance of form in his recent showings, will Wenger continue with the excellent Elneny? Or a fresh combo?
Whoever makes up the midfield, the striker berth really needs no deliberation……does it?
With Giroud in the worst slump of his Arsenal career and Danny Welbeck making the most of every minute, then there seems to be no choice. Is Welbeck fully fit though? We can but hope, as Welbeck will pose the greater threat.
Manchester City will be without crocked club captain Vincent Kompany, as well as David Silva, Pablo Zabaleta and Alexander Kolarov. That makes up a large chunk of their side, but with the Champions League still not tied up for City – and Manchester rivals United only a point behind – a win is craved for.
Tottenham will, in all probability, finish in the runners-up spot. This will pain every single one of us beyond words, but there is still a smidgin of a chance that we can overturn these odds. A win over a direct rival next season is always a boost as well, so three points taken from City could be a marker for next season. Although, City will more than likely be unrecognisable from August 2016.
Arsenal still haven’t tied down their Champions League involvement for next season as well, and will be keen to finish as high as they can. With a frustrated Sanchez, a goalshy Giroud, a bemused Ozil and a whole squad disappointed they failed to materialise a title tilt, victory today is going to be tough to achieve.
The Gunners have a great recent record against City however – we are unbeaten in the last four league games. They could also grab a fourth consecutive clean sheet for the first time in two years if they shutout Aguero and co.
Who knows. I just cannot predict our team with any degree of certainty these days. Let’s go for 2-1.