Tuesday, 12 April 2011

King Carroll crushes City - but what does it mean for the Arsenal? + more

Last night, Andy Carroll scored either side of a Dirk Kuyt goal to help his new side brush past Manchester City 3-0. But what effect does the result have on us?

For starters, it makes our game against Sp*rs even bigger for them; they're just three points behind City with a game in hand, albeit with a far inferior goal difference. This will mean they're even more fired up; not what we want. That's supposedly our game in hand, so it's vital that we win it.

Other than our own interests, it's preferable that they don't get in the Champions League for a second season - if they finish outside of the top four, failing to make it into Europe's elite competition, they'll have to sell big players. Plus, we won't have to face seeing them against the likes of Real Madrid and Inter Milan!

As for Liverpool, they put in a good performance that was perhaps exaggerated by how poor their opponents were on the night. When we faced Man City at home, we ripped them apart early on, and somehow didn't manage to get that goal; if we had, the floodgates would have opened and you would have seen a similar score-line. However, said goal evaded us and we were frustrated - a regular story at the Emirates.

Liverpool will come into the game against us in high spirits. Their new signing has broken his duck, and they have a good chance of getting into Europe. It has to be said, Kenny Dalglish has done an excellent job of turning things around at Anfield. Sunday will be an extremely tough game for us, and we'll do well to get three points.

Johan Djourou and Wojciech Szczesny are both training again, which is a huge boost. We're hopeful that both will return to the frame in time for Sunday, which would seriously increase our chances of victory. The Koscielny-Squillaci partnership struggled to deal with DJ Campbell and Gary Taylor-Fletcher, so them up against Carroll and Luis Suarez is a horrible thought.

Djourou and Koscielny's partnership, however, kept the likes of Drogba, Messi and Villa fairly quiet at the Emirates, so Johan's return is one of a few reasons for Arsenal fans to be cheerful. I'd imagine Djourou will mark Carroll, being the more dominant in the air, while Koscielny, who usually excels when the ball is on the ground, will take Suarez. He's been in excellent form for Liverpool of late, so we'll have to be mindful.

As for the possible return of Szczesny, Mad Jens had a good game against Blackpool on Sunday, but Liverpool are a completely different kettle of fish. I'm sure most Gooners, myself included, would be a lot more calm with Szczesny between the sticks. Johan and Laurent would probably testify. It's thanks to those three being together in the starting line-up that we have such an excellent defensive record since the turn of the year - and also that we've not lost since December, when they began playing together.

Meanwhile, in the Twitterverse, Jack has moved to reassure us that he's staying. Amidst the buzz of rumours linking him to Man City, he Tweeted: "People asking if I'm going to City? I don't kiss the Arsenal badge then leave <3 this club in my heart!" and included a picture of him kissing the badge at the end of the Tweet. It's extremely encouraging and a breath of fresh air to see such loyal talk in a world of Adebayors and Coles. Let's hope he chooses the opposite road to those two when the time comes to take a path. I have every confidence he'll take the right option.


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