Well derby day is finally here and if there is one match we really don't want to lose, it the one today at the Grove. Last season we slipped two goals behind but had the strength and the will power to bounce back to win 5-2. Having been at the game, I believe that had a lot to do with the crowd, getting behind the team.
If we can create the same atmosphere today, there is no doubt in my mind we can push this team on to achieve another result against those lot from down the road. If there is one thing we can't do, it's getting on the backs of our own players while they're playing our local rivals. This game is too important for that.
This will be the first time since Arsene Wenger took charge that Pat Rice won't be his assistant manager for a north London derby. One thing Rice did know was how important it was to give your all during these games. He knew how much winning meant to the fans and didn't hold back when he told the players that they needed to perform.
In Steve Bould as Arsene's new assistant, we have a man very much of the same stock as Rice. Bould has been through several battling performances against today's opposition and will ensure the three summer signings know exactly what is expected of them. They shouldn't leave the pitch with any regrets. They need to run their heart out and work for the team.
As I said in yesterday's post, we need a catalyst to step forward. Last season it was Tomas Rosicky in my eyes. This season it could well be Theo Walcott. Above all though, we need all 11 players in red and white to give their all for the cause. I know that the fans will be up for the game, the players will be pumped, so lets channel this and make sure the atmosphere in the ground is electric.
The manager said:
"I know how much this game means to me and everybody at the club. I played these derbies for 16 years now so at least I understand the importance of it.
"You will take any win, but it's not the way to go into the game. You cannot ask to do that at the start. You want to play well and go in thinking that if you play well you will win the game."I'd take a 1-0 win with the goal coming off William Gallas' arse at the moment. We just need to get the momentum going again.
There were six players: Wojciech Szczesny, Bacary Sagna, Mikel Arteta, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Olivier Giroud, expected to pass late fitness tests yesterday. If they do, I'd expect five of the six to start.
I predict the starting line up will be: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Arteta, Wilshere, Walcott, Cazorla, Podolski, Giroud.
Wenger could through a curve ball by playing either Arshavin or Oxlade-Chamberlain but I don't see that happening today.
The Sun today is claiming that Arsenal will offer Theo Walcott and £8m for Raheem Sterling. It's probably one of the more ludicrous transfer stories I've read, but sometimes these deals do happen.
That's it for today. See those of you heading to the Grove for the game at the ground. If not, enjoy the game where ever you are. Back with more tomorrow.