Strange times these – the first in my living memory that we’ve gone into a match against that ‘orrible lot from down the road with the bookies sidling over into the lilywhite camp. The noisy babblings of my l’Arse supporting chums ring a little hollow these days. Current form; playing personnel; summer transfer dabbling; inside out; upside down – any way you look at it we have the edge at the moment.Unfortunately, this does not necessarily count for a great deal – the standard North London ruckus tends to produce four goals in the first 20 minutes, at which point pre-game indicators are accordingly lobbed out of the nearest window. Nevertheless, it’s nice at least to go into this one using little more than a knowing smile in the traditional pre-match verbal jousting with fans of the other lot.
Selection Dilemma: VDV
A big moment for ‘Arry this one, as the conundrum that quietly brewed away throughout last season is now presenting itself in the form of a life-sized, VDV-shaped selection dilemma. Where best to begin with the Dutchman – right-wing, behind a lone striker or on the bench? The mildly controversial view here at AANP Towers is to mark a big cross in the box entitled “Impact Sub” today. Before you gather the rotten fruit and proceed to pelt, consider the reasons: Aaron Lennon is now back to fitness, providing an alternative on the right; while 4-4-2, with Adebayor-Defoe as bona fide strikers, seems a darned sight more positive (and threatening) for a home game than 4-5-1 with VDV chipping in occasionally in midfield. Moreover, VDV does not seem capable of lasting more than an hour or so, a fact presumably entirely unrelated to his occasional appearances in the kebab house down the road from AANP Towers. That said however, be we 4-5-1 with VDV or 4-4-2 without, the Wenger brow will be etched with worry lines. As selection posers go, it’s rather a topper.
Selection Dilemma Part Deux: Walker – Corluka
Another possible pencil-chewing matter for our glorious leader is at right-back. Young Master Walker appears to be the incumbent at present, and the lad certainly enjoys pelting towards the opposition by-line at a rate of knots – but can he defend? “Adequate, But Not Without Mistakes” might not be good enough this afternoon. I guess the Walker-Corluka choice might also depend on whether Lennon or VDV is picked on the right wing, at which point this all becomes terrifically complicated. As ever, my preference would be Kaboul.
Elsewhere, a collective sigh of relief would no doubt echo around the Lane once it is confirmed that Ledley is fit to start again, and Sandro may well drop to the bench, in the interests of glorious, pulsating, all-out attack. This being what it is I presume there will be at least five goals, of which van Persie will presumably score one and VDV another, while the laws of science dictate that Adebayor will score, get sent off or both. In a nutshell, it really does contain just about as much excitement as is legal on a Sunday afternoon. Home win.