By Randy Osae
Arsenal can only shift one way now. 2008 has not been a year to forget by any means…for the better part, it was what might have been. Some amnesia is required for this erratic first half of the season, and the preceding share of the term appeals for real steadiness.
On post boxing day last year, Arsenal’s forte was top spot. A year on, it’s arguably fourth place.
This second of an unusual double header of league rounds in the space of three days welcomes the legendary Tony Adams back home at the club he never quit, but as a stressed Portsmouth manager.
Even so, he will dare not swap places with his former mentor.
Arsene Wenger has been subject to “examinations” through the course of these 12 months, and Knight’s odd strike on Friday night did not cause nightmares for the Frenchman considering his old hand, but he will always fall under the microscope.
And Sunday is not an exception.
Arsenal head into this encounter with not just the unoccupied mind of concluding the year with flourish. Business is taking a toll, and only staying on a thriving form will do it.
Rivals Aston Villa are idle till Tuesday, so the Gunners could recapture top four savor, and perhaps remain there, depending on what happens at Hull.
Whilst the title may seem farther in sight, any fortune elsewhere could reduce the 10-point deficit off Liverpool’s pace. The reds travel to St. James’ Park while Chelsea have a London derby to conduct at Fulham.
What can help Arsenal’s taming ambitions will be bearing the lead of Wenger’s rigorous hope that the Gunners are in it with every chance and as this tier has always attested; every outing has a result of it’s own.
Arsenal can maintain their cool heads, and the good olds will return. The turn for accountants will be come May and not now. There’s still a lot at stake, and the gene of every Gunner does not lack a sense of fighting on.
Alex Song would have been suspended for this program anyway after his fifth booking of the season, but he limped off at half-time on Saturday with a wound also. Clichy has shaken off his calf problem while Emmanuel Adebayor makes a boosting return.