Happy New Year – lets hope 2008 is jam packed full of trophies, success and fun…and that all starts today.
With West Ham the only side in a year and a half at the Emirates to have won there, thanks to some extraordinary luck and stunning goalkeeping by Rob Green, revenge is on the cards. Sagna is rested after slotting seamlessly into the side since the beginning of the season, while Walcott is back in the squad, probably to play a role from the bench. Van Persie is still out with a thigh injury.
An early goal would be the perfect way to peg West Ham back, who are one of those teams that can be very good (see three consecutive wins over United), or abysmal in equal measure. Let’s hope last season’s freakish match is balanced by a New Year thumping today.
It would be the perfect sendoff for Toure and Eboue, who play their final game for us before going off to the African Nations Cup. With the Ivory Coast amongst the favourites, they are likely to miss six weeks, but before panic sets in, be aware that amongst the matches they miss are two Carling Cup matches and two FA Cup games (assuming we beat Burnley) that they may not have figured in anyway. The final is on February 10, and after today we actually only play five Premiership games in that time. It isn’t the disaster many believe it is.
Djourou returns to fill the gap after Birmingham’s game at Old Trafford this afternoon, and while many expect him to come straight into the side, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him act only as cover to Senderos initially. Alex Song will also have opportunities to impress, a sentence that scares me less now than it did in the summer.
And if that wasn’t enough, the transfer window is now open. Wenger has said he’s unlikely to sign anyone, but he said that two years ago, and then snapped up Diaby, Adebayor and Walcott. He is not one to follow his own predictions, so its anyone’s guess what’ll happen this month, if anything.
At least on the signings front. Exits are likely, with Lehmann the prime candidate to leave. I imagine Gilberto will stay until the summer before departing, while Diarra is unlikely to be allowed to move despite his continual whinging. However, if he shows as little will to fight for his place for the rest of the season, don’t be surprised to see him move down to a mid table club in the summer, only to complain that his new employers aren’t ambitious enough, or something to that effect.
Early prediction is a 3-0 win, which means that absolutely will not be the result. Come on you reds.