Although Arsenal were knocked out of the Champion’s League last night, they will have taken a great deal of heart and pride in their performance.
Now they are out of all cup competitions they only have the league, and 4th place in particular, to focus on and this could be bad news for us on Monday night. Often, when a team goes out of the Champs league, their league form can also suffer with the players feeling a bit flat, but due to the nature of their European exit and their excellent performances in their last couple of league games, I am quite concerned about facing them at the Emirates next week.
RVP against Williamson is the stuff that nightmares are made from, so it will be vital that we limit the supply to him from midfield. Having said that, I really feel that HBA should start on the right wing to give them something to worry about and to make the fullback think twice about bombing forward in support.
Our best opportunity, IMHO, is to get at their centre backs with the ball on the floor and HBA allows this to happen. He seems to occupy 2-3 of their players, thus creating more space and time for Cabaye and Tiote, and gives them more options when they have the ball. He also has the ability to provide insightful defence splitting passes for Ba and Cisse (when he actually decides to pass the bloody ball). The downside to playing HBA on Monday is that it is vital that we keep the ball as much as possible, but it is only natural that in trying to be creative he is going to give away possession. Despite this, I would definitely put him in the starting eleven.
Once again we will need to rely on the incredible work ethic that Pardew has instilled in this team and maybe a flash of individual brilliance to come away with a result.
How do you guys think we should best deal with the threat of RVP and how do you see us being able to exploit their weaknesses?