It’s a good day to practise defensive solidity…

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So, like my start to the day, it’s an early kick-off at the Grove. The forecast all week was for April downpours but, looking out of the window as I am, all I can see is clear blue sky. This being England, I won’t tempt fate by slathering on the Piz Buin though. It’s almost certain to change between now and then.

It’s got the potential to be a strange game, today. For Arsenal, increasingly secure in fourth but as far away from third as ever, and with a somewhat massive Champions League semi-final looming large, there are the usual pitfalls. Does Wenger rotate? Does he bring back the fit-again Almunia, Djourou and Adebayor or does he rest them for Wednesday?

And will the players have one eye on Old Trafford? These things can happen.

No such decisions for Boro. They are scrapping for all it’s worth against relegation and need to come right at us. With four points from six and unbeaten in five against Arsenal, they will doubtless fancy that they can get something out of this one.

For me, I’m naturally looking forward to seeing the fizzling Arshavin play, but I’m equally keen to study our back line. Having seen Utd slot five past the Spuds yesterday, the prospect of an evening in Manchester will only become palatable if we can see signs of increased solidity in defence – and better defensive cover from the rest of the team, too.

Quality goals can be forgiven if you’ve done as much as you can to stop them being scored, but all of the goals conceded on Tuesday were preventable, and that’s what needs to be worked on today.

For me though, there’s no point in stepping off the gas ahead of Wednesday. Nothing dents confidence worse than a bad result, and nothing boosts it better than a good one.

So let’s get at them, lickety-split, defend well and see whether we can put down our own marker for Wednesday.


Arsenal since about 1979. Thick, thin and all that.