Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Football Unites and Everton (A)

Sometimes things happen in football that mean the weekend pales into insignificance, sadly the weekend just passed was one of those. I as thousands of others settled in to watch Tottenham play Bolton in the FA Cup and for 41 minutes it was a perfectly normal game. Then a horrible moment for everyone and anyone connected with the world of sport. Watching 6 paramedics surround Fabrice Muamba and try on multiple occasions to resuscitate him was absolutely horrific, White Hart Lane was silent as the 32,000 stunned fans looked on as players broke down and began to pray on the pitch. Muamba was stretchered off as both sets of fans chanted his name, Howard Webb made the decision to call of the game and it was absolutely 100% the right decision. Now I'm no fan of Howard Webb but he was professional throughout what was clearly a very distressing situation and does deserve some credit. Along with him both sets of supporters aside from being shocked were brilliant, there were no jeers as he went down and everyone realised the seriousness of the situation. 

Memories of Marc Vivien Foe in June 2003 were fresh in my mind and we all feared the worst as it took ages for news filter through. Thousands of messages from fans, players and even people who weren't connected with football flooded Twitter and Facebook, then eventually the news that his heart had been restarted was broadcast much to the relief of everyone. It was a true display of everyone regardless of team, nationality and race coming together in support of Fabrice Muamba. The latest statement is that his condition has been downgraded from "critical" to "serious" and he appears to be gradually improving. Fingers crossed he makes a full recovery.

Moving away from the story dominating football, we face Everton at Goodison Park on Wednesday, a team who despite losing the derby against Liverpool last week seem to be on the up and are picking up some form. Make no mistake this game will be no walk in the park (no pun intended) and Everton will give us a real good game. Having beaten Tottenham and Manchester City there recently, they will have no fear going into the game.

Team news is well, sketchy at best. With the Muamba incident there has been very little out of the club which in a way is understandable but bear with me as I attempt to guess our team lineup. So: Szczesney, Sagna, Kos, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Walcott, Song, Arteta, Rosicky, Alex OC, RVP. Ramsey and Gervinho offer cover and competition for places but I think Arsene will stick with this lineup. Rosicky is on form and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain just has that aura of a player who can make some happen. Santos also returns to give Gibbs a run at left back. But as many have pointed out its better to have competition for places rather than forcing players into unnatural positions. Diaby however is out after playing for an hour and scoring for the reserves against Liverpool.

Everton are on real form at home and I thought were unlucky not to progress in the FA Cup against Sunderland. Jelavic can worry defences on his day and although I've seen little of him Dennis Straquialdkeiksafhkelarsi looks to be a tidy player. Drenthe will give Gibbs a challenge on the wing and obviously Cahill and Osman are dangerous on their day. They have physical players which in the past will have troubled us, but with the likes of Oxlade-Chamberlain and Song we have some powerful players of our own.

I think it will be a close game and with Chelsea away at City and Sp*rs hosting Stoke we have a chance to move further up the table. Could look very different at full time tomorrow. Fingers crossed, COYG!!

Prediction: Everton 1-2 Arsenal