27 April 2013

Poldi, please pound those... (reader, choose from the best option below)

C'mon--alliteration is fun: (a) punks (b) peckerheads (c) putos (d) prats (e) other (keep it PG, please).
Offer your suggestions in the "Comments" section if you're so-inclined.

In more serious news ,we have a potential barn-burner on our hands here. Set aside all of the melodrama about the honor guard and the histrionics around van Persie's return. These are distractions, silly sideshows to the main event. Frankly, these issues have taken up far too much brain-space over the last week. Whoever is in front of us tomorrow, whether it's a full-strength XI or a bunch of academy call-ups, we could really use these three points. In that last game, no one really distinguished themselves throughout the game. Cazorla emerged well after scoring in injury-time, but even he qualified the achievement, saying this: 
My goal at the end means that the scoreline flattered us a bit, and I think they were better than us in that match.
He has a point. While we had a few chances, Man U did boss us around a bit and spurned a number of golden opportunities, namely Rooney's penalty and a few chances from van Persie. I addressed some of that here if you're curious for some more background. We were in a bit of a mess back then, winning five of our first nine while scoring just 13. Man U was still in its honeymoon period with van Persie's arrival; they had won 9 of 10 while scoring 25 goals. However, I want to look forward, not back. We're a far-cry better than we were at the beginning of the season, and I'd submit we go into Sunday far-hungrier and more confident than back in November.

Therefore, it's with bated breath that I hereby anoint Lukas Podolski as the man to take this game by the throat. I'm not even committing to him starting, but with Giroud out, we need some verve and precision up top, and Podolski has these, if not in spades, then at least more than Gervinho does. He's only played 110 minutes in his last six appearances but has looked lively and hungry. Whereas some of our other attackers struggle to put up shots or to put them on-frame, Podolski has been taking some blistering shots that have forced difficult saves from keepers. At this point, he's the only striker (yes, yes, he also plays as an AMC) we have who puts me forward on the edge of my seat when he has the ball. With Gervinho and even Walcott, I take a more "wait-and-see" attitude. Podolski has the bearing and the skill of someone who wants to score, and he sends thundering shots goal-wards. Even if he's only scored once, his shots are likely to create rebounds for teammates to pounce on. With thirteen goals and ten assists across all competitions, he's also been one of our most-prolific scorers and creators.

I regret that Giroud will be unavailable for two reasons: one, it would have been some poetic justice had he outscored van Persie; and two, his partnership with Podolski frequently brings out the best in both men. In his absence, then, Podolski will have to coordinate better with Cazorla, Walcott, and whoever else surrounds him. I'd love to see him start and get a good 60-70 minutes, if not a full 90. If Arsène does go with Gervinho up top, I hope we don't have to wait very long for Podolski's arrival. I'm going to go out on a limb and say, in either case, he's scoring one and creating another for a teammate. Bring it on, you filthy devils; Poldi is ready and waiting...