Tomorrow, we have to travel up to the Britannia Stadium and play Stoke - formerly known as Stoke Rugby Club. The teams featuring Tony Pulis, Rory Delap, Nine 6ft+ brutes and Ryan Shawcross - we all know about him.
Already, there is a lot of build up by the press, and fans themselves about the 'rivalry' between the two teams due to our contrasting styles (nice and horrible) and the managers' contempt towards eachother as well as the fallout after THAT tackle, which our players has still not completely recovered from. Rumours from Stoke fans are that certain sections of their crowd will try and boo Aaron, which completely bewilders me. The reasons for it don't seem too convincing either, 'he is an arrogant twat' or 'hopefully he'll have his leg snapped again' are two examples said more than once. The defence of Aaron comes in the way of this 'I have nothing against Aaron and we should concentrate on the real C***s Wenger and Fabregas'
Overall, there is a lot of anger on both sides, from us because in every game we have played against them since they re-entered the league at least one of our players has been stretchered off, and the assault by Ryan last year. From them because they are terribly ignorant and bigoted, as shown due to Stoke being a BNP stronghold.
The team news is that Cesc, Nasri and Diaby all seem to be out. I expect the same team as we saw in the start second half against United, although whether Djourou is fit will remain to be seen. In a nod to the subs it is likely that Vermaelen may be back in the Arsenal squad for the first time since September, and we can only think what could have been had he been fit all season.
Moving on, and there is a lot of new stories about the exits of our players. Bendtner, Nasri and Clichy have all been linked away form the club. Clichy and Nasri's contracts both expire next year, so if we cannot get them to sign on this summer, we will have to sell them to avoid a flamini situation. If i am correct I think that both players have stated through their agents that they will start talk over renewals in the summer. But as we have got closer to the end of the season, the press have started reporting the situation more, and other clubs have started monitoring the players in search of a bargain.
Today it was rumoured that Clichy would go for £5.5 million, and whilst he has dropped over the last few years, that figure represents less than half of his value. Clichy's drop in form, as well as the potential of Gibbs, has made many fans talk of selling him without too much fuss, myself being one of them. However, since the turn of the year Gibbs' injury problems, coupled with a slight upwards curve in his from has started to change my mind. Although we have been linked wiht other deals for LB's such as Baines and Izaguirre of Everton and Celtic.
Nasri, probably our player of the year, on the other hand is simply someone we cannot afford to lose. Especially if we are trying to convince Cesc, and other key players to stay another summer, and other quality players to join our fantastic club. My hopes are that the rumours are just being made by his agent to engineer a larger weekly wage. Hopefully.
In a rather different case is the one of Bendtner though. He has stated in previous times that he is unhappy at the amount of game time he is getting at the club. But he hasn't exactly warranted a place ahead of 17 goals in 18 games Van Persie. To be fair to him, when he has come on he has ludicrously been played in a right wing role, which is infuriating to us as fans as much as him. The weekend papers are reporting that he is having 'showdown' talks with the bosses at the club in the near future. Reportedly Bayern Munich are ready to take him, which proves he has some quality. But we rarely see him produce it.
Good luck to the team tomorrow, I would love it if we stuffed them. Here is a video of the controversies against us this season.
Come on you Gooners!