Have you managed to force yourself away from those Wilshere and Ramsey gifs yet? I know, I know it is difficult isn't it? While we have been starved of trophies in the last 8 years, I think we should not take for granted the quality of football that we have witnessed for the most part during that same period. Even during our worst spells, our football has often been far more entertaining than a majority of the league.
Tomorrow's match against Borussia Dortmund should give us a real treat of quality football, certainly our biggest test of the season so far. The Arsenal team of yesteryear may have struggled against Dortmund's impressive counter attacking game, that could still yet happen but this Arsenal team are far more savvy than a couple of season's back so it will be intriguing to see how both managers approach the game.
Judging by Arsene Wenger's comments, it appears that Mathieu Flamini is fit to play tomorrow but won't be risked due to the nature of his injury. That will be a blow to Arsene as I am sure he would have wanted to set up his side just as he did against Napoli.
Arteta and Flamini were partnered for the first time to deal with the counter attacking qualities of the Italians and boy did it work a treat. Arteta's intelligence alongside Flamini's industry is great for these type of games, it also allows our creative players further licence to do the pass, flick, pass, flick, goal type things.
Mikel Arteta is not yet at his best but I feel that some folk are underestimating his qualities. Let us not forget that we had the second best defensive record last season with Flamini as the deepest midfielder. You can tell that this sport is largely dominated by men. We love a good old bite a raw piece of chicken, blood dripping from the mouth while sliding across the grass, knocking the opponent over, jumping up and scratching his balls. I'm not knocking that at all, Flam has been superb this season and deserves his place in the team but there is more than one way to skin a cat.
A glance around the biggest clubs or even footballing countries will show you that the Flamini style midfielder is not common. Sergio Busquets, Ilkay Gündogan, Sami Khedira and Xabi Alonso spring to mind. Conceding goals from midfield was not an issue for us last season minus a few occasions. Arteta and Ramsey had a wonderful partnership, especially at the end of the season.
Check out this piece from 7am Kick off at the end of last season, a great piece that summed up how important Arteta was last season. My only issue about dropping Ramsey in as Flamini's replacement is not that he cannot do the job, Ramsey showed at the end of last season how good a destroyer he can be, it is just that he is outgrown that this season. Ramsey still wins the ball at a very high rate. He was the top tackler in the league a few weeks ago, not sure if he remains top now. But as we have seen in every game, he makes the difference further forward and that is where he is most dangerous right now. He is scoring on a weekly basis, so it will be interesting to see how Rambo balances his game tomorrow night.
Speaking of tomorrow night, the dot commers put out training pictures of the players and even though it is not always correct, I cannot help but play the bib game. You know the game where you guess the line up by which players are wearing which bib. It's taken some many centuries of mastering this art I tells ya.
Here are some trade secrets to this game. Find a certain starter, in this case Mesut Özil who is sporting a yellow bib. Ok, yellows are the first team. Then the next step is to find a squad player or a suspended player and check out his bib colour. In this case we will choose Flamini who has been ruled out due to concussion (why the hell is he training if he cannot play?) tick, Flamini has a purple bib. Good stuff.
So for this to work then our first team players must be wearing yellow and the subs, reserves and concussed wear purples. So going on the colours available in the pictures, here are the line ups.
Ok this looks like it is going somewhere. It would be a hell of a coincidence if the bibs were handed out randomly and those players were together. You'd imagine that Arsene would want his first team to keep their partnerships during training sessions to develop the understanding on the pitch (see Wilshere's goal from the weekend.. wow!)
So if the two missing players are Szczesny and Sagna then that means that Cazorla will be on the bench *sniff sniff* there are no pictures with Santi in either bib only in training kit. While I am on the speculation bus, let me take it to the next stop.
Perhaps Santi is being left out it is probably because a) he isn't yet match fit as shown against Norwich City and also he is not as good defensively as Rosicky although the little fella does put the effort in.
If the bibs are correct you have an Arsenal Vision exclusive. Here will be the team
If that is incorrect then I don't know what you're doing trying to read line up's from photos? Get a grip.