The obvious contender for me has to be Alexis Sanchez who is clearly not at his best and seems in need of some butt on bench time. I watched an excellent video of his season so far and it was amazing to see quite the impact he had. He was a lot more productive back then and we need that during this important run in. The choice to rest him may have been easier had Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain been available but a twang of the hammy means he is still unavailable. It could be a chance to give Theo Walcott a rare start though, still feels strange saying that after so many years of our speedster being an automatic starter. I would personally start Welbeck on the left to maintain that high energy and power and balance it out with Theo on the right.
Even though Gabriel has only just returned to training, I do wonder if Arsène will take a gamble on him. Mertesacker has done excellently in recent matches, especially at Old Trafford but this is a very different game, a game that does not particularly suit him. As I mentioned above, we need to take the game to Monaco from the off, we need to compress them in their own half. Having Mertesacker half way in our own half does not help him or the team. For this same reason I wouldn't be surprised to see Gibbs come in for Monreal, although I think that is less likely as the form of the Spaniard has been top class for a number of months now
I was attempting to do my usual match line up prediction thingy and I didn't have much luck. I think Arsène will start Aaron Ramsey and with the Ox out will he go with Theo Walcott? It would be a rare start for a player who has been instrumental to us when fit in the past, it is difficult to know how much is down to what he lacks as a player or how much his contract negotiations have to do with everything. Either way, if he is to start in any game of our run in, you'd imagine West Ham at home would be a pretty good choice
The one thing I would say though is that our awful run of results has coincided with a halt to our spending and continued spending of commercial giants Manchester United. Today the playing field has been dragged closer together so the gap in squad strength is different today. Basically quality is not the issue here, whatever mental issues the players have, today is the opportunity to right any previous wrongs. A lot of the players should not be suffering with any inferiority complex. Bellerin, Alexis, Özil and Coquelin do not have much of a history against Manchester United if any at all. Tonight should just be a big game where 100% will be required. Nothing more, nothing less.
about the importance of the QPR match today and how it can positively or negatively impact a critical time of the season. I was a little weary and lacking sleep when writing that but the point stands. Results in recent weeks have been pretty positive aside from the Monaco and Tottenham matches of course but we are the second best team in the league going by domestic form. But I don't think we are performing at our maximum or even close to that and this is the time of the season where you hope to be doing that. Liverpool seem to be in that sort of groove at present and that is where I would like us to have been before next Monday's trip to Old Trafford
It seems to be the only question mark these days. By now everyone knows what strengths both players bring to the team. Welbeck is an important cog to a team that want to keep you pressed in your own half. We saw his effectiveness against Crystal Palace by winning the penalty single handedly from what was essentially a poor Giroud pass that wasn't troubling anybody. But in a game at home where you want to score goals, what better wide right sided player is there than Theo Walcott? The other point to factor in here is the game time. Walcott has not started for the last two games, can Arsène leave him out for three in a row? It would be a big call but ultimately he has to make the right decision based on the team. Welbeck is almost a certainty for Monaco away but maybe, just
So I expect Cazorla and Özil to remain as number 8 and 10 respectively. So I suspect that the only decision will be who plays on the opposite flank to Alexis Sanchez. Danny Welbeck was the preferred option last weekend and if Arsène wants a player who will work harder to put pressure on the ball when we haven't got it then he'll get the nod. But I'm going with the runs and finishing of Walcott today. Welbeck may be saved for Monaco at the Emirates.
- Tottenham (a) Thoughts & Line Up: Özil vs Rosicky dilemma & Coquelin Importance
- Aston Villa (h) Thoughts & Line Up: Collective attack vital as Alexis misses out / Gabriel
- Brighton (a) Thoughts & Line Up: Rotation needed but focus needed to avoid exit
- Manchester City (a) Thoughts & Line Up: Fixture timing, Toe-to-Toe & Selection considerations
- Stoke City (h) Thoughts & Line Up: Özil, Ramsey & Flamini return but who starts?
- Hull City (h) Thoughts & Line Up: Rotation a sticky subject as Walcott likely to start
- Southampton (a) Thoughts & Line Up: Welbeck out Rosicky in? 1st choice defence luxury & more