Our never say die attitude saved our bacon against Anderlecht in midweek but our performances are very much an issue of late. At least our last two matches. What we are seeing on the pitch just does not match the talent we have in our team. It seems crazy to think that a team fielding Cazorla, Wilshere, Ramsey and Alexis is currently lacking creativity, but that has been the case against those who sit back and allow us space in front of them but hardly any in behind. It partly explains why Alexis Sanchez has been the only one who has been able to carve out assists in the last two matches. He is capable of weaving through players in tight spaces something that not many of our squad can do
Calum Chambers is back from suspension and will play but the question is where? Not only where but who will he replace? The candidates are Nacho Monreal who had a good game against Hull at centre back even though it seemed many were waiting for him to fail. The other option is to replace Hector Bellerin but he was one of our better performers on the day. Given the pressure on the team I wouldn't be surprised to see Monreal keep his place, shifting Chambers to right back but I'd much prefer letting Bellerin continue at right back and moving Chambers back into a more natural position at centre back.
Bacary Sagna in acres of space, having time to stop the ball and cross the ball into the first defender or into the keepers hands when he had space to drive at the full back and commit him the way someone like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain can. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Steve Bruce ask his players to target the space in behind Bellerin on turnovers so Flamini and indeed
Ramsey and Özil but that aside we had a team to produce a much better performance both defensively and offensively. At the time I did not understand our approach to the game. I just could not get my head around it. We had one of the best defensive records in the league because we defended in numbers when we didn't have the ball. It worked so well in so many of our games, so much so that we spent week after week at the top of the table but at Chelsea we had abandoned that strategy and tried to push Chelsea back into their own half by
What will be interesting now is how we set up. It's clear that Arsène wants to see the 4141 through, especially in big games. I assume it is the big games that has instigated this change in the first place but with Arteta and Rambo out, and perhaps even Jack not available from the start I wonder if the players available would suit the 4231 once more
As for the game today, too many people are tipping us to win comfortably for my liking. They've been terrible in recent weeks and this type of fixture is just the kind of fixture the Tottenham manager will use to kick start their season. They will be committed and aggressive for sure so we will have to match that. As for team selection, I reckon that depends on what system Arsène opts for. If we want to press them high up and get behind their back four early then you may have to prepare yourself for Mesut Özil playing on the left in place of Cazorla with Wilshere coming back into the side but if Arsène keeps the 4231 then I reckon Cazorla will start ahead of Wilshere but out on the left, allowing rotation between himself and Mesut.
I have a Diaby theory, hear me out. If Abou Diaby plays as the deepest midfielder rather than his usual box to box then Arsène is grooming away in the hope that he can stay fit. The only possible available spot in our first team would be Arteta's role, right? So gradually bringing him back slowly and playing him as the defensive midfielder when Flamini and potentially Coquelin are on the pitch tells me that Arsène is planning something. If he plays box to box then maybe, just maybe Abou is playing out his final few months with us. We know how much Arsène loves a bit of Abou (and rightly so in my opinion) so I wouldn't be so sure.
- Aston Villa (a) Thoughts & Line Up: Rotation, Desire & 3 points please
- Borussia Dortmund (h) Thoughts: Flamini, Bellerin & Rotation or Momentum
- Manchester City (h) Thoughts & Line Up: Chance for Welbeck to shine
- Leicester City (a) Thoughts & Line Up: Any room for battling Santi?
- Besiktas (h) Thoughts & Line Up: Will Arsène ditch 4-1-4-1? & Will Alexis get a 2nd chance?
- Everton (a) Thoughts & Line Up: Plenty of decisions for the boss today
- Besiktas (a) Thoughts & Line Up: Sharper Arsenal needed to get result in Turkey