I fully expect the pattern of the game to be very similar to our recent home game against Swansea City. But it will be down to us to open them up and score the first goal. Against Swansea we started the game far too slowly, our passing was laboured and there was not enough movement to shift them out of position. Quite possibly it was our most boring half of the season so far. Had we started the first half
But I guess that fixture will be forgotten about if we can secure 3rd and win the FA Cup once more. So it is important we can keep the confidence we have had in recent weeks and ignore what was by all accounts a blip in a pretty impressive second half of the season. Danny Welbeck has lost his fitness race to be involved against his old club so I expect the team to remain the same. Arsene was asked about rotation and he said all his players would be needed in the run in but I don't see changes happening in what is a pretty big game, it is more than likely that we will make changes in midweek against Sunderland. At least that would make sense to me given the gap between the Swansea game until now.
The squad is pretty much the same from last week's match but Aaron Ramsey is a doubt after taking a whack to his ankle. Initially it looked quite bad and also pretty painful but having just watched the match again for the 3rd time Ramsey didn't look very restricted in his movement in the second half and when he was replaced by Jack Wilshere after 60 minutes, he trotted off the pitch without any obvious problems, or so it seemed from where I was watching. I wouldn't actually be surprised to see Ramsey fully fit and raring to go and his name on the team sheet when the line ups are handed out
Needless to say though, if we find our best form then we will have too much for Hull. The slight concern is that in our last two games we've dropped off a little. In our last three games we've only scored 3 goals and two of those were against a Championship side. That being said, I thought we looked pretty sharp against Chelsea in the first half even if we were not able to find a way through. At this stage it doesn't seem as if we will see a great deal of changes, the run in is all about momentum and stability but I wonder if Arsène will continue to use Aaron Ramsey wide on the right. I thought he performed pretty well against Chelsea, he just did not provide us with the outlet that a more natural wide player would. But once more you'd have to drop a player who is in good form and important to the team. I just don't see that happening right about now.
And of course there is Jose Mourinho, the most arrogant; self important; crass and hypocritical man in the game today. All the talk is of Wenger's record against Mourinho and yes I would say that Arsene will need to look inwards to a point. We have more often than not fallen straight into his trap of being sucked in and then counter attacked after leaving ourselves exposed. A more pragmatic approach may have been more desirable on many occasions but let's not pretend that his team were playing against the invincibles twice a season. Mourinho came to Chelsea in 2005, a year that coincided with Arsenal chopping off our aging high earners and replacing them with cheap young players as the Emirates era began. Meanwhile Mourinho was regularly breaking transfer records, often overpaying to get the exact players he wanted. Even buying players just to prevent them from joining a rival
The only other section question marks I see could be choosing three between Ramsey, Cazorla, Welbeck and Giroud. Aaron Ramsey on the right of the attack in the last two games has made perfect sense in my opinion. This is a game where we could use another attacking player rather than Aaron's stability, but Ramsey has been in very good form and has contributed to goals in our last few games. But the good news is that we have a squad strong enough that whatever the manager selects to start the game, we should have a pretty exciting team capable of getting to our second consecutive FA Cup final.
I haven't been watching their games this season but it's reasonable to assume that we will not be given the red carpet treatment when it comes to creating chances around their penalty box, we are going to have to play some of the quick combination football that we were served up last weekend. Even if you attempt to park the bus it is very difficult to stop passing and movement so sharp and crisp and that is very much linked with confidence. Eight wins on the spin has given this squad a lot of confidence and
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- Monaco (a) Thoughts & Line Up: The bench needed for improbable mission
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- Monaco (h) Thoughts & Line Up: Can Özil shine & hand Gunners the advantage?