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
We failed to deal with both Liverpool's intensity and also how they outnumbered us in the middle of the pitch with their 3-5-2 system. I wonder how Arsene will look to counteract that this lunch time. Perhaps Danny Welbeck will start on the bench so we can fit Ramsey, Cazorla, Coquelin and Özil into the same team. Or maybe we will just concede possession
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
- Manchester United (a) Moment of truth / Ramsey or Ox/Welbeck?
- QPR (a) Thoughts & Line Up: Mask wearing Coquelin could keep his place / Mert & Gabriel?
- Monaco (h) Thoughts & Line Up: Can Özil shine & hand Gunners the advantage?
- Crystal Palace (a) Thoughts & Line Up: Attacking team set for another outting? + Welbeck vs Waclott
- 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