The last time we faced Hull City the mood surrounding the club was somewhat brighter, at least before and after the 90 minutes. Today it seems as if the gloom has swiftly replaced the FA Cup joy. The main frustration seems to be the defensive injuries that have hit the squad. Arsène only bringing in one new centre back has caused friction in the fanbase.
Arsène Wenger spoke a few days about trying to bring in a centre back last summer and that seems pretty obvious. You get the sense that many believe that Arsène thought we had enough depth in that position and chose not to buy when he said he would. He made no secret of the squad's need for a fourth choice centre back but buying said player proved to be a lot more difficult than fans think it is.
So who does Arsène turn to this afternoon? Calum Chambers is suspended so you'd expect Hector Bellerin to slot into the right back position. Against a team likely to sit back at the Emirates, this feels like the type of game that could well suit Bellerin's offensive style. You couldn't imagine many more difficult debuts than the one he started in Dortmund earlier this season. It was certainly not the type of game where he could play to his strengths.
There have been many games against teams who pack the centre and play in front of their keeper where you really think a technical attacking right back could have a big say in a game. I often used to think that when I saw 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 young Hector will have to be aware of this and cover the space when required.
It is the centre of defence though that has left many chin scratching. According to the bib theory Monreal is starting centre back alongside Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski is starting wide left of our attack.
But the bib theory has a rival called Twitter rumour. Apparently Isaac Hayden tweeted something about 'Everything happening for a reason' or some such like. He later deleted this tweet to add fuel to the fire. I guess that can be interpreted either way.
The argument for Monreal starting at centre back is due to experience but I'd argue that 19 year old Isaac Hayden is the more experienced of the two. Yup as a centre back.
While the level is far higher in the PL against better opposition surely it is easier to play in a position where you know what you're doing rather than having to adapt to a new role. I guess Arsène will have slotted them both into that position alongside Per to see how they fared. Which I guess could be a shot in the chest to my bib theory. It all depends on when the photos were snapped. That said I don't remember the last time this did not turn out to be the players who started the following game.
While the defence would have two inexperienced 19 year olds at the back I don't think they would be out of their depth, especially when you are strong in every other position around them. A back four of Bellerin, Hayden, Chambers and Coquelin performed very well against Southampton in the Capital one cup a few weeks back, neither of the goals conceded were the fault of our defenders.
I am more worried about how we click as a team after this long International break. It has been a problem for us for years. If we play Hull with the same attitude and desire that we mustered against Chelsea then we could be out of sight within 60 minutes. But it is easier said than done. We have notoriously come back from these breaks out of sync and it takes us a few training sessions/matches to get back to where we need to be to win games. And often we need to be fluent to win games.
Needless to say, I hope that isn't the case today. Especially against a side that I imagine will try to restrict us from playing rather than taking us on.
The other rumour was that there would be a big surprise in the team/squad today. It comes from a pretty good source but I have no idea what this is supposed to be so it's best to just wait and see on that.
It's likely that we'll see Alexis on the bench as he will not have much in the way of recovery time after his double 90 minutes for Chile. A decent option to have on the bench though ay?
Mean Lean's Predicted Line Ups:
White bib team on Arsenal.com
My preferred Line Up
I think I'd prefer to see Joel Campbell starting the game over Lukas Podolski and I know I'll get plenty of frowning faces in my direction but I think the Costa Rican gives the team more in terms of work rate and contribution to our build up play. While not many have the power of shot that our smiley German has, Campbell is no stranger to finding the back of the net. I still see the German ahead of him in the pecking order though.
Getting back on the bike after being knocked off at Stamford Bridge is very important, dropping more points today would be very harmful so a win would be great. A good performance is also important for the squad with our run of games coming up.
Let's hope we get both today, if not just a win will do for now.