This game couldn't have come around soon enough. The draw against Hull at the weekend has brought the mood down even further than it was post Stamford Bridge. So we now have an opportunity to get back on the right track and quite simply, we need to take it this evening. Injuries are currently in full attack at our back line at the moment, back up keeper David Ospina the latest to be diagnosed with Arsenalitis. He has a long term thigh problem that needs to be sorted out. It may have been carried over from the World Cup but he has only played once for us. What's next? Having the medical team on the treatment table as well?
With Wojciech Szczesny suspended it means we have to delve our hand back into the youth squad to find a player we can use. Our two keepers in the squad for tonight will be Emiliano Martínez and a Ryan Huddart, a player who I hadn't heard of two weeks ago. My youth football knowledge needs brushing up I admit.
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.
I'm intrigued to know what Arsène will do with Aaron Ramsey this evening. He didn't look sharp at all but that is to be expected given that he has just returned from injury but I have a feeling that we'll see him start tonight and replace Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who was not at his best against Hull at the weekend. Not only does Aaron provide goal threat from midfield but his tackling qualities almost goes unnoticed at times. Whether that be intercepting or pressing the man on the ball enough to force him into an error. It might still be too soon for a start but we'll see. Speaking of which, could we see Theo on the bench tonight or is that also somewhat premature? Questions questions.
It would be nice to have his threat from the bench, especially away from home where you'd expect to have more space to run into.
Mean Lean's Predicted Line Up
Anderlecht were given a good beating by Blue Square group favourites Borussia Dortmund in the last Champions League round of games, we know what that's like. That aside the Belgian champions have been pretty formidable at home. They have won 15 and drawn twice at home since 27th November 2013. That 2-3 loss was at the hands of Portuguese giants Benfica. So the last two teams to beat them at home were Champions League matches. Can you see a pattern forming? This isn't to say that we'll be next on the list of course, we'll have to put in a performance to take all three points off them in their gaff. What seems clear, at least domestically is that they are used to having things their own way in the Stade Constant Vanden Stock.
Actually the last time they lost domestically at home, they lost the game 1-0 to Kortrijk. You know that team right? Nah, neither did I. That was in October 2013, some time ago.
They had one more home game in the CL during that time. Yup, you've guessed it a defeat against the rampaging French side PSG. A 5-0 trouser down spanking.
Looking at their squad I can say I have only heard of two players. One that we were linked to a few years back. Matías Suarez who has a mean YouTube compilation. They also have midfielder Steven Defour but apart from those, I am not familiar with anyone else.
I had wondered if we'd play with a little more caution given Arsène's comments about protecting Martinez and his frustration with our team defending on the weekend and hopefully we will. Maybe not by dropping deep towards our own penalty area but by defending all over the pitch when we haven't got the ball and not what we did when Hull kicked off in the second half. Still hurts somewhat.
We started the game on the weekend very convincingly and that has to be a positive taken into the game tonight but this time with the aim of sustaining that tempo and urgency. It has taken us far longer than any of us would have wanted to find consistency in our attacking but if we are close to finding it then we need to go for it and show everybody how good we are. I've taken that line from Arsène Wenger and given it's the end of this article, I would like to wish the man a happy birthday. From what we know of him, if he has a happy birthday then we would have won the game convincingly so I'll repeat it again. Have a very happy birthday Arsène Wenger.
Here is to a full Arsenal recovery tonight.