The FA Cup is back again today after crazy goings on yesterday. Who would have thought that all of Chelsea, Manchester City, Southampton and Tottenham would have all lost at home against various levels of weaker opposition. With Liverpool having to play a replay at Bolton who is to say that it can't get even better. Arsene Wenger will know that a route to a second FA Cup final has been made somewhat easier should we do what is needed in our games.
I cannot count the amount of times I've heard people posit that injuries are no excuse for poor results. If that was the case I'd like to hear a good reason as to why yesterday's top teams who decided to rotate their squads all suffered with defeat in their own stadiums. Two of the very richest teams in the country who have 2/3 top players per position losing should provide sufficient evidence that not having a consistent team can effect results.
So on that very subject, today will more than likely provide a chance to rotate some fringe players like Theo Walcott and Mesut Özil into the first team. As we are not in the league cup anymore we need to give them chances when we can. All unfunny jokes aside, today is an opportunity to give certain players a deserved rest as well as giving returning players a chance to get some much needed sharpness under their belts.
It is all well and good being in the squad without injury but it's quite another thing being in the rhythm of a run of matches. Training can only get you so far but you need competitive action to reach the required levels. Not only for the individual player but also for said player to connect with teammates around him.
But as we saw yesterday and what I have written above we cannot afford a drop in our levels, the commitment and attitude has to be right at the very least and hope that we have enough sharpness to score goals and keep them out at the other end.
It will be interesting to see what team Arsene selects, he will want to play the players who won at Manchester City last weekend to build momentum but at the same time he knows that certain players have simply had too much football.
I can also understand why Arsene will want to stick with the 4-1-4-1 as it served him so well in a big game. I don't see him tinkering with that now. The only way Mesut Özil gets into that set up is to start in a wide position as he does not seem at all suited to the box to box role that Santi has adapted so well to. Theo Walcott is more than likely going to start on the right so we have a decent understanding how the team set up will look like. I reckon Oliver Giroud will continue as centre forward as he has missed so much of the season and should have plenty of fuel in the tank.
Having both Özil and Walcott out wide may force Arsene to make his centre midfield a little more solid so I wouldn't be surprised to see Mathieu Flamini come in for Cazorla.
I think Bellerin and Oxlade-Chamberlain were not involved in training so I'm going for a team like this..
Mean Lean's Predicted Line Up
A few people such as John Jensen have hinted that Szczesny may not play again this season so I wouldn't be surprised to see Damien Martinez come into the side. I could be completely wrong but if that does happen then we can safely assume that more has gone on with Szczesny than we have been lead to believe. In fact there is a pretty good case for all keepers to start. Ospina because he needs a run in the side to get used to his team mates. Szczesny to give him the oppourinty to force his way back and Martinez because he has had little games and the games he has played, he has done well. We'll see soon enough I guess.
It would be nice to see the returning players have a good understanding with their team mates today, even if they are not quite as sharp as they can be. That would be a good sign.
Should Monreal start at centre back today, you'd think it could be his last game in that position for some time as the deal for Gabriel seems done and dusted. Well, last centre back game for Monreal unless we get another crazy injury situation.. what I am thinking. We'll probably see him there soon then I guess.
Anyway I am still fairly confident that we can win this over 90 minutes even after the mayhem of yesterday.
Come back later for the usual post match stuff.