At home to Swansea City isn't usually a fixture that gets the juices flowing but today's match feels rather different. That is because our last match against Hull City provided us with one of our best and most exciting performances of the season so far. Which is exactly why the expectation around the Swansea fixture has risen higher than usual.
Arsene Wenger's teams often thrive on performances rather than just simply results like many other more functional (and boring) teams as our game is based on spontaneity and fluidity perhaps more than any other team in the league. Monday's display at Hull City would have injected a large dose of confidence and swagger into the players so let's hope we get to see more of it tonight. It would have been good to have been a fly on the wall at London Colny this week, to know if there were any differences in how the group trained, especially given Wenger's recent comments about getting a sense from his players after training sessions.
Questions of rotation were put to the boss during his pre match press conference, the boss said that he was not afraid to rotate, just that he has been reluctant to given the form of the players and team balance. What else could the manager have said? The chemistry between the players is there for all to see so making too many changes at once would be a risk to the momentum of his team. Why would he want to do that with only a handful of games leading to the FA Cup final.
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.
The other potential question mark is that of Oliver Giroud. He hasn't been himself in the last three or so matches plus he also took a knock at Hull City. With Danny Welbeck struggling for fitness, I wonder if the Walcott striker comments are a little strategic from the boss. He needs to rest his centre forward and his back up isn't fit so why not build up this season's bit part contract rebel so he can do us a favour on Monday night while at the same time dangling a centre forward sized carrot in Walcott's face.
At home to Swansea City might not be the worst time in the world to deploy Theo at centre forward or maybe I am just over thinking things? With Manchester United at Old Trafford coming up, I wouldn't be surprised if Arsene wanted to give Giroud a breather before then, and if he does then he doesn't have a lot of fit choices apart from Alexis and Walcott. It would be a gamble because Theo plays very differently to Giroud but maybe we might adapt our game into a more counter attacking approach should the change take place.
Mean Lean's Predicted Line Up:
With Manchester City thumping 6 past a dire QPR team yesterday it means Arsenal will be struggling to catch up with Manchester City's goal difference, one defeat mixed into other victories could see Arsenal miss out on 2nd spot. With the match at Old Trafford coming up we had better make sure we don't slip up against teams we should be beating. Swansea City at home should be one of those teams but as we know, football is unpredictable. Our last two fixtures against tonight's opposition has seen us come away with just the one point and that was a 2-2 draw at home last season in a match we really should have won. The form and confidence of the team is very different today. I'd like to see a fast start in an attempt to continue where we left off in Yorkshire. If Jack Wilshere doesn't get a start then I hope he gets another cameo long enough to prove himself as he was exceptional when he came on at Hull.
No opposition view piece today as I will be out from now until after the match but podcast and so on should be up tomorrow.