Arsenal are facing Bayern Munich away in a crucial Champions League match that could go some way to deciding our fate in the competition. I should be rubbing my hands with glee at the prospect of it, even if we are not the favourites tonight. Instead I find myself worrying about things that may not happen, not only that though. I find myself worrying about other fixtures in the future, so much so that I am finding it difficult to look forward to what should be another very intriguing match of football.
If we are to take anything away from Munich tonight we would need to put in an almighty physical shift, we did not intend for them to have so much of the ball in the first match but they did, they did because they are exceptional at possession. Because of this reason we had to adjust our tactics in the match and play a more counter attacking game. It required a hell of a lot of chasing and that was pretty evident in our next fixture against Everton when we visibly tired in the second half.
The situation today is worse because we have since lost Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott and Bellerin. We have not been able to use substitutes over the last few games to rest legs, not only that but we cannot rotate the squad between tonight and the big NLD on Sunday, a game that most people would see as the more important of the two.
I can't shake off the feeling that if we play at full pelt with the same 11 tonight and Sunday then we may have another Ox and Theo situation. We really do not want that. Maybe I am just being overly worried and all will be fine, after all I am no sports medical expert but I worry about the squad in it's current state without our squad members back.
As we know all too well, Bayern Munich have been ridiculous at home so far this season, so it is more likely to be a tougher game for us than it was at the Emirates a few weeks back so a containing approach would make sense. I think there is merit in the suggestion that Kieran Gibbs will start as a wide player to aid our defence but at the expense of Joel Campbell doesn't make a great deal of sense to me. While he is far from the first name on the team sheet, we are struggling for fresh players at this point and freshness is something he has bundles of after only starting his first PL game of the season last weekend.
If anything, if Gibbs is to come into the side then I would go for Giroud as the player to make way. He played 90 minutes against Everton, 90 again against Sheffield Wednesday and then a further 84 minutes at Swansea. Without Theo Walcott around, Arsène will want him ready for Tottenham on the weekend so can he afford to play him from the start tonight? It is far from ideal but either Alexis or Campbell could play in Giroud's place if need be and that will a) throw Bayern a little, especially after Pep's pre match comments on our game plan. I wouldn't be surprised if his centre backs would have been practicing getting a man in front and behind Giroud from our goal kicks during the last few days and b) would give us a fast outlet on the break where we might see space once or twice during the game.
I wouldn't be surprised to see Giroud pushed to go again but too many games in a short space of time has to be a risk. He also played for France before he came back into the team *red zone alert*
Hector Bellerin is also out with a groin problem, hopefully minor really does mean minor and we get to see him against Tottenham at the weekend. In the meantime Mathieu Debuchy will get a chance once more. He clearly is not at the top of his game right now but @Stillberto made a good point on Twitter, we are likely to play a deep defensive line which might suit his game better right now. Problems have come his side when we have been stretched and balls have been played over him or down the side of him. With the attacking in front of him, maybe we will see a more improved showing from the Frenchman, at least that is the hope.
Mean Lean's Predicted Line Up:
A point and no injuries and I'd be over the blimming moon. Three points and no injuries and I'd be even higher than the moon but let us please not pick up any injuries or any tired legs for that matter. A fraction of the cavalry will be riding over the hill after the International break so let's not lose anymore players.
Bayern to jump into a two goal lead before 75 minutes, they take their foot off the gas and keep the ball to kill the game. Arsène throws on the Jeff for Alexis (don't worry he is not injured, just resting for Sunday) the Jeff then proceeds to score three goal of the season goals in the last 5 minutes, we go on to win 2-3. Oh and we don't pick up any *injuries which is still the highlight of the evening.
* We're going to get injuries now aren't we?