I am not usually one to get too grumpy about what kit Arsenal are wearing as long as I like the players wearing the kit and that the players within that kit are doing the business on the pitch. But there is something about the yellow of Norwich vs the red and white of Arsenal that really catches my eye. I don't know, something about the contrast against the green pitch that heightens my senses.
So you can imagine my disappointment when Arsenal announced that the third kit will be on full show this afternoon. But I digress from the main focus of today which is of course the football itself. How the players are getting to their destination or which kit is being worn are just sideshows to the main event.
The Dinamo Zagreb victory in midweek came at just the right time after a few weeks of stuttering performances. It could be said that the opposition on Tuesday were not up to the required standard but sometimes I think this Arsenal team just need the confidence from a good football performance rather than a test of the opposition. A lot of our confidence comes from how well we execute our game and that was at a pretty high standard against the Croatians.
It seems as if Arsène may well have a few options under his hat for the first time in a few weeks. Our bench has been somewhat ripped to shreds due to injury but the return of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain joining Aaron Ramsey will give Arsène greater flexibility in his selections, both pre match and during the game. I wanted to write a piece last week about the statistical differences between Joel Campbell and Aaron Ramsey but as is often the case, I didn't have time to get that down.
It could be a tricky one for the boss, Campbell played his best game for Arsenal in midweek, his contribution throughout the game was impressive as was his assist for our third goal, possibly his best contribution in an Arsenal shirt to date, but I don't think you can leave out a fit Aaron Ramsey who will need games under his belt as quick as possible so he can be hitting his stride come the busy Christmas run in. Not only this but we may need his extra security on the pitch especially away from the Emirates. So it may well be unlucky for Campbell this week, unless of course Arsène throws us one of his curve balls, giving Alexis a start as centre forward in place of Giroud who had minor ankle concerns. That would allow room for both Campbell and Ramsey. That of course would be rather harsh on Giroud (if fit) who has been scoring goals at a pretty good level since coming back into the team ahead of Theo Walcott, so if one is to drop out you have to think it will be Campbell. That said Arsene had some good things to say about Campbell pre match so your guess is as good as mine, but probably better.
Mean Lean's Predicted Line Up:
I am hoping beyond hope that the trio of Cazorla, Alexis and Özil can continue where they left off in midweek. When those players produce that level of football you can almost allow the rest of the team to focus on being defensively stable and not making mistakes because you know one of those three will do something special during the course of 90 minutes to find a breakthrough or two. The understanding between the three was evident against Zagreb. The understanding between Cazorla and Özil seems obvious while the Özil and Alexis duo seems to be flourishing more and more. Norwich cannot be seen as pushovers though, it took a big effort from Chelsea to squeeze past the Canaries by a single goal last weekend, Norwich have really attempted to tighten up defensively ever since Newcastle stuck six past them in October so it might have to be a case of looking back at what went wrong against West Brom and sticking to what went well against Zagreb. We will have the lions share of the possession, we will have to be incisive offensively whilst remaining patient defensively.
Wouldn't it be nice for Mathieu Flamini to put in a top performance? Now is the time for a player like him to gain a bit of belief in his football as we will need him over the next few weeks. While he wasn't tested a great deal in midweek, it is a chance to build on a performance with another 90 minutes of action. He may not be able to produce exactly what Coquelin can do physically, we just need him to be consistent and steady in the middle of the pitch and perhaps keeping the bursts into the centre forward position to a minimum, unless of course he can produce another Tottenham away display in the league cup then we'll all ignore it for another game.
With Manchester City winning yesterday and Manchester United gaining another point, we will need to hope we can grab another three points to keep up with those around us. I am looking forward to the Tottenham vs Chelsea game, I just wish there was a way for both teams to lose.
Anyway back with more post game stuff later.