It's match day two and the atmosphere surrounding the club makes it feel as if we are on the verge of a fully blown crisis, which I must say is quite sad to see, especially so early on in the season.
A lack of squad reinforcements and injuries were compounded when Liverpool took all three points at Ashburton Grove last weekend.
Last seasons Champions were also beaten in their opening match of the campaign by newly promoted Hull City. No doubt they will be looking for a response against the team that took all six points away from them last season. I hope that isn't mentioned too much leading up to the game. (he says, mentioning it in the first place) It feels like whenever a stat like that is wielded out, it ends up smacking us in the face. Last week I spoke about Liverpool's form away to Arsenal not being great, Arsène also mentioned our 10 game domestic run without defeat only for Arsenal to crumble in a second half to forget.
I think the match being played at Leicester will suit both teams. Leicester profited from the raucous home support last season while I think Arsenal will benefit from being as far away from the Emirates stadium as possible.
At least our squad will be boosted by the returning Euro boys. Mesut Özil, Laurent Koscielny and Oliver Giroud should all hopefully return but I'd be surprised to see anyone but Koscielny start the game for obvious reasons. Even that could be considered a sizeable gamble given his lack of pre season but then equally losing the game due to a defensive mistake, without our best defender starting could be also seen as a gamble. I can hear the cries either way. Koscielny limps off after 25 minutes and Arsène will be criticised for not holding him back. Lose the game and he'd be an idiot for not starting the Frenchman.
Of course the other option would have been to buy a centre back ready to start today but that hasn't happened. We can speculate all we like but the truth is none of us know why this has yet to materialise. That said I reckon you would be able to get good odds over on dfspromocode.co.uk of us signing one before the window closes.
Personally I'd like to see Monreal start at centre back if Kos isn't yet fit enough. That said Nacho was not exactly at his best against Liverpool. If Koscielny does start then it will be interesting to see who partners him. Holding arguably had the better game last week but Chambers at least has PL experience.
In midfield will Xhaka be ready to start? I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him continue on the bench. There is nothing wrong with the quality of his game on the ball but he needs to adjust to the speed of the game in the Premier League. He struggled when he came on against Liverpool and gave away a lot of fouls.
Changes will have to be made though as we are without Aaron Ramsey and Alex Iwobi through injury. Wouldn't it be great not to have to read that very often for a change? So Santi Cazorla who made an impact when he came on last week will almost certainly start, and most probably in Mesut Özil's favourite position. You gotta think that Oxlade-Chamberlain who gave us a bit of spark last weekend will start on the left. Not sure it gives us the best balance having two direct players on the flanks but not sure we have much in the way of choice.
Maybe Arsène will revert back to Alexis on the right and Theo up front as Alexis looked somewhat lost in the forward role against Liverpool. Having said that I have just read a quote from Arsène.
Honestly he did not have the most convincing game [against Liverpool] - he is one of them who is not completely ready physically. We did not dominate the game as much as we would have liked in midfield and he suffered a little bit from that as well. But on the flanks he uses a lot of energy by chasing back and I would like to use his energy sometimes a bit more efficiently by going behind the defenders as he is a good finisher. He has played centre forward at Barcelona.
Last season in this very fixture Alexis came up with the goods, another hat-trick today would do us the world of good and maybe it could be the spark Alexis needs as a striker at Arsenal. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Alexis has everything needed to be a world class striker, he just needs to adjust in his head and start behaving like a centre forward rather than a player in a free role.
Mean Lean's Predicted Line Up:
As I mentioned in the start of this preview, our 5-2 beating of Leicester has been mentioned many times already but we have to remember that the game was very early in last season, Leicester have changed a lot since then, especially defensively. They had to tighten up a lot and credit to them, they managed to do so. As much as I'd love to see that space again, I'm not sure we will get to see it.
All of a sudden, I have a good feeling about this game. Maybe I shouldn't write that down because it could come back to bite me. I'd love to see us play a 90 minute version of our first half last weekend. Stopping Leicester from playing their counter attacking game and having the extra quality of Santi in the team, if he is able to link up with Alexis in the final third then I reckon that is enough quality to cause the champs some real issues.
I think we will see a hungry and committed performance from Arsenal, we will see where that takes us for the rest of the game. I hope with all hopiness that we can take three points today and inject a bit of good feeling into the Arsenal air. We really need it.
If you want to take part in the post match Q&A then drop me a message so questions can be sent over to you.