The Champions League is back again and it kinda feels like we are jumping from competition to competition a little more frequently than in seasons past. Which I know is more than likely nonsense but that is certainly how it feels, especially when you factor in the rather annoying Internationals that we have to contend with every few weeks, well that is what it feels like anyway.
Life got in the way from writing anything about the Swansea match, I had to wrestle with the OCD part of my brain as I contemplated writing a pointless and outdated review that nobody would read, luckily the more sensible part of me won that particular battle and I’ve jumped straight into our upcoming home match against Bulgarian champs Ludogorets. I'm sure the Manager Social Index for Arsene Wenger show that the boss is going through a pretty spell right now, we are in wonderful shape and are still to get players back from injury but what of our opponents tonight? Needless to say I know nothing about them and I did not see the match against Basel but looking at the stats it looks like they were lucky to get the draw in Switzerland.
Basel 12 / Ludogorets 4
Basel 57% / Ludogorets 43%
In their own league their away form obviously looks very different. I mean they scored 8 goals in their last two domestic games away from home.
Looking at the Ludogorets squad on Whoscored and they have quite the wide range of nationalities, including 8 Brazilians. If you value the whoscored ratings at all then 25 year old Brazilian striker Jonathan Cafu is one to watch out for. He has a score of 7.5 which is one ahead of left back and countryman Natanael Pimienta. Ok, ok what else am I supposed to work with here?
So here is Mr Cafu in action.
Now obviously he is playing against lesser quality in that league but some of those goals are kinda tasty. Given how high up we play we will have to watch out for his pace in behind.
So onto the mighty Arsenal, I wonder what Arsene will do in terms of rotation. I wonder if he will rotate at all. I was looking out for clues at his press conference and I know that is somewhat foolhardy as the boss tends not to give much away at times but he spoke about looking at how players recover, keeping stability and looking at the next game. That doesn’t sound like a manager ready to make wholesale changes now does it? There is a fine line between stability and adding fresh legs to the side, I'm glad I am not the one making the decisions that's for sure.
That said I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kieran Gibbs be given a chance after Nacho’s difficult afternoons work against the Swans, even if he wasn’t given much help from Iwobi ahead of him. Alexis looked absolutely shattered before being replaced but I just can’t see Arsene sitting him out until the Reading game next Tuesday. If the tests show that Alexis is fine to play from the beginning then I think he will start. I want to see how Lucas Perez would perform in this team but Alexis is such an important part of how this team functions going forward.
Central midfield is perhaps a little less predictable. Francis Coquelin will be used again now that he is back and Arsene will want to get him ready for Middlesbrough on the weekend. But Granit Xhaka is suspended domestically so surely we will want to use him while we can. The trouble is that a duo of Coquelin and Xhaka is perhaps a little too negative for this fixture. But can Santi play every game he is medically past fit to play for in the middle of the pitch? So many questions and not enough answers.
Mean Lean’s Predicted Line Up:
Without wanting to take anything for granted, I hope we can win the game within the first 45 minutes as we would then be able to introduce other players and rest those with more football in their legs.
PSG face FC Basel at home, and if they are anything like the Basel we faced at home then I fully expect the French to come away with three points. Which means we need to match that result and hopefully we are capable of doing that, especially given our run of good results.
If our attitude and commitment is right then I see no reason why we cannot keep our run going. Fingers crossed.
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