We are back in the Premier League groove this afternoon and Middlesbrough will hopefully be our next victims, I hope so anyway. We are playing with real confidence and the players look like they are having fun. The team pretty much picks itself at the moment but there are a few interesting question marks when it comes to Arsene’s selection. Many expected Kieran Gibbs to come in against Ludogorets and he performed well. Does Arsene feel that Nacho Monreal just needs a chance to rest his legs before going again? Or is this a chance for Gibbs to have a run in the side? The left back selection today could be quite telling I reckon.
Santi Cazorla is having a fitness test after having to come off on Wednesday following a kick to his achilles. If Santi doesn’t make it and I think it would be a good idea to give him the afternoon off even if he is medically fit enough to play. That position will be given to Mohamed Elneny who has had to be very patient so far this season. That’s how quickly football changes I suppose. After Elneny had adjusted to life at Arsenal he was first choice, even playing in the defensive midfield position ahead of Francis Coquelin, a few months later and he has found himself behind Cazorla, Coquelin, Xhaka and probably Aaron Ramsey when fit. Did Arsene see something from Elneny that he was not pleased with on the opening day against Liverpool? I don’t know but since then his first team chances have been few and far between.
Oxlade-Chamberlain did well in midweek but not sure it would be good enough to oust the flailing arms of Alex Iwobi from that left sided spot. Iwobi is lucky in the sense that there are not many players in the squad who give the team the balance that he does, and he has been fantastic so far.
Mean Lean’s Predicted Line Up:
Mesut Ozil went goal crazy on Wednesday and I’d like Alexis to take over that mantel this afternoon. It would be nice for him to grab some real strikers goals and get a good taste for it.
I haven’t seen anything of Middlesbrough this season and their results haven’t been great by the looks of things. I love how Arsene always talks up the attacking players of teams like this. Almost pleading with them not to sit back and defend for their lives. I think we may well see a bit of that, not that I know much about their identity this season. I just do not imagine that a team struggling for points will come to us in our form and go for it but hey, I’m all for that if they want to try.
Whatever their approach though, we are going to have to work out multiple ways of beating different approaches against sides throughout the entire league if we are to maintain a title challenge, and I’m sure we can if we are as focused and committed as we have been in recent weeks. What I would like to see though is a tightening up at the back. We went through a very strong run defensively before the Swansea City game, but the last two weeks we have looked more vulnerable. It’s not just the back four though, our high line means that the entire team need to close people down and stop attacks before they reach our back four.
Manchester City and the like don’t play until tomorrow so we have a chance to taste being at the top on our own if we pick up the three points, hopefully we can do just that.