Who would believe that only 15 weeks ago Arsenal had comfortably beaten the Champions at Wembley to lift a record number of FA Cups? A weaker Arsenal team than the team we are capable of fielding had beaten the likes of Manchester United at home, Stoke City away all before our cup triumph. Fast forward to today and we seem to be skidding all over the road, desperately trying to stop ourselves from crashing.
I was going to say that our performance at Anfield is one that we need to forget but that is not true really is it? It should be a performance that the players need to think of before every single game this season. It should be a reminder of what not to do on a football pitch. That was a bad, bad day and hopefully, a few home truths would have been spoken on the training ground.
I kinda had my preview already worked out in my head as I was rearranging the players on the graphic below. Then I watched Tim Stillman’s preview video and it pretty much stole my thunder entirely.
It’s pretty much exactly what I hoped Arsene would do for this game. There is little point having a spare centre back when the issue has been the hole in our midfield. I’d rather see Francis Coquelin brought back into the team to plug in any potential gaps when we lose the ball. Three in midfield with Coquelin can also give the full backs the licence to play as semi wing backs.
Francis Coquelin is by no means the perfect midfielder but I’d certainly rather he was the player tasked with recovering from a misplaced Xhaka pass than the Swiss or indeed any of our attacking players.
Unless of course, Jens Lehmann has been slapping up Mo Elneny at London Colny in a bid to toughen him up but I doubt it.
Mean Lean’s Hopeful Line Up:
That midfield three has a little bit of everything, well apart from being able to deal with being pressed. That aside, we have a player in Ramsey who can get forward and cause mismatches in the final third, Xhaka can break lines with his passing and Coquelin can do his Police Officer job in protecting those around him. While the front three can have pretty much all the freedom they need to pull Bournemouth around.
That all said, I wouldn’t be surprised to see us continue with 343 with Reiss Nelson at right wing back, Bellerin left back, Kolasinac at centre back and Giroud up front with Lacazette on the bench. That is how unpredictable it has been to guess Arsene’s line up these days.
Our confidence is pretty low and we've had players here, there and everywhere on International duty so it's probably worth dismissing the idea of a swashbuckling display of perfect football but the good thing about playing Bournemouth is that they can be as open (if possible) as us in their approach, so hopefully that plays into our hands somewhat.
The flip-side is that they are not shy of coming at us. A stupid early Arsenal mistake could see the grey clouds of the Emirates appear over the heads of the players so let's hope we are additionally focused on not conceding.
It should make for a good game, fingers crossed we can get ourselves back on track.