Arsenal have a fully fit squad and nothing is happening in the Transfer Window, and on Sunday we face last year’s champions in a crucial match. A win against MC, followed by a win against the Hammers (our game in hand) means we would only be five points behind second spot in the league; lose it, and we are unlikely to catch up with the Northern Oilers this season.
But, it is not just these sort of mathematics which are at stake on Sunday. Arsenal are desperate for a performance of high merit; a victory that will tell anyone how good this team really can be. This encounter with Manchester City will also be a good opportunity for our players to prove to themselves that they can fight for top prices this season, as I am sure a win on Sunday will be a huge boost to morale and collective self-belief.
Arsenal really need to perform on Sunday and fire from all cylinders. There is a lot of dissatisfaction out there, as a poisonous cocktail is brewing as a result of a relatively low league position and continuous lack of activity in the transfer window. Arsene’s mixed messages regarding buying players in this transfer window are not helping either.
I dread to think what the atmosphere would be like if we are beaten on Sunday, and I hope Arsene and the players realise this is a must-win game for us. A draw would not necessarily be the end of the world, but in order to gather proper momentum this season and to get the fans once again fully behind the team, we really need a victory.
Arsenal played arguably their best game of the season until now against Man City during the away fixture, and we need a similar performance against them on Sunday, with an added deadliness in front of goal.
As Giroud is only 50:50 fit, and Arsene is unlikely to play him and Theo both again against MC anyway – as it forces him to play something close to 4-4-2 which he has abandoned many years ago, and does not seem to be willing to return to anytime soon - I reckon we will start with TOP in attack: Theo in the centre and Ox and Pod on the wings.
In defence, Arsene has to decide what to do with his captain: will he start again with the same back-four as against Swansea? I reckon he will, despite the errors made during that game. Mertesacker always gets better the more games he plays and we need his intelligence and organisational skills. Koscielny is a fantastic CB who also gets better with every game he plays; and the German and Frenchman form our best CB-couple. I reckon Sagna and Gibbs will start on the right and left.
As per some posts I wrote recently, it is the midfield where we need to make a change. Arteta and Santi have been overused and look jaded at times as a result of this. However, I cannot see Arsene leaving Arteta out against MC, and he will be equally reluctant to leave Cazorla out. The whole team had a rest for a week, so we should expect to see an unchanged midfield on Sunday.
But, Arsene needs to do something, and with Diaby and Rosicky fit again, he has some fine options. I am sure Diaby will not start against MC, but my gut feeling tells me that he will include Rosicky in the line-up for either Santi or Jack.
I would also not be surprised if we see Cazorla start on the wing instead of Ox or Pod.
I cannot wait till the game on Sunday. All our players have to press MC continuously, and they need to play a compact game, and support each other all over the pitch. Most importantly, chances need to be taken when they arrive and all our attackers must be firing from all cylinders. Let’s also hope our defence will perform at their very best on Sunday.
Let’s forget about everything else and just focus on this crucial match: it will tell us so much about our team, and how our season is likely to pen out.
Written by: Total Arsenal.