This Player Can Replace Santi Carzola and Khnit Together Arsenal’s Midfield

The K before the H should have been the clue… It’s this guy, Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

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The dream of simple solutions to complex problems seems endemic to the Goonersphere. It all starts with “Wenger Out,” of course, as if lopping off the head will somehow cause the body to flourish.  At various points in Arsene Wenger’s disappointing “second decade” (now stretching into a disappointing dozen seasons) the issue of austerity–the fact that Arsenal has not been willing to spend at the levels of the money-down-a-hole–clubs has been used as an excuse for lowered expectations.  Wenger delivering Champions League football and “lesser” trophies (three out of the last four FA cups) has been seen as too little and too late. If only we could rid ourselves of our figurehead (somehow) Arsenal would simply float back up to the heights where we belong.

So, “Spend some Money” is simple solution number two.  If only it were so easy maybe Manchester United, luring Alexis Sanchez with a club record salary–and exchanging him for “failed” Henrikh Mkhitaryan–would have seen off Sevilla in the recently completed Champions League Round of 16.  Oops.

That being said, Arsenal ARE starting to spend some money.  Mhki’s salary, in line with other new signings and contracts, most notably Mesut Ozil’s huge new package, might suggest that there could be some reasons for Gooners to hold out just a bit more hope that we’re in it to win it…Or at least that we haven’t quite given up on the “race to the bottom” (Ivan Gazidis’ famous term) when it comes to improving the team by way of spending.

A 3rd simple solution is the search for a Patrick Vieira-esque “Beast of a Defensive Midfielder.”  So many names have been mooted down the years. If you were big (and of African descent) and played in anybody’s midfield (and could maybe get around the pitch a bit better than Alexandre Song–or be able to stay on it longer than Abou Diaby) a link to Arsenal was in the offing.  William Carvalho is still at it at Sporting Lisbon but the “big” leagues have yet to grab him up. Victor Wanyama and Moussa Dembele have done well enough up the road at Spurs but aren’t seen by most as essential elements in that club’s great glory of these recent seasons and certainly aren’t known for their rampaging forward runs.  And now, Paul Pogba, clearly a dominant athlete rounding into a footballer who commanded an English record transfer fee back to the club that rejected him, looks like he might be the “big Mkhi,” Jose Mourinho’s latest player who will take the blame when ManU’s manager won’t.

The fact of the matter is that a physically dominant defensive midfielder is less of a factor at the top of world (and English) football though run-all-day and orchestrate-from-the-center-of-the-pitch players might be.  N’golo Kante, it could be said, won back to back Premier League titles, first with Leicester City, then with Chelsea. It could also be argued that Kante was able to anchor last season’s title tilt (and win PFA player of the season) because he was freed up to actually be a midfielder after Antonio Conte switched to a three-at-the-back set up, a move that Wenger copied late on in our season, pulling us to within a point of the top four AND seeing off both Manchester City and Conte’s team en-route to his record seventh FA Cup trophy.  Yeah, sack the guy, brilliant…

But, I digress…

In the rush to assign blame and find simple solutions to Arsenal’s troubles we often overlook our own misfortune.  Calls go against us and cost us results and it’s our (well, Wenger’s) fault. Balls bounce off posts or opposing goal-keepers play blinders but the conclusion is always the same: That. We’re. Just. Not. Good. Enough (or at least that the manager isn’t).  Important players–and ones who make their teammates better–go down to injury–career ending injuries, in fact–and, again, it’s more than just misfortune. There’s but one Santi Cazorla (as the song goes) but it’s management’s fault that we don’t have three more waiting in the wings.

A real manager (like ME!!–Just look, my fantasy team is in the top Million!!!) would just buy a new Santi, why can’t Arsene?

Again, I’m off track.  Back in the real world…

Can we please take a moment to acknowledge that Cazorla is one of the great footballing talents to be cut down prematurely by injury.  Even if he did make it past his 30th birthday, he was the sort of player who might have played on and on given that his tiny stature meant that his game was reliant upon his skills and footballing intelligence rather than his innate athletic gifts.  Let’s be clear. Santi disappointed many a Gooner when he was brought in to help bring us back after the departures of players like Robin Van Persie, Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and (even) Alex Song. In fact, the hope that he could be a magical #10 (the man to carry on from Dennis Bergkamp where Fabregas perhaps fell short) was pushed aside when Mesut Ozil was bought from Real Madrid. Instead, Santi remade himself as part of the most unlikely two-man midfield pivot in tandem with Francis Coquelin. In recent years that partnership was probably the most successful in terms of balancing Arsenal’s generally potent attack with our always iffy defense. I want to have a little cry about Santi’s fate, but the joy in the little man’s game makes me take a page from the defining match of his contribution to our club.  So, let’s have ourselves a little Santi-dance…

From my early scrutiny of his game at Arsenal, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, already 29, could be a Santi-esque player.  He’s no Alexis, a player who firmly believes he is the very best when he steps onto the pitch and thus demands the ball and goes to great lengths to express his disappointment when he doesn’t receive it from his teammates–or when they let him down if they misuse it.  Nope. Instead, like Santi before him, Mkhi will contribute by working with his teammates, taking his chances when they come to him but also being sure to work to make the team function better, taking passes when they present themselves and working with others to keep positioning and pitch balance as big a priority as individual shows of skill and bravado.  It’s (very) early days, but nine matches as an Arsenal starter with two goals and five assists is not a bad statistical return. Moreover, with Mkhi on the pitch, our other midfielders–especially rear of the line guys like Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny–look more confident undertaking their duties.

Further forward, it’s just a different look.  Instead of Alexis “standing and demanding” (the ball) with his individualistic body-language, Mhki looks to stay in constant motion, filling spaces and allowing others to take the ones he vacates.  Again, however, it’s early days, and such a dynamic approach to the game will take time. His former teammate, Pierre-Emerick Aubamayang, perhaps has a leg up having played with Mkhitaryan at Borrusia Dortmund, while our other “heads-up” players, most notably, Mesut Ozil, already look enlivened by his presence on the pitch. 

It’s a work in progress, however, and hard to say if we’re a better team after the player switch.

Naturally, I’d like to hear what others think.  Our fearless leader (Total Arsenal) has labeled the Alexis-Mkhitaryan swap as the best of the decade he’s also noted that our new guy isn’t one who dives into 50-50 challenges.  Personally, I don’t mind that sort of thing and if it was a 50-50 that ended Santi’s career, I’ll (retroactively) wish that our little guy had pulled out of it. Yes, we need to win those challenges but we also need to keep our best players on the pitch.  As I hinted above, for better or worse, we aren’t stockpiling Santis (and Mhkis) and unlike Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger won’t want to pile players of such quality on a scrap-heap even if the average fan gets just as excited playing a similar blame game and going after the next exciting name in the transfer market.  Surely, if you clicked on this headline hoping for a “new Santi” (from another club) you can’t be reading.  If you are, please sign up and join us here at Bergkampesque.  Welcome!

To me, it’s too early to suggest that Alexis won’t do well enough at Manchester United. I’m betting that he gives his all to try and win the FA Cup this season–and give a beat down to Arsenal when his former club visit Old Trafford on 29 April.  With the failure of another of his teams (Chile) to qualify for the World Cup, I expect him to hit the ground running when the PL season starts up in August and to pad out a decent enough goal/assist tally to see him through the next season.  By contrast, Mhkitaryan will be trying to work in with his team–and, likely, as the turmoil at our club continues–new teammates–and maybe even a new manager.  To me, team play–by team players–is a much more difficult craft, but one which, if done correctly, yields the greater rewards, both aesthetically and with points on the table.  Like Santi before him, I have a hopeful feeling that Mkhi could be that sort of player.  What say you, fine fellow Gooners?  Team play > individual glory?  Mkhi > Alexis?  Mkhi = (or >) Santi.  Or should we just stay with the familiar?  Wenger Out, Buy, Buy, Buy and the pitch is always greener on the other side?

Thanks for reading and tell us what you really think.

Go on then…

by 17highburyterrace


Posted in Uncategorized | 38 Comments

Mkhi-Sanchez Player-Swap of Decade, Xhaka DM after all, Jack too Conservative? 8 Observations.

So Arsenal made it to the last eight in the UEFA league by eliminating the Rossineri. It was an interesting game to watch, with both positives and negatives. I think it emphasised again that winning a game often relies on three things: focus, quality and luck. Arsenal had all three and that is why we came out as winners once again, even though we were flattered by the final score. Milan played well, especially in the second half, but lacked the composure, quality and bounce of the ball to hurt us when they had created good opportunities against us. We hit the target much more than Milan from our shots on goal, and sooner or later those will go in, and they did.

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Eight observations from two legs v Milan:

  1. Xhaka playing deeper with defensive discipline is giving us a better balance. We have too many midfielders who want to go and make things happen. On Thursday we played Rambo, Mkhi, Jack, Xhaka and Mesut. They all are able and passionate to play attacking midfield play. We love them for it, but we also need balance. Our defenders need protecting and we need order and structure in our play. A defensive-minded midfielder with ideally some added attacking skills, is much needed. Xhaka is a great midfielder but – and many people forget this – he is still relatively young at 25. His best years are still to come and if he can develop further his defensive positioning and interceptions, we may get the balance right in midfield. I definitely saw a much improved defensive improvement from him against Milan on Thursday. He is unlikely going to be a classical DM but a modern one is in the making, I reckon. 
  2. Mkhi is at least as influential as Sanchez and is probably an improvement to the overall team. Our new signing does not give the ball away needlessly and helps out the team defensively at least as much as the Chilean firecracker did. He could probably do with a bit more intensity in one to ones for the ball against opponents, but other than that I feel we got a gem of a player. There is something Pires-like about Mkhi: calm, mature, team-player, technically very good and just pure quality when on the pitch. We just love watching him play the beautiful game. He has hit the ground running in terms of goals and assists at Arsenal, whereas Sanchez, in that sorry looking shirt with the tacky golden cross on it, has been a disappointment at the Mancs until now. Player-swap of the decade?
  3. Ospina seems ready to take over from Cech next season. Our reserve goalkeeper is showing real signs of maturity: good decision-making, strong personality in the box and a fantastic balance between calm and extrovert interceptions and leadership. I am also happy with Cech playing another season, but reckon that Ospina should get  a chance to start PL games. His lack of height is compensated by his catlike responsiveness, and I love his ability to come out and smother danger around the box area. This sort of goalkeeper may suit better the likes of Koz and Mustafi going forward.
  4. We are lucky to have Elneny, a multi-functional and talented midfielder, in the squad. I like our Egyptian multi-tasker a hell of a lot. He is a great athlete,  anticipates very well, protects the ball excellently in tight spaces, and is an accurate passer with also an eye for a quality through-ball. I reckon he will be ready to replace Rambo if he were to move on. I would probably start him in games but can also see his value as a supersub: he can play anywhere and adds quality to our play as soon as he crosses the side-line. Elneny is also just 25 years old and surely more is still to come. A Xhaka-Elneny double DM-pivot could well be the future.
  5. Jack is playing more conservative since the arrival of Mkhitaryan. It seems that Jack is losing out between the creative powerhouses in the team. During the last 15 minutes against Milan when both Ozil and Mkhi had been substituted, he played his best football of all his time in both the legs; all of a sudden he was dominant and incisive again. A more conservative and subdued playing Jack is not necessarily a bad thing – and he still added a lot of value during the first and second leg – but the question remains whether he can reach his full potential at Arsenal with both Mkhi and Ozil on new contracts (and Rambo possibly getting one as well). My money is on Jack leaving this summer (which would be very, very sad).
  6. Are we back to four at the back? I certainly hope so, and it should allow us to gently play into the first squad either, or even both, of Chambers and Holding. We need height in central defence as both Mustafi and Koz lack it and have to work far too hard to compensate for it. They are making costly aerial mistakes regularly and it makes our defensive play both chaotic and nervy at times. We need to have a Tony Adams or, ideally, a Sol Campbell in the team. I like the look of Holding but he is probably still too young and inexperienced to build a defence around him. The good thing is Wenger can give him a number of PL and UEFA-cup games and see whether he makes the step up. If not, a CB-Beast should be purchased in the summer.
  7. One or two quality full/wing backs should be on this summer’s shopping list. Bellerin seems to be stagnating and Kola has not impressed me much since he joined us. Both are young and can still come good but can we afford to wait and wait for this? In modern football the ball ends up a lot with the full/wings backs when we attack (that is where the much loved space is). It only makes sense to have the backs playing high up the pitch if they actually possess good attacking skills. We need them to make incisive runs and also be able to beat one or two players like a classical winger; and we also need their final ball to be very good. Bellerin and Kolasinac have their moments but I reckon we need much more from those positions if we want to get to the next level. For this, we will need to shop. Alternatively, we can go back to 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 and play with far more conservative full backs: a key decision to be made this summer, I reckon.
  8. The biggest question for the remainder of the season is: can we actually win the UEFA-Cup? We will have to play better than we did against Milan, that’s for sure. Welbeck has done okay but I am hoping that Lacazette will be fully fit when we play CSKA Moscow next: we need more sharpness up-front and that is what Laca offers over Welbeck all day long – and in terms of workload they match each other. We also need to defend better and not allow opponents so much time on the ball in our own half: the midfield will have to work really hard to prevent the large number of opportunities we gave away to Milan, going forward. Better teams will kill us off if we do this in the next round(s). Our defence also has to be calmer and more organised, and that is a big job if you ask me. Moscow will be a hard nut to crack and we will need a faultless first leg at the home of football. The second leg will be a tough one but if we play well (with focus, quality and have a bit of luck) we should make it to the last four. There are some very strong teams left in the UEFA league and it will be very tough to make it to the final and then win it. I know that this would give us a ticket to the CL but for me this is just a nice extra; winning the cup would do the players a world of good and it would be a nice piece of silverware to have in the HoF cupboard. It should also give us the confidence and impetus to make a much stronger fist at the league title in 2018-2019. To answer my own question: we have a chance but we will have to step it up one or two more times.

By TotalArsenal.

Posted in Uncategorized | 67 Comments

Bels and Nacho Back | Jack, Mesut, Rambo, Xhaka and Mkhi to Boss Midfield: Line-Up/Preview

Tonight is a proper game for us Gunners. Yes we have a brilliant two nil lead to defend but let there be no doubt about it, this game is far from over. Milan are, at least historically, a big club and those sort of clubs don’t come give up easily; it is not in their DNA. The same would go for the Gunners.

Our biggest risks are complacency and nerves. A first half goal for Milan would put the cat among the pigeons, and we know we have the sort of defensive frailties in our team to just let that happen. What is then the best approach? Sit back and pick them off on the counter? Attack them with no mercy and get the game done and dusted within 30 minutes? A mixture of the two?

Not easy to say, but I reckon we need to not allow Milan to gain confidence and come and play their game in our half. This wait and see approach just does not suit us and would lead to a very nervy game. We should attack them in their half but ONLY IF we are prepared to attack them with the right intensity and focus. A half-hearted approach based on leading 2-0 in the tie will not suffice; that would be suicidal.

So attack with real purpose and intensity and dominate the Rossoneri in their own half, with quick and aggressive defenders to deal with any break-outs: Koz, Mustafi, and Bellerin and Nacho if they are fit, must play. Furthermore, key will be who will play in front of the defence in the double-DM pivot: Jack, Elneny, Rambo or Xhaka, or maybe Maitland-Niles? My guess is Rambo and Xhaka and especially the Welshman holds the most important role as our B2B beast. His discipline, positioning, interceptions and link-up play with attack will be pivotal tonight.

I expect us to play 4-5-1 or maybe even 4-6-0. Let’s face it, Welbeck is not a great attacking threat and Lacazette is still out. We will need the goals to come from our midfielders once again and Welbeck is probably also ‘just’ a midfielder. We can destroy them with our fast and inventive passing game and for this we need to add Jack, Mesut and Mkhi into the mix. It is a bit like the Cesc years, really. Midfielders playing football the Arsenal way.

Personally, I would go with these eleven and then give Elneny and Maitland-Niles and Kola half an hour in the second half, if the game requires it.

My predicted team looks like this (subject to players being fit enough to start):

submit football lineup

I believe if we start with the right attitude, intensity and focus, and avoid big individual mistakes as much as possible, we will get a result that will see us through to the next round. Let there be no doubt about it, this is a big game. A win means hope and focus for the rest of the season; a loss means the season is over and the proverbial will hit the fan for months to come.

Dressing Room music (from 27.30 minutes onwards):

This Scherzo will focus the minds of the Gunners.

Come on Your Rip Roaring Gunners!

By TotalArsenal.


Posted in Uncategorized | 87 Comments

Arsenal Player Ratings. Who is MOTM: King of Assists, Emperor of Clean Sheets, or…?


We made six changes and there was no drop in performance level. No weak link anywhere. More interestingly the team played with exactly the same character as at San Siro. That’s what the stuff of consistency is made of. It makes one wonder how the season went the way it did but at the same time heightens our dream of a Champions League qualification via the Europa League.

CECH …. 200 clean sheets and more to come is a record that would surely stand the test ot time. He took Deeney’s balls off him.
…………….. RATING ….. 8.5

MAITLAND-NILES ….. The right back might be the best position for his skill set. No doubt he still needs to learn its ropes, learn that different areas of the field demand different approaches. He has all the basics, not least his searing pace. He is going to be up there with the best.
……………… RATING ….. 7

MUSTAFI ….. Musti the lion heart. He is so passionate and my excitement is that he is beginning to add brains to it.
…………….. RATING ….. 7.5

HOLDING ….. That’s another lad with huge potentials. Very intelligent. With more game time he would grow in confidence. He is a modern defender. I loved his line breaking pass to Ozil that led tho the 3rd goal.
…………….. RATING ….. 7.5

KOLASINAC ….. Opponents must hate him. He gets all over his man and takes the ball away, consistently. His creative passing is limited by his extreme one footedness. He needs to maximize his potential for forward runs.
…………….. RATING …..7

ELNENY ….. Elneny is known for his safe passing. He lived up to that reputation but this time with a lot of line breaking passes. He was very impressive in the forward role.
……………… RATING ….. 8

XHAKA ….. His glaring weakness is all but vanished. He couldn’t have turned into an athlete overnight. Looks like his team mates have learnt how to cover him. No more vast spaces for Xhaka alone and so majestic he has become.
…………….. RATING ….. 8

IWOBI ….. He is such a good carrier of the ball across lines but in the final third his brain seemed swamped with impulses that have no direction. In the final third he needs to learn how to do more by doing less. I recommend he watches clips of our own cult hero Kanu Nwankwo, his fellow Nigerian, who somehow could manufacture time at will in the final third. That would turn him into a genius.
…………….. RATING ….. 6

MKHI ….. He has something in common with Sanchez. He wants things to happen, but unlike Sanchez he is a complete team player. He is very intelligent and adapts quickly to the players around him. His playing personality has helped introduce greater verticality in our game. My MOTM.
…………….. RATING 8.75

OZIL ….. The fastest 50 assists in Premier League history tells all the story. Ozil is not the one to lift a team from the abyss, but put good players around him and he takes everybody higher.
…………….. RATING ….. 8

AUBA ….. He is the king of one-on-one with the keeper. You need not understand how it comes to be. This season Auba has scored 21 goals out of 29 games all competitions, all leagues. I suspect we are yet to fully appreciate his game.
…………….. RATING ….. 8

SUBS: DANNY, CHAMBERS, JACK …. ALL slid in smoothly.
…………….. RATINGS … 7

WENGER ….. Six changes was bold yet spot-on.
…………….. RATING ….. 8.5

FINAL SHOT ….. We dare to dream.

By Pony Eye.

Posted in Uncategorized | 56 Comments

Preview: Elneny, Auba, Iwobi, Holding, Maitland-Niles In to Blast the Hornets…

… And keep something in reserve to get another result against Milan.

After creating a lifeline for the manager and themselves against Milan in the UEFA league on Thursday, the Gunners now face another PL challenge at the home of football. We are freefalling away from the Top Four and only a miracle will see us finish in the CL places come the end of the season.

The players who played on Thursday may be travel-tired physically but mentally they will be feeling much better than a week ago. Wenger will have to think how to approach this game:

  1. Play the same eleven as much as possible (Kola is a doubt)
  2. Play the second team and rest the Thursday heroes as much as possible
  3. Play with a mixture of 1 and 2.

I reckon Wenger should/will go with a mixture, as follows:

submit football lineup

I would rest Koz, Rambo, Ozil, Kolasinac and Welbeck, as we need them to be fit and ready to get another positive result against Milan on Thursday. Some totally fresh legs and lungs will be needed. Maitland-Niles impressed on Thursday and he can play instead of Kola at LB. Mustafi to lead the defence and Holding to play instead of Koz, Chambers gets another game at RB. Elneny to play instead of Rambo; I am a big fan of our very own midfield hoover and I reckon he forms a good partnership with Xhaka.

Upfront we will have Auba back and Iwobi should start too. I reckon Jack will have to do 60+ minutes or so and Mkhi should cope well with playing  three games in a week, so let’s start him too.

I can see this team getting a win against the Hornets but let’s see what Wenger will do tomorrow.

By TotalArsenal.

Posted in Uncategorized | 60 Comments

Player Ratings: Maitland-Niles, Rambo, Ozil, Mkhi and Koz all impress | Ospina MOTM

Well that is what we all needed badly. A clinical first half, a controlled second half, a clean sheet and two precious away goals. The team played as a unit, was disciplined and had a good shape to it, and everybody worked hard. There was a spine to this team in more than one way; and how desperately we needed to see this!!

Arsenal richt zich op en beëindigt euforie bij AC Milan

Ospina: 9 –  excellent balance between getting involved and staying in position for 90+ minutes. Strong focus throughout the game and clean and decisive interventions. Almost faultless performance: My MOTM.

Chambers: 7.5 – worked hard, not faultless but worked well with the CBs.

Koz: 8.5 – The old dog is not dead yet. Inspirational performance and fought for that clean sheet with everything he had. Couple of fine tackles and last ditch blocks.

Mustafi: 7.5 – Much better by the German. Formed a strong bond with his fellow defenders and  fought hard for the clean sheet.

Kolasinac: 7 – Improvement from recent games but still a way to go. Good involvement in attacking moves on the left.

Maitland-Niles: 8 – Came on for Kola and was very impressive. Calm and controlled and almost faultless 30+ minutes.

Rambo: 8.5 – Disciplined, energetic performance and a very fine and most important goal at the death of the first half. We needed balance in the team, and therefore in the midfield, and Rambo delivered.

Xhaka: 7.5 – Kept it simple and made himself constantly available for the defenders when playing out from the back.

Jack: 7.5 – Strong first half but less involved in the second half when he seemed to tire quickly.

Ozil: 8 – Excellent first half in which he produced two fine assists. Developing a good partnership with Mkhi.

Mkhi: 8.5 – Who needs Sanchez? Very good performance on our right in the first half, with a bit of luck for the first goal but also unlucky not to score a second one in the first half.

Welbeck: 7.5 – Extra half a point for a great diagonal ball for Mkhi from which he almost scored. Worked his socks off for 90 minutes. Shame he lacks the ability to anticipate where he needs to be next to get in a scoring position.

Wenger: 9 – Good structure and discipline in the team and good substitutions to see the game out.

Overall a very satisfying game with the attackers doing their job in the first half and the defenders doing  theirs in the second one. But it was a team game for 90 minutes too, giving Milan no chance to ever get into the game.

Proud of the Boys.

By TotalArsenal.

Posted in Uncategorized | 25 Comments

3-4-3: Niles/Kola Wingbacks, Elneny/Ramsey to Feed WOM: Match Preview

We go to Milan with hope, but three things worry me.

1). Auba and Lacazette are out of the Milan match. With Welbeck likely to lead the line, I worry about where the goals will come from. That worry will lessen considerably if Ramsey and Mkhi will start. Both have appetite for goals.

2). Xhaka as a holding midfielder worries me. He is not athletic enough. We’ve shipped in goals all season. Put a midfielder behind him and there is hardly a blemish in his play. Elneny, not exactly a world beater, is the best we have for that role. Am still thirsting for a repeat of that hybrid role (holding mid cum central defender) he was made to play in the 2nd half of our League Cup semi-final match against Chelsea. Still it is Xhaka and not Ramsey or Elneny that I would not pick for this match. The combined energy of Ramsey and Elneny would breathe some needed life into the team.

3). Kolasinac as a left full back worries me. For me, that’s a strong reason to opt for a 3-man central defence anytime Nacho is unavailable. There is one thing Kola excels at. Racing up the touch line and sending tailor made low driven crosses box-ward. That’s what raised his profile in Germany and with us early in the season. He should be freed to maximize that play even at the cost of some defensive contribution for which reason Elneny’s hybrid role is so advisable, being there to cover for our flying wingback.

My fourth worry is in the shape of a man called Gennaro Gattuso. He took over the management of the floundering Milan team in late November last year. He has completely turned them around. Though they are still 7th in the La Liga table, they haven’t lost a game in their last 13 matches and have also qualified for the Italian Cup final. More than anything else he’s got his team fighting. He favours the 4:3:3 formation.

Our boys are hurt. They are going through the cycle of pain, self doubt, anger and rebirth. I wonder at what segment of the cycle they are. Fifteen minutes into this game we would have gotten a clue to the answer. Sideways, backwards, tentative passing or some swagger and adventure in their play. We go to San Siro hoping the cycle has closed.

The line-up I’d wish for, with Bellerin unavailable, is :-

submit football lineup

SUBS: Cech, Per, Holding, Xhaka, Wilshere, Iwobi, Nketiah.

Fear never helps. We must approach the game professionally by simply following the game plan. Never a rush of blood to the head irrespective of our standing at any point in the match. The contest is only over at the final whistle in the 2nd leg at home. Don’t be deceived, Milan is scared too and for good reasons.


By Pony Eye.

Posted in Uncategorized | 46 Comments