Regular readers of Bergkampesque will have noticed my glass half full attitude towards Arsenal and Arsene Wenger. I remain confident in Wenger’s ability to turn things round for us this season, and I also believe in the squad of players we have (give or take a couple of necessary new signings). However, it is about time that Arsenal show what they are made of now, after a disappointing performance against Southampton this week; and I expect nothing else but a committed, full-blooded performance for 90+ minutes.
Swansea will be up for this and will be full of confidence after their recent win at Ashburton Grove. Arsenal will have to come out of the blocks with only one thing in mind: to take this game to Swansea with a high tempo and a strong focus on attack. To be fair, as we saw during our last encounter with the Swans, they are happy to sit back and absorb the pressure we will put on them; only to pounce back on the break as much as possible.
It is therefore important that we play a lot more cohesive tomorrow than we have done recently; with lots of ball retention, constant pressure on the Swansea team, and defending, creating and attacking collectively, rather than the disjointed efforts we saw against Wigan and Southampton recently.
Sagna or Jenkinson?
From the moment Sagna’s inexplicable defensive clearance led to us conceding a goal against Southampton, our right back turned into a shadow of his former self for the rest of the game. Until then, he and Ox had been our main attacking option as virtually all attacks came from the right. But his confidence was totally shot and he made mistake after mistake after his bad error that led to the goal.
So what to do tomorrow; play Sagna again or give Jenkinson a game? I reckon it will be dreadful for Sagna’s confidence if he is not played again tomorrow, and Wenger will probably play him for that reason alone. I hope he comes good again, as Sagna always gives his all. With Jenkinson having signed a new contract and Bacary hoping to get a new contract offer soon, it could be that the Frenchman is justifiably worried about his future, which in return might be affecting his confidence at the moment.
Rosicky or Santi?
We continue to struggle with the shape of our team and with that the purpose/directness of our football. I have written about the need for a more all-round DM, who should free up Jack to support the attack more regularly. At the moment Jack needs to help out too much defensively, and Santi is often isolated as a result. I believe Santi is at his best when he can play close to our CF and we need Wilshere to get closer to him in order to make this happen.
Rosicky always gives the team a good shape and real purpose and I wonder whether it is now time to give him a start instead of Cazorla. Cazorla could start on the wing, maybe instead of Ox or Pod. Alternatively, Jack could get a well-earned rest, and Rosicky could play next to Arteta, and with Cazorla in his normal position. But whatever it is, I reckon we need to play Rosicky tomorrow: he can give us the much needed impetus against the Swans.
Theo or Giroud?
Another big selection dilemma for Arsene. My personal view, as per recent posts and comments, is to play them both together in a 4-4-1-1. Giroud can be the pivot for our attacking play, who gets the midfield higher up the pitch with his ball retention skills, and also launches Theo into promising positions. Theo can move around and combine wing-play with centre forward play. However, I would eat my foot if Arsene was to start with both Giroud and Theo up-front and with four in midfield, so a choice has to be made between the Frenchman and the contract hugger.
Given the fact that Swansea play very compact and well-organised at the back, and the need for Theo to have space at his disposal, I reckon will start with Giroud in the middle, and possibly with Theo on the wing for tomorrow’s game.
Sagna – BFG – Vermaelen – Gibbs
At times during the match tomorrow, Santi and Rosicky could move to the wings in midfield and Theo and Giroud could play closer together. Let’s see what happens tomorrow. We need a great performance and a convincing win: it is time to kick-start the season properly now!
Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners!
Written by: Total Arsenal.