Ramsey and Diaby to fight their demons – Jack back in ‘the hole’ – Nacho and Santi to power the left wing?
For tomorrow’s game against Stoke I am hoping for a strong performance in the following areas:
- Composure and organisational discipline at the back;
- Dominance in midfield;
- Effective wings;
- Composure and clinical finishing up-front.
I know the above is not rocket science, and I am sure you will agree that if Arsenal does well in those areas on Saturday, we shall win the game with relative ease. However, we know that Arsenal are nowhere near a settled team, and that despite all the qualities our squad possesses, we continue to struggle in the above mentioned areas.
Here are some worrying, but also fascinating, facts I copied of the BBC football website:
- Opta statistics show that Arsenal have made more errors leading directly to a goal than any other team in the Premier League this season (13).
- There have been 50 Premier League goals scored at the Emirates Stadium this season – more than at any other ground [Arsenal scored 32 goals at home, joined top with MU, but we also conceded 18 goals; 50% more than in our away games!].
- If games began in the second half, Arsenal would be second in the table with 46 points, two points behind Manchester City.
Paradoxically, the above tells us Arsenal have a lot of work to do, and yet we are not that far away from being a lot more successful: we scored as many goals as MU and only conceded three more goals than them in the PL at home this season, but yet the Mancs won eleven games out of twelve, and we managed to win just six – hence the enormous gap between us and them in the league table.
With Vermaelen a doubt, it will probably be the BFG and Koz as our two CB’s. Sagna could do with a rest, but against the very physical site of the Orcs, Wenger will probably go for him again rather than Jenkinson.
At left back, it will either be Santos or our new signing: Nacho. It is a big decision for Wenger to make: does he give Santos another chance to prove himself, or will he be worried the Brazilian will mess up badly and the home crowd will go ballistic? Is it too soon to play Nacho; given the amount of change he had to deal with in the last 24 hours, and his unfamiliarity with his team-mates and Arsenal’s playing style? I reckon it is, but Wenger might feel he has no other choice. The heart says; let’s play Nacho, but the brain says; it will be Santos. Aah stuff it; it has to be Nacho on Saturday!
The midfield is again interesting. It looks like Arteta might be back, although he will get a final test on Saturday morning. In a way, I would like both Ramsey and Diaby to start as our two deeper laying midfielders. I would like them to fight for the shirt; to give their all and boss the Stoke midfield physically, technically, and tactically. It would do their confidence a world of good and might help them to put their – mutual leg-break induced – inner demons to rest.
However, if Arteta is fit to play, Arsene is likely to reinstate him, and my gut-feeling tells me Diaby will play next to him, which means that Jack can be moved back into the hole position. I reckon that’s where Jack is at his best and the team plays a lot better with him there; as he conducts our football so well, and adds a real attacking thrust to our game.
It could give Arsene the opportunity to play Santi on the left once more; where he can help Nacho to settle into the team and form a smooth and effective partnership against Stoke. We need at least one wing functioning well on Saturday, and it would be good if we could release the pressure on Sagna a bit. Last season, the Sagna-Theo partnership was one of our best weapons, but with Theo moving towards the middle almost constantly, and Santi Cazorla regularly not helping out either, Sagna does often not get enough support to be really effective; despite trying his hardest to help our attack constantly.
I reckon we might see Santi move into the LW position and the Pod start on the bench for this game: Santi-Giroud-Theo. We need Giroud’s height, and Theo’s and Santi’s goal scoring and assist-producing abilities. And as said before, playing Santi on the left would enable him to support his former team mate Nacho as much as possible, during his first game for the club. The Pod would be perfect as a super-sub, if we were to need one against the Orcs.
The line up is a strong one, and the bench will look good too: there is plenty of quality in our squad. But Saturday’s game is all about discipline and composure; about collective pressing and gelling; about taking our chances when they arise; about pride; and for once, about doing all of this for the entire duration of the game.
Written by: TotalArsenal.