Arsene has some big selection decisions to make for tomorrow’s crunch game against the Spuds. I say crunch game as this is a game in which we must perform really well, in order to set the tone for the remainder of the season. It does not necessarily mean we need to win, but it is of vital importance that Arsenal fight for the shirt and play our best football tomorrow.
I reckon we will see the best side of Arsenal, despite recent concerns about the solidity of our defence. In the end, Arsenal still hold the best away record in terms of goals against in the PL, and we have too many good defenders in our team for us not to be able to become more organised and disciplined again.
Tomorrow would be a great game for our ‘back-five’ to show unity and collective discipline again. I say ‘five’, as Szczesny has to be seen as an integral part our defence, and his triangular partnership with our CB’s is of great importance. A lot has been said about Mertesacker making our defence more vulnerable because of his lack of speed. The tall German has compensated for this time and again with his positioning and general reading of the game. He will need to display these qualities once again tomorrow, otherwise I feel he will struggle.
We will be missing our trusted warrior at RB, Sagna, and Arsene will have to make a big decision on who to play in defence for Sunday’s game. I reckon Jenkinson plays at his best when Mertesacker is his nearest CB, and the young Englishman seems to offer good cover for Mertesacker’s lack of speed. So for that reason I go with Wenger opting for a defence of: Jenkinson – Mertesacker – Vermaelen – Nacho. There is a definitely a chance we could see a CB pairing of Koscielny and Vermaelen, but my gut-feeling tells me Arsene will leave Koz on the bench.
The Spuds don’t score that many goals at home – 15 less than Arsenal this season – and let’s hope we’ll it keep that way. On our travels, we don’t concede many goals, but we don’t score many either – a meagre 17 until now – and let’s hope Giroud or Theo, or both if they start together tomorrow, will rediscover their form just at the right time. This is the time for the boys to get the cannon roaring again!
But as in most games, our encounter with Team GB, will be determined by who wins the battle in midfield. There will be no Huddlestone or Sandro to bully us in midfield, but instead we are likely to face the undervalued Dembele, and Parker; with Holtby ahead of them.
So how are we going to win the battle in midfield? I reckon Arteta is a given tomorrow, and that leaves us with two more positions to predict. Who will play next to Arteta and who will play in the more advanced role?
I reckon we need Jack to play as our ‘man in the hole’; he is the one to drive us on and conduct our attacks, and this game is crying out for him to play just there. If this is the case, it would leave us with either Diaby or Ramsey, or possibly Coquelin, to play next to Arteta. If you ask me, this is the most difficult decision Wenger will have to make regarding his staring eleven, and it is likely to decide whether we can dominate the game in midfield, and possibly even whether we’ll win or lose tomorrow.
Arteta plays naturally with ‘the handbrake on’, and the player next to Mikel needs to be able to find the right balance between supporting defence and attack. Diaby was the best player in this position at the start of the season, but in recent games he has also been playing with the handbrake on.
Ramsey has tons of energy and willingness to make things happen, but is lacking the quality recently to really add value to the team. Especially in the second half against Bayern, Ramsey came short time and again with giving away regularly free-kicks in dangerous positions, inaccurate forward passing, and losing out in one-to-ones too many times. But Bayern are far better than, the once again over-hyped, Spuds, and this could be a good game for him….
Coquelin, or even Rosicky, could also play there, but I reckon Arsene will choose between Aaron and Abou. My gut-feeling tells me he will give Diaby the nod, and I hope he will play with all he has and not worry about his body for one second (and that Dembele does not time his tackle wrong either…).
The final area of consideration is our three in attack. If, as I predict, Jack will play as our advanced central midfielder, Arsene will have to choose three from Cazorla, Podolski, Giroud and Theo. Hmmmmm, not an easy choice to make. Cazorla is in super-form and should really play tomorrow: I reckon he will start on the left wing again, where he forms a fine partnership with Nacho. However, this would leave Podolski out, unless we start him centrally tomorrow….
For me, Theo on the right, with a licence to join our central attacker, is almost a given, which leaves us with a choice between Pod or Giroud centrally. The only other variant I can see is Theo in the middle with Pod and Cazorla on the wings, but this has some way to go yet, and I cannot imagine Arsene playing it again in such a vital match.
So the choice to make is Giroud or Pod to play central tomorrow, and I reckon it is time to give Podolski a start there. It is just a hunch, but I reckon he’ll be the man to lead our attack against the Spuds.
Predicted Line-Up in summary:
I have a good feeling about this game, and I reckon we see a very strong and focused Arsenal tomorrow. Whether we will have enough to clinch a win remains to be seen, but the most important thing is for the team to play really well, press them all over the pitch and pass them to bits, and do us proud tomorrow.
Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners, let’s mash the Spuds, and make them all look like a Bale of Tortoises!! 🙂
Written by: TotalArsenal.