Arsenal – Villa preview report.
At last it is here: the new season kicks off tomorrow. Having been tortured long enough with transfer fairytales and make beliefs, at least we can focus again on meaningful football. Our game against Villa tomorrow is a tricky one, even though Arsenal are at home. Paul Lambert will be happy to have survived a very difficult season at Villa and I have little doubt he will have worked hard this summer to improve his squad and his team’s quality of football. In reality, they have nothing to lose and will approach the game with both a good game plan and a ‘let’s go and enjoy ourselves’ sort of attitude.
Therefore, it is key for Arsenal to start the game strong and determined, with a high tempo and lots of pressure on the Villa midfield and defence from the start, whilst at the same time focussed and organised in defence. The latter will be a bit of a test for the team now that Arteta is ruled out, and the most important selection choice Arsene has to make is who to play in the double DM pivot.
I reckon he will go for Ox and Rambo tomorrow. Ox really impressed me during his cameo against Scotland for England this week: he was disciplined and focussed and did not make a single mistake in the more defensive midfield role he was given. However, I reckon Rambo will move into the Arteta role and Ox will take over from Rambo, and both will be given clear instructions to keep it tight at the back and guard the shape of the midfield throughout the game. The good thing about Ox and Rambo is their enormous energy and forward thrust (especially Ox), but it remains to be seen whether they can make us forget about Arteta’s great, fox-like ability to give shape and purpose to our midfield.
I am praying for an early goal for the good guys, after which we keep the pressure up and profit fully from the space Villa will have to open up in order to get a goal back. But it is more likely that Villa will sit back and absorb our pressure, and Arsenal will have to be both disciplined and creative to get into scoring positions, whilst constantly dealing with the threat of quick and incisive counter-football as well as lethal Villa set-pieces. It won’t be a walk in the park tomorrow, that is for sure.
If Wilshere is fit to play, I reckon he will start in the hole tomorrow. The two other options for this position, Cazorla and Rosicky, are likely to start on the bench against Villa, but should come on later in the game.
At the back, the team picks itself more or less. I expect Szczesny to start, Per and Koz to be our CB-pairing, and Gibbs to start as our LB. If Sagna is fit he is likely to start; if not, it will be Jenkinson.
Mertesacker will be the captain, and I reckon he is the best candidate to become our long-term captain. So, let’s see how he does tomorrow.
Up-front, it is not much rocket-science either. Gervinho has gone and Sanogo is not fully fit, and with Cazorla returning late from his international match, I reckon it will be Pod on the left and Theo on the right, with OG in the middle. All three carry a good to great goal threat, and hopefully they will fire from all cylinders tomorrow.
Let’s hope for a committed, full-on game, and NO FURTHER injuries, and a nice win for the mighty red and white.
Written by: TotalArsenal.
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