EVERTON V ARSENAL
Let’s not beat around the bush with our best ‘elevensies’. Arsene picks the team. All we can do is hope he picks the right one, and they do their bit for 90 odd minutes.
We also know enough about Everton that they will not gift us one point, let alone all three. We will have to be better than our last couple of games, and that means that the best ‘fit’ available eleven should play, and above that, play well together. Anything less and you can write off this season as being an ‘invincible’ repeat.
What we know about Arsene Wenger, he does not like to make too many changes …
So I will start with what we know … the players available for selection:
Goalkeepers: Szczesney(play); Martinez(bench).
Centrebacks: Chambers; Koscielny; Monreal; Mertersacker(possible); Miquel or (Hayden), (bench).
Fullbacks: Debuchy; Monreal; Bellerin(bench); Flamini(emergency);Miguel(emergency).
Midfield: Ramsey; Wilshere; Alexis; Ox; Rosicky; Flamini; Ozil(possible); Chambers(possible); Cazorla(possible/bench); Hayden(emergency); Bellerin(outside chance).
Attackers: Sanchez; Campbell; Giroud; Sanogo(if fit); Akpom(unlikely).
The Under 21’s play Friday night, so Akpom and Hayden are very unlikely to do both. That also applies to Zelalem for those looking for a midfield miracle?
I have two thoughts about Mertersacker playing.
1, He was quickly dispatched to the training ground on Monday, and not on the plane to Turkey. Which may mean in order to be right for this game?
2, Given the others are working their way into top gear, it is a bit much to think he will be the ‘rock’ of last season, at such short notice? It may be a choice out of desparation, but if he plays, he starts. It is not a position where you can come on late and change the game? Unless that pushes Chambers into the DM slot. Not likely in a high profile game like this?
So I can well imagine the same pairing of Chambers and Koscielny continuing.
Just one little thought, although unlikely, it could be that Per drops in the middle of a back three, where he will not have to do much of the physical stuff, other than mark Lukaku at set pieces, but would be there to organise the back line, and allow Kos to do his own thing. This would mean having two quick CB able to push out and cover the gaps left by high line FB’s?
That is the back possibilities. Now for the defensive midfield.
This depends on the make up of the back 2 or 3. With two CB’s, as part of a back 4, then the ‘double pivot’ will be the order of the day. Most likely JW10 and AR16. If he goes for the back 5, then it might just fall to Flamini or Ramsey.
Ozil has similar doubts to Mertersacker, and if he starts, I doubt he will last the whole game. Less risk here, so I expect him to be the CAM. We need that creativity he brings, and hopefully the frontline will benefit if they are on the same wavelength this early in the season.
The final three positions from the squad will be either alongside Ozil, or just ahead of, in the central striking role.
It is not hard to think Giroud will be on the bench for this. His lack of sharpness on Tuesday night was notable, and a third game in 7 days is not going to help, imo. Sometimes Arsene has a different view? I think at the back of his mind that comment about him not being ruthless enough to be a top manager that is circulating will be something he wishes to disprove? Not that he will admit as much, but that is the nature of the beast.
A front 3 of; Ox, Alexis, and Campbell is very much on the cards, especially if Mertersacker plays to give that height in defence?
So, option 1, and the most likely?:
Attack minded with pace?
Option 2, If Arsene wishes to try it?:
On the bench for both options is much the same: Martinez; Bellerin;(Chambers); (Wilshere); Rosicky: (Cazorla); Giroud(Campbell).
Option 2 possibly offers better defensive cover, but if the sharp attack of Option 1 brings early dividends, the sub of Bellerin for Ozil late on, moving Ox into the middle would shore things up?
Arsene tends not to pay too much attention to the opposition, or so it is alleged, so I will not either.
Just to say, Everton are also ‘bedding in’ new players, and will be without the dangerous Ross Barclay. They will have Lukaku as the central battering ram, and McGready and Naismith to do the ‘inside the box’ support late. Both were on the scoresheet last weekend. Pienaar and /or Mirallis pulling the strings, with Barry and McCarthy doing the defensive work in front of the back four.
They too have a solid bench to call upon.
So don’t kid ourrselves it will be easy. This team must work together in attack and defence. But with the pace on show, we could counter attack very well and put it to bed early on. But to do that, we need to be cutting out the sloppy passes and missed chances of the last two games.
Feel free to make your starting 11, but do not expect any signings from the TW to give any more options from the squad I gave above.
Keep the faith. It is a long season, and we have only just started!
Written by: Gerry