Giroud, Theo and the Ox Across the Front: Match Preview | Predicted Line-up.

Internationals Done, Arsenal Head to Watford.

Will Wenger rotate ahead of Bayern Munich in the Champions League or do we play our best 11 and try to carry on from the beauty of the ManU match? 

Or should we expect a hangover?

More of this, please:

As much as the 3-nil win over Manchester United left us with a very nice taste heading into the international break, we must now put it behind us and see if our group can re-unite after their travels and take care of business against newly promoted Watford.  It’s a short trip to the western edge of London, but it’s also a great test to see if our well-traveled players can get the collective focus back onto their club season.

Early season matches against newly promoted teams are always a bit tricky.  Watford finished 2nd a year ago in the Championship, compiling 89 points in doing so.  As such, this is a team used to winning.  Certainly they will give it a go against high-flying Arsenal, knowing that many of our players flew long distances and could be out of sorts after their international duties.

On the other hand, Watford have started this season in the Premier League, where they sit 12th on 10 points, not by scoring loads of goals but by being stingy in conceding them.   Their six goals scored is lowest in the league, but so too are their seven goals conceded.  Watford will be a test for Arsenal to break down and, if we play in jet-lagged fashion, or if our attackers are looking for international teammates instead of their club partners, we will struggle.  Like manager Arsene Wenger said after the United match, “We can’t play like that all the time.”  We probably don’t need to, but we do need to find a way to bring back the full points to keep pressure on our rivals in the tightly packed early season league table.

Watford’s spine is anchored by a pair of former Spurs, Heurelio Gomes in goal and Ettiene Capoue at the rear of the midfield.  At the other end, we need to beware of the top scorer in all of English football–at least in this calendar year.  No, it’s not Kun Aguero, it’s Odion Ighalo.  The 26 year old Nigerian has scored 5 of Watford’s 6 goals and is on 21 since 1 January.  If Laurent Koscielny is not passed fit for this one, Ighalo will present a big challenge for our likely center-backs, Per Mertesacker and Gabriel Paulista.

So, how do we line up for this one?  From early reports we took on no additional bodies for the physio room despite the travels of our first-teamers.  Alexis Sanchez probably traveled the furthest, played the most minutes and scored the most goals–all on a mild groin strain suffered towards the end of the United match.  Might Wenger try to rest him for this one or keep him in reserve as a super sub?

It’s possible, especially given that Olivier Giroud got back in the goals with the French team and could use a boost getting a start with his club.  Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain both netted with England.  Could those three make up our front line?  What about Aaron Ramsey, who took his Wales squad into the Finals of the European Championship and also scored in the following match once his country was in?

The real question is how much will Wenger wish to rest or otherwise protect key members of the squad ahead of the visit of Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Tuesday Night?  The league has to be a priority, but getting something, ideally full points at home vs Bayern, is what the Champions League is all about–and very much needed after unexpected losses in our first two matches in that competition.

It’s a very tough spot for the manager as those disappointments at Dinamo Zagreb and at home vs Olympiakos were accompanied by accusations that Wenger rotated too deeply with his squad.  David Ospina in goal (rather than our only major summer acquisition, Petr Cech) was the principal lightning rod, but a bigger finger could likely be pointed at how others who would like a spot in more first elevens might have done better.

The biggest finger might go toward the biggest man, Olivier Giroud.  His sending off in Zagreb probably swung that match and the resulting suspension gave us limited power in attack as we tried to come back from deficits (three times!) vs Olympiakos.  This match at Watford, I think, could give him a chance at redemption.  So, for a change, I’m going out on a limb and predict that both he and the Ox start at Vicarage Road.  Likewise, in midfield, I think we might give a rest to Mesut Ozil, favouring the Welshman, Aaron Ramsey, tucked in centrally behind the front line.  This would put the two biggest buys in the history of our club, Ozil and Alexis, on the bench but ready for a half hour of play if goals are needed.

Bench: Ospina, Debuchy, Gibbs, Arteta, Alexis, Ozil, Campbell

That’s just my guess.  What say you fellow Gooners?  Would you rotate for this one or must we prioritize the league over the Bayern match?  Remember we have Everton next Saturday, too.

Do you guys expect Arsenal to carry on with the great play from the Man United match or struggle to find their bearings?  Have at it and enjoy the return to the real football!

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14 Responses to Giroud, Theo and the Ox Across the Front: Match Preview | Predicted Line-up.

  1. TotalArsenal says:

    Great stuff again, 17ho. 🙂

    Interesting choice to leave Mesut and Alexis out for this one. You might be right though. Alternatively, we could start with our strongest team and take three off after 65 to 70 minutes.

  2. allezkev says:

    Great preview SevenUp… 🙂

    I’d be quite happy to see your line-up at Watford, although I’m not sure that AW will rest Ozil. Agree totally with resting Alexis…

    Some facts there I didn’t know. Seems we just have to focus on one threat, without being lax elsewhere…
    Giroud has something to prove and Vicarage Road could be the perfect place for him to recover from his recent dip in form, providing he starts?

    I’m not sure how popular this view will be, but to me, the two EPL games straddling the Bayern game, are far more important…
    Take 6 points from them and I’ll be made up.

  3. Pony Eye says:

    Analysis very well tabled, HT. I find all your options interesting.We’ve got a good squad.

    I suspect, though, that Wenger might try to connect with that performance against Man U by naming exactly the same team, barring lack of fitness. Then early changes, Bayern in mind, if the game is going well.

  4. AwayGunner says:

    Thanks for the great preview HT. I’m in line with PE’s thinking on this one, with early subs for Alexis and Theo if the situation allows for it. Either way, excited for things to start up (yet) again.

    Btw PE, your post was awesome. Another talented writter in the ranks… Kudos.

    AG

  5. ab says:

    Thanks HT. Lots to agree with here. I’m in the camp that would rest Sanchez – assuming there is still some injury there. But I’d keep Ozil ticking over in the 10. So that means Ramsey out right, probably Ox on the left and Giroud starting on the bench. If Sanchez is deemed fit, then reckon he starts too, and we have an unchanged 11. I’m hoping we can get an early break through, and use Giroud, Ox (if he doesn’t start) and perhaps Arteta to give others some rest for the coming week. We need to pick up from the manure game and get the early goal(s); here’s hoping we don’t have some long energy sapping game in quest of a solitary winner……

  6. njk84sg says:

    17ht,

    Maybe this game will see Ospina in goal rather than Petr, in view that he is better against top teams.

    The rest of the squad i had in mind will be similar, but we will not give the wasps any presents.

    My 2 cents this time.

    Cheers,
    JK

  7. allezkev says:

    Howard Kendall, 69, RIP

  8. 17highburyterrace says:

    Cheers fellas…

    Cech; Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Ramsey; Cazorla, Ozil, Alexis; Walcott Subs: Macey, Gibbs, Chambers, Debuchy, Arteta, Giroud, Oxlade-Chamberlain

    Well, so much for going out on a limb re: line-ups… AW going with his best 11 but the only South American named (to the dressed squad) is Alexis… Hmmm… Maybe Ospina has picked up a “knock” (i.e., a Weng-jury…) to keep him out of the CL match…

    Anybody know where to watch the match in Stockholm?… 😀

  9. proudgooner says:

    C O Y G!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. proudgooner says:

    17
    yes on p2p or vipbox, i would go for p2p football if i was you. i am lucky enough to have it on the telly.

  11. 17highburyterrace says:

    Hey PG, Cheers for the link… My family and I had dinner at a “sportspub” called O’Leary’s… The (even more) English place, the Tudor Arms, across the street, was a bit over-packed with Rugby watchers… I’m rather jet-lagged and a couple of 74 SEK (Swedish Krone) Pints has me very tired…but tomorrow is another day…

    It was a bit of a slow process but we got there…Was everybody else watching for the ref’s signal on Ozil’s, er, assist, as that first goal went in?… The goal, plus Giroud on (maybe) seemed to give the team a lift…

    Anyhow, 3-nil to the Arsenal. Not so bad, IMO…

  12. allezkev says:

    Just seen some highlights on Arsenalist…

    Watford aren’t no pushovers, so that was a top quality 3 pointer.

    Bellerin and Monreal looked ‘on it’, very impressive…
    And Ramsey was very lively, that goal will hopefully give him a confidence boost and see him get his shooting boots on again.
    Alexis was just, Alexis, superb…
    And doesn’t Cech just give you that safe, comforting feeling, as he makes everything look so simple and under control.

    Now for the Jerries…

  13. njk84sg says:

    Guys,

    I caught the full game and Watford deserved to put us to the sword in a very pacy first half if not for our back 4 and Coq, who did extremely well in containing the angry wasps.

    The game changer was when Ozil was fouled in the box and before the ref can give a decision, Alexis blasted the rebound in.

    The 2 goals in quick succession (11 mins to be honest) were top class, even if they had the scrappy look.

    After that, it was all Arsenal controlling the game, but i still had butterflies as Watford countered and played well even when they are 3 nil down and the clean sheet at the end was very well fought for.

    Good game with a regular starting eleven, and bring on the Munich boys!

    Cheers,
    JK

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