We will do a proper match preview on Wednesday, but let’s use this post to discuss how we will beat Die Lederhosen for a second time this season. I like to hear your tactical, formation and player inputs on how to get the job done this week.
The context is very exciting: Bayern have six points from three games and so do Olympiakos; Arsenal and DZ have three points each. The fact that we beat Bayern by 2-0 means that the Germans are in a more precarious position than many think. They will have to beat us by more than two goals to make sure that if we end up with the same points, they will go through/win the group because of better one on one results. They are of course three points ahead of us right now, and a draw or win would keep them ahead of us, but they might still have to beat Zagreb away and Olympiakos at home to be sure of qualification (and there are many thousands of Greeks in Germany who will do everything to get a ticket and support their fellow countrymen: a home win against them is certainly not a given). This will become especially interesting if Arsenal were to beat Die Lederhosen for again and the Greeks would beat Zagreb for a second time, moving Bayern to third position overall.
Bayern are said to be keen to take revenge and crush us if they can, but they cannot be gung-ho about the way they approach this match. We know that we can play solid and compact and can hurt them on the counter, even though Theo will not be available to torment their defence. As Seventeenho pointed out in the last post, the good news from the Swansea encounter is that we did not lose any more players to injury. We will not have much on the bench in terms of attacking midfielders and strikers, but our first eleven can certainly do an effective job.
Although I would like us to play more football than we did against them two weeks ago, I reckon we will simply have to sit back and absorb the pressure. Bayerlona are set up to dominate and strangle opponents in their own half and, as with any Guardiola team, they cannot be broken by playing the usual Arsenal-Way football.
Although I would prefer Theo to Ollie for this one, I still reckon the Frenchman can make a big difference against Bayern. He will have to work his socks off to chase their defenders and force errors. OG and Ozil are capable to hold up the ball between them for a second or two, allowing our wingbacks and ‘wingers’ to get involved in the game and for Cazorla to move forward a bit to pick the right pass. Both Ollie and Mesut can also pick a deadly pass, although not many give Giroud credit for this. Once the ball is out to the players on the wing, they will have to combine cleverly and quickly to avoid, or deal with, the almost inevitable ‘press’, and our triangles will need to be sharp. But I reckon Bayern will be more nervous than usual that Arsenal can both play on the counter and combine quickly enough to create real opportunities from turnarounds. They will be hoping for an early goal to settle their nerves and play with more composure from then on…
It will not be easy on Wednesday, but there is confidence in the team that we can frustrate the Germans and pounce on our inevitable opportunities to kill them on the break. The team picks itself to a large extent, given the injuries and the sort of game we need to play. I would start with Cech, Debuchy, BFG, Koz in the ‘back five’ and the wall of CoCa – Coq and Cazorla – in front of them. I would be tempted to play Ozil as our ‘free to roam’ CF and Giroud as an additional midfielder/attacker, with Alexis and Hector Vector on the ‘wings’, to both add defensive support and speed to frighten, and indeed hurt, the Germans. Having that speed on the wings will be key, and so is having Ozil in a free role to find and use the available space to the max. This way he will produce his passing magic or win us vital seconds to launch our attack-minded players forward, which could make all the difference.
So this is my Arsenal line-up for Wednesday:
—————Wall of CoCa—————
But what is yours and why?