Arsenal – Dinamo Zagreb; Match Preview, Predicted Line-Up. Big Coq = Big Shoe to Fill. Luckily Rambo Has a New Pair

Of shoes, that is…

He also has a new baby.  Congrats to our guy on that account.  Check out the cobblers on that boy!

If Papa’s are proportional (like the feet…)  We might see some audacious attempts and maybe some of this…

C’mon Rambo… Please…

We have to hope he’s fit and ready, but, if he is, I believe this is a massive opportunity for our Welshman to step in for Francis Coquelin–or at least step in somewhere in our first 11–very likely back into his ‘free’ role on the right side of our attack–and buoy our heavily depleted squad.

Of course, hope is not really a plan…:(

Maybe Rambo should post a picture of his baby grasping his finger… as this line of thinking is maybe grasping (at straws…) just a bit, too…

Desperate times, I guess…

So, is he ready?  Will he be fit?  Will fatherhood be just the sort of responsibility which will carry over and onto the pitch or will the cries of his baby become confused with those of Arsenal fans demanding that their team Just. Do. Better.

What we do know is that Coquelin is out for at least two months with ligament damage to his knee.  His is just the latest name added to the injury list.  Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta, Danny Welbeck and Tomas Rosicky round out that group.  It’s a lot of talent to have unavailable and it means our main group will have to play on and on and on.

One at a time, perhaps, is the only way to take them, and this one should be manageable.  Of course, we thought the same thing on opening night in Zagreb in the reverse fixture.  In that one, Wenger rested several first team players, giving starts to the likes of David Ospina in goal and Kieran Gibbs, Mathieu Debuchy and Gabriel in our back line.  Further forward Olivier Giroud came in for Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain started on the right.  Arteta started instead of Coquelin at the rear of mid-field.

Was it too many changes or did things just not go our way?  Early on Giroud picked up an early yellow (for dissent) after complaining about very rough treatment from Dinamo defenders.  Nonetheless, we looked the team most likely to score until Dinamo’s first real chance.  Ospina was quick off his line to block Josip Pivarac’s shot but it rebounded in off Oxlade-Chamberlain who was also racing back to the scene of the crime.  Things went from bad to worse when Giroud was given a 2nd yellow for hanging a leg out where a Dinamo player, Ivo Pinto, could throw himself at it and theatrically go down.  Drama rewarded, Arsenal had to play a man down for the final 50 minutes.

Things got even worse after the interval when the home team scored from a corner.  Down a man and two goals, the mountain was too high.  Walcott, nicely put in by an Alexis through-ball, scored one after coming on as a sub, but a 2nd could not be found.

That loss was compounded when Wenger again opted for heavy rotation in the 2nd group match at home vs Olympiakos.  Again the understudies came up short, gifting goals against the run of play.  Ospina carrying a ball over the goal line (from a curling corner kick) was the most glaring error.  The group fought bravely (again) and came back to tie the match twice but failed to do so a third time.

It’s been uphill ever since and, despite splitting points over two matches with perhaps the hottest club in Europe, Bayern Munich, Arsenal now go into round 5 needing all three points tonight AND hoping that Bayern beat Olympiakos in the other group match.

That’s not a recipe for a happy evening at the Emirates.  Fans will have to brave the predicted wet and single digit weather and will be keeping one eye on the Bayern match.  If things seemed bad after losing another key player and another three points at West Brom, imagine circumstances dropping us into the Europa League (with a match yet to play in the group).  If we can at least do our part in the home stadium it should mollify at least some of the support.   I shudder to think about the reaction if we cannot.

As such, this one becomes a real test to the focus and resolve of the already knackered group.  Wenger could choose to rotate and I think he might.  He’ll be needing every healthy body he can find at some point or other as the crazy part of the season around the festive period is only a month away.  As much as this is a must win it’s also a situation where players need to feel they can contribute and, if they do, they will get their chances.  Call me insane, but I think we’ll see Wenger double down on his original ideas about the entire squad needing their chances.  If I’m right, you have my permission to also call the manager insane).  Here then is my best guess at the starting 11:


Bench: Cech, Bellerin, Chambers, Koscielny, Monreal, Campbell, Reine-Adelaide

It probably won’t be such an extreme rotation of players (especially at the back) and Wenger may bow to the pressure to play the one big-name purchase he made in the last transfer window: Petr Cech.  It sure would be a treat, however, if we could look secure at the back, get a couple of goals and maybe even rotate nicely into the subs bench.  What about a first team debut for Jeff Reine-Adelaide?  The 17 year old wowed the home support in the Emirates Cup and a glimpse of some brightness for the longer term future might go down a real tonic.  Again, hope is not a plan.  Let’s get those other planets to all line up beforehand…

As always, this is just my take on the match and the situation more generally.  What’s yours?  How would you approach this one if you were the one making the choices?   Would you save your resources for the league or be sure to use the very best at your disposal so we have the best shot to be primed and ready for a big final match-night in Athens?

C’mon Gooners, tell us what you think.  C’mon Gunners, back on your horses…

Go on, then…

By 17highburyterrace

12 thoughts on “Arsenal – Dinamo Zagreb; Match Preview, Predicted Line-Up. Big Coq = Big Shoe to Fill. Luckily Rambo Has a New Pair

  • Just a word on Coquelin, I’ve got a mate whose a UEFA licensed coach, and his immediate opinion on seeing Le Coq’s injury, was 12 weeks out…
    Don’t shoot the messenger but I get the feeling that AW can be a little optimistic when accessing recovery times from injury…

  • Good preview there 17…

    I’m not really which way AW will go with his team selection for this game.
    In my mind, the main game has to be Norwich this weekend.
    So does AW pick a team with one eye on Carrow Road?
    We really don’t have the squad depth to attack both the EPL and CL…
    It’s a moot point if we had enough squad strength anyway, to do so, prior our recent injury crisis?

  • 17, Cech has definitely got to start for me, Ospina is good but Cech is miles ahead. Hopefully we’ll see Chambers instead of Flam, I rather take a loss and experiment with someone new to take over the DM role, Flam can still do a good job but with Coq probably not coming back before the City match I rather experiment a month beforehand to allow Chambers to adjust to the position. Love the idea of Jeff getting his debut, surely he can’t do worst than Campbell.

  • Hoping to watch game in pub tonight, so should be able to write a review. Let’s hope the boys get this one right and no way will Arsene take it easy on this one. We will go for it and play a very strong team tonight. The CL, as long as we have a chance to progress, will take centre stage and we have to show the world once again how good we can be.

    I have little doubt that Bayern will play to win and Olympiakos will fight with all they have got to get a point at least. If they succeed to do so it is over for us, and I will have peace with it. But I reckon we will get a chance to still qualify by winning in Athens in a few weeks. All to play for, so let’s play some proper football tonight. 🙂

  • Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Monreal, Flamini, Cazorla, Campbell, Ozil, Alexis, Giroud

    Subs: Ospina, Debuchy, Gabriel, Gibbs, Chambers, Ramsey, Reine-Adelaide

    Will we finally see RA? No not the part-time blogger on here but the Reine one?!

    Enjoy the game FFGs 🙂

    6/11 for you 17HT! 😉

  • Haha…Not so good thinking Wenger might rotate tonight… Same with putting the spotlight on Ramsey…

    Oh well… I’ll take the current scorelines… Bayern not exactly taking it easy on the Greeks…

    Traffic getting to an all ages venue in San Francisco made us miss the first 10 mins but it’s looked very solid since. IMO, it’s very good to have Alexis score again and his assist for Ozil’s goal wasn’t bad either. Nacho has looked excellent all match too… I’d take a couple more but I’d also walk away very content if everybody just stays fit and ready for the next one…

  • Hi there HT. With you on avoiding the injuries. We don’t want to do anything complacent from here, but some tactical resting soonish would be no bad thing. Frankly I’m not bothered about getting a big score against opponents like these – it proves nothing really. Another to make matters comfortable would be nice though.

  • I’d like to see both Jeff and Chambers get a run out – resting Sanchez and Flam. Gibbs could do with a few min as well.

  • Campbell having a good game I’m pleased to see. A goal for him would be good. I’d get Sanchez off now though, and Flan too for that matter……

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