This is THE question I have been thinking about this week: should we start with Ollie up-front and Theo as an impact attacker from the bench, or vice versa; or should we play them both as we did against the sorry Greeks last week Wednesday?
We are not under huge pressure to win this one, as in having to close a big gap between them and us. So we can relax a bit and play with focus and passion to get a win and leave all three points at Ashburton Grove, rather then be all tense and desperate to beat them at any cost, which so often has ended in failure.
The defence and central midfield pick themselves for this one, given the injuries and quality players we have available for the key positions. A week’s rest is just what the doctor ordered as well, so I am not worried about these two areas. Ozil is a given and if sexy Alexi is back he will play too; if not, we can play Campbell or the Ox, or even both. But the big question is whether to play Ollie or Theo up-front.
I guess this depends on Arsene’s tactics. Do we sit back and invite pressure, basically let Man City play football and then beat them from rebounds and counters; or do we plan to dominate them in midfield and not let them get into their game? If we sit back, we could do with Theo’s speed to get behind the defence and help us capitalise on our fast and deadly counter-attacks. But if we would like to make the play, we need Ollie to hold on to the ball and give the midfielders an outlet for the ball whilst they get closer to the City’s box.
You could also argue that IF we want to dominate Citeh and not let them get into the game, we need both, Theo and Ollie: the Englishman will likely force the defence back as they will be scared of his, and possibly Alexis’, electric pace; whereas Ollie will give the midfielders an important holding point to produce their deadly triangles with. Ollie also offers more goal threat in the box, especially from set-pieces and crosses from the wings.
The risk of playing them both is that Bellerin could become quite exposed in our right back area. We are more solid with Hector Vector working with Ramsey, or even Campbell, than with Theo, even though he has improved his defensive abilities and willingness to help out recently. Of course, the presence of Theo on our right wing will force the Man City full back to stay behind a lot, which will ease the pressure on our young Spanish full back; but we might not get the balance right, which could be costly.
Maybe a front-three of Alexis (Ox) – Theo – Campbell will give us the best balance against a team that likes to attack and is very much capable of dominating possession. On the other hand, Ollie is in great form and gives us more control in midfield and focus in attack…
The idealist in me says we should go for the godly solution of using both Theo AND Ollie: beat the Northern Oilers with TheoOlliegy and play some lovely football in the process; but the insurance broker in me says, play with either of them and use allround midfielders/attackers on the wings to keep the balance right and not allow our fellow title contenders to find a chink in our armour…
Not an easy one for Wenger to decide on, but what would you do?