Because I can’t figure it out! In the end, it’s up to the manager but who knows what he’s thinking?
I know he’ll be thinking that we want to perform well in front of the home fans but also that we have more important matches just ahead. On Tuesday we host Southampton in the league, a match which probably is more important given the way they beat us back on Boxing day and the fact that we’ve only taken two out of nine possible points in our last three league matches.
Wenger has said that Rosicky and Coquelin are available. Would he think about starting them? Elneny is the guy people want to see, with many now questioning his abilities seeing he was looked over in the two matches for which he dressed, the draw at Stoke and the home loss vs Chelsea. The argument that, “He couldn’t be worse than Flamini” may be tested vs Burnley.
At the rear, with Mertesacker serving a one match ban, we’re bound to see changes. But who and where? Ospina likely comes in for Cech, Gibbs for Monreal, Gabriel for Koscielny, Chambers for the BFG, Debuchy for Bellerin? Oh wait, Debuchy wants out and it seems likely he’ll be headed for an English team fighting relegation (Sunderland seems the latest candidate, I guess he fancies the Northeast…) or, perhaps, to a continental team. Maybe Koscielny has to play and Gabby plays in Mertesacker’s spot with Chambers at RB.
Further forward it’s even harder to guess. Alexis looked spry but perhaps in need of match fitness vs Chelsea. Does he get a start? Debate rages around Theo Walcott and Joel Campbell and who should be shunted to the bench when Alexis is fully fit. What about a #9? Does Olivier Giroud play as our front man (was he really injured vs Chelsea–certainly he should be somewhat rested playing less than 20 minutes in that one) or might Theo or Joel get that role? It doesn’t appear we’ll be getting the proverbial “world class striker” before the transfer deadline (let alone the match). Danny Welbeck is back in training but has been out so long he’ll likely need a match or two with the reserves before even getting a bench seat.
What about the creative position (or positions)? Mesut Ozil sat out the 3rd round match vs Sunderland with Alex Iwobi looking eager in his stead. Does Iwobi start or is that the spot for our little Mozart (Tomas Rosicky)? Ozil has been getting a lot of games off but not exactly looking his best when he has played (at Liverpool, vs Chelsea) Does Iron-Man Ramsey get to play where he wants to? What about Mikel Arteta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain? If I recall correctly, vs Sunderland it was 1-1 until the double switch (Iwobi, Chambers out, Ramsey, Arteta in). We had played nicely up until that point but bringing on the more experienced men seemed to tilt the match our way. Jeff Reine-Adelaide came on even later for his Arsenal debut. Might he get another chance?
I believe we’ll see A LOT of changes–8 of 11 in fact, from the Chelsea match, with it looking like this:
Subs = Macey, Monreal, Coquelin, Arteta, Rosicky, Ramsey, Walcott.
That’s just my guess, and as always, what do I know? Others should have at it, and fill in the blanks as they see fit. What Will Wenger do? (Can you beat my percentages?…) What should Wenger do? What would you do if you were manager? Keep in mind those critical league matches coming our way, but also the fact that we probably need to get some playing time for other players as our injury crisis abates.
Burnley at home sounds like the perfect opportunity to rotate and rest and still advance. They are, however, up to 3rd in the Championship meaning that they’re used to winning. They’ve just signed former England #1, Paul Robinson who many Gooners will remember fondly for picking balls out of his own net with Spurs. Might he make a debut with hopes for a bit of revenge against his old enemy? Given that we have more players recovering from injury and reintegrating into the squad would it be OK to only draw and face a replay up in Lancashire?
Many questions, many possible answers…
Go on then…