Wembley’s Been Good. Is Stamford (a) Bridge Too Far?
We shall see. Please join us in the comments section at game-time for some in-match impressions. Due to the early start–5:30 am my time–there won’t be time for any sort of preamble or preview. The machine comes on with a timer, but pulling myself my (first) espresso at that hour will be tough enough. As such, here’s your lot…
Much has been made of our struggles in “big away matches” and even more about our past five trips to Stamford Bridge, all of them losses, and featuring a collective scoreline of 15-2. Ouch. I prefer to think of our two most recent matches vs Chelsea, but, admittedly, those were at Wembley. Truth be told, both clubs didn’t have the most convincing summers and Chelsea actually had the worse opening day, losing at the Bridge to Burnley. They’ve since righted the ship–including a strong win at Wembley over Spurs–and sit just a point below the Mancunian league leaders going into the 5th weekend of play.
As Gooners, as per usual, our own issues are the focus and two losses (and no goals) in our other road matches does not bode well for the trip across town. We’ll just have to do something about that, I guess, and we might be at least somewhat buoyed by our come-from-behind win against Cologne on Thursday night in our Europa League opener. That it came in a crazed atmosphere–after a delayed start due to an excess of inebriated away supporters–might just help us prepare for other, er, challenges, including playing Chelsea in their stadium. Again, we shall see.
Just as Chelsea will present stronger opposition, so too will Arsenal be putting out a stronger team. Here’s the group I think will start at Stamford Bridge.
Substitutes: Ospina, Holding, Elneny, Wilshere, Alexis, Walcott, Giroud
Keen observers will note that it’s the same group who started vs Bournemouth last Saturday. More hysterical types will be saying, “Alexis on the bench, WTF!!!”
Of course, we’ll have to see what Wenger does, but I think Alexis, having played his first full 90 minute match, will be looked to for the final half-hour–whether goals are needed or not. As always, however, what do I know? Who would you start and why? Any changes to the 18 names I’ve listed? And what about formation? We’ve been starting matches with a back three but finishing them playing four at the back, and, if Thursday is any example, we appear far more comfortable once the switch is made.
My thought is that this match comes just a bit too early and that we’re still reeling from the ugly end to our transfer window dealings–and non-dealings–plus the debacle that was our trip to Liverpool. Defending first has to be a mantra for this one, hence the three (or is it five?…) at the back. For me, Alexis’ contributions in that formation has, thus far at least, been a mess, another reason to hold him out until later on. In my view, despite the competition obviously being much tougher, we need to build upon our win over Bournemouth and try to move forward from there.
Those are mine. What are your thoughts headed into the match?
Let’s be having them–in the comment section below and tomorrow on the Live-Blog…
Go on then…