We know by now that we cannot defend for the life of it, whether we play with three, four or ten in defence. Luckily, our attackers had their striker-boots on and Arsenal scored one more than they conceded, and that meant three points for the red and white adventurers of North-London. Our attacking football is of the highest order at times, and long may it continue.
Whatever Wenger tries, he just is not able to get the balance right between defending solidly and attacking decisively. Four teams scored more than us but at least six teams have conceded less, and our goal difference is a miserly 12 (sixth best in the league). Fortunately, we have Mustafi back – our lucky charm – and he worked his socks off to organise the defence and even score a cool-as-you-like goal himself. Clearly we need to get more value out of the wing-backs/full backs if we want to move forward. There is also an argument to improve the balance in central midfield, but I am more than happy with the combination of Xhaka and Jack(or Aaron) as our pivot. 17HT also pointed out to us that we miss Giroud at set-pieces; the extra height and great heading ability is indeed missed.
Up-front we saw a fine, selfless performance from Lacazette and two fab goals by Alexis, who is now stepping it up, it seems (and I wonder why…). Ozil worked hard and was unlucky not to score; judging from his performances, I am confident he will sign a new contract for Arsenal. In order to do this, we need to sell Alexis asap and get a quality replacement lined-up (ideally to start in January but next season is also fine). Jack is well back and he produced a peach of a long-distance pass for the Chilean’s second goal (our third) that settled the match for us.
Tomorrow we play hapless West Brom who struggle to score (just 14 in 20 games) but do better defensively (eighth best defence and conceded just three more goals than us).
I don’t expect many changes in the line-up; in fact, it would not surprise me if we see the same eleven from Thursday’s game. Monreal is a doubt and it may be good to give Koz a rest, as we will need him against the Chavs fully fit. So if Nacho is available, I expect him to start instead of Laurent. Xhaka may get a rest too, but it is hard to predict who will play tomorrow.
I would go for the following eleven:
Granit as our deepest midfielder doing the sweeping; Jack and Mesut in front of him pushing the game deep into WB’s half and dictating the game. Lacazetter and Welbeck to do the wing-play and support the full backs as much as possible. Alexis to focus on attack in the centre and come and get the ball centrally occasionally (and Laca or Danny to take the vacated space). If Granit or Nacho are not fully fit, I would replace them with Maitland Niles or Le Coq/ Koz or Chambers. All out attacking is our best chance of getting goals and it is definitely our best defence, so let’s just go out all guns blazing and win with at least one goal’s margin.
Enjoy the last game of the year, fine fellow BKers.