RAMSEY, TORREIRA AND XHAKA IS A MIDFIELD WITH PLENTY OF COJONES.
I haven’t looked at the odds for this fixture. I know it must be against us. After all it’s an away match. This season at away, we have only beaten:-
1) deep in relegation waters 18th placed Cardiff City,
2) bottom half 15th placed Newcastle,
3) already relegated 19th placed Fulham,
4) bottom half 12th placed Bournemouth,
5) already relegated bottom placed Huddersfield.
The away points accumulated so far this season by the the “big 6” teams are:-
1) Liv —— 38 pts @ 2.24 pts/g.
2) City —– 35 pts @ 2.19 pts/g.
3) Spurs — 33 pts @ 1.94 pts/g.
4) United – 29 pts @ 1.71 pts/g.
5) Chl. —- 28 pts @ 1.65 pts/g.
6) Ars. —- 19 pts @ 1.27 pts/g.
Thanks to our home form, where we already have 44 pts @ 2.59 pts/g, we are still a member of the B6. Such contrasting fortunes home and away can only mean a team with a mentality that is very susceptible to hostile away environments. Last season confirms this. With the core of the team made up of same players but under a different coach (Wenger), the pattern was the same.
Emery has been trying to solve this problem visible in the Ozil saga. Omitting Ozil from his away team seems not to have yielded the desired result but it’s probably a move in the right direction. There are some players who are undeterred by a hostile environment. If anything it pumps them up the more (think CR7). At the other end of the spectrum are others who are intimidated by it. The latest loss at Everton like the thread that broke the camel’s back must have Emery more determined than ever to pay greater attention to the resilience of each player in the selection of his away team. Here is how I would categorize them.
Group A: Leno, Sokratis, Lacazette, Ramsey, Torreira (the greater the odds against them the tougher they get). ….. Group B: Monreal, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Koscienly, Lichsteiner, Jenkinson, Mkhitaryan, Aubamayang, Cech (more or less on an even keel). ….. Group C: Iwobi, Elneny, Nketiah, Ozil, Mustafi, Kolasinac, Maitland-Niles (shouldn’t be expected to grab situations by the scruff of the neck). The others like Suarez and Mavropanos am unable to place.
Group A are my must away-starters unless for reasons of fitness, followed by Group B ahead of Group C.
Sokratis is not available as he starts the first of a two-match ban. Torreira, another in Group A, has served his three-match ban and is expected to start. Xhaka is in contention with a late fitness test.
With the mental resilience of each player more than ever on Emery’s mind, I expect this line up from him:-
Bench:- Cech, Licsteiner, Elneny, Kolasinac, Guendouzi, Iwobi, Ozil.
In my opinion this starting eleven can stand up to the bullying of the Watford home fans, to the likes of Troy Deeney and to the usually pro home-team refereeing. I particularly like the midfield trio. The selection doesn’t look that great on the wings. That should be the away trade off. I’d always take a boring, boring 1-0 win for the rest of the season. I hope Emery is there with me.
At this moment we are 6th on the table with this game in hand. It’s a must win game for us. A loss or a draw would mean a top 4 finish out of our hands.
Suggestions on how to improve our current squad’s away form are welcome. I know a lot of fingers would point in the direction of our defense. What about this? At home we’ve conceded only 12 goals with Liverpool and Chelsea being the only teams that have conceded less on 10 goals each. A poor defense per se should be leaking goals everywhere.
I detest Troy Deeney. I’d never forgive him for trolling us about our lack of cojones. It was all the more painful because he was right and they had just beaten us a Vicarage Road. Am still smarting and nothing would please me better than seeing him eat his words at the end of today’s encounter.
And what do you think of my groupings? Controversial? Let’s know yours.