6 CHANGES AS WE ENTER THE LAST 21 DAYS OF A GRUELING SCHEDULE.
We have seven more games to play in all competitions between now and 12th May when the premiership season ends. That’s approximately a game every three days. OGAAT (one game at a time) isn’t sustainable any more. It is now all about players rotation to keep fresh the legs and keep players away from the red zone. Would we then again see Aubamayang and Lacazette together in our starting line up this season? Maybe in the Europa cup final if we get there. Maybe I said this because with Emery one can never tell.
Meanwhile the premiership teams that we still have to face have each four or five more games left. That’s a huge advantage for them over us apart from the fact that in this month of April we have already played five games while for example our today’s opponent Palace have played only twice. They would be much fresher and further away from the red zone than us. However, Palace and co. are not the crucial things.
Having more bearing to our fortune is the fact that three out of our four immediate competitors in the Premiership and Europa are in the same boat with us with seven games each over the same period: Tottenham, Chelsea and Valencia. Manchester United, out of the Champions League, have two fewer games to play but I do not envy their schedule which includes Everton at Goodison today and City and Chelsea at home, this Wednesday and Sunday respectively.
How would Emery navigate through this most grueling schedule? Let us start the first trip, destination unknown.
GOALKEEPER: Leno in goal for sure.
DEFENCE: Our first choice 3-man central defence is Sokratis, Koscielny and Monreal. Each time they played together our defending has held well. Sokratis would be serving the last of his two match ban. Koscielny and Monreal both have just been through three 90 minutes of football in one week. Both need to be rested but I doubt we would be able to afford that. A defensive line that includes all or any three of Mustafi, Mavropanos, Lichsteiner and Kolasinac would be poor in progressing the ball forward and defensively they might be prone to lapses. One of Koscielny and Monreal has to be played.
MIDFIELD: Ramsey is out injured. Available are Xhaka, Torreira, Guendouzi and Elneny. Torreira played the 90 minutes on Thursday. I expect him to be rested with Xhaka and Guendouzi starting.
FRONT PLAYERS: Ozil would be back. Aubamayang needs some resting and so should start on the bench. That would mean Lacazette leading the line. The third attacking player would be a toss between Mkhitaryan and Iwobi.
My predicted line up:
With six changes plus the fact that Lacazette and Xhaka were substituted early against Napoli means that enough fresh legs in the team is guaranteed. Remember we will play Wolves on Wednesday and Leicester on Sunday, both away. Phew!
Bench: Cech, Mavropanos, Jenkinson, Elneny, Torreira, Iwobi, Aubamayang.
Crystal Palace lead the league in the number of goals earned through penalties @ 10 goals. 45% (highest in the league) of their attack comes from the left field. Who is at the centre of these stats? Wilfried Zaha. Shackle him and shackle Palace.
As a side show we are going for a record 11th consecutive home win. In the the main show, the Spuds lost yesterday so if we beat Palace we leap frog them into 3rd place on the table.