Next up are the high flying Hammers. They had a week to think about their narrow loss at Old Toilet and will be keen to bounce back. A win will take West Ham back into the top four on points and there is no doubt in my mind that they will give us a hell of a game – a sort of FA Cup final can be expected. Arsenal need to be fully up for this and fatigue may play a role; especially the last fifteen minutes may see us struggle again.
So the team selection has to be done well and with the last fifteen minutes in mind. Arteta needs to be able to put three players on who can carry the rest through.
This is a big game for Arsenal. A win would take us to 44 points and just seven points off the top-four. With nine games after that, many of them winnable with the right attitude and intensity, the boys can close the gap, especially as we are still playing the Chavs before the season’s end. It will not be easy but it can be done.
I see this season as a transitional one and next season is the one that really matters. Arteta is building something special and this takes time, yet we may get to see the best of the current team in these last two months. Things are looking up for us: we are likely to concede about ten goals less this season, but the boys up-front have to step it up again as all nine teams ahead of us in the table have scored more goals.
So who is going to start tomorrow? It all depends on freshness and Arteta’s need for cohesion in the team, as to avoid unnecessary mistakes through miscommunication and misplaced passes etc.
My preferred lineup:
Can Luiz do another game or is it time for the reemergence of Holding? I guess the manager will go for David’s leadership skills but the extra height of Robbo would also be very welcome (Hammers are strong in the air). I am hoping for Soares and Tierney as the full backs and Xhaka and Partey in deep midfield. Up-front is a bit of a guess but I reckon the Hammers will struggle to deal with the youthful, unpredictable movement of Emile, Ode and Bukayo so I prefer them all to play. Laca as the mobile thorn in the Hammers’ defence would be the icing on the cake. Auba can come on as a supersub if we need this.
Now this team will not make the full ninety minutes and come home will all three points. Mikel will need to bring on three players who can hit the ground running and make a difference late on. Elneny for Partey is most likely to happen; Tierney may need to be subbed too – Hector can do that (Soares moving to the LB position); and then the big question is can super Xhaka play another full ninety minutes or does he need to be subbed after seventy minutes or so? I reckon he will be okay but Mikel may have to add another midfielder to the mix in the final stages. This will probably be Ceballos, or maybe Chambers will get the nod.
Looking forward to this one.