Isn’t it pleasant to have something other than speculation to talk about? Gone, albeit momentarily, is the farrago of spurious chattering and in its place we welcome the salvation – hopefully- of competitive football.
I’m going to keep this short today because I’ve plenty of other things occupying my time.
The teams news is pretty good today. Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal and Mesut Ozil all return from their respective injuries and are available for selection. The one new absentee is Ainsley Maitland-Niles who is unlikely to feature with a bout of flu. Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla remain the only long-term absentees. The former isn’t too far away from fitness whilst the latter looks increasingly likely to never kick a ball again, which is truly an incredible shame. With the circus surrounding Alexis Sanchez I’d expect not to see him in the squad today. He has trained with the first team all week, but I don’t think a player that wants to leave should be anywhere near our squad – especially if they’re negotiating a move away at this point.
Having said that, I wouldn’t be all that surprised if Arsene played him, or at least named him amongst the substitutes. He had no qualms starting Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain away at Anfield at a time he probably shouldn’t have been anywhere near our first team. Hopefully we won’t see a repeat of that because Chamberlain was truly f*cking terrible that day (as was everybody), and that performance is arguably what has tainted so many fans’ – mine included – perception of him – especially given he joined Liverpool a couple of weeks later.
A win today is extremely important. Across all competitions, Arsenal are now without a victory in the last 5 games and we languish a miserable 6th in the league table. Today, with all respect to our opponents, is a day we should be able to win comfortably and doing so is a vital step towards getting things back on track. The last time I can recall morale among the supporters being this low was circa the departures of Fabregas and Nasri and that thumping defeat at Old Trafford. That was not a fun time to be an Arsenal fan.
My guess is we’ll start with Cech in goal with a back 5 of Bellerin, Kolasinac, Mustafi, Chambers and Koscielny. The central midfield roles will be interesting now that Ramsey is fit and available. I’d like to see Arsene drop Xhaka, who has been wildly inconsistent recently, and see how we go with Wilshere and Ramsey. I’ve a feeling the manager won’t agree with that and Jack will drop to the bench. Further up the field, I imagine it’ll be a trio of Ozil, Lacazette and Welbeck/Iwobi. Hopefully Ozil is fit enough to play from the start as we lack any form of creativity in the final third without him around – a concept that has started me warming to the signing of Mkhitaryan.
I am going to predict a comfortable, relatively tedious 2-0 win and a goal for Lacazette, which he really needs at the moment. With his dry spell being frequently discussed and the potential signing of Aubameyang looking more and more a possibility, he must be feeling the pressure. A goal will do him the world of good and he deserves it for all the hard work he puts in.
So, what are your thoughts? Leave me a comment below with your score prediction and the correct guess will win a special prize.
That’s all for today, folks. I’ll be back with a review tomorrow.
Until that time, and as always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.
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