Today is about winning. Nothing else would be remotely successful, but equally, at this stage I could not care less how it’s done. I just want us to get to Wembley.
If it’s a functional ‘one nil to the Arsenal’ then fine. Let’s just do it and be done with it. If it’s a high scoring game in which we take Lincoln apart then groovy. But what we really don’t want to see is a draw or, heaven forbid, a defeat at the hands of the current leaders in the Conference.
Arsene was asked on Thursday whether this game was a ‘lose-lose’. It is. There’s nothing he can do about that, but what he can do is to set the team up strong enough to overcome Lincoln and do it in a professional way which ensures no dramas.
For me, that means a back five of Ospina, Bellerin, Holding, Big Per and Gibbs. That would give rotation, but also mean we see a return to football for our BFG and given some of the defensive displays this season, won’t we all be glad to see that? Holding has also proved he can be a calm head so I think he deserves another game, but I suspect that if Big Per does start, it’ll be Gabriel alongside him. After all the Brazilian is further up in the pecking order than Holding and one thing we do know is that Arsene loves his pecking orders.
That defence will be occasionally tested today, but I suspect it will be on set pieces rather than raw pace on the counter. Lincoln will have bodies behind the ball and so won’t be looking to station one or two forwards ahead of the ball so they can hit on a quick counter. Which means the primary target of the back four for Arsenal is to be secure at diet pieces and remain organised. That’s why Big Per could be a good option I believe.
A midfield of Xhaka and Ox would suit me, but if Wenger fancies seeing a trio which includes those two and Ramsey then I don’t think that would be a bad thing. For the first half against bayern it looked like it might have something about it. In think he’ll play Ramsey as he returns to form, but whether he plays both Xhaka and The Ox i’m not sure. He might give one of Maitland-Niles or The Jeff a run out. I suspect he’ll do that in one of the forward line positions though, with regards to The Jeff, so perhaps that strong midfield trio would be the best option.
In the forward three positions I would almost certainly expect to see Lucas and given his lack of game time from the start recently, I would think Giroud would also start, which would leave one spot for a wide forward. IF it’s The Jeff then fine. Otherwise you’d have to look at Theo. I doubt he’ll give Alexis a run out today. I’d be surprised anyway.
Of course I could be left completely surprised and see Arsene name the strongest possible team against Lincoln, but he’s never usually not rotated at least one or two players when we play lower league opposition, so I’d expect to see at least one or two that don’t normally start.
Lincoln will set up to be hard to beat, just like Sutton did, and for all off those players this will be the game of their lives, so I expect them to be giving everything to reflect that. It always adds an extra 20% on to the ability of a team I find, so I’m not expecting Arsenal to blow Lincoln away, but rather win with professionalism. What we do need though is a first half goal. Preferably an early one too.n If we can get that, then it will ease the angst in the crowd, because if it’s 0-0 or heaven forbid we’re behind at half time, the atmosphere will once again get toxic. Nobody wants to see that.
It’s time that Arsenal started winning football matches again. That needs to start today. We need to se a performance from a collective of players that demonstrates their level. I will be in my seat at 5.30pm cheering them on and doing all I can, but we need something from them too, which is to show the level of ability they all are and not some of the excuses of footballers they’ve been at times over the last few months.
Come on Arsenal, let’s get to Wembley.