Morning folks. Gee-golly it’s a cold one in London this morning, sure to be as frosty as Arsène’s response when he’s asked why he can’t put together a team that can win consistently away from home. Wins against Watford, Stoke and Southampton this last weekend just gone would probably see us as one of the few teams that people would think would get near City, but as it is our tendency to shoot ourselves in the foot defensively has come back to haunt us.
And with a manager who clearly doesn’t put much stock in a well organised defensive line, it doesn’t feel like it’ll get any better soon, does it?
Which is great that we have another away match tomorrow evening. A buoyant West Ham against an Arsenal team who love to give hope. What could possibly go wrong?
We’ll find out tomorrow but before then we have a press conference which takes place in just over an hour from now and it’s expected Arsène will rule Rambo out with a boinged hammy. Much like our away games to Stoke, Liverpool, United, the familiarity of hearing that Rambo’s exploding legs have hit him again adds to a malaise that simply didn’t exist two weeks ago. It really is quite astounding how the Arsenal barometer of hope seems to swing so violently in such a short period of time. But that is where we are these days and it’s where we’ve been for a while. There doesn’t feel like there’s any long unbeaten run going to start any time soon with this inconsistent Arsenal team and so we just have to deal with it.
There will be enforced rotation tomorrow that will be confirmed by the manager with Rambo out for the obligatory ‘three weeks’ I’m sure, seeing him return for the Chelski game I’d bet, but what I’m interested to know about is how long Mustafi is out for. Arsène said that he could be back after the Southampton game and, bless him, after Big Per’s early mistakes I’m sure there’ll be a drive to have him back.
But what about Koscielny? We all know he’s being sewn together each week and patted on the bum as he hobbled out of the physio’s room and with Rambo out and Shkodran still not confirmed back, can we afford to send out Koscielny on Wednesday and next Saturday?
It’s the juggling act that Arsène will need to contemplate and I just hope he gets it right, because we all know his history with running some of our players in to the ground. Players will always tell him that they are fit and he’s been guilty of too much trust at times with some of them, so I’d be shutting my door unless you’re part of the fitness and conditioning team if I was the manager.
One answer could be the back four, although personally I’m still not 100% done with the back three. Before our two most recent transgressions against United and Southampton, the back three had offered some solidity when Koscielny, Mustafi and Monreal were all fit. It’s clear that it’s who is available from the personnel rather than what set up we have when we have the players available, but Arsène has always said he prefers the back four and I wonder if the aforementioned questions will lead him down the path of a formation shift to get the rotation in the relevant players who are either injured or are teetering on the brink of that dreaded ‘red zone’.
Whatever the formation is though, I’d like ya not to be guilt of making those early mistakes, because any Premier League managed worth his salt will be telling his players to win the first fifteen minutes and keep shape for the remainder of the game. It’s a blueprint that we have gifted the opposition with some of our displays this season and so tomorrow we will need to ensure that we don’t give cheap goals away and leave ourselves with an uphill struggle.
Right, I’m offski, but I’ll be back tomorrow for the usual pre match preview.