An Arsenal team that is stuttering for form away from home, travelling to a West Ham team buoyed by victory against the current champions; what could possibly go wrong, eh?
Well, the first fifteen minutes, for starters. Which is why we need to start tonight’s match well come hell or high water. Actually, scrap that, let’s just grow into the game and not concede an effin’ early goal thanks to a defensive lapse, ok?
Who plays in that defence is a really good question though. Mustafi is our. Big Per looked ropey. Koscielny has exploding achilles. It’s hardly the most comforting news is it?
I suspect he’ll gamble on Koscielny though and I think he’ll stick with a back three, but although I’ve always said Wenger loves his hierarchies in the squad, Big Per’s mistake will probably have him thinking about Holding and Chambers. My gut tells me he sticks with the same team though so I reckon Big Per gets another shot at redemption.
Heck, I’ve been wrong many times before and I’ll be wrong many more times in future, so don’t be surprised to see a back four with Koscielny and Monreal this evening.
The manager seems to be toying with that idea of the back four more and more these days, which is why I think we’ll slowly see it creeping more and more into our game, but for some reason I just have a feeling that he won’t do it just yet.
He probably should though. Not least because we have players more suited to a 4-2-3-1 and with the couple of injuries we have it feels like he’s got a perfect excuse to do it. Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny, Monreal, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Elneny, Alexis, Özil, Wilshere, with possibly Ollie G up front, would probably be my stab at a winning side this evening. I’ve already talked about the questions in defence, but midfield also causes Wenger a dilemma. A base of Xhaka spraying the ball around and Elneny covering ground that the Swiss can’t get to in front of the defence, would mean we see less vast patches of green grass in our defensive third of the pitch.
You also have Jack dropping deeper when we don’t have the ball and when we do have possession – which you’d expect us to have for most of the evening – we can have an attacking four that have enough ability in confined spaces to take advantage of the tight spaces we’ll probably have to operate in when West Ham have to defend.
Giroud loves playing with Jack and he’ll be a handful for the West Ham back line, whilst Özil can do his level best to help Alexis in being half the footballer we know he can be.
West Ham will look to use the trickery of Arnautovic and Lanzini to support Antonio and I suspect we’ll see plenty of balls put in from wide positions to worry us, so we’ll need the best aerial defenders we’ve got on it this evening. Their line up is similar to ours with a back three, wing backs and two in midfield, so if we suddenly did switch it to a 4-2-3-1 I think they’d have to do something to counter the extra bodies we’d have in midfield. That could mean that we are pulling their central defensive unit about. I certainly hope that is the case this evening.
It’s a tough one to call and it feels like whatever Arsenal team show up will dictate whether we’re all as frustrated as we were at the weekend, or we’re happy that we’re back in winning ways. I feel like I need to see the opening exchanges of the game before being able to determine if it’ll be a finger chewing night or not.
I’m off to the Olympic Stadium (I refuse to call it that other name) tonight so hopefully I can bring some good luck. Don’t wholly count on me though!
Catch you all tomorrow.