Full fitness at Arsenal: Unai – play your best team!

We have a load of fit players again! It’s some sort of miracle! We can field ‘actual’ players in their natural positions on Saturday! What a thrill!

Let’s be honest, it’s been long enough though, because for the last month and a bit we’ve patched up the team as injury and suspension kicked in and we were forced to play the aged and out-of-pace Lichtsteiner as a centre half.

But yesterday evening the club confirmed that we have a host of players returning to fitness including:

  • Koscielny
  • Mustafi
  • Bellerin
  • Mavropanos
  • Monreal
  • Özil
  • And might I say I am nightly glad to see. Whether or not they all return on Saturday lunchtime remains to be seen, but I don’t know about you, it gives me a bit of a boost ahead of a West Ham team that have found a bit of form in the last month or so.
  • Unai must be over the moon too. He’s relied too heavily on his squad players over Christmas and it’s cost us with insipid displays at Brighton and then Liverpool. But now he can start to think about who can be used in what formation and most importantly, putting square pegs in square holes and round pegs in round holes (can you get a square hole? Ahh eff it).
  • I suspect he’ll be cautious though. We’ll know today and tomorrow what his thinking is around the squad but I’d be surprised if Mavropanos is seen any time soon other than the odd sub appearance. Ideally he’d probably have hoped for an easier fourth round FA Cup tie to ease him in, but with Man United on that front it’s unlikely to happen I reckon.
  • Koscielny is fit, Mustafi is fit, plus Monreal can play at centre half and so if Unai wants to continue with three at the back he can rotate four into three and also ease Mavropanos in. The big question mark is Hector though. He’s been out for a few weeks but the question remains as to why his fitness levels are. Can he come straight back in to the team? My guess would be ‘yes’ because he’s always been quite a fit player and has historically been nice a quick to get back up to speed. We certainly need him because Lichtsteiner hasn’t worked as a right wing back and Maitland-Niles looks good, but you can tell the difference in levels between Bellerin and him. To be fair to Ainsley it’s not his natural position which is why the Bellerin news was the best to hear out of all of the returnees.
  • Now what we need is a proper performance from the team. They’ve all had a week off and now it’s time to show that we’re refreshed and ready to have a go at West Ham. I never feel confident ahead of a game but oddly I feel strangely confident about this one. Which is sure to spell disaster but hey, can’t help how I’m feeling peeps.

    The other returnee I want to see straight back in to the line up is Mesut Özil. Get him in there Unai! Get him in behind Lacazette and Aubameyang and tell him to drift and find pockets of space to feed them. Get Hector and Sead to be the men who provide the width and let’s see how Mesut can perform in his natural position, with the right firepower in front of him and the players down the flanks to work with, because I don’t think we’ve seen that kind of line up all season. For some reason Emery has just not wanted to try it and as a result I don’t think we’ve ever seen what is potentially – in my opinion – the best formation we have.

    That’s why I think I’m quite buoyant this morning; the hopes that with a squad approaching full fitness we can finally start to see a lineup which resembles what I think is our best. Of course Emery is predictable as Mother Nature and so seeing what I believe is the best formation is most certainly not a guarantee by any stretch of the imagination.

    But at least it’s possible! And that breeds hope that we’ll see better performances from The Arsenal, which is all any of us want, on a weekly basis.

    Let’s just see what Unai has to say about his team and selection when he speaks to the press.

    Catch you all in the morrow.

    About the Author:

    Gooner born in 1982 from Harlow, Essex, with a love for Arsenal that knows. I'm not an AKb, nor am I an 'In Arsene we Rust', but I like to think that I can tip-toe between the two, occasionally veering into both camps.

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