Apparently there’s some sort of international tournament starting today. I’ll be darned if I know what it is, because my gaze is locked firmly on what happens at London Colney today and then Stamford Bridge tomorrow.
Oddly, there hasn’t been any team news to come out from yesterday like there normally is, so I’m guessing Arsène will have his press conference first thing this morning, then head off with the team to a hotel to ‘hunker down’ for the night. Hopefully there isn’t any injuries to those players who didn’t play on Wednesday but are likely to on Saturday. Hopefully the mood of those players is better too.
Having a quick scan of the official site didn’t exactly help my mood, I’ve got to be honest with you, because it all felt very 2008ish, with players talking up about how they’ll bounce back, how they will be stronger and the such like. I appreciate the sentiment, the old “stay positive” vibe, but if I’m honest I’ve become so desensitised to it over the years it sort of washes over me. I’d almost rather see complete radio silence after a game like midweek and just try to get to the next game as quickly as possible. Heck, I wouldn’t even mind a big sign on the front of the website saying “closed due to player sadness and mourning the defeat”, than players talking up about how they have to bounce back or as we used to get, “learn from lessons”.
The only real lesson we learned from Wednesday is that Olivier Giroud can be a silly boy sometimes. It’s not like it hasn’t Halle ex before either. Remember his red card at home to QPR over Christmas last year? What a wally. Still, there’s no point crying over spilt milk, or some sort of other metaphor that links to us moving on. We need to make sure that those players who play on Saturday are up for it. Like really up for it. Sneaky Gabriel elbow jab to Diego Costa up for it.
Do you know who I’d like to see have a big game? Mesut frickin’ Özil, that’s who. It was on this ground that he was poor last season, but unbeknownst to us and the journalists who savaged him and labelled him a flop, that he played through an injury and never looked happy. I’m absolutely craving a similar performance to the second half against Zagreb, because it was like he decided that he had to up his ante and was one of the more effective starters in the second 45. If he can replicate that 45 over the duration of tomorrow’s match, it would probably result in U.S. Getting something from the game.
That’s a bold statement, I know, but I truly believe it. I believe it because an Özil on form will provide a litany of balls to a on-rushing Walcott and if Walcott is playing, then it should force the Chelski defence to play a bit deeper. Their midfield will also play deeper and that will probably mean Özil has to operate in tight and confined spaces. The best two players in our team to get out of such confined spaces – in my opinion – is Özil and Cazorla. So if Mesut is on form, he will create space for our forward players, as will Cazorla.
If Chelski do play to be solid defensively and drop their central midfielders deep to hit us on the counter, then we should not be surprised to see Coquelin and Cazorla see a lot of the ball because when we have it that is where most of the space will be. Effective distribution therefore becomes essential and so where I think the game is won is in that midfield tomorrow. Those three in the middle of the park need to be on it. Mourinho will know this too and so he’ll set up his midfield to counter that threat, which is all the more reason why I’d love to see Özil have a good game, because it will quieten a lot of people who say he’s not been a good signing for us.
He has. I hope he shows it tomorrow. We need him to.