I really hope the team are riding high today after Wednesday’s North London Derby victory. Today is the last of our back-to-back-to-back-to-back away games and a win today feels like it could be really splendid, don’t you know.
A win today means we go into the midweek game on another high and then if we can overcome Olympiakos on our own patch, we’d go into the United game at home with some sort of momentum to be happy about.
Standing in our way are Leciester, the leagues ‘surprise package’ so far and the only team in the Premier League who are unbeaten. They’ve developed a recent reputation for not being beaten after going a couple of goals down and so for us, should we find ourselves in front during the game, concentration is key and seeing the game out when it reaches its dying embers would be everything against a side who seems to have quite a spirited approach to its play.
They’ve also got some talent too, mind, with Inler having replaced Cambiasso in midfield this season. Gokan Inler at Leicester! Who’da thunk that, eh? The Premier League’s riches spread far and wide, it seems.
But they’ve also got danger men in attack in the shape of Jamie Vardy, who is one of those guys that is similar to Alexis in terms of work rate. He looks like he could run all day. D’ya know how Michael J. Fox refuses to stay down despite Biff Tannen repeatedly beating the cr*p out of him in Back to The Future? Yeah, that’s the kind of thing I’d see Jamie Vardy doing. But rather than be a limited technically player making up for it by running around a lot, he’s added goals and finishing to his game, so I think he’s going to make it a tough afternoon for Big Per and Kos, both of whole will play given Gabriel’s one match ban confirmed yesterday by the FA.
The less said about that nonsense the better.
Anyway, back to the game, in which Vardy will be Leicester’s main threat, but also Mahrez, who some had linked us with in the summer I believe. At the time I thought it was baffling, but having seen the way he’s started this season, I can see why. The real challenge for him will be to maintain his form throughout the season, which would inevitably lead to a move next summer is expect. But he’s the form player at the moment. He’s got brilliant ball control and dribbling, looking a little like a fit Jack Wilshere to me when I’ve seen him, except he is more of a nippy winger than a midfielder like Jack. If he has a quiet game then we should be able to expect that much of Leicester’s attacks g threat will be muted.
For us, the team will most likely revert to the usual first team suspects. Cech, Bellerin and Koscienly will play and Big Per will come in for Gabs, as will Monreal. It’s hard on Gibbs because I thought he played really well against Leicester, but Arsène is all about continuity in the team and that’s why I think Nacho will slot back in.
Midfield will see a shuffle due to the absence of Coquelin and this is where I’m really not sure. I’m not sure because I think what Cazorla needs besides him is a baller winner who can then feed him from short distance to start up our build up play. I think Arteta is further up the pecking order than Flamini, so I think he will start ahead of the Frenchman, but I’m not sure if gives the midfield the right balance. Arteta is not a destroyer. Flamini is, but he’s also not quite good enough for The Arsenal I don’t think. He had a blinder in midweek, he seems like a great guy to have at the club in terms of morale, but will the adrenaline from Wednesday be enough to carry over today? Or if he played would we see another display in which he doesn’t really do very much except run around pointing and shouting a lot? I’m not sure.
I guess this is where you have to trust Arsène’s decision making. Do you go for the technically adept Arteta, but less of a destroyer, or the technically inept Flamini, who will bulldoze through people if needed?
Özil should return to the number 10 role and Alexis will play left. I’d expect the square peg of Ramsey to be pushed in to the round hole of wide right, with Walcott up top. It will be interesting to see how Theo does, because he’s up against two slow centre halves who will probably sit deep in Huth and Morgan. There will be absolutely no point bothering with balls up to Theo because they will get mopped up all day, but if the team can find those curved balls in behind the two centre backs, Theo might get an opportunity or two.
I’d love Alexis to break his duck too. He’s a wonderful player and doesn’t deserve the form he’s got at the moment. He scored on this ground last season so hopefully those memories will return and he remembers where the old onion bag is again.
I’m not sure how this game is going to start, but I have an inkling that Leicester will start to stay solid defensiveky, let us have the ball and try to use the pace of Vardy and Mahrez to catch us on the counter. If that happens, the role of Arteta/Flamini is vital in protecting the back four. It means we need to see more White Hart Lane and less Zagreb from either.
We have the players to get the victory and they should have the confidence enough after the midweek win to not be too inhibited, but the attitude has to be right and we have to frighten a confident Leicester team into mistakes.
Catch you tomorrow.