There’s no time for basking in victory right now, the games are coming thick and fast and tomorrow night the team will look to make it three wins in a row by trying to overcome Olympiakos.
I must say I do love it when Arsenal play so often, but it doesn’t leave you much room for appreciation of victories, does it? Having been away all weekend I got back home Saturday afternoon to watch the highlights of the Leicester game and only a matter of hours and a sleep later, it’s Monday morning and my thoughts turn to our second Champions League match.
I was guilty of paying too much attention to Chelski and assuming the team would sweep aside Dinamo Zagreb, so it almost now feels inevitable that we would lose that game, with perhaps even the players feeling the same. But I don’t expect this Arsenal team to make the same mistake twice. I’m certainly not. I’ve already got the knots in my stomach and I’m on countdown until I get that mix of excitement and apprehension ahead of an Arsenal game. It’s nothing a few beers on Holloway Road won’t fix though.
Arsène will give his pre-match presser today and the assembled journos will try to prove on how he approaches this game, who plays and who might be missing through injury, so we’ll get an insight on how the team is doing by this afternoon. The positive is that we’ve seen some decent displays from a few of the squad midfielders -Flamini and Arteta – and whilst it’s a shame that the former is injured having sustained a hamstring injury on Saturday, the latter picked up from where he left off and had a decent enough display.
That’s the good thing about rotating when you have a lot of games you see: the whole squad can get back in to the swing of top-level professional football and when the unfortunate happens and one is injured, another can come in and still have a game. Arteta has now produced two decent performances having played well against the Tiny Totts and then coming in against Leicester, so whilst Coquelin will most probably find his way into the first XI on Sunday, Arsène will hopefully feel that he doesn’t need to risk the Frenchman for tomorrow night if he’s still recovering. Tomorrow night it the type of game that five or six years ago we’d have risked the player because of a paucity of decent options when you delve deeper in to the squad. With most of the squad getting game time at the moment you can see the benefits when you watch a performance like Arteta’s over the last week. He’s not been spectacular by any accounts, but he’s done what is needed and we don’t have a collective of Arsenal fans screaming because he even touched a ball in an Arsenal shirt.
Whether or not we’ll see more rotation tomorrow I’m not sure, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see one or two, so we’ll have to see what Arsène says today. Perhaps a tinkering in two or three positions can still keep the continuity and balance of the team that Arsène so craves? Personally, I’d rotate a bit more, and hear me out here before rolling your eyes and reaching for the ‘close window’ button in the top right hand corner.
I think the team will be riding high after the Spuds win and smashing five goals. But it won’t just be the first XI, because the squad players have also had an impact with their performance in the North London Derby too, so it won’t just feel to them like their part of the team but not the reason behind the good mood. I think it was Big Per who said last week that the whole squad was buzzing after the League Cup win. With that being the case, even by bringing in the squad players, Arsène would be bringing in someone’s still riding high on confidence. And we all know what confidence brings: performances. Five goal thrillers and a team that gets its swagger back, bit-by-bit.
So, whatever Arsène decides to do tomorrow and whoever is available, I’d be hopeful that the team will respond with goals and a victory to properly start our European campaign.