So no real upsets from yesterday’s round of matches, saving plucky Spuds earning themselves a money-spinning and lucrative draw against title chasers Leicester City, or Oxford beating a woefully out-of-form Swansea.
Actually, the fact that the Tiny Totts have another fixture to cram in to their schedule is probably a good thing from our perspective, because they’ve been in form of late and I have to admit I have started to wonder if they could mount a title challenge. There will be some of you scoffing at this possibility, but the way they are picking up results both home and away in a season of the unexplained, does lead one to wonder whether they can go on this run all season. So the fact that they have another game, in which they’ll have to fit in their schedule, pleases me somewhat.
For Arsenal, there’s nothing much that’s happened between now and yesterday’s blog that I wrote, which you’d expect given the decent performance the team put in. There’s still the inevitable transfer rumours about Rabiot, Aubemeyang, Martinez et al, but we’re used to that by now, so hopefully it’s not even click bait for your thumbs at this juncture.
With just over 48 hours until we go to Liverpool, all eyes will now be turning to the scousers on their own patch, with the word ‘rotation’ sure to be towards the top of everyone’s vocabulary list of most used words at the moment. Arsène’s rotation of Big Per, Monreal, Flamini and Özil must surely mean that they will all play against Liverpool, but I am already wondering about the front three. Walcott and Giroud both started against Sunderland and both performed well enough, but what sort of central striker do we need to unlock our midweek opponents? Giroud looks to have the scoring touch, but his pace wouldn’t trouble Toure and Lovren (assuming both play), whereas Walcott ticks that box but hasn’t been playing there regularly. We’ll have to see whose available, but it may be that Arsène names an unchanged front three from the Sunderland game.
If that’s the case, then Joel Campbell will get yet more game time, and after admitting that I don’t see him as a long-term option at Arsenal, I must confess that his performance on Saturday had me wondering if in fact he does have the minerals to make it at the club. Arsène was interviewed after the game on Saturday and spoke about how Campbell perhaps feels that he is deserving of his place in the first team now, which I think we could see in his initial performances when he first got in to the team this season, as he seems more confident on the ball. When I first saw him get an extended run of games, it looked as though he wanted to do the simple things – retain possession, decent distribution and nothing too risky in his passing, etc – rather than try the more extravagant stuff. With the value of hindsight, that was perhaps the best option for a guy who wanted to simply prove that he won’t be making any cock-ups when given his chance. Now that he’s been in the team a while, he feels like he has an opportunity to stake a first team place and with Welbeck still a month away and The Ox’s form being mixed, that certainly seems to be the case.
Perhaps that’s the problem that the Ox has, i.e. He doesn’t just do the simple stuff to regain his confidence, which then leads to him trying too hard, trying to beat that man and when he doesn’t, it affects him more. We’ve seen what ‘going back to basics’ did for Rambo, so there’s a case study for him in one of his teammates.
Back to Campbell though, who Arsène says is this season’s Coquelin, which will certainly give the Costa Rican cause for hope. I’m not sure whether that’s been said by Arsène as a bit of a boost to him, or whether he believes it himself, because personally I’m still not 100% sure he’ll get that first team spot like Coquelin has. That’s not because I don’t think he’s good enough any more, but rather that the competition for that place is much fiercer for Joel than it was for Coquelin. Francis’ opportunity came and he took up a position in the team that really we didn’t have. His style of play – combative and high intensity – wasn’t something covered by Arteta or Flamini. So in a way, Coquelin carved his own role in the team, establishing a niche that I’m not sure Campbell can do because there are other players that can play in his position in a similar style. So the only way Campbell can stay in the side is being the best inside right-forward in the whole squad. Perhaps he could do that, but when everybody is fit (ha!), how do we know Arsène won’t revert to type and play Ramsey out wide again?
We don’t. So, whilst it’s great to see him play well, whilst I’m happy he’s in form and proving me wrong, I’m still not 100% convinced he’ll be the same as Coquelin, someone we cursed our luck about after it was announced he’d be facing a prolonged spell on the sidelines.
What do you think? Tell me in the comments.