Oh match day, how I have missed thee, let me count the ways….
Like, literally, loads.
It’s the first one of the season for us and, having seen the mighty Champions in Leicester – they know who they are and they reminded us yesterday in their chants – lose to Hull, whilst Everton drew with the Spuds, it was only the late fortune of City that spoiled the fun and frivolity.
I haven’t see any of the goals yet as I write this, but hopefully there was enough calamity in the Leicester team, to convince Mahrez to force his way out of the club and demand that Leicester sell him for an incredibly low fee so he can fulfil his dreams by playing for….oh I don’t know…a certain football team based in North London that play in red and white?
But before we can undertake our rescue mission, there’s the small matter of Liverpool today who, if you believe the pre season hope, will be one hell of a difficult game. I don’t put too much stock in the friendlies and how good or bad they’ve been, but ~I do think this is going to be a tough game today. Liverpool have a Klopp with his first proper pre season with his team to embed his ideas and so I think we can expect a team that will be high octane energy, pressing from the front and looking to catch us with errors at the top end of the pitch. And given the fact we’ll have a young and inexperienced central defensive pairing, that’s what worries me the most about today, being caught out in possession in defence against a high-press Liverpool.
So I do wonder what Arsene will choose as our central midfield partnership. Personally, I’d like to see how Xhaka and Ramsey operate, possibly with Ozil, but the German isn’t available today and so Ramsey will be pushed in to the number 10 role. It will free him up to be more all action and if he’s also tracking back more than Ozil normally does, that could help the other two central midfielders in protecting the back four. I’d assume that Xhaka will start, but who will play alongside him? I thin k we’ll see a similar side to the one that beat Man City last weekend. Coquelin has the better defensive screening capability and although Elnenny is a better and more technically capable midfielder in my mind, Coquelin might just offer that little bit more protection, so I think that’s what he’ll go for.
The next conundrum for the manager will be who starts in the front three. I can’t see anything other than a replication of last weekend again here, so it’ll be Iwobi, Alexis through the middle and on the right I think it’ll be The Ox. Theo has been ok on the right when he’s come on, but I think Arsene has the most faith in the Ox and I think he wants to see big things from him this season, so I think he’ll give him ample opportunity to play in to form. He’s certainly shown that during the pre season, but the Ox is notorious for looking awesome in pre season, so we’d better hope that if he does start, he doesn’t exhibit much of last seasons poor form.
Last season I tipped the Ox for a big season, but I don’t want to jinx him this time around, so I’ll just go as far to say that I hope he has a decent game today, if he starts…
Liverpool will have to decide whether Sturbridge is fit to play and James Milner will also be given a fitness test I believe, but Liverpool have made a few signings this season and so to me they’re a bit of an unknown quantity. Perhaps we can take advantage of that. I remember when we made a number of signings when Poldi and Giroud first came in to the team and I remember the disjointed set up as the players learned about each other and I was at the ground for the opening day 0-0. If there’s an advantage too be taken from our side, it’s that the lack of signings will mean it’s a team of players who have all predominantly played with each other for a number of years. So we don’t have a lot of new players to bed in. I know I’m clutching at straws a little bit, but with what’s happened this summer on transfers, we have to emphasise the positives at this time of the season.
Anyway, I’ll be there, cheering on the boys and hoping for a win that can ease the worry we’ve had this season. Keep those fingers crossed.