There are two major discussion points for me today and thankfully, neither of them involve Sam Allardyce!
Firstly, the news filtering from a German Journo Henning Feindt, that Mesut Özil has signed a new deal and will wear the number 10 shirt. The journo in question wasn’t exactly explicit on when Özil will occupy the 10 shirt, but if he does this season, that’d be something I’ve never seen before. Players never usually change numbers during the season and I can’t think of an example before, so would this set a precedent? More worryingly, would this spell the end of Jack Wilshere’s career at Arsenal? I hope not. The guy is an amazing talent still and I hope he resurrects his career at Bournemouth so he can come back and be an Arsenal first teamer next season.
It’s apparently a bit of a ‘megabucks’ job, but when you’ve got the best player in his position in the world, you kind of have to pay him the cashola that the market dictates. So it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see that he’s on some kind of million-pound-per-month deal that sets him apart from his teammates. After all, he is miles apart from the rest of them at times, to which I’d even package Alexis in with the rest of the team too when it comes to Özil.
Of course we’re yet to get any confirmation and this being Arsenal, we’ll probably not get anything for another month or two if it is indeed true, but the noises have been positive for a few weeks and so this seems to fit with the ongoing narrative we’ve heard of late.
I for one, will be delighted and if we can tie down Alexis too, it’d give a massive boost to everyone involved in the club.
As for the other news, well obviously it’s match day related, as Swiss champs Basel stroll in to town. There’s a couple of sub-plots to make the game a little special; the tale of two Xhaka’s, or the opportunity for Elneny to face up against his former side, but ultimately we just need to get our first points on the board, so this game needs to be handled with professionalism and confidence by our lads.
I’m intrigued to see how Basel line up tonight. I’ll admit I’ve done no research, have very little knowledge of their players or style of play, so I’m hardly the personal to give you a detailed tactical synopsis of how they’ll line up.
I can speculate though, and with Arsenal and PSG the big teams in the group, I’d expect Basel to sit deep and compact and hit us on the counter, because that’s where most teams like to hit us at The Emirates. The only difference with Champions League teams is that usually they do have that little bit of extra quality that can do us in. My cousin is a Spud and he texted me telling me how sh*t it was that Monaco scored with pretty much their only two shorts on game week 1. I texted him back to tell him “been happening to us for years mate. Welcome to the club. It’s a sh*t club”. So I expect Basel to be set up to take advantage of us on the counter.
What that means for The Arsenal is that we need to remain disciplined in our defensive shape. The ghosts of Monaco at home a few seasons ago are still circling in my mind, and so any kind of repeat of the ridiculous high line we played when looking for a goal back then, will certainly not be welcome. Even if it’s 0-0 on 70 minutes, nobody wants to see us overloading our forward play by pushing the full backs both too far forward, because in this competition you get punished.
I suspect the back five will remain in tact from the weekend win against Chelski, but the midfield will need a shuffle in the absence of Le Coq. You’d expect Xhaka to come in, but I wonder if Arsène might look to have both he and Elneny starting. It would be harsh on Santi and I suspect Arsène will pick the Spaniard, but after the Welbeck performance at Old Trafford a couple of seasons back, I just wonder if Arsène has seen the power of extra motivation when you’re up against your old club.
The only point against that is that Arsène hasn’t really been giving Elneny any game time at all, so putting him in against Basel when Santi is fully fit and firing, probably won’t be something he’ll countenance.
In front of the midfield two will be Özil, of course, but I wonder whether some rotation of the front three might happen tonight. Giroud hasn’t played much, but if we’re going to come up against a side that will sit deep and compact, some of his wall-passes might come in handy, so I wonder if Arsène might give him a run out alongside Alexis and Theo. **update – Giroud suspended, obviously!! So he won’t play **
It’s probably an outside bet, because Arsène likes to keep a winning formula, but you never know and at this stage, we still don’t really know how much rotation the manager will be adopting this season. It’s fair to say the season is still too new and he’s been forced in to some of his changes, but if the old leopard is to change some of his spots, you fancy that tonight is the sort of game he would do that in.
You’d have to fancy Arsenal on a night like tonight, but with Anderlecht at home still very clear in my mind, I don’t think the team should – or will – take anything for granted.
I’d love an early goal. That would force Basel to come at us a bit and ensure more space for our creative players. But whether or not we’ll actually get one, depends on how quickly we start, because these types of Championd League games we’ve often seen that the side can start a bit slow. Here’s to hoping that we can start off like a rocket like we did at the weekend.
Up the Arsenal!