With just over 24 hours to go until our annual trip to Bayern, there are a few bits and bobs filtering out from both sides, and a press conference sure to take place in Bavaria at some stage today.
It’d be great if the press asked the manager the question: “it’s all a bit boring playing these lot again, eh Arsène?”. They’d just get a polished response from the manager, but it’d still be worth it, just to show that everyone else is as bored with us playing them lot as we all are as fans.
Still, better to actually have a game of football to watch, than none at all. Think about those Liverpool fans who are having to deal with no football whatsoever for the next two weeks. Must be mind-numbingly dull.
And with a return trip back to the motherland for Mesut, Arsène’s been talking about his lack of confidence and how our number 10 needs a goal. I can’t quite work out if this is Arsène’s attempt at gee’ing up a player by talking about their confidence levels. Kind of like how Fergie used to do it with certain players. If it is designed to get a reaction from Özil, you can’t help but wonder if he’s the sort of player who would actually respond to that kind of stimulus. I mean, he’s hardly the type to roar back at the manager, is he? So you have to wonder if this kind of talk from the manager will do more harm than good?
At least he’s trying to do something though. Mesut’s form has been quite a cause for concern of late and he’s the sort of guy every team needs when he’s on song. Every player faces dips in form during points in their career and it’s that which sees the making of them more often than not, so I’m just hoping we can see a reaction. After tomorrow night he will probably not play for a couple of weeks too, so if ever there was an incentive for a player to ‘leave it all on the pitch’, then this would be it tomorrow.
That’s the same for a lot of the players though. You’d expect there to be a fair bit of rotation next Monday night against Sutton, then we have a week off due to Southampton playing in the League Cup final, so by the time Liverpool away comes around, you’d think that Koscielny, Mustafi, Bellerin, Özil, Alexis et al will have all have had enough time to recharge their batteries. Maybe the manager should even think about taking them away for a few days to do a bit of team bonding and to recharge? You hear about that for a lot of teams, but not usually from Arsenal, although that’s probably because we are usually playing most weeks in a season. But with the break coming up I’d hope that Arsène and the players spend some time together trying to work out why the heck they can’t get over the line in the major competitions. Psychologically weak? Tactical set up? Plain, old-fashioned, desire? There must be something missing, because Leicester last season blew apart the money myth and also the squad depth myth, so Arsenal have a team technically capable of winning everything.
Anyway, no point dwelling on that right now, as there’s a first leg game to try to navigate. More on who I think will play tomorrow, but I just hope that if we’re going to go down in Germany, we keep it to one goal. I want to go in to the second leg feeling like we actually have a chance for a change. The last time we won our group we played AC Milan I think, and that hardly worked out perfectly as we fluffed our lines away and ended up with too much to do at home. I don’t want that again. Just keep it to within a goal Arsenal, please. No more sh*tting the bed. We’ve seen enough poo-stained sheets to last us a lifetime.
Perhaps that’s playing in to Arsène’s thinking too, so I do wonder if it’ll be a conservative approach to the set up tomorrow, which will probably mean he avoids trying the central midfield partnership I tried yesterday.
The other guy who might fancy his chances is Mo Elneny. He’s talked about how he thinks the team needs him and I have to say I agree. I think he could be a better option than Coquelin in central midfield with enough game time. He’s certainly a better passer of the ball and he also covers a fair bit of ground. He doesn’t go steaming into challenges, but neither did Arteta, yet he was lauded because of his ability to screen the back four. You don’t always need a ‘hell for leather’ ball-buster in front of your defensive unit; sometimes you just need a guy who can be there and distribute effectively. That’s what I think Elneny does better than Coquelin and so I’d be thinking seriously about using him more about now.
Those are questions for tomorrow, along with how the hell we are going to stop Lewandowski, so I’ll save it until then.
Catch you all tomorrow.