Do you know what’s strange? In life, my family and particularly The Management, often comment about how easy going I am sometimes. I’m quite happy to let a lot of things – not everything, but a lot – just pass me by without too much stress. I’m quite positive about life in general.
Arsenal is my one weakness. It’s my cryptonite. It’s the ‘thing’ that I have where I cannot be positive about all of the time. Even when I write blogs which are positive because we’re playing well, at the back of my mind, I’m always saying to myself “yeah, but it’ll all end soon with catastrophe”.
I guess you could say it’s the prerogative of the football fan. I’m sure I’ve heard songs and poems about football fans behaving like this. There was certainly the grumpy guy from Fever Pitch.
So even yesterday, when I could have been engaging in that loveliest of football fan past times of schadenfreude because the Spurs had been knocked out to a Mickey Mouse team from Belgium, in my mind I was still thinking “means they’ll have less distraction domestically now”. Still, in a couple of weeks time we won’t have that problem either, will we?
Anyway, let’s talk about Arsenal, shall we? It’s an Arsenal in which we’ll probably have to be without Mo Elneny for a while, if the reports out yesterday are true. He’s picked up a calf knock after the Sutton game and some Egyptian media outlet are giving him a minimum of three weeks to return. Whilst he’s not exactly number one choice as a centre midfielder at the club, it’s still a blow at a time in which we realistically only have three available central midfielders available when he’s not fit in Coquelin, Xhaka and The Ox. I guess the mini break we’ve got now is a good opportunity for us to get players like Ramsey and Koscielny back and fit and so certainly midfield could look a little healthier with the Welshman back, but that’s only really in numbers. Elneny works better in that deeper lying role than Ramsey does in my opinion, so losing Elneny for a while isn’t great.
When we do play next, I just hope Arsène throws his hierarchies out of the window, because there are a few players that deserve more game time. Gibbs certainly should keep his spot. The Ox should most definitely, but Arsène loves Ramsey and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him back in the team alongside Xhaka, which would be a mistake I think. If you were being kind you’d say Ramsey’s form has been patchy all season, but I’d personally go a bit further and say he’s been dire at times. The Ox has shown a better ability to run with the ball, is better at picking out a pass and with his tracking back suddenly seeming to have switched on in his brain that he needs to do that, he looks a better all-round option than Rambo. I just hope Arsène sees that too.
I also hope he sees that Theo offers far less than Lucas. With the Spaniard currently notching up a good goal ratio, I think he deserves a shot, because Theo’s ‘X factor’ has often been his goalscoring even when he goes missing for large swathes of football matches. Lucas has been bagging some good goals, but they’ve been against what you’d call ‘lesser’ opposition, so I think it’s time he was tried and tested against a better calibre of opponent. Starting with Liverpool in over a weeks time.
I also think we need to give Iwobi some pressure release by having him out of the first XI for a while. I like what he brings to our squad and I think he could be a great impact player when certain teams are tiring. His dribbling and direct running is exciting to see but he’s been relied on far too much this season and that isn’t good for us or for him. He’s at an age where he could be really developing if he gets enough confidence by good performances. So what we don’t need is the player to lose that confidence of Youth and within three years look like the shadow of the player who first broke on to the scene. That’s why the return of Welbeck needs to be considered now. He’s had a number of minutes under his belt already and if you want to start him against Liverpool and leave him out against Munich, that works for me, with Lincoln to follow the weekend after that. He could play in the two weekend games and that could have keep his rehab going in the right way and with the right amount of games.
A front three of Lucas, Alexis and Welbeck would give us pace, a freshness from the two wide men and also a higher press from the front. Perez and Welbeck have a high work rate and that is the kind of style that could really benefit us when we play a Liverpool team who have been rickety at the back this season.
So Arsène, what’s it gonna be? Are you going to stick to what you know in an Iwobi-Alexis-Walcott front three that has struggled because of the poor form of the two wide men? Or are you going to mix it up a bit? You already know what I’d do.
What about you guys on the tinterweb? What would you do? Would you ditch the hierarchies?
Let me know in the comments.