Victory today is the only option. A draw will only seem as though the team has further regressed from the target of Champions League football and personally, I suspect it will also mean we will have too much to do to take one of the four spots for next season. It doesn’t even matter if the nature of a draw shows a battling comeback by the team, come 8pm tonight I will see it as another disappointing day. Which is why the team needs to go absolutely hell for leather for a victory.
What we need to see from this Arsenal team today is the fight and drive to win. We need to see that they still have it in them to beat the best teams in the league and we need to know that these players are playing for the club.
Man City will come to the Emirates today and will look to unleash more misery through their attacking options and it’s in our beleaguered defence that we need to see organisation and unity. West Brom was a catastrophe. The team have looked abysmal at the back and that’s why a performance today will go a long way to at least giving them a bit of belief that mentally they aren’t as strong as a house of cards in a stiff breeze.
It’ll be Ospina in for the injured Cech, with Bellerin and Monreal partnering Mustafi and Koscielny I suspect, and we need to see more organisation from those two if we want to win. They’ll be tested with Aguero, Sterling and Sane all sure to cause us problems. De Bruyne is a doubt for the game but with Silva in the side as well as the aforementioned other players, City boast an attacking line up that already has me worried.
The key will be to dominate possession and remain on the front foot. City will look to isolate Sane and Sterling against Monreal and Bellerin and whilst the Spaniard can probably match the German on our right hand side, I worry about Monreal against Sterling. That’s why whoever players wide left for us, we need to see them supporting Nacho.
I suspect it will be Alexis with Giroud through the middle and Theo wide right. Giroud scored a couple for France over the international break and Arsène will probably take that in to account, because the morale of the team will be quite low with performances, which means we need the players who might have more of it than others playing today. I suspect we’ll see Theo operating on the right and much like Alexis on the left, we’ll need to see more from him than just runs forward. We need to see him doing what he was doing at the beginning of the season and tracking back to support Hector.
When we’re on the front foot however, we need to see more from our forward line, because they just didn’t look at it away to West Brom. City will give our players more space, so what I’d love to see is whether our fullbacks can get in behind City’s fullbacks today. Think of that Walcott goal against Chelski, where Hector got behind and squared it to Theo to finish. That’s what we need to see this afternoon.
But more than anything else, we need to see a performance from Mesut Özil and our midfield. I’d love to see a base of Xhaka and the Ox, with Mesut in front pulling the strings. Both Ox and Xhaka will need to be switched on defensively, but with those three in midfield we have a better passing range than with Ramsey, Coquelin or Elneny playing. So I’m hoping Arsène resists the temptation to play the Welshman, Frenchman or Egyptian.
I’m not exactly confident about today if I’m honest. The team seems on its knees mentally and City are the sort of team who could easily put four past us at home. Perhaps we could show a level of fight that hasn’t been seen before Christmas, but what we’ll need to see if that we’re to happen, is something we haven’t seen in a while. Composure, discipline and tactical awareness from all of the Arsenal players on the pitch.
Come on Arsenal, let’s do this!