I think we’ll be seeing a press conference today, despite the fact that we don’t play until Monday, so itll be interesting what Arsène makes of the weekend’s action. I don’t know about you but it does feel like in 2017 we seem to be playing more ‘catch up’ on games right at the end of the weekend’s action than ever before. Every time I torture myself by looking at the table we seem to have two or even three games in hand. Although it doesn’t really do us any good because lately it seems to just show a bigger distance from the top spots.
That’s why the midweek action made a decent change because it was us who made ground on a few of those around us. Sadly the Totts and Chelski are away in to the distance, but if you look at the rest we’ve suddenly at least got them in sight, which at least gives us some kind of vested interest in the league. Had we lost or even drawn against West Ham I think we’d probably still be ruling ourselves out of that top four chase, but as it stands we still have an opportunity and Palace away on Monday will be a chance to put together back-to-back league victories since mid January, nearly three months ago. It’s been a pretty grim few months but if the team can win away at a ground which will be tight, tricky and with a team who will set up with the same level of physicality as West Brom, then it will at least feel like the team have a foundation of form and morale to build on.
But it’s still pretty rocky as it stands. West Ham were perfect opponents for the team on Wednesday, so the team need to show a resilience against a tougher opponent away from home, so that we all feel a bit more belief that come Semi-Final time, we’re mentally ready to at least have a go at City. I don’t know about you but to me it feels like we need a few weeks to build that momentum to get to the semi-final, so winning away at Palace and Middlesbrough will be the perfect tonic to building enough confidence to take on that City attack. So perhaps the fact we have a bit of distance between the 2-2 and the semi is a good thing.
What I took from the game was that I want to see a little more of Xhaka and Elneny, because I thought that partnership looked infinitely better than when Coquelin partners the Swiss. Elneny has a better ball distribution and has the engine and distance covered during games that can make up for Xhaka’s lack of mobility. So when Granit does have somebody who can act like that ‘water carrier’ of sorts, it allows him to dictate possession from deeper, whilst Özil is the main fulcrum in the attacking third. The problem we’ve had with Özil has been his injuries, but also his dip in form, so that’s not really helped the overall ticking over of play and ball retention that this Arsenal team needs. But goals and an assist from Mesut will have done him some good and on Monday night you just hope he can continue to dictate the play a bit more than he was doing.
I also learned that for where we’re at right now, Ollie G isn’t a bad shout to start, because Welbeck continues to look rusty. I didn’t think Danny had a particularly good game against West Brom or West Ham, but more than that I wonder whether Arsène will revert back to Giroud given his goalscoring form, or whether he’ll keep with the more mobile front three against Palace. More to come for that over the weekend and Monday.
For now we just wait for the team news and whether there are any problems from Wednesday night. We should also get an indication of how long we’re going to miss Koscielny for. Despite the good performance of the back four against West Ham, we still need Koscielny in the team and I’m hoping that his Achilles problem sustained against City is short term. Arsène’s rhetoric after the game in midweek wasn’t good with regards to the Frenchman. He normally plays down everything so when you hear him say it’s ‘very bad’ then your mind automatically thinks that he’s gone for the next six weeks, which is effectively the season, but if Arsène can give us good news in his press conference today then that’s the biggest positive I’ll take from whatever he tells the media.
We can probably also expect the usual question of his contract and I wonder if the journos have a sweepstake on a) who gets the question in first, and b) what Arsène’s exact words will be. Because let’s face it, we all know the stock answer Arsène the politician is giving by now. It’s so boring I won’t even bother re-writing it.
Still, it’s Friday, it’ll be the weekend soon and I can have myself a rum and cola. Sweet.
Catch y’all tomorrow.