Morning folks, how you doing, on this cup final weekend?
I have a little scratchy throat problem going on which, in prep for a final in which I intend to completely decimate my voice from songs from before I’ve even arrived at the ground tomorrow, isn’t exactly a good sign.
What isn’t also a good sign is that it pretty much sounds like City have all of their best players back and looking rather good. I really could have done with some kind of lasagne-esque announcement yesterday or today from the club because, not that I want to sound like too much of a pessimist, but that would certainly give me more belief ahead of tomorrow’s game.
Ahead of a cup final you don’t really want to be bashing any element of the team but having listened to Arsene’s press conference that took place yesterday it hasn’t exactly filled me with belief that we’ll be going to Wembley with a ‘master plan’. When asked about how we’re going to handle Aguero he pretty much said ‘by defending well’, before talking about stopping the supply line to Aguero. Then when asked about the supply line and de Bruyne in particular, he just sort of said that they have loads of great players and that we just have to combat them all. Thanks Arsene, that’s rousing stuff.
Now look, I know that he’s not exactly going to sit in a press conference and reveal any plans he may or may not have, but I guess what I as a fan am looking for is that little spark. A little something. Perhaps something as simple as a “we have an idea of something we might try”, just something that will get people thinking. Because as it stands this morning we’ll probably see the same formation, the same players (plus or minus Ramsey and Mkhitaryan), that we saw at Wembley last time out.
Formation is something I spoke about on the Gooner Ramble yesterday with Giles and Dave and personally, I feel like we’ve missed a trick a little bit by not switching to a back three against Ostersunds FK in midweek. It has been fairly obvious to me that the players at times have looked a little lost and when Wenger has tinkered between formations it doesn’t normally end well for us. I hear more and more on TV, radio, written word, etc, that modern day footballers need structure and to be directed. The age of the Invincibles, where Arsene had a top-line strategy but required players to fill in the blanks themselves, appears to be dead and certainly with this Arsene team. But when you compare that to the very precise instructions and set up that Guardiola has, it is easy to see that creating these repetitive tactics and style for players is how you get the best out of them.
The trick I think we missed on Thursday is not playing a back three because I think that would have given the whole squad a week to adapt to a three at the back which I believe is the best way we counter Man City’s attacking threat. It offers more protection too, gives licence for Bellerin and Kolasinac to do more damage going forward, plus we have a blueprint on how we’ve performed in the bigger games. We’ve done it against Chelski, earlier in the season we did it at home to the Totts, we’ve even done it in the semi final against City. We have the structure, the team just need to be properly drilled and prepared.
Yet here we are just over 24 hours until we play the best team in the country, with the likelihood that we’ll be lining up with four at the back which has – in the big games certainly – proven to be less than impressive with our current set up of players.
I said it last night on the pod and i’ll say it this morning: I genuinely fear the announcement of the team line up, because if Arsene sticks to his four at the back regime, I think we’ll find ourselves caught out. Caught out because both Bellerin and Kolasinac like to get forward and that leaves pockets of space out wide for the likes of Sane, or Aguero, or Sterling, all to drift into and cause us problems and with one less centre half to cover ground, it just feels like it could be a recipe for disaster.
Of course my worry might all be for nothing, especially if the three at the back is announced come 3pm tomorrow and if that is the case, i’ll feel a little better. But I still think we have our work cut out for us to win this game tomorrow. Who knows, maybe a few jars of the amber nectar tomorrow lunchtime will loosen the shoulders a bit and i’ll feel a little more buoyant, but right now I don’t have the luxury.
Have a good Saturday folks. Feel excited, cross everything, and i’ll speak to you all tomorrow.
Ooh, quick p.s., re: the Milan tie. I don’t think it’s the worse thing in the world. We were going to face one of these big teams sooner or later and if it means Arsene plays a better team, takes it more seriously, then we get ourselves into gear, I’m all for it. I just hope we don’t balls up the second leg like we did last time!
Catch you all tomorrow.