I’m not too proud to admit to feeling a little bit of jealously and a lot of bitterness as I watched Liverpool take apart City at Anfield last night. This is a Liverpool team with a blistering attack, bang average midfield and at times this season, a joke of a defence. Yet they still managed to blitzkrieg City and then hold at arms length yesterday and I couldn’t help but think about how we used to be and how that sort of performance could be us, with a little bit more identity and structure about our team.
But hey it’s match day, it’s a European home quarter final tie at The Emirates and we have our own concerns right now, chiefly how to overcome a CSKA Moscow side who I think will be massively up for this tonight, and if you fancy a flutter then you can have a look at 1xbet Promo Code.
What we need to do – in an ideal world – is the same as Liverpool did last night and start hard, fast and try to put the tie to bed early. I don’t think we have the same firepower as the scousers and so that task will be difficult, but we’ve had a team who have had some key players rested and so I want to see a spring in the step of The Arsenal this evening.
At the back you’d expect to see Ospina in goal but it looks as though the door has been left ajar enough for Arsène to hint at the Czech’s return to action tonight. Personally I don’t see it. Arsène May be many things, but he’s not disloyal to his players and Ospina has clearly been chosen as the cup ‘keeper. So I think he’ll start and Cech will be on the bench. I think we’ll see the first choice back four of Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny and Monreal, then in front of them Ramsey and Xhaka.
Then it gets interesting because you’d expect to see Lacazette start up top but there are four players who could feasibly be given the nod tonight behind him. Mkhitaryan and Özil are, you would think, shoe-ins to play. But will Arsène opt for the high press running of Welbeck, or go for the ball control of Wilshere, potentially in the middle and shifting Özil wide?
I think he’ll go for Welbeck. Despite the fact he was pretty anonymous against Stoke at the weekend I think that Arsenal should be aiming to force CSKA into errors higher up the pitch and if we want to start a game with high intensity then Welbeck is the better option. If CSKA were a team that we know are going to park the bus then I’d be talking up Wilshere. He’s better in confined spaces and if we’re playing through the middle of a packed defence then he’s the sort of player you want popping it around corners, little give-and-go’s, looking for that eye-of-a-needle pass.
But I think CSKA will want an away goal to take home and so I think that we should be expecting them to come out a little bit more. Plus let’s not forget that the ‘park the bus’ routine seems to mainly be the soup de jour of smaller teams in domestic competition. When you play European teams they are all sides used to winning and used to coming out of their own penalty box to try to win games, which is why it is more open than most home games against mid-table or lower opposition.
I’m glad we’ve got Lacazette back and I’m glad he’s already notched a goal since his return. It doesn’t matter that it was from the penalty spot, the Frenchman will have been walking a little taller after that goal and what we need to see is more of that running in behind like we saw against Stoke when he came on, on Sunday.
I can’t profess to have too much knowledge on CSKA but a quick Google tells me that they’ve dispatched Lyon in the last round by winning both home and away and it looks like they’re a side who like to play short passing football with an emphasis of attacking down the right hand side. That being the case we’ll need Monreal to feel protected at times and I also hope we see more of the ‘New Xhaka’. You know, the guy who’s realised that football is played behind you as much as it’s played in front of you.
My hope for this evening is obviously a win and a handsome one, but I really want us to start well because if that happens, the crowd will be even more fired up and I think the team will respond too. It’s clearly not going to be a full house but as long as it’s got plenty more than at the weekend I’m hopeful that we’ll get a good enough atmosphere.
Let’s hope we all enjoy the game, eh?