The big question about the Arsenal team today is: How much will Arsene Wenger rotate today?
There’s little doubt that there will be some element of rotation (you can do a bit of betting – as well as some casino stuff here at 1xbet promo code if you fancy it) but should he completely reshuffle his pack and get a new hand dealt to him or should he just swap a few cards from the deck and keep most of what he has?
I have absolutely no idea what he will do. I know what i’d do, but I spent a good ten year’s of my life playing Championship Manager and the difference between on screen and in real life is a world apart. On Champ Man it’s a simple case of numbers. Look at who is available and who hasn’t played in a while, realise this game is fairly irrelevant to us, then pick a complete reserve team because you don’t want to pick up any knocks ahead of CSKA. If that was the case then the side today would probably look like:
Masey, Nelson, Chambers, Holding, Kolasinac, Elneny, Maitland-Niles, Willock, Iwobi, Welbeck, Nketiah.
But I can’t see that happening in a million year’s. And actually if I take myself out of the Champ Man mindset I’m not sure i’d want it because football and successful football teams are built on momentum. The thing that has derailed our season, apart from questionable manager decisions, underperforming players and not making signings in areas we need them, is the chopping and changing of the midweek and weekend teams that has led to us never really building any momentum. We’ve not put together a winning run like the one we’re on at the moment all season and if we want this season to finish strongly and actually win something then we have to have a confident Arsenal team with a bit of swagger. That’s what happened last season. The reason we were able to lift the FA Cup and beat the likes of City and Chelski was because after the horrendous March we had we went on a bit of a run in the league and cups and by the end of the season and the FA Cup final we were a form team again. It feels a bit like we need to do that again this season and that has already started but needs to continue again today.
So I suspect we’ll only get rotation of those type of players who are susceptible to injury. So I think you’re talking about Koscielny, Ramsey, probably also Wilshere, who will most likely all make way. Although given Jack’s form if he plays today I don’t think he’ll start in Moscow.
Then the question should be on players who we have very little other options for, so in my mind that’s Cech, Bellerin and probably Ozil too given Mkhitaryan’s injury. The last thing we want today is for Cech to get injured and so rely on Macey for a few weeks. The kid looks good but it’s a lot to ask to bring him in when the pressure is at the business end of the season. It’s the same with Bellerin though. We have literally no cover for him in terms of a natural right back so why risk him?
So my hope for today is a rather heavily rotated team with a few options on the bench. But what I would do and what Wenger does are rarely aligned and so I think today’s team will look like:
Cech, Bellerin, Chambers, Mustafi, Monreal, Elneny, Xhaka, Welbeck, Ozil, Iwobi, Aubameyang.
If it is that team they should have enough to beat Southampton at home but as we’ve seen recently it has felt like a bit of a grind and that’s how I think today’s game will go to. It’s a Mark Hughes Southampton and they will aim to frustrate. They have had trouble scoring goals all season and Hughes will know that a point away at The Arsenal would be something positive to build on. So I think that’s what the Saints will aim to do today. They’ll want to be compact, not give Arsenal space but also ensure that all of the football is played in front of their back line and not with any balls in behind. The difference between the midweek game against CSKA and today’s game will be – I think – the ability of the team to use the wide balls in between centre half and full back to get in behind. I don’t think our full backs get the same space as they did on Thursday and so I’m thinking this is going to be a frustrating half.
Southampton are missing Davies and Lemina from their first XI but weirdly Fraser Forster doesn’t get into their side at the moment and given that he has always seemed to have absolute blinders against us gives me cause for optimism. Of course that comment is probably now going to leave McCarthy having the game of his life this lunchtime but what are you gonna do, eh?
Against West Ham Hughes went for a 4-4-2 formation and if he does that again today I’d be surprised. If he plays the same team – minus Lemina – then the Southampton threat will come from the pace of Redmond and the two full backs Soares and Bertrand on the flanks, but their front two of Austin and Gabbiadini aren’t exactly the most rapid and they have ten goals all season. And for both players two each of those goals came in the same game. That has been Southampton’s challenge all season and so what I’m hoping for is a quite afternoon for our back line. It is Arsenal though so we shouldn’t really expect there not to be any brain-fart moments at the back. Let’s just hope they’re kept to a minimum.
It’s a game that matters little other than confidence but I really don’t want to have a grumpy Saturday afternoon. So just go out there and do the business Arsenal.