The final home game of Arsène Wenger’s reign is today and I’m sure it will be an emotional one. It’ll certainly be for the manager and I’m sure he’ll shed a tear or two.
For me, I’m just sad that a once great manager is having his Arsenal career peter out like it is going to this season, without any glorious trophy ending, just a few games that really aren’t significant.
And let’s be honest, today’s game isn’t really significant, despite some people dressing it up as a game we need to win to stop Burnley from leapfrogging us in sixth. If that’s where we’re at where we care about finishing sixth then it shows how far we’ve fallen.
But let me not descend into the issues of this season or last season in the league. Let’s focus on the fact that a celebration of Arsène’s career is going to take place in the run up to kick off and hopefully the players selected today will perform enough to get a win, because it’ll be a sad way to say goodbye to the manager if the stadium is half empty come full time.
Who starts for Arsenal today will be interesting though. Having played on Thursday and with a late night flight that would have got the team back into England in the early hours of Friday, there’s not a lot of turnaround time for the players and so I suspect there will be one or two that might be rested, but I doubt it will be loads.
I can see Cech starting, Bellerin at right back, possibly Kolasinac at left back, with Chambers and Mustafi in the middle. I hope I’m wrong though and we see Mavropanos and Chambers together again. Having both played well against United it would be good to see them both get another game and it would be good to see if ‘the Greek lad’ has the minerals for the Premier League. Given what I wrote about yesterday as well, it would be handy if we could have a young defender or two who look like they’re ready to step up for next season.
Midfield will probably include Xhaka and perhaps Arsène might pick Ramsey again, but I can see the benefit of having Maitland-Niles start in central midfield, again for the same reason as I’d have a younger central defensive partnership.
But I’d probably have a bit more experience in attack. That would be a three of Mkhitaryan, Özil, plus one other with Aubameyang up top. But how good would it be if Wenger just said ‘eff it’ and went with Lacazette and Auba up top with Mkhi and Özil floating behind them?
I’d love that. I think it’d be ace but you’d need to have those players communicating well with each other because you’d have to have them popping up in different areas of the pitch. So if Özil picks the ball up in the centre of the pitch for example, you might see Mkhi wide right, Lacazette wide left and Auba off the shoulder of the last defender. Or if Mkhi picks the ball up in the centre perhaps you’d have Özil on the left and Auba on the right with Lacazette through the middle running in behind. Whatever the outcome, what would need to happy with the formation is that there’s a lot of fluidity. The front four players would only be assigned a position on a team sheet, with the reality being that each of them play in three or four positions in a match.
That might also be a good idea because Burnley are organised, they defend deep and steadfast, are difficult to break down and no doubt will want to frustrate this afternoon. Sean Dyche is a clever guy and he knows how to set up an organised side. This won’t be easy for us and so we’ll need a good performance to get three points today. A much better performance than the last few home games in the league.
We’re nearly at the end of Arsène’s reign. Are the players up for getting a few wins on the board?