Another away trip against a team with nothing to play for and sadly I have very little confidence that we will come out of this one with any points.
Wolves aren’t fighting for anything, Palace weren’t fighting for anything, yet both put three past us and with Leicester sure to play us on the counter with pace I am struggling to see how we don’t concede one, two or even three.
And with players like Vardy and Gray it’s difficult to make a case for us both being caught out, not with our excuse for a back line, especially with the fragility of the players’ confidence right now. But in addition to that we haven’t exactly been banging in the goals away from home of late. We scored one against Wolves. We got one against Napoli. One against Watford. None against Everton. One against Rennes and one against Tottenham.
We just don’t seem to score many goals away from home. We don’t create chances on the road compared to at home and our wastefulness is there for all to see in the final third. So when you look at the fact the last time we scored more than one goal away from home was against Huddersfield who were relegated in February and League One Blackpool in the FA Cup on 5th January, it’s hard for me to believe we’ll get the three points we need today, because I think we need to score two goals to get them.
It’s the hope that kills you though and I still have mine that somehow we can get three points today. Anything else and I think top four is done. We’re out of time. It’s sh*t or bust when it comes to domestic qualification today I think. If we lose or draw today then either United catch us with a win, Chelski go a point clear with a draw, or Chelski go there points clear with a win at Old Trafford. And I don’t think even United or Chelski – as poor as they’ve been – will drop points for any of their two remaining games.
Emery has to find something for his team today. He has to find a team to get them so fired up for this today because even though there’s been plenty of talk about Arsenal have a series of cliched ‘cup finals’ it really does feel like today there is a prize at stake. If by some miracle we were able to actually win at Leicester in just a few hours time, with United able to then win or draw, then you’d fancy us to beat Brighton and potentially have four spot in our hands on the final game of the season. However as I sid at the top of today’s blog our away form means I’m not particularly confident. That’s because as soon as this team gets hit with any set back away from home we usually wilt under pressure and knowing that Leicester will probably score today and we will need to do something we haven’t done for seven matches in all competitions and only twice in 2019.
I just pray Auba is fit and at least on the bench because our only two scorers with consistency are him and Lacazette so I think we need both to play a part today. I also think we need clever players who will unlock a Leicester City team sure to sit in an organised shape and look to break with us on the counter. That means I would be looking at Ozil – despite his woeful performance against Wolves – as well as Mkhitaryan because I think we will at least cover ground and track back more than the defensively brain dead Iwobi.
So my team would involve a back three with Leno in goal, Sokratis, Monreal and probably Mustafi. It’s not ideal but Mustafi has more pace than Koscielny and the Frenchman looks dead on his feet at the moment with the games he’s played. So let’s have somebody with a bit more recovery pace on him. Then we need Kolasinac and Maitland-Niles on the flanks and in the middle should be Xhaka and Torreira. We can’t afford to be doing rotation now. Those lads have missed plenty of football between them so fatigue shouldn’t be as much of an issue. Much like is the case for Ozil and Mkhi and i’d be telling them to go out there along with probably Lacazette up top and tell them to look at unlocking a defence which we all know will have their best game of the season against us today.
And these players need to react from their shameful performance e in midweek. They need to show that they have the mental fortitude to dig out good individual and collective performances. Our last three league games have shown such a poor set of performances and even the Watford away win was poor given we had a man advantage and should have put Watford to the sword.
Leicester will most likely play with a back four and Ndidi in front of them and they’ll sit in a deeper block with the aim of releasing the likes of Vardy, Tielemens, Barnes or Gray and I suspect three of those four will start. It means that when the ball turns over with us in possession I think we’re going to need to have people busting a gut to get back to help that ailing defence. Whether that means Torreira and Xhaka sit deeper I’m not sure. If we have three at the back it should give us enough cover, but right now with the way our defence e is playing you think having 19 at the back still probably wouldn’t give us the protection Leno needs.
We have to start well and we have to actually take advantage of that though. If we score first then we might have a chance of picking up a point at least, but if we concede I think it’ll be a long day for us.
Keep everything crossed Gopners. I fear we might be in for a long afternoon.