Last night I had a Singapore Laksa for dinner that I made and, having tried to sample it in the pan when still boiling, I burnt my tongue. It has left a bad taste etched to the tip of my tongue since.
Which is pretty much how it feels when talking about the Mesut Özil situation because, once again, Emery has omitted him from the team when I think he could have some impact.
Do you remember when Arsène used to say players were ‘injured’ when often he’d either have dropped them for poor form or there was something else happening at the club? In the latter years he owned up to the fact that sometimes he wasn’t exactly playing a straight bat. Well it looks like Emery has caught that same affliction with Özil because you can’t convince me that just he and Sokratis – also being left behind for this evening’s game against Eintracht Frankfurt – are both being ‘rested’ whilst so many other players are travelling out to Germany from the first team.
It’s just a bit weird if you ask me. Whether Özil plays at the weekend will be interesting but the fact Sokratis also misses out having dropped a clanger against Watford, following a poor North London Derby, seems a little too much like consequence to me.
But they’re not travelling so we have to look elsewhere for team news and with a strong squad heading out to Deutschland I suspect we’re going to see as close to the first team as Emery can account for.
I suspect he’ll give Martinez a shout and Maitland-Niles and Kolasinac are our only fit full backs, so they’ll play, but who plays in the middle will be intriguing. Chambers, Holding, Mustafi and Luiz are all out there at the moment with the squad and I suspect Emery will pick Chambers as the replacement for Sokratis with possibly Luiz alongside him. Personally I’d chuck in Mustafi or Holding if fit, because we need these players to have game time to keep them fit and waiting in the wings in case of injury. But I suspect Luiz will get the nod. I don’t have any intel, just a hunch…
In midfield there are also decisions to be made and I think Torreira needs to come in at the base of the midfield to offer protection. Then I’d be giving Willock a chance as the roaming and energetic box-to-boxer and I’d like to see how he does alongside Ceballos again. Both started the game against Burnley and I thought dovetailed quite well. Ceballos can play in a more advanced position and act as the link man between midfield and attack.
The front three of pick would be sans Auba, but that’s for protection purposes more than anything else. Perhaps a three of Nelson, Pepe and one of Martinelli or Saka. Let’s give the young lads a chance and see if they can deliver some goals against Frankfurt. If it doesn’t work out then we can bring Auba on in the second half, but I’d like to see those young players be given at least an hour tonight in the German finance capital.
We need to be wrapping Auba up in cotton wool as much as possible whilst Lacazette is out.
As for our opponents, well, it’s been a mixed bag of results for them – like us – for the start of this season and so they’ll be loving the idea of the scalp of Arsenal tonight. They will look to exploit our wide positions given their style and also given that Deulofeu tore us a new one at the weekend, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see them look to take advantage of us on the counter by playing balls into our channels our wide. Especially on our left hand side.
In their last game against Augsburg they lost 2-1 playing a 3-5-2 style with wing backs, so if that’s the case the key battle tonight may well be to force Frankfurt on to the back foot to pin in those wing backs. If we let them get beyond our press there could be a lot of ground to run in to and so I suspect – or I certainly hope – Emery has briefed our full backs on that fact.
If we can pen them back into more of a 5-3-2 formation it could leave the creative midfielders and attackers isolated and that could be the opportunity we need to close the game out. But we have to take our chances. We have to be ready to hit them with the counter and above all we have to cut out the stupid brain-fart moments that seem to constantly litter our game.
Let’s hope we get back to winning ways this evening.
Catch you all tomorrow for a wash up.