The team are in positive spirits ahead of the Villa game at home and it’s a good opportunity to maintain the good mood in the camp.
New signing Gabriel Paulista is likely to be involved in the squad which will finally give us the chance to have a balanced bench instead of one full of midfielders, attackers and a 19 year old full-back. Also the positive returns of Theo Walcott and Mesut Ozil gives the boss a major headache selection wise and in his own popular words they almost feel ‘like new signings’.
Sanchez is a doubt ahead of the game which doesn’t surprise me given our luck but he’s a machine and I wouldn’t put it past him making himself available for the game.
My one worry about his potential absence is if Mesut Ozil comes in as a replacement he may well end up playing out wide, a position I despise seeing him in. Even in the FA Cup tie I observed him drifting central a lot of the time and Tomas Rosicky went into the wider positions in certain periods of the game.
With the variety of No. 10’s at the club rotation between them is quite fluent for us however I prefer two direct speedy wingers to surround Olivier Giroud, he performs a lot better for it.
Both Tomas Rosicky and Santi Cazorla’s recent form makes them currently undroppable for now, it will be interesting to see what decision he makes.
A part of me doesn’t mind Danny Welbeck out for the short-term because I love seeing young Chuba Akpom being afforded the opportunity to get some game time albeit from the bench. I’m slightly worried about his contract running down due to a lack of chances and if we were to end up losing him believe me this could be as bad as when United lost Paul Pogba, to a lesser extent. Yes, he’s a special talent and has come through the ranks which is always a bonus.
I expect the brilliant Francis Coquelin to continue his good run in the team, he’s made a massive difference and Mathieu Flamini’s performance last week against a Championship standard side shows that not only is he not good enough for us but for any top 6 side and that’s being kind. He really is (as the latest footballing saying amongst the kids goes) ‘a poverty player’ I’m hopeful he is released in the summer.
To go off topic a bit here and evaluate on the lack of time I have for the player as some may think I go overboard with his criticism is his history with the club. You may be familiar with my despise for the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Robin Van Persie, Samir Nasri and the long list of Judas’ we’ve had in the past. Well in all honesty Flamini is no different to that list of players. He ran his contract down and left us in a pickle when we were building a great young side in 08.
We fell short of the title that year but you sensed the side was special and given young average age of the squad things were likely to only improve from then on but he scuppered such plans when he departed leaving a gaping hole in our midfield for some time and it was the beginning of a long list of players leaving the club season after season using the ‘trophies’ excuse he started.
We should support all our players, I accept that and I do appreciate every single one of them but Flamini. He was a free agent in the summer and was offered a contract by the boss, only a fool would reject such a glorious opportunity, he’s not back due to an affinity with the club or anything let’s get that straight! I’d be happy to know he’s played his last game for the club if Coquelin can stay fit and Bielik shows signs of potential at some point.
As Martin Tyler once said in commentary and on fifa “football fans have long memories, you can’t fool them” and I am no fool. It may be easier to forgive him if he still had some kind of quality to his game but he simply doesn’t.
Back to the topic and to conclude this article I think we should really keep the team similar to the side utilised in our last few league games for continuity purposes, this will strengthen the desire and performances of those aggrieved to be left out the team. Competition is very much needed at this level.
Providing we go on a strong run till may which is possible as all our games until at least the 7th of March will be played in London we have a chance of maybe catching City in 2nd but for now getting in the top 4 is our main priority so I’m hopeful we can at least make that happen.