Another day, another game. They really are coming thick and fast, which has its benefits, of course. But also its downsides.
The obvious one being fatigue. No player, however physically fit, can play three games a week for even a fortnight, let alone three or four weeks in a row, which is exactly what we have now. A lot of games squeezed into minimum days.
Key to getting through it all successfully is having a big squad and Arsenal, at this moment in time, can’t boast one. We had a very good squad before the Community Shield game, when all were hoping Jack, Welbeck and Rosicky would return any day.
Not only did they not return, we are unlikely to see any of them this calendar year, something that obviously puts a strain on the squad. Our 24 players were reduced to 21 from the off. Now Ramsey and Ospina are out till the end of November, while no return date has been put on Arteta. You counting? We now have exactly 18 players, just enough to fill the squad. 8 of these are defenders. At this point I’d gladly trade in a defender or two to have Ramsey and Welbeck back. But things don’t work that way, of course.
With these 18 guys we have to hold out till end of November. Luckily, an international break will give us the much-needed two-week period to get some of the walking wounded back (it’s one of these rare occasions when I use “luckily” and “international break” in the same sentence). That means we only have to hold out 4 games without further incidents. First one will take place on Tuesday, against Sheffield.
Team news update
“There are no new problems from Saturday, Per Mertesacker is available again after illness. Nobody else is coming back. Arteta will not be fit. Ramsey, Wilshere, Welbeck and Rosicky of course are all out too.
Ospina is still out too, so Cech will certainly play.”
That’s it, basically. One in, no one out, we have 18 players as I’ve stated above. But I hope we can count some youngsters in. Iwobi maybe. Doubt it’s Jeff, he was away with France’s youth NT the last time I checked.
Think I’ve seen in the Evening Standard that they expect massive rotation, on the other hand I’ve also seen reports Wenger hinted he won’t change things around all that much.
I really hope he does, though. With Swansea, Bayern and Spurs coming up, our top players should have as much in their lockers as possible. It’s very unlikely City will drop any points in their next two games (they play Norwich and Aston Villa), while we still need at least a point from the Bayern game to not complicate matters in our Champions League group any further.
I came to one very simple conclusion though: we will be unable to fully rotate our squad. Furthermore, Cech’s inclusion from the first minutes means Wenger is taking the game seriously, so I don’t’ expect a side chock-full of youngsters. Things are even pretty quiet on Iwobi front, let alone someone even less experienced.
I think we’ll see a totally different back four of Debuchy, Mertesacker, Chambers and Gibbs, but in midfield things get tricky. Flamini can come in for Coquelin, but then what? Without Ramsey, Wilshere, Arteta and Rosicky we look really thin and will likely be forced to play at least one regular. My guess is Cazorla, although ideally I’d like him to have a break.
The only other senior option I see which is not Ozil, is Oxlade. Again, I’d rather have him on the flank, especially if we take into account the amount of turnovers the Englishman allows (these are often in dangerous areas too), but who else do we have?
It’s a bit easier with the front three, here I’m sure Campbell will start, with Oxlade/Iwobi/Walcott on the other flank and Giroud down the middle. Ideally, I’d like to see Iwobi on the left, Campbell on the right and Giroud/Walcott down the middle, depending on who will start against Swansea to keep his powder dry.
Predicted line-up: Cech – Debuchy – Mertesacker – Chambers – Gibbs – Flamini – Cazorla – Oxlade – Iwobi – Campbell – Giroud
If I may quote Michael Cox on this:
“The Owls are likely to give Arsenal a classic lower-league test – they’ve committed the most fouls in the Championship this season, and have scored one-third of their goals from set-pieces.”
That’s why I think Giroud should start: he is generally a more useful player against organized defenses, furthermore, he’ll be another body on set-pieces and this may prove crucial. Oxlade’s dribbling and energy through the middle, meanwhile, can be highly effective in breaking down Sheffield’s defense. Just have a word with him about turning the ball over, Arsene, will you.
Hope we have enough to win this with our second squad. We should, really. Here’s for a win and no injuries. Come on you Gunners.
Back with a review