Game week №3 is nearly upon us, which means we are about to see our players don the blue (gray?) and yellow once again, before the international break kicks in. This time around a win for the Gunners is absolutely vital, even though not all players will be available still, to say nothing about the two fresh faces in Valencia’s Shkodran Mustafi and Deportivo’s Lucas Perez. You can check out this piece on both players from our chief here.
Let’s see who’s absent and what this might mean in terms of how Arsenal approaches the game.
Team news update
Arsene confirmed we’ll have the same squad as last week at our disposal. He also gave updates on the walking wounded:
on Ramsey and Iwobi…
“They are progressing well. Will it be immediately after the break [that they are back]? That’s what we’ll have to see in the next two weeks.”
“He’s progressing very well. He’s ahead of schedule. We said six to eight weeks and we think it could be six.”
He also talked about how Jenko should return in six weeks, so there’s that. Finally, Wenger provided updates on Ozil and Giroud, saying he’ll make a decision on whether the former will start in the next 24 hours, but excluding the possibility of Giroud playing from the off, as Ollie “is a bit behind physically”.
Approach and squad
The interesting bit about our start to the season is that we haven’t yet encountered the problem which gave us a constant headache last season, namely: we haven’t been tasked with carving open a static defense. The Liverpool game was an even affair in which neither team managed to get and stay on top of the opposition, while Leicester’s relentless pressing is also hardly our usual stumbling block.
In this sense the Watford game will provide us with some answers. Have we found a way to bypass low block defenses? Have we become more efficient with our chances?
I fully expect Granit Xhaka and Mesut Ozil to start. The former instead of Francis Coquelin this time, the latter to create space and chances for himself and others. While I love Santi, Ozil showed just how important he is last weekend.
I would even wager Wenger will be itching to let Giroud off the leash, despite himself essentially ruling the №12 out. No one in our current squad can do the job Giroud does and we need his skillset against the kind of riddle Watford will pose.
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Apart from that, it will be interesting to see, whether Arsene will hand Jack Wilshere his first start this season. His direct approach can be handy against two banks of four we are likely to come up against and I suspect Jack might be given a nod over Santi in the №10 role, provided Wenger decides against risking Ozil.
Hard to see what the manager can change, so I expect to see something along these lines: Cech – Bellerin – Holding – Koscielny – Monreal – Xhaka – Cazorla – Ozil – Walcott – Oxlade – Alexis
We have put Watford to the sword twice in the league last season, but it’s the home defeat in the cup we have to keep in mind first and foremost. We failed to take our chances, got punished and lost. We have to be more clinical this time around.
I’m sure Watford will provide us with a stern test. Despite only sitting on one point, Walter Mazzarri’s men lead both Southampton and Chelsea, before eventually conceding. While hardly any team showed they reached an optimal level in their first two games, an away draw at Southampton and a home defeat Chelsea hints Watford may be a tough nut to crack. Hope we do just that, however, further dropped points are just too much to think about.
Come on you Gunners.
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