We take on Aston Villa today in the last game of the season and we all know the possible outcomes: a win can still elevate us to 2nd, a loss drop to 4th. Both scenarios are rather unlikely, so a 3rd-place finish seems in order.
Team news update
Ozil is back up again, neither Mertesacker nor Oxlade will make the game. As, of course, won’t Welbeck.
Poor guy. He has just found his form, Giroud’s drought coupled with Walcott’s non-existence opened the door for Welbeck at his craved centre-forward position and the Englishman seized his chance with a string of impressive displays.
And now another injury. Another serious one. It will force the manager’s hand in the market (which should have been doing stuff in there regardless):
“We need to find the right person. We have targets and hopefully we can do that. We will have to try. it will not, ideally, be someone just to make up the numbers.”
There you have it. Upon return, Welbeck may well find himself behind this new shiny forward. We often talk how injuries present others with an opportunity to deliver, but sometimes forget about those who suffer as a result.
In other news, Wenger also confirmed Flamini, Arteta and Rosicky won’t be with us next season and hailed their importance:
“Mikel Arteta is the captain of the club and has been a great leader. Tomas Rosicky has been with us for 10 years and I think everybody loves him as well. Mathieu Flamini has been an extremely strong leader on the pitch and off the pitch. We lose three big personalities.
All of these players will have to decide if they go on in their careers as a football player or a coach”.
The Frenchman then went on to say the trio could be involved on Sunday. However it appears at least Flamini wouldn’t: Mathieu seems to have suffered an ankle injury. But it will be very nice to see Arteta and Rosicky pull on the shirt one last time, no doubt about it.
Obviously we still have a game to play and win, but I do wonder how much the possible departures might influence the manager’s selection.
For example, will Ospina be given his farewell game? It would be his 5th in the league, under different circumstances he would have received a medal.
Will Gibbs play? Is he going anywhere this summer? If so I imagine playing him against Villa doesn’t represent a big risk, same with Ospina.
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This question is also applicable to Walcott, Campbell, even Coquelin and Giroud, though to a lesser extent. With us in the market for a striker, most likely a winger and seemingly on the verge of acquiring Xhaka’s services, just how much of a role will Ollie and Francis play, if any?
This same question is probably keeping up Mertesacker and Oxlade at night. Tremendous shame neither will even get a chance to feature on Sunday.
So for the first time in quite a bit I find it hard to have even a rough guess at Arsene’s starting XI. I’ll have a crack as always, though.
Predicted line-up: Cech – Bellerin – Gabriel – Koscielny – Gibbs – Elneny – Ramsey – Ozil – Alexis – Walcott – Giroud (with Arteta and Rosicky coming on at some point. Campbell too)
I also wanted to touch on Arsene’s near future at Arsenal. He is definitely staying for one more year, which I don’t really agree with, but can understand. We don’t sack managers and Arsene won’t walk away. Why? I think you know the short answer to this one, but I can highly recommend this piece from Jeremy Wilson if you want a long answer.
During the press conference Wenger just denied the rumours of signing a new deal (which surfaced a couple of days ago):
“That’s completely wrong. I don’t know where this information comes from. You can treat that as just an invention and no more. It’s absolutely false. I would like the press to check this information with myself or the club before they give it out. We both would have denied it”.
Quite the outrage they caused too, I think Arseblog gives a very good take (pretty much as always) on both why Arsene doesn’t, at this stage, deserve a new deal and why rumours of him signing one could have been spread. Check out them both if you haven’t already. Well worth your time.
The last word
That’s all I wanted to say for now. Here’s for an emphatic win, a good farewell for Arteta, Rosicky and Flamini and Newcastle beating Spurs.
Come on you Gunners.
Back with a review