With the Carabao Cup final humbling still fresh in the memory, the perfect fixture to erase those nightmarish visions is……Manchester City.
The display that our team put in as we were taken apart by Pep Guardiola’s men seems to have resonated more than most defeats – and we’ve had a fair few this season.
Seven to be exact. This year.
Gary Neville’s comments especially, during and after the match, have struck a chord as they were what most were thinking. Why did our players show such an insipid level of effort? Why were none busting a gut? Did none of them recognise this was a cup final?
So, today’s game at The Emirates is far from what we needed. What we need is a win. Then another, And then another. The chances of us winning against City are low, and with us being ten points of spurs who are in 4th spot, two defeats at the hands of the blue half of Manchester could sound the death knell of any prospective success, and condemn us to our worst ever season under Wenger.
Wenger opted for three at the back in the Cup Final,which was suggested by many before the game. We also had Wilshere and Ramsey in the same team for the first time in quite some time.
Surely he has to change the approach? But does that mean the players in the eleven?
Anyone who watched the travesty on Sunday can concur that it wasn’t the choice of personnel that was the problem. It was our strongest side and should be enough of a match to give us a shout.
The problem was the application of any form of tactic. We lost possession frequently, we didn’t pressure their possession strongly enough, and we looked absolutely clueless when we did have the ball.
The first thing we need to do is actually put in a modicum of effort instead of hoping our play will suffice. Without effort, the result is what we saw at Wembley.
There will be changes in the side, although they will be enforced. Nacho Monreal looks to be ruled out for this game and the trip to the Amex Stadium, possibly longer. That means if we stay with three at the back, we’ve got less central defensive options, but Sead Kolasinac is primed for the left-back spot.
What about central midfield though? Granit Xhaka is a cultured midfielder, but he is no DM. He seems unable to track any runners, but if he starts, then he really must learn. Alternatively, we have Mohamed Elneny to fill in.
Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey are both fit, but fitting them both into the team may require one of them to play in the attacking three behind Pierre Emerick Aubameyang. Alex Iwobi and Danny Welbeck are viable options to play, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan is back in the team after being cup-tied on Sunday.
Pep has to deal with Fernandinho being unavailable, so Ilkay Gundogan will have a new partner in midfield. this could play into our hands if our engine room kicks into life. City may have Raheem Sterling back after being ruled out on Sunday, and Gabriel Jesus is back from a knee injury.
If we are to avoid catastrophe this season, we need to go on a run, and there’s no better time to start than now. We know we’re capable, it’d just be good to see us show it for once. We have a great record at The Emirates, let’s keep it going. #UTA
Predicted Lineup – Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Kolasinac, Elneny, Wilshere, Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Ramsey, Aubameyang
Predicted Scoreline – Let’s do this, 2-1 to The Arsenal