After the debacle at home versus Ostersunds, the Carabao Cup catastrophe and our home smashing against City, we now travel outside the M25 to take on Chris Hughton’s Brighton and Hove Albion.
Arsenal have had a horror show recently, and so optimism is thin on the ground right now. The prospect of an away trip, with our quite atrocious record on our travels, and a tie against AC Milan just days away, isn’t exactly filling us with good thoughts.
Arsene Wenger seems to have run out of ideas, but if he did fall on his sword, he has the opportunity to do so by winning Arsenal’s first European trophy since 1994. Before that though, he has to get his team winning again.
The above may be wishful thinking, but being a supporter means holding out for hope, and while we’re still in the hunt, we’ve got a chance. We’ve done our best to extinguish any opportunities that have come our way, but the first step is always the hardest – and that is our trip to the Amex.
The Gulls have only lost at home three times this season, and the winners were the likes of Chelsea, City and Liverpool. for us to become the fourth would require a complete u-turn of recent displays.
We can start in our defence. City ran our men ragged at the back. Bellerin couldn’t cope with Sane, Koscielny got nowhere near Aguero and Mustafi looks a shadow of the man who cost £35m. Koscielny could be rested for Thursday, with Chambers or Holding coming in. Nacho Monreal too, could be rested. They’ll have to cope with a different threat in the form of Pascal Gross and Glenn Murray.
Gross is creative as well as a threat in the box, and isn’t far away from the best playmakers in the league with his number of chances created. Glenn Murray already has ten goals this season, and the two seem the perfect blend. Throw into the mix Jose Izquierdo and Brighton have enough about them to get the points they need to pull away from the relegation trapdoor.
Our midfield could lend a hand, but Granit Xhaka is far from a conventional DM, and thus, is leaving gaping holes in the centre of the park for opponents to exploit – which they are. With the attack-minded Aaron Ramsey as his partner, it means our engine room is non-existent. Our boys at the back could really do with a hand, so using Mohamed Elneny as an extra pair of hands could do the trick.
Our attack will most likely be unchanged, save for Danny Welbeck being rested for Milan. That would mean Alex Iwobi coming in for the England man. Jack Wilshere is back training and fully fit, so could either earn an instant recall for this game, or be saved for the AC Milan test.
Could the game versus Milan mean more changes? This is where it gets even more tricky. Do we rest top players so they’re fit and firing for the Europa League – our last hope of salvaging a god-awful season?
That is what Wenger is paid for – to make those decisions. There will be repercussions regardless of what decision he makes – rest players and our Premier League woes are exacerbated – but play them and our European and last trophy hope teeters even more than it is right now.
Brighton will be a toughie, and with their Premier League stay for next season far from booked, they will be fighting for every ball. We need to fight harder, that’s the only way we’ll restore confidence.
Damn, we miss Santi.
Predicted Lineup – Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Chambers, Kolasinac, Elneny, Wilshere, Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Iwobi, Aubameyang
Predicted Scoreline – 2-1 to The Arsenal.