By Tony Attwood
One new injury – but hopefully just for this match: Héctor Bellerín. He has been replaced in the squad by Jeff Reine-Adelaide – which doesn’t mean that Jeff is going to play, but does tell us quite a lot about how the young man is seen and valued by the club. Just as Bellerin and Zelalem before him. Debuchy will play at full back.
The press conference also gave us some other updates: Arteta and Ospina will be back in full training on Friday. After the international break, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ramsey could both be back as well.
Mr Wenger also said of this evening he would take a point if offered it before the match, but that he couldn’t adopt an ultra-defensive approach. “To sit off Bayern, with their offensive quality, would be difficult to maintain for 90 minutes. We have to relieve the pressure whenever we can and try to score goals. That is our structure of the team, to attack. If you get our players to defend, then I do not think we will be so efficient. We have to play every time we can.”
Bayern drew 0-0 with Eintracht Frankfurt on Friday, benefiting as usual from the compliance of the German League in helping its clubs achieve the best in Europe. One might guess their players, however, were thinking more of tonight.
Per Mert had an interesting view, saying, “They will be angry. We are the first team that really challenged them and beat them in the end. So they will try to show they are better than us. We showed that we can beat them. That’s a good sign but it will be a different game at their place.
“Both teams have got a good chance to go through to the knockout stages. We improved our position in the last game against Munich but we need to get something out of this game. That puts pressure on us to perform and we need to defend even better.”
Which is what the side have been doing in every game of late. Mr Wenger added, “If you look at our away results since the start of the season, we have won at Crystal Palace and at Watford, who you can see from the latest result are a difficult team to beat, and also at Newcastle and again at Swansea – so overall it looks like the team has stabilised and is growing as a unit.”
So who will be the dominant factor? At the moment it looks like Mesut Özil.
Fortunately the media-fed hysteria about his performance in the Bayern match last year where he got a hamstring injury in the second minute but played on, has ultimately died down as the media has tried to find some other rubbish to throw at Arsenal. The know-everything Paul Scholes went overboard saying Mesut was “going through the motions” and that signing for Arsenal was an “easy option”.
As we were suggesting in the last article Mesut is now quite rightly seen as the best creator of goals in Europe. He has more assists (nine) than any other player in the top five leagues in Europe. He is not only the best, he is at his best. Easy option??? Or is it Scholes taking the easy option by just abusing anyone who has that awful attribute, “foreign”.
“Özil is unique,” said a Mr J Mourinho of south west London. “There is no copy of him – not even a bad copy.” Fair enough. I wonder what Mr M is doing these days.
Joachim Low, the Germany manager, started Ozil in every match when they won the world cup. But no, the pesky little turnips of our media know better. Of course they do. They always do. Ozil is rubbish, until last week when someone found the stats and now they say he is brilliant.
Theo Walcott made a good comment too. “The first thing he does when he has the ball, in fact when he hasn’t even got the ball, is that he looks. He knows where he’s going to play it before he’s even got it. He makes football look easy. I know what he’s going to do now when he’s got the ball – I just need to keep making those runs.”
Meanwhile in other news there is the case of Benzema, the player that more or less everyone except Arsene Wenger and Untold Arsenal said that we were going to sign in the summer. The player that vast numbers of bloggettas and wayward gossip columnists said we were signing and blamed Arsenal for not signing.
Well if we had he would not be available tonight. He’s just been arrested in Versailles as part of an inquiry into an alleged plot to blackmail another player over a sex tape apparently recorded on a mobile phone.
L’Equipe says investigators were considering a conversation between Benzema and the player during a time when they were together as part of the French national team at the beginning of October.
Before Benzema was arrested, his lawyer Sylvain Cormier told Le Journal du Dimanche (which those papers in England who have bothered with the story helpfully tell us is a “French Sunday newspaper”) that his client would respond to any summons. He added that Benzema was targeted by blackmailers in 2011.
So, time to get out a glass of lemonade and a comfortable cushion, and watch the game. In the UK its on the Sprout channel.
Coming soon to Untold
Ex-player and the agent who discovered Joel Campbell, Danny Karbassiyoon, will be writing a regular column on Untold Arsenal.
Two more anniversaries
- 4 November 1972: Final appearance for George Graham; Arsenal 0 Coventry 2. Graham then moved on to Man U. He had made 219 league starts for Arsenal and scored 59 league goals across seven seasons.
- 4 November 1989: David O’Leary beat George Armstrong’s appearance record. In the end he made 523 league starts and won the league twice, the FA Cup twice, and the League Cup twice.