By Bulldog Drummond
Seems there is a bit of a debate going on about Arsenal’s line up today with Mr Wenger being at his most enigmatic.
We know that Monreal, Cazorla, Bellerin and Walcott did not travel. Mr Wenger said of the two last named players “both are ‘more or less’ injuries”. I’m not 100% sure what a ‘more or less injury’ is, but what we know is that they have avoided a trip to foreign parts in cold November.
As for whether Carl Jenkinson gets another run out the boss said, “He is in the squad. I have plenty of right backs in the squad, three or four.” Is that really right?
Anyway, I spent a restless night trying to work out how you might fit this current squad into a 4-4-2 line up of which there has been much speculation, and eventually gave up. The back four and front two are easy (Giroud and Alexis up front, the back four as is – although with a replacement for Bellerin).
But that middle four. Can we play Ozil and Xhaka together in the centre with Theo and Iwobi in deeper roles? Or play Ozil and Giroud as 10 and 9, with Alexis on one wing and Theo on the other – thus making room for Coquelin and Xhaka in the centre.
Olivier certainly has learned how to say the right stuff, as in, “In every big club you have a lot of good strikers with different qualities and the team has been doing very well since the start of the season. I’ve hoped to come back in and I’ve worked hard in training to do so but I’m happy as long as the team are winning and I’ve seen we have good cohesion as a side.
“So I’m not questioning myself too much about my place. I just need to play more and keep training well and show I’m in good form. That’s what I always try and bring to the team. When I came on against Sunderland I tried to raise the side to get back into the game. It was 1-1 and we needed the win. Fortunately I finished the work of the team well. I feel good on the pitch. My injury is behind me and I want to look forward and qualify for the next stage of the Champions League. There’s also a big game on Sunday. I’m just concentrating on what I have to do on the pitch. My turn will come.”
Of course Sunday must be kept in mind – and although the Tiny Totts have the advantage of not going to foreign parts tomorrow, they are doing the next best thing and playing at Wembley against Bayer 04 Leverkusen Football Limited (as it said when I typed the name into Google to check the spelling).
Assuming Arsenal win and PSG get at least a draw then we’re through to the next round, but there is still the little detail of who wins the group to sort out. On which matter Mr Wenger was almost poetic:
The Bulgarian side have no injury or suspensions to think about ahead of this fixture. But of course it wouldn’t be November without Arsenal having a fair number.
Indeed our injury table at first sight looks fairly awful, but the point is that in previous years some or all of Walcott, Monreal, Santi Caz and Bellerin would have been risked – at least for some sunbathing on the beach. Now the squad is such that we don’t need to risk anyone.
|Player injured||Type of injury||Return date|
|T Walcott||Hamstring||November 6|
|N Monreal||Muscle Fatigue||November 6|
|S Cazorla||Achilles||November 6|
|H Bellerin||Knock||November 6|
|Lukas Perez||Ankle||December 10|
|C Akpom||Back||January 14, 2017|
|P Mertesacker||Knee||January 2, 2017|
|D Welbeck||Cartilage Knee Injury||January 22, 2017|
Here’s the team then
Jenkinson Mustafi Koscielny Gibbs
Coquelin Xhaka Coquelin
Oxlade-Chamberlain Ozil Iwobi
Lurking on the Bulgarian beach…
Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey are the obvious players to come on, and I suspect Cech will be there in case of problems in the goalkeeper area. Elneny drops out to make way for Xhaka, so goes onto the bench too.
Which would give me a list of
Cech, Gabriel, Holding, Debuchy, Ramsey, Elneny, Giroud
(Incidentally I have of course continued the tradition of naming Coquelin twice. Did you spot that one? Silly, I know, but traditions are traditions.)
Ludogorets meanwhile keep on winning and have also had the benefit of the weekend off, moving their last fixture back to the Friday when they beat Dunay 2010, 3-5 away.
On the other hand, our run is now 14-matches unbeaten in all competitions and four consecutive wins away from the Ems so we can match them in that regard.
Here’s the Bulgarian league
|12||FC Lokomotiv Gorna Oryahovitsa||12||3||2||7||10||21||-11||11|
It is, in these diplomatically troubled times, good to see a western state from the USA showing such solidarity as to enter a team into the Bulgarian A league even if they are bottom.
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From the Arsenal History Society
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