By Tony Attwood
On the injury front we know that Héctor Bellerín and Santi Cazorla are still out along with Perez and the three January returnees, but there are also doubts about Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey. Ramsey has a broken toe it seems, and both could be given a day off.
On the Santi Cazorla injury Mr Wenger said, “I’ve given a bit up on that, I don’t know how far he is. He looks like he’s making progress, but as long as the player is not in full-time training with the squad it’s difficult to set targets.
“It’s not a big injury that will harm his future, but it’s an inflammation at the back of his Achilles, and it’s always difficult with inflammations to give a set time. My gut feeling is it will be short, two weeks, but when a player comes back to full training it still takes two weeks for a player to be ready to play again.”
On the plus side Mathieu Debuchy is back training with the first-team.
PSG may be without Ángel Di María because of his hamstring problem. Serge Aurier we dealt with yesterday.
So what about the team: how about…
This assumes Ramsey and Theo are injured enough to be out of the squad, but of course they could be half way there and able to come on from the beach. So we might have, playing in the sand any seven from
Elneny, Cech, Gibbs, Iwobi, Gabriel, Holding, Theo? Ramsey?
Everything depends on how that midfield unit behind the attack minded players is set up and everyone seems to be having a go at predicting who will play and saying who should play.
In fact the Telegraph has been running a poll on who readers think should play. The result by lunchtime today was
- Coquelin and Xhaka: 52%
- Xhaka and Ramsey: 32%
- Ramsey and Coquelin: 13%
- Coquelin and Elneny: 0%
Xhaka and Elneny: 1%
Elneny and Ramsey: 2%
Coquelin and Xhaka seemed to me the obvious choice with Xhaka playing deeper but with the clearance to run forward – hopefully ignoring the guys who shout “Shoot” all the time he has the ball.
So Xhaka runs forward, Coquelin goes back… it seems simple enough.
Besides Coquelin harries to perfection which is what gives Xhaka the chance to put in those long distance passes, and not worry too much about doing tackles (thus not being sent off).
Third choice was Ramsey and Coquelin with Coquelin sitting in the deeper role and not chasing after a ball that has just got away from him.
Even though PSG are not the team they were a year ago, they have scored two or more goals in eight of the last ten games they have played in the Champions League and are unbeaten in their last nine, with eight of those games being victories. So protection for the defence is an important consideration.
On the other hand the media has been so full of games we haven’t won and sequences against Mourinho in the PL, they ignore the fact that we, like PSG have won our last three games in the Champs League and we have scored two or more goals in the last three Champs League matches.
But since football is now full of “facts” that are often little more than coincidences, we can notice that PSG have won only one of their eight away games against English opposition in all competitions, and have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last nine competitive games against English clubs.
Oh yes and this could be a night for Mesut Ozil to shine as he has scored four and got two assists out of the last eight Champions League goals we have scored.
But looking the other way we have to take into account Edinson Cavani – who was the guy who scored after 42 seconds in the opening match between the two sides. Which leads to the fact that all three goals we have let in, in the Champs League this season, have come in the first quarter of an hour.
Cavani is a player who not only scores wonderful goals, he also misses them, and so the media love the fact that he is playing against Arsenal, who they accuse of missing more goals than the rest of the PL put together (although actual statistics on such matters are never published).
He scored four in 45 minutes when PSG beat Caen 6-0 and nine goals in his last 10 games. But (and this is what makes it incomprehensible to watching journos that he is not an Arsenal player) he missed one goal from three metres.
Anyway, it should be fun. Let’s hope it goes ok.
From the Arsenal History Society
“Making the Arsenal” and “Woolwich Arsenal the club that changed history” are available both via Kindle and in paperback. For the Kindle editions please go straight to the Kindle shop, for paperback editions and more information about the books please click here.
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