By Bulldog Drummond
It is difficult to get a firm fix on how bad the illness affecting Aubameyang and Wilshere is, or was, which makes the thoughts of predicting the team for the match this evening even more difficult.
Everyone being fit I would go with
Bellerin Koscielny Mustafi Monreal
Aubameyang Lacazette Mkhitaryan
There seems to be a general feeling that four at the back is going to be the order of the day but there are some who are suggesting that Lacazette is going to be left on the beach giving a line up more along the lines of a midfield three of Ramsey, Xhaka and Wilshere, and then with Ozil on the left wing, Aubameyang at centre forward and Mkhitaryan on the other wing.
What is interesting in these line ups is that playing Aubameyang on the wing we have a neo-Theo (as it were) with extra turbo, although of course if Lacazette is dropped Aubameyang will move into the centre.
The other point to remember is that Mr Wenger loves his teams to stay mobile and flexible so even if any of these is the line up, there is going to be a lot of movement. A pairing of Ramsey and Wilshere will mean one of them has to stay back if the other goes forward – but what might well confuse the opposition is that they have no idea which one will go forward, and quite where the defensive member of the pair will pop up.
But whatever system we are going to use it will be Ozil’s and Wilshere’s through balls to an extraordinary front three that will be the key to making it all happen.
There is another argument however and that is of placing Elneny in a midfield three of Ramsey Elneny and Wilshere. That strengthens the defence and means that one of the forward trio of Aubameyang, Lacazette, Mkhitaryan has to drop out. Which is a good way of covering for injuries, the need for a rest or wanting to play a more defensive game.
If we were to play three centre backs and two wing backs then we could have the extraordinary sight of Monreal, Ozil and Bellerin all feeding the three forwards. This could make the pitch a little crowded around the goal we are attacking, and rather empty at the other end. Another last 10 minutes possibility if we are needing a late goal to take the game.
But there is another option and it looks like this
Koscielny Mustafi Monreal
In fact there are more and more of these options that could be tried and might work. Clearly the manager is going to have his favourite couple of line ups, but what this means is that in the event of injuries or any player losing form, we not only have a full squad we also a flexibility in the squad.
What’s more it means that the “10 behind the ball” teams won’t quite know what to prepare for. Let me give you just one more
Bellerin Koscielny Mustafi Monreal
This is why, sad though it was to see him go, Giroud could go to Chelsea. We have the variety not just of players but also of formations to cope with whatever the referees, opposition thugs and general injuries try to do to us.
Because I don’t know about the illnesses, and how well everyone has settled down thus far I can’t be sure what is going to happen today, (not that I ever am), but if I had to put money on it I suspect Aubameyang and Wilshere will be on the beach because of the illnesses.
And this is where we have to remember that we do have quite a beach for the rest of the squad to make sandcastles on…
Ospina, Macey, Chambers, Xhaka, Holding, Maitland-Niles, Kolasinac (if Monreal gets the nod), Mavropanos, Mertesacker, Elneny, Iwobi, Nelson, Nketiah.
That is 13 players who naturally fit into the stand-by team without even having to think about other youngsters. And yes, I have slipped Xhaka into that stand by team, but it may be that the manager will see him as a much better fit instead of Ramsey and Wilshere together.
And it is why more youngsters have been able to go and play elsewhere for the rest of the season…
Stephy Mavididi, Tafari Moore, Ben Sheaf, Jeff Reine-Adélaïde, Chuba Akpom, Krystian Bielik, Julio Pleguezuelo… As well as those who were already out on a season long loan. And Zelalem, now playing again after his injuries.
Whatever the team, it should be a jolly day.