The return of real football is imminent, and what a task faces the recently misfiring Gunners at home to Manchester City. With all that is going on around the club at the moment you could be forgiven for thinking that the team will be up against more than just City and their supporters on Sunday.
Recent results have been disappointing to say the least, although the possession statistics suggest we remain dominant in individual matches a leaking defence making basic errors is costing us dearly. That point was not lost on the manager pre-match.
“We have conceded too many goals. For a long period in the season we were quite stable, but recently I’ve felt that we have conceded goals at important moments in the game. That’s where we want to improve, without losing our drive going forward.”
So is that a hint that we have finally dedicated some time on the training ground working on the back four, or are changes in the air this weekend? The latter would be something of a surprise. With Petr Cech ruled out David Ospina will start in goal. If there is to be a change the defence that might be Kieran Gibbs for Nacho Monreal. City have a real threat down the flanks with Sane and Sterling so that is a decision Arsene must get right.
We also have to have the midfield functioning again, and that means we face a decision about the formation also. Mesut Ozil is likely to return so we may revert to Granit Xhaka and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain behind him, Aaron Ramsey or Theo Walcott and Alexis outside him, with Olivier Giroud or Danny Welbeck leading the line.
Like us, City have been vulnerable defensively this season. It’s been another frustrating season for their talisman, Kompany. He has reportedly been fit and available for a few weeks now but it would appear that Pep Guardiola is worried about his injury record and is nursing him through to his return.
City have gone seven league games without defeat but their record at Arsenal is not encouraging, with only one Premier League triumph four years ago. Last season the Gunners produced a fine display to win 2-1 despite the absence of Alexis. Mesut Ozil was the star of the match, making both goals for Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud. A repeat of that result would put us within four points of the team currently sitting third in the table, and we have a game in hand. Lose again, and I think we all know what will follow.
The ‘holic pound
Blind faith rather than any degree of conviction inspires an unlikely punt on 3-2 to the hosts in an end to end thriller. At 25/1 you don’t have to wager a fortune to cover the cost of the day.
The anniversary of the passing of David Carlyle Rocastle has been an emotional day for many. I’m sure at some part of the day all our thoughts were with the lovely family he left behind. Alan Smith captured the respect and affection that Rocky inspired in his piece for football.london today. One deserving of the description as a gentleman and a gentle man (off the pitch!).
What truly gifted footballer he was. I am so looking forward to see the BT Sport documentary about Rocky and Wrighty on Saturday night. It will bring some very happy memories back for sure.
Have a great one, ‘holics.