Two weeks away from Arsenal, courtesy of the international break, will come to an end this Monday. Normally, the break would be moaned for breaking the rhythm of a team with good results. But though many seem to be happy with the results, I got the feeling there was just a general sense of relief that we’d got a win just before the break.
Arguably our form hasn’t been that good in the Premier League. The saving grace is our rivals’ form is worse. Which puts us in 3rd. Personally, I find that all the more frustrating. Where might we have been if our coach was willing to play to the strengths of the squad.
Ozil is staying
Which, inevitably, leads us to Ozil. It wouldn’t really matter that Ozil was dropped if: a) the results were great, b) the performances were good, and c) it really were just a normal football situation.
Much as the many detractors like to say it is c), there is no way Ozil merits being frozen out of the squad completely. Especially when we see his performances have been good when he comes on. Clearly something else is going on. Emery’s answers are intentionally incoherent, though he and the other members of the regime have come forward with the claim Ozil doesn’t train properly.
Ozil’s reading of the game is legendary on the field but it seems he and his good doctor/agent know a thing or two about the off-field battle too. Personally, I think their media game is based on sincerity. When Ozil speaks to Ornstein (another trusted name) and says he’s not leaving, I believe him. Without taking potshots at anyone at Arsenal, he stood his ground and made his point. Can’t imagine it went down too well with Raul whose attempts at getting rid of him are proving futile.
Emery seems relieved
Emery though seemed more relieved and a little taken aback in his press conference that he wasn’t made a target.
- On Oct 4th he’d brusquely said other players deserve to play more.
- On Oct 17th he said he’s never closed the door on Ozil who, for the last 2-3 weeks, has been working well.
Does that mean Emery will play him? I initially thought yes, but his other answers to the Ozil question might indicate otherwise. It’s difficult to know with a chameleon.
What we do know is that we have to travel to steel town Sheffield to play Sean Bean and the rest of the Blades, hoping to put them to the sword. Though one wonders if once again, the general will prioritize defensive armour and formations over our better equipped attacking Arsenal. I can only hope our brave warriors are good enough to overcome all the obstacles put in their way and come away with victory.
I was watching a recent interview with the Blades coach where he said he’s always demanding more, he knows the players well and knows who to push and who not to, and the players know what is expected of them and there’s clarity in that. Sounds like the antithesis of ‘Unai is fair. He treats everyone the same’ and chameleon ball, but oh well.
On paper this should be an easy win for Arsenal, but it must be noted that although Sheffield struggle to create and score chances, their defense has been good. They’ve conceded only 7 goals in their 8 games (tied 2nd with Leicester, behind Liverpool on 6). They’ll also have had more time to prepare for this game during the break while most of our players were away. I think they’re also getting some injured strikers back and will be hoping to take their chances. It’s Arsenal. We like to give away chances.
But look at me being like Emery and worrying about Sheffield (when actually I’m worrying about Emery).
We should be confident about taking our chances especially with having our own returning striker in Lacazette. Pepe scored a goal for his NT and that should give him some confidence. There is a strong possibility of a return for Ozil especially since Ceballos is carrying a slight injury. Auba of course remains our spearhead. ESR is back, but Nelson is out hurt.
Starters: Leno, Chambers, Luiz, Holding, Tierney, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Ceballos, Pepe, Ozil, Auba
Subs: Martinez, Bellerin, Sokratis, Kolasinac, Torreira, Martinelli, Lacazette
I am confused about the RB spot especially. Will it be AMN, Bellerin or Chambers. I am not sure Bellerin is fit enough to start, and I figure Emery will continue with Chambers who has done well, and who also offers some tactical flexibility to go with 3 at the back if needed.
Starting Ozil is a big call, especially on the left. But now’s as good a time as any, especially with Nelson out injured. Martinelli might have started but I think Ozil might just get the nod. AMN and Willock miss out entirely. (Unless Dani is injured)
Whatever be the squad, hopefully it will be a good game of football. My prediction, 2-1 to Arsenal.