A come from behind draw in midweek was enough to send us to the EL Round of 32 as group winners. I’ve been too busy to check who our opponents could be, but with the teams dropping down from the CL, it could get quite interesting. Or tough if you prefer.
Though maybe not as much as our next opponents in the league. It seems going for a three-peat, especially after the tight race last season, is proving too much even for ManCity. They find themselves in 3rd place, on just 32 points after 16 games. It’s quite strange to look up and see them only 10 points ahead of us when Liverpool are a further 14 points ahead of them.
As a result there is a lot of talk of this being Guardiola’s final season at ManCity and further rumblings going on with even Pochettino mentioned as a candidate to take over. This also has some spillover here at Arsenal. Arteta is once again rumored to be in the fray to be appointed Arsenal Head Coach, with suggestions this will happen immediately after the City game. Freddie himself seems to suggest he will not be the interim coach for long, as he can’t do the job without a coaching team to support him. This, after we were told earlier that Freddie would be able to appoint staff. I guess Raul Sanllehi and the club doesn’t want to give Ljungberg a fair shot at this. It seems strange to not give him a chance but appoint another novice coach instead.
By the way, anyone who follows me knows I was always super excited about the prospect of Mikel Arteta. So it’s nothing against him. But my concerns over top management remain and this again feels like a betrayal of Arsenal’s values.
In the meantime of course, Freddie has to prepare us for a tough test. The results may not have been as one sided in their favor as we’re used to, but they are a top team and some of their performances have been great. Of course they remain the team with the most passes and touches of the ball. They’ve also scored the most goals and created the most shots. A combination of mental fatigue, physical fatigue and injuries, and some bad luck explains their current standing. They are still heavy favorites in this game.
However, even at their rampaging best, City always seemed to fear Arsenal as long as we played our traditional (Wengeresque) game. With Freddie at the helm and slowly bringing us towards a similar style, we can hope to get lucky and get something from the game. Both sides have defensive issues, so if the attacks start flowing we could even be in for a crazy high scoring game. I’d take a 5-4 over a 1-0 though, as I’m sure Freddie will be for that more than Emery ever was.
It will be important for us to get something from this game. Incredibly, we’re still only 7 points (and 7 goals) off the top 4. Entering a tough run of games now which could be make or break for our season. But after the horror and tedium of the last many months, I’d rather we forget the top 4 and just concentrate on getting the basics right. Defend well enough, try to control midfield (ball or space), and give the attackers some freedom to show their ability.
Team News: Injuries don’t make it any easier though. Thankfully Pepe seems to have recovered and can feature. But both first choice fullbacks are out, and the two most experienced midfielders in a depleted midfield are also not available. Rob Holding will also not feature.
Starting XI: Leno, Chambers, Sokratis, Luiz, AMN, Torreira, Guendouzi, Kolasinac, Ozil, Martinelli, Aubameyang
Subs: Martinez, Mustafi, Mavropanos, Willock, Saka, Pepe, Lacazette
It may be a somewhat makeshift team in a somewhat makeshift formation, but the talent in the squad, particularly in attack, is there. If we can keep some semblance of order, we have the chance to catch ManCity out. Lesser teams than us have done it this season.
My prediction is an entertaining 1-1 draw.
Well I love you positivity Shard, but if we end the game within 3 goals of them, this miserable Meerkat will be pleasantly surprised.
LOL. Shard is the eternal optimist.
I love Arsenal.
With Xhaka injured it won’t be easy for us. But let’s see if the boys can show up. City not as good as it was last year surely.
City are not as strong as they have lost their main CBs for a time, and not many top level CBs like to knock about in the benches of big clubs, like all top players.
But they still have their midfield and forwards. Yikes!
Fortunately the Arsenal have began to resemble a Football Team again. One twos in and around the opposition D (Not a poor opponent who just beat Southampton but a half decent PL team).
Anyone insisting this squad needed some GG style training first up and not a reset of squad morale combined with encouragement and confidence to play some simple Football: is probably a plundit and not a coach?…
But the injuries and players out make this a daunting fixture. Torreira looked back to the best we’ve seen from him after just one week of Freddie but can Torreira hold the midfield by himself against these opponents? Will the Wanderer Guendouzi drift alongside him or will Freddie play Willock or another, that’s the interesting call today.
I hope it’s Willock!
Alas Shard is and everyone else was right. The clown responsible for this weakened squad (another big result for Monreal’s Sociadad…) does not want a Football man in the job, but an Agent’s man.
This is clear. Do not be kidding yourselves on this. Please.
He’s trying his best to stitch Freddie up.
Holding onto Emery for so long after Baku, the worst possible timing to change coaches, the “Noise” about giving him a fair crack, they won’t even allow him to have assistants! And this is because Raul doesn’t care about the Football or the points on the table. When will people muster the Footballs to identify the problem here?
That the media have gone all in on Freddie and the Arsenal after this match against Money City tells you all EVERYTHING that you need to know (for empirical reference City had 14 shots compared to Watford’s 32, and against Watford there were more senior players available).
There it is kids. That data is not an opinion.
The biggest difference between both teams is they had 58% possession to our 42% and that is down to the poor quality of our midfield. Our defending was worse today due to the loss of one singular person, i.e. Xhaka, who was replaced by Guendouzi, the Matador, whose tackling is almost non-existent and his forward passing barely better. i had the incorrigible Lee Dixon on my feed and as usual he was hysterical, seizing on every defensive mistake to excoriate Freddie. Only later in the 2nd half he acknowledged that our midfield was poor. But that was after he had put the knife in Freddie’s back and twisted it for good measure. Seems he is close to those who want a non-Wengeresque coach and he was pretty certain Freddie will not get the job. Don Raul has played his game very well, not giving Freddie any staff and giving him a basket to carry water.
Anyways, no offence to Shard but our friend George, the one and only Arseblogger was absolutely spot on. Exactly 3 goals within them as he predicted.
Hey George.. Can you do all the predictions for me please?
A wise man this morning tweeted that logic is very formal and programmable even if the logic is based on a narrow set of assumptions. That doesn’t mean that we can avoid the conclusions from logical thinking even if we don’t have all the facts at our disposal. I would stick with the logic of that very wise man.
The good part is that people who earlier called him Don Raul are starting to see him for what he is. The bad part is this will change with the next big signing. When that doesn’t work then the next coach, or Edu will take the blame. Hell, even Vinai will take the blame. I think that’s why he’s allowed to sit in on football decision making committee. Raul Sanllehi intends to stay at Arsenal for a decade and suck us dry through vampirical agents and coaches.