Midweek games are up with the fun games really being played today after being treated to some prehistoric, gladiatorial, boring footie yesterday.(It is a mark of the match level when Maroune scores the only goal; actually when Maroune scores at all).Enough with that, on to the Arsenal.
The tube strike allowing, Arsenal would be welcoming Hull City to the Emirates at 8;45m Nigerian time. Sitting at the top of the log and with the spate of matches coming up during the annually hectic december period, this is probably the gaffer’s last chance to rest players. No insult to Hull City,(even though they did us the lovely favour of beating the Kops), they are not Chelsea-calibre. The manager reitrated the need for rotation, saying:
“When you play so many games of that
intensity, we expect to lose one or two
players. In every single game I will rotate. I
try to limit the number because I do not want to disrupt the balance of the team, so I do that in every single game.”
This could see a start for Theo, Rosicky and the resting of one of the two in the Perscielny marriage with Vermaleen replacing the rested player. Carl Jenkinson would also be starting the game due to the hamstring injury picked up by Sagna. Gibbs might also get a rest with Nacho given the nod. A rest for Olivier Giroud would also go a long way as he is going to be important in the other must-win fixtures.
Arsenal’s climb and maintenance of its position on the top of the log is directly related to the stability and constancy of the back four and this season, Sagna has being his impressive self. One does worry about the readiness of Carl to come in and get the job properly done as he has not had a game in the premiership since the London derby(the 9 nil drubbing of Marino with the U21s doesn’t count). Carl is capable but prone to shirt-pulling and his concentration level is not up there yet. So, fingers crossed.
This game might afford us the opportunity to see if Arsenal has a back-up pattern of play. This has to do with the decision of who would be selected by the gaffer to fill the centre forward spot. Would it be a sticking to status quo which would see the use of NB52 or would Theo be giving the nod. Now, a nod for Theo signifies a change in game plan as Theo is not the type of striker who holds up the ball, or looks to be used as a sounding board nor does he possess those subtle flick-ons of Giroud’s which speed play along. With Theo, the occupation would be exploitation of space between the centre-backs. Which would I choose? No idea. That’s why the gaffer gets paid that much(funny how there isn’t a talk about the oh-so-big wage,wage structure etc now the team is topping the league). There is however no accompanying panic that comes with a need for rotation as the Arsenal bench doesn’t anymore have the deadweights you look at and groan when they come on. Gone is the era where a Silvestre-Squillaci partnership is hoped on to get the job done while being played alongside a misfiring Gervinho, snail-like Chamakh, lethargic Arshavin and a positionally-indisciplined Song.
December in the EPL signifies two things: a hectic football schedule and rumours, titters, predictions and utter nonsense in relation to the January transfer window. For Arsenal, the general consensus in cyberspace is a need for a striker to replace OG12. I don’t see this happening. For one, the team’s game style is moulded to OG12 and it would be dumb of the gaffer to get a new striker and then attempt to integrate him into the starting line-up midway through the season. So also, if he so wishes to try new strikers, he has at his disposal Theo, Poldi and the almost-forgot Sanogo. Added to these, there would be no Ozil-like shelling out of the money. In my opinion, the Arsenal needs a central defender more than it needs a centre forward.
Back to tonight’s game. I have not discussed the strenghts of the Hull City team not because I do not see them as threats but due to this new Arsenal team’s level of concentration. This team lacks the hubris of past teams; the underrating of teams and belief that their showing up on the pitch alone guarantees them a win. This new attitude is obvious in the games against Cardiff, Norwich where they fought to have possession of every ball just as much as they did when the team played Liverpool and the Spurs(would someone pls tell AVB to stop the blame game.Makes him look clueless).
A game to look forward to. Till tomorrow, Arsene knows.COYG!!!