Watford Away – Saturday 18h30

Looks like we’re entering dangerous territory. We’ve got Watford away, we’re short of two central defenders and public opinion is turning against Özil. So let’s tackle this in reverse order. Why are the Arsenal public so anti-Özil? And when I say this I mean probably a relatively small percentage of people, but all the same it is those people that tend to be heard. So, out there on the internet or through our emails or on twitter or wherever it is that you hear about Arsenal stuff, there is a lot of negativity about Özil. Let me state my feelings about Özil first and then try and respond to the negatives that are coming through the electronic media. As you may expect, I like Özil. In fact, I find it hard to say anything negative about anything Arsenal. Maybe the pies are too expensive at the Emirates, there I’ve said it. Now let me get back to Özil. There was a reason why Wenger bought Özil and there was a reason why the huge majority of Arsenal supporters were overjoyed when Wenger bought Özil, but somehow, these two reasons were never really quite aligned. Sure, there were certain factors that were shared being that he was seen as a high quality player that would improve the squad, that he had been playing for a ‘super club’ being Real Madrid and that he brought a vast amount of experience which had been missing since the 49’ers dispersed quite some years earlier. But Wenger bought Özil for his attacking prowess and not for his defensive abilities. Arsenal needed a playmaker, someone that could see the gaps, play that perfect pass and so they bought Özil. He was a player that Arsenal cried out for. Our attacking style of play had been missing a catalyst and so Özil was the answer to many of those prayers. But he was never a defensive solution and I feel that maybe Wenger should have managed the supporters expectations a bit more than he has done as for quite a while now we have seen a serious amount of flak targeted at Özil for not putting in the effort, not tracking back to support the defense etc etc. To his own detriment, Özil has that languid style that portrays a lack of effort which is anything but the case. Statistics reveal that Özil works as hard as the next player, if not more, but those ‘supporters’ that are heard tend not to read or understand statistics. Wenger was never looking for a Viera or a Ljungberg or a Pires. He was looking for a Bergkamp, a creator, a feeder to a striker that maybe we never had. So, for me, I would love Özil to stay. It looks unlikely, but do not get suckered in by media stories or ‘supporter’ sentiments, being the eternal optimist I can see wonderful opportunities with Özil, Sanchez and Lacazette on the pitch together that could lead to a change of mindset, not only in the players but also in the ‘supporters’.

Dangerous territory number two is our central defense. There’s a lot to be said about Wenger, both good and bad, and one of the strange things is his management of risk. We all know by now that Koscielny has this underlying achilles problem that flares up from time to time and of late has caused him to miss periods of playing time. I’m not 100% sure whether this can be effectively managed through pain killers or drugs of some kind but my feeling is that Wenger is aware of the situation and believes that he can manage it. Then Wenger goes and sells Gabriel and was on the cusp of getting rid of Mustafi, which in effect would leave only Per and Holding as our recognized central defenders, one a bit long in the leg tooth and the other a bit short of confidence. So now, we have lost Mustafi to injury which means that we have a bit of a crisis at the back. Admittedly, he has been using Monreal in the back three and he has also indicated that he can always revert to a back four, using two central defenders only, but my feeling is that he’s cutting it a bit fine. But don’t worry, we’ve got an abundance of midfielders!!

Finally, to this weekend’s game and dangerous territory number three – Watford. I think it is more that FA Cup quarter final game that has but me on edge about this weekend’s game than the last game we played against them. However both ended up with us losing 2-1 at home and currently they are riding the crest of a wave. They’re sitting one point behind us, level on points with Burnley and Liverpool and although they have not yet won at home this season (P3 W0 D2 L1), they have three wins and a draw on the road. They did succumb 6-0 to Citeh in the middle of September and if we can turn on the gas in the same manner then maybe my fears will be unfounded, but this is not an easy game for sure. It’s difficult to know what our starting line-up will be with Giroud and Lacazette in the squad for France’s game against Belarus tonight, Xhaka in the Swiss squad to play Portugal and Sanchez in the crunch game for Chile away to log leaders Brazil. I’m hoping that our three key players, Özil, Sanchez and Lacazette can all start on Saturday as we have not seen them on the park at the same time as of yet and if we are going to achieve anything this season, it would help to have them in full flow and the sooner they get to know each other the better.

Looking a little further afield this weekend, it’s Liverpool v Man Utd as the weekend opener and Liverpool have a good record against all the other big clubs. OK, they did come a cropper against the other Manchester club a month ago but I have a feeling things will be different this time round. MFU haven’t really had a hard game this season and they will be tested. Chelski, Citeh and Sp*rs all have relatively easy games this weekend so I’m not expecting any changes in the top 5 however looking at my Superbru form, I could well be wrong!

Things are beginning to take shape in the ArsenalSA Fantasy League and SuperBru with familiar names staying in those top places of each log. Yusuf H didn’t have a great week but he still maintains his position at the top of the FPL log although he now shares it with Nicholas da Silva and Ebrahim Moolla, all on 432 points – a three way tie! In the Superbru league, we have a new leader with MAC 10 breaking into the top three. The top of the respective tables look as follows:

Fantasy Premier League

Welbz FC                            Yusuf H                               432

LALLANAS IN PYJAMAS   Nicholas da Silva              432

We are all Besiktas          Ebrahim Moolla               432

Special mention goes to Andrew Redding’s Neymar Dis Kaka with a week high score of 96

Superbru

MAC 10                                                                            63,25

ZeZou                                                                               59,24

Joffie B                                                                             58,00

Highest points for the week goes to Gooner (original name there, but I like it!) who moved up 29 places to 13th with a well scored 15 points.

It’s one of those rare Saturday games and the late kick off to boot so seeing there’s nothing much else to do, why don’t you c’mon down to the Brazenhead and have yourselves some fun!

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