It looks as though the Premier League is split into the top six and the rest. I suppose the rest could also be split into the middle eight and the bottom six. It would be interesting to see people’s opinion as to who makes up these last two groupings, but the first grouping of the top six doesn’t warrant discussion. I suppose, if you analyse it further you can split the top six into the top one and the rest, so overwhelming have Citeh been. And that is who we find ourselves pitched against this weekend. From a timing perspective, both sides are in good form. Citeh, to be honest look invincible whilst Arsenal look better than they did a couple of weeks back but in all honesty are a shadow of their opposition.
From a team perspective we are missing Mustafi and are awaiting a verdict on Kolasinac after he left the field early on Saturday with the recurrence of a hip injury that could either keep him out for a couple of weeks or was just a precautionary measure to ensure he is fit enough to play against the great pretenders. Otherwise we’ve got a full squad and although the Ozil, Alexis, Lacazette axis is not quite operating at full tilt, it’s a work in progress that could bloom at any time. In midfield, Ramsey and Xhaka lurk. Xhaka is learning to maintain his temper. There were a couple occasions last weekend when he may have done something silly as was his want in his earlier Arsenal days however he seems to understand the English referees better these days and is able to manage himself better. His radar seems to be a bit off as of late and not as many of his passes are finding the mark as they used to but I believe that the longer he spends on the field the more likely he is to improve on his statistics. Ramsey is moving in the right direction these days. That was his fiftieth goal against Swansea and a lot of his goals are important goals, having scored two winners in FA Cup finals to emphasize this point. What I like about him of late is that he is once again getting into ‘those’ positions. He may be struggling a little with some finer control issues but he certainly is making up for that with his reading of the game and getting into a position where he is affording himself the opportunity of rippling the old onion sack. The more goal scorers in the team the better.
Our Achilles heel is our defense. We’ve conceded 13 goals in the league so far this season with nine of those being in our 5 away games. Admittedly, four were in one terrible game against Liverpool but it is still not a great record. Only eight other teams have a worse record. Now look at Citeh’s record at home, played 5, won 4, drawn 1, scored 21 and conceded 3. Looking at those facts and it’s quite a frightening prospect we are up against this Sunday. Arsene emphasized after the Everton game that we needed to cut out the stupid defensive mistakes that we were making. Both goals conceded against The Toffees were of our own making but what do we do, concede a nonsense goal against The Swans and had it not been for Cech there was another comedy of errors in the making, with the BFG doing his best impression of a giraffe tripping over it’s own feet. Arsene and Bouldy need to get this habit of ours sorted before it makes us a soft touch to all and sundry. We’ll soon be the main event in the football bloopers shows that we see on TV every end of season.
So, what can we say about Citeh that may give us some hope? We beat them last time out, in the FA Cup semi final at Wembley after extra time last season. Head to head, we have beaten them 88 times and lost and drawn 42 times each. In our last five premier league meetings at The Etihad we have lost twice, drawn twice and won once (in January 2015). It may be the best opportunity for Sanchez to impress his future employees (tongue in cheek!). All in all, there’s not a lot to grasp hold of here and I feel that if we come away with a point then it will be like a victory. But in all fairness, I don’t think any of the top six would expect much out of a visit to The Etihad. Liverpool left with their tails between their legs after getting five of the best and Chelsea lost 1-0 at Stamford Bridge. We will have to wait until mid-December before Citeh encounter top 6 opposition again, with a visit to Old Trafford on the 10th and then a visit from Spurs on 16th .
My prediction is that it’s going to be a high scoring game. Maybe something similar to the 6-3 match in December 2013. Hopefully we won’t concede so many this time round and if we look back to the way we managed Chelsea earlier this season then there is a certain level of hope that Arsenal fans can cling to. Having brought this into the equation, the question will be raised as to what sort of team will Wenger put out? Will it be the low flair but hard working team that played against Chelsea or the high flair but low work rate team he put out against Everton? Unfortunately I don’t think there’s anything in between. The team selection will be interesting to say the least.
We mustn’t forget that there is another game this week with the visit of Red Star Belgrade on Thursday in the Europa Cup. We were somewhat fortunate to get a victory out of what was a pretty lackluster affair in Serbia last time out, but Giroud’s goal was worth the wait. I expect pretty much the same team make up. I think Eddie was on the bench in Serbia and am sure that most Arsenal supporters would like to see him get some game time after his two goal spree against Norwich in the Carabao Cup. With the clocks having gone back an hour on Sunday, we see a late kick off on Thursday at 22:05! One for the birds methinks.
With there being one game still to play in match week 10 (Burnley v Newcastle), I will leave the FPL and Superbru reporting to next week’s email.
Sunday’s game is at 4:15pm and it’s gonna be a big do on the patio section at the Brazenhead. Why not get there early? They do a nice Sunday buffet and it could be just the thing to settle the nerves before the big game. You may even want to stay for the minor game after the main event, being Chelski hosting MFU at 6:30pm. Whatever you do, just c’mon down to the Brazenhead and have yourselves some fun!