Shifting Priorities For The Next Week

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I never really thought about it before but working for the club magazine or website must be quite a tricky job, staying on-message even though you may disagree. Then you have to interview a manager who sets the tone for an interview in the opening sentence. For example, Arsène observing that “we always take the [FA Cup] seriously“, pretty much tells you that it is going to be a whimsical chat, one where his impishness with the media will shines through. Always taking it seriously *shakes head with grin on his face*

Well, he will have that chance this weekend with Everton arriving in town on Saturday. Will the midweek trip to Munich influence his selection? I hope not, he has two injury scares from last night’s internationals but they should be the only distraction. As much as the Champions League is a trophy he strongly desires to win, realistically it isn’t going to happen this season. Rotating Saturday’s squad with that in mind is surely folly; the Bayern squad is the one he should be bringing in fringe players for not the other way around. And I think that is how Arsène will see it as well. The position this season is no different to last, the margin of defeat at The Emirates in the first leg was sufficient to render progress to the next round as extremely difficult and as such a shift in priorities for the rest of the season; Europe has slipped from second to last in the remaining three competitions.

Wenger hints at agreeing with that, admitting he took his eye off the ball with Blackburn’s visit ahead of the Champions League meeting with Bayern last season. It was a flaccid affair, Arsenal livened up with a triple substitution and promptly conceded the game’s only goal. I thought that was a good opportunity to progress last time and whilst Everton represent a solid obstacle to overcome, the home draw hands an advantage to Arsenal who begin the game as favourites. This despite the visitor’s good performance at The Emirates before Christmas when they were good value for a point in the Premier League. The shifting priorities shows how the delicacy of the balancing act Wenger has to manage; by the end of next week, he could be working a trip to Wembley into the fixture list as easily as only having the Premier League to think about until May.

Injuries will obviously influence his outlook, whether that be those returning to action or limping back through the door of London Colney following midweek exertions. Jack’s back with knack, the time-honoured tradition of running off a knock has apparently not done any lasting damage whilst Laurent’s twang may have stopped reverberating long enough for him to play. Some like Tomas Rosicky, enjoyed the international break. He found his scoring boots having lost them for a while whilst Mesut Özil gave an answer to his critics with an assist in Germany’s win. Surprisingly, Olivier Giroud was playing away from home and didn’t score.

Form, I hope, is the key to his selection for the match. We were awful at Stoke, quite a few players did not turn up despite being on the pitch and to some extent, Arsène shoulders some of the blame for that. As much as the media like to stereotype the players as “not liking it up ’em“, the trip to The Britannia – as with The Reebok – gets inside his head as well. You can understand that with some of the horror shows he has witnessed at both grounds. As much as he may find the style of play distasteful, it is nothing new for him to deal with but it always seems to bring the worst performances out of him tactically. Everton’s more refined style will be more to his liking and perhaps Jack’s ankle knack offers him a reason to juggle the midfield around. As if he needed one. The extent of injuries will be clearer today and I am sure Arsène is relishing tomorrow’s press conference, wondering which garden path he will be led down.

It is the first of an Everton double-header at The Emirates, Saturday’s match is followed on Monday by the FA Youth Cup clash between the two sides with tickets at £4 per adult, £2 for kids which offers a good opportunity for those locally based supporters to support the youngsters. More details here.

’til Tomorrow.

54 thoughts on “Shifting Priorities For The Next Week

  1. I agree with you Yogi and am glad that Arsene should focus on the FA Cup and allow fringe or more rotation against Bayern. Progress in the FA Cup would be massive for not only the fans but the club as well with that the strongest possibility of silverware though I still think we could win the EPL.

    Everton is a side that we have to up our game for. They may be without Jagielka but they are good side that play good futbol with a smart Manager so we have to up our game and not be afraid to play our brand of futbol and impose our will.

    I wouldn’t start Jack, I would probably go with Mozart in that position.

  2. 2-0 down in the Champions League and playing the World’s finest – or there or there abouts.

    No real chance of taking more than 3 out of the next possible 9 in the Premier League (based on consistent form not my abject misery) and already 4 points adrift at the top.

    To not make this cup the absolute essential priority would be complete coconut madness. At the very least it could be atonement for Everton’s earlier trip to the Emirates, which spelled the beginning of the current troubles.

    Realistically it is the only way back to the cupboard with all sparkly stuff in it this season.

  3. Great post again. I could not agree more. I really hope Arsene puts the best possible team out against Everton and does not think about the Munich game until after we Sunday.

    I honestly think this season (so far) has been Arsene’s best job as a manager since the first part of the 07/08 season. Based on the results to date this group has really been a team that is more then the sum of its parts. To keep this team on top of the table for most of this season really shows that results have taken precedence over style. Now if Arsene could somehow figure out a way to beat the end of season mental letdowns and the domestic cup disasters that his teams have suffered in the past we might actually win something. I sure hope so.

  4. Agree with you YW. We should field our strongest side as the FA Cup is our best chance of winning something. Simple as that really. Win the game, and then worry about the Munich game.

  5. Wilshere out six weeks with a hairline fracture on the left foot! I HATE meaningless friendlies!

  6. Yea its officially on the sight, Jack out 6 weeks.

    @Moe

    Told you he would run it off and then be out for weeks with injury!

  7. C

    You are right. Kallstrom may be needed after all. Perhaps we can start him against Munich since we will probably not over turn the result no matter who we start.

  8. @Bill

    Told you he would be needed lol. Yea we could play him against Munich, allow him the full 90 to get both match time and time playing with the squad.

    @GA

    You can’t make this shit up that is why its so funny. Honestly I wouldn’t be surprised if Jack was out for more like 8 weeks then 6.

  9. Bill – Come on mate, that really is a defeatest attitude.

    Is it likely we will get the result we need….no?
    Is it possible…..of course?

    We should play the strongest side we can. There are no more dead rubber games this season so should play the best side we have availabe in every game.

  10. well staying on is pure stupidity from WIlsheres side though. If you are not responsible enough as a player to listen to your body in a meaningless friendly you are just being an idiot.

    A proper punishment would be to not be selected for the WC. Maybe he then realises that the no1 priority for a football player is to take care of his body?

  11. Nice post again!!! For me, on the match this weekend I support tht wenger should make this a priority. But. If any way, he feels the good squad can deliver at bayern then I support him. I think with the right approach and mentality we might just get something out too, even if its a 1nil victory for us I don’t care, I think we need it for the remaning of the reason. That momentum can be vital. And for Jack, its not too really a bad news for me except for the fact that we will be short in the middle, he doesn’t help I think he needs rest too. Wenger should please start Ox if not with poldoski, at least with one wide player.. I see a 1-0 victory for us….. #COYG

  12. Wilshire needs 6 weeks re hab before starting to gain match fitness.He will be out 8/10 weeks i would of thought.Isnt that his season pretty much over?

  13. Yup. He will be fit in time for the WC, go there and probably get injured again. Superb.

  14. Andy.

    That comment was made with a bit of tongue in cheek but the reality is if we are going to use Kallstrom then the game against Munich is where I would give him a try. The pressure will be amping up each with each FA cup and league game as we get closer to the end of the season. It would not be fair to throw Kallstrom into that. We are such heavy underdogs to progress against Munich and the pressure will not be a heavy so if we are ever use Kallstrom that would be the game. The point of the whole post was downgrading the CL game on our priority list because we did not think we could win. No?

    I think the reality is that Arsene will use the best team he can put out against Everton and against Munich. I hope TR7 and Flamini/Arteta share the Wilshere spot until Ramsey comes back and we don’t have to use Kallstrom other then to hold down a place on the subs bench.

  15. @poodle

    While a bit harsh, I would agree with what you are actually getting at which is as a futboler you have to take care of your body because without your body your not a futboler. If he even felt the slightest of twinges he should have come off. I told Moe yesterday that this is what was going to happen and everybody said he had jogged it off but lets be honest, everytime Jack gets a knock he is out for multiple weeks.

  16. @GA

    Though I REALLY REALLY hope that doesn’t happen, I wouldn’t be surprised not 1 bit if it did.

  17. The injury to Jack is awful and I never like to see a player out for any length of time. But, Im really not to concerned at all. Jack has not been great of late and I think there are other players that can and will do a better job. Wenger plays jack if fit over any one else regardless of form and I don’t like that at all. If you cant get into a team on merit and some one is ahead of you regardless of how shit they were the last few games then how does that affect you morale. We have Artea, Flamini, Rosicky, Ramsey, Carzola the OX and Kalstrom who will cover for him. No drama.

  18. C – Everything?

    You know Pistol is a Scientologist, right? You believe in lizard Aliens?

    😉

  19. So tiresomely predictable. Well I suppose it’ll give his ankles some rest. 🙂

    This is far from the end of the world though – with Gnabry mosre than capable of playing top right, we still have Ox, Rosicky and numerous other players who can fill Jack’s boots – in any case it’s only until Ramsey is back.

    Loads of people were slagging Jack off for losing the ball too often and rolling around too much anyway so, for some, I’d have thought this was almost good news. 😉

  20. @GA

    I agree with your whole post. He will get fit and then go to the World Cup and get injured and be out for a while.

  21. C and Pistola.

    Total agreement. I just hope that AW is forced to play Gnabs and Podo more as a result. Wide players in wide positions, rather than finding an excuse to put another CM on the bloody field.

  22. I think our best 11 now is

    Wojo
    Sagna BFG Kos Gibbs

    Arteta/Flamini TR7 Ozil.

    Ox Giroud Podolski/cazorla

    When Ramsey comes back he goes into the Wilshere position

    Ox has been by far our best player up front and we need to keep him wide right. He has scored or created almost all our goals. We have been almost completely impotent up front without Ox in most of our recent games.

    Podolski has been playing most of the games recently and he has not stood out the way I had hoped. He has 1 goal in 5 games vs PL level teams. I was hoping he would prove to Arsene and the world that he can make the big plays but it’s Ox who has been our standout player. Unfortunately, Cazorla has struggled for most of this season too, so I think podolski should start at least for now. Ox has to start out right, but we have these 2 highly experienced international players and either Podolski or Cazorla need to step up and lead the team and get 7-8 goals in the last 10 league games. That would be a huge difference maker.

  23. @The Arse

    I think Podolski was being worked more and more into the plans anyways and this will force Arsene to play him even more.

  24. Bill
    Carzola has looked good when played centrally as he was last season. Id be tempted to stick Ozil out wide for a game or two and see how he fares. Carzola central Podolski left Ozil right. Ozil likes to drift wide right and often is out there anyway. Give him a game out there and lets see what happens.

  25. Pistol fish.

    Which ever player starts wide left has to be the primary defender in front of Gibbs the left flank and I don’t think that should be Ozil or any of our other midfielder.

    Cazorla has spent more time playing wide left then in central mid field in the last couple of seasons and he is excellent out wide when in form. I don’t think his poor form this year has anything to do with playing wide left.

    The Ox has to be our wide right starter. Caz and Podolski are the only realistic wide left options, IMO. Cazorla looked like he had caught fire around the time he got the double in the Fulham game but he has since slipped back into the indifferent form that he has had all season. Podolski has played 5 of the last 7 games and not really impressed. We needed more then 1 goal in those 5 games from him. Giroud and either Podolski or Caz need to man up and start scoring regularly. Ox can’t do it himself

  26. But Bill ! I said wide right not wide left.
    Do you really think Carzola offers more defensively than Podolski ? I remember every one raving about is defensive work when he arrived.
    I might be mistaken but didnt Caz play in Ozils spot last season for the most part ? He was way better for us last season than he has been this one.

  27. Pistol fish.

    In a hurry and misread. I still don’t think Ozil is a good wide right option because of the defensive issue. Even Sagna needs some help. Why in the world would you consider moving Ox out the right wing when he has been our most effective player in that spot.

    Cazorla played central mid the first 1/2 of last season but the team was much better when he played wide left. He has tons of experience playing wide throughout his career in Spain and England and he has been very successful in the past. I don’t buy the idea that his bad form this year is because he has not been in his favorite position. That’s just an attempt to look for a reason for something that is probably unexplainable. I think Cazorla has just had a bad year.

    I can’t see Ozil moving out of his central mid slot. Ozil has been the best attacking mid in the world and asking to move to a wide spot and try to defend the flank at this point in the season does not make much sense to me.

  28. Bill

    Stranger things have happened mate !

    I may be wrong here but did he not play out wide for Real at times ?

  29. i know people reckon Jack was “brave” to continue playing. But really he was no brave, he was just selfish. He wanted to play that game so much he just ignored the fact that him being out for a long time means he fucks up for Arsenal. He puts himself and his dreams of playing a friendly before Arsenal and being the players Arsenal will build theirs squad around.

    How can we build a squad around a player that feels more responsibility towards England in a friendly than towards Arsenals hard run in?
    Jack should know better, especially after his long injury.

    People blame FA and Hodgson for keeping him on, but the truth is, if Jack “felt something” in his foot and wanted off he would have been taken off asap. simple as.

  30. Pistol.

    I just think its unlikely that playing wide would send Caz into a mental funk when he has been successful out there for years in the past and he was successful for us wide left last season. Baseball players who have been .310 hitters all their career will have a season when the hit .265 for some unknown reason. It happens.

  31. Poodle – Agreed. it was fucking stupid of him.

    Bill – I don;t mind who plays wide left Cazorla/Podoslki. As long as AOC starts the majority of our games on the right for the remainder of the season. If he is unavailable, I would rather see Gnabry play. The side lacks pace, so one of those two is a must.

  32. Bill I guess Im just one that likes his wide men to be pacey and athletic, Walcot, Valencia, Robben, Di Maria. Carzola has that little mid field magician aura about him, better suited to the centre of the pitch than out wide. But its just my opinion of course.

  33. Andy.

    I think Caz has had the whole season and has not found good form so I think we should give Podolski some games. Hopefully he can put together a good run. However, I suspect we will see more of Cazorla.

    No matter what we do wide left I agree that we really need Ox wide right.

    Myself I don’t think throwing Gnabry back in the mix is reasonable. He had a couple of good games but he was showing his age and lack of experience by the time Arsene stopped using him. Pace does not help without experience. IMO

  34. Poodle it is not that simple – he clearly didn’t know it was worse than a painful bruise. The adrenalin of the moment and then later the fact that he could run on it almost certainly meant he did not think it was that serious. He was walking on it after the game and even the initial scan showed nothing.

    I broke my scaphoid once and did not go to the hospital until 3 days later – up until then I had assumed it was just badly bruised.

    Years later I broke a rib and didn’t realise until the next day when I had trouble breathing – although the 2nd time I was quite drunk.

    You cannot know what was going on in Jack’s mind so better not to make assumptions I reckon.

  35. Pistol.

    I hope we don’t have Cazorla as our regular wide left player next season. Ideally I would like us to buy a wide forward or use Ox on one side and Theo on the other. However Cazorla was very effective last season when he played there and he has been very capable out wide for a long time. I have no clue why he has been less effective this season

  36. C says:
    March 6, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    The guy looked in so much pain, what on earth was the point of him carrying on? What if he injured himself so much he missed the world cup? Is that worth being stubborn over?

    It was a stupid decision by himself and also Roy Hodgson.

    Oh well at least we have Kallstrom! 😉

  37. Jonny

    I actually broke my big toe playing football and played the whole game, only after the game i noticed that it was swollen and the nail had peeled off. Yuck

    In Jack’s case ,sn’t it better to be safe than sorry? I mean it’s world cup year and an important year for Arsenal, the England game was never gonna prove anything, even Roy Hodgson said it depends on their league form. So it would have been smarter to save himself for the league and do enough to go on the plane.

    I know what you mean that he couldn’t have known, but if i was him i would have gotten off straight away, just for the sake of my year.

    I think he probably made it worse by carrying on.

    And also why always his ankles? They have been butchered to death.

  38. Jonny

    The world is a corrupt place, i bet us mere civilians know next to nothing about what happens behind the closed doors of politics.

  39. Arguably better safe than sorry but I still maintain why would he think it was broken if he could still walk on it?

    I didn’t see a player selfishly running through incredible pain. The fact he was walking on it hours later tells a story too.

    Is it possible he genuinely didn’t think it was a serious injury (as was further clearly indicated by his post match comments)?

    YES. So just maybe he doesn’t deserve the accusations.

  40. The season is grinding into tedium.

    Again.

    Bad loss to Stoke followed by injuries and shedding of points.

    The F All cup is a reasonable consolation prize for us if assuming we can get it but it seems to simply put us in perspective that our place is a couple of notches below the top prizes.

    FA cup doesn’t win you a seat in the CL.

    We have been unconvincing in the last two ‘death runs’ against top opposition and whilst the damage was minimised by some opponents adjusting early on, it is beginning to take a toll now.

    Our glimmer of hope for the CL against Bayern is slim

    Ditto League title with 3 quality clubs vying around (or above) us.

    And now injuries. Its as if the team has realised the game is up and the veneer of mental toughness is beginning to crumble (Granted Jack’s injury seems more like industrial sabotage)

    Let’s win our next 5 games.

  41. Mertesacker actually signed that post BFG. The bloke walks on water I tells ya.

    Superb.

  42. Love Mertesacker. Just hope he doesn’t get the Capt role as we have a Captain’s curse.

    French team that stuffed Holland. Not one Arsenal player. (Giroud was on the bench and Koscielny’s not fit)
    Wenger has clearly lost his ‘best french players’ contacts over the years. Plus when they do play Giroud, it’s with runners – this french team has some pace.
    France: Lloris, Debuchy, Evra, Mangala, Varane, Pogba, Matuidi, Cabaye, Valbuena, Benzema, Griezmann

    I’m going to the game tomorrow. Hoping for a win, but not expecting anything special. We aren’t playing well and have lost all the early season va va voom and confidence. Crowd should be good, but could turn ugly and tense if things go badly I think.

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