It’s a clear run through to the weekend, football-wise. Petr Cech’s injury is clearing faster than previously thought and he may be available. Is that a good thing? Neither he or Ospina inspires confidence. Dave, however, has a good Wembley record. Maybe we need to tell the players the NLD is an FA Cup final or something?
The questions over team selection vex minds already. Defensively, we are a shambles away from home irrespective of formation employed. Wenger made no secret that he disliked a back three and ditched it for a back four. That worked.
So will he go to a back three for this one? Possibly; he has the personnel, even if playing in a back three robs him of Nacho Monreal’s attacking prowess. Are we any more reliable defensively with a back three? Absolutely not. We’re a ramshackle defensive side at best with just one solid defensive performance to our name: Chelsea in the Premier League.
The Carabao Cup semi-final ended with the same result but we were undone easily, grateful that Morata couldn’t hit a cow’s arse with a banjo. The goalless draw in the first leg lured us into thinking the defence was working, only for the cruel joke to be revealed at Bournemouth.
The irony would be if we keep a clean sheet with Dave in goal; the 200th may prove elusive until the end of his career. Is it possible he will never achieve that record with Arsenal?
At the weekend, it was suggested he stayed on the pitch because he wanted to break the chains which hold the millstone around his neck and I wonder if there’s an element of self-induced psychological pressure over the record? Is Cech ‘trying too hard’ to make it happen, becoming too nervous?
That would surprise me but so do the repeated mistakes from the defence, so really it doesn’t surprise me because I half expect it.
Another expectation is that Alexandre Lacazette won’t start. After weeks of keeping faith with the France international, he scores and finds himself dropped. Well, maybe it was down to form or was it was easier for Wenger to give Aubameyang a home debut rather than starting his first game in the NLD?
Whatever the case, the claim we’re going to line-up with a two-man frontline doesn’t stack up with the personnel we currently have. We’re built for a single striker and for whatever reason, Wenger doesn’t think Lacazette is going to cut the mustard. That was evident from Saturday’s post-match comments about it being a competitive world. From hero to zero in under 30 appearances.
This after he had ended his goal drought against Palace as well. £52m and on the bench; not quite how he thought it would turn out when he left Lyon last summer. Maybe Arsène is right and Lacazette needs a more competitive environment to bring out the best in him. That’s a damning indictment of Arsenal that we can’t inspire a then-record signing to go and prove his worth in a World Cup season.
You have to say that the reaction of Wenger is unusual. Maybe he’s seen something in training which warrants the kick being administered to Lacazette’s postérieur although signing another striker is definitely tough love by anyone’s standards.
Ian Wright claimed Arsène had destroyed Lacazette’s confidence by continually substituting him on 70 minutes. There were times when you could see the player’s frustration and maybe Wright is right in his assessment. Maybe Lacazette is shot; that’s a mess of Wenger’s making which he must resolve.
I Want to Believe
Aubameyang is more of the type of striker we need on Saturday, that’s for sure. It allows us to play on the counter-attack and equally keeps Tottenham occupied defensively. The thoughts, I’m sure, are going through both manager’s minds.
It says a lot that even after a 5 – 1 win, we can’t decide what is the best line-up for Arsenal to field in the derby. There was never that debate in years gone by. Yes, winning the title made decisions easier to reach but nonetheless, should it be this hard to know which XI he will field?
Well, there is a case for ‘keeping ’em guessing’ and leaving Tottenham to wonder how we’ll approach the game. Except when I think of that possibility, I always wonder if we know ourselves. The doubts in my mind are formed by the poor performances away from home this season so the players must be thinking the same. It’s the only explanation why we habitually repeat the same mistakes.
Maybe Saturday is a new beginning. Maybe; it’s the hope which kills you…