Are you feeling chipper this morning? Enos is, thanks to the NFL owners changing the rules. How his sporting empire will grow now he doesn’t have to worry about pesky rules which forced him to put franchises into trust and let Junior run them. Probably sang his own little ditty: “Who wants to be a millionaire? I doooo…not want to be that poverty-stricken again…”
I almost forgot Arsenal are playing tonight. The international break puts you in a football stasis where you lose track of time. Leicester
The pressing issue for Unai Emery is whether Sokratis is fit for this evening; the bruised ankle suffered on international duty opens the door for Rob Holding to continue in the first XI. Petr Cech’s hamstring stopped twanging and he may replace Bernd Leno.
I’m not sure how that works. The German is more confident with the ball at his feet which suits us better. Cech isn’t finished but we must look to the future as well. Leno hasn’t put a foot wrong since coming on against Watford and warrants a further look.
The focus is on the midfield, naturally. Pictures flood the back pages of Mesut Özil in training, with the focus on Arsène Wenger’s words. Unai Emery thinks the Frenchman is wrong; Özil, he reasoned, will pick up more about how Arsenal’s gameplan is evolving:
When the players stop these games maybe it can (mean) the focus is more for us, with training and improving on things. It could help him find our idea more quickly.Unai Emery on having few internationals in his squad
The German is likely to return to the XI today, probably at the expense of Iwobi.
Oh, For Aaron In The Starting XI…
Which brings us to the other midfield issue: Aaron Ramsey. Injury or suspension aside, it’s hard to see him usurping Xhaka from the pairing with Torreira in the centre of the pitch.
The best he can hope for is the formation to be similar to the one fielded against Watford, where Özil is shifted to the left. Which is tough on Mkhitaryan and Iwobi, both of whom played well at Fulham. So too did Ramsey when he came on; great finish for the goal. Is it enough to put him back in the side?
An unchanged side under Emery will, I think, be something of a rarity. His philosophy is to adapt to the opposition. Tonight would seem to be an occasion where width is the key to unlocking the Leicester defence.
It would leave the XI as:
Leno; Bellerin, Mustafi, Holding, Monreal; Torreira, Xhaka; Mkhitaryan, Özil, Aubameyang; Lacazette.
Emery isn’t fooled by nine consecutive wins. The reason for the improvement is “The first thing is the opposition,” according to the Spaniard.
Which is a refreshing dose of realism. Emery is well aware we’re on a run of games we are expected to win.
[Manchester City and Chelsea’s] qualities and performances are very, very high. But also we are doing things our way and we improving our things.
We need to carry on to find our best individual and collective performance to stay close to them. But I say to you, we need to get better in a lot of things now. It is our best target now: don’t stop. We need to think and analyse with the players to improve.Unai Emery on where his Arsenal is
The key phrase is “don’t stop”. Emery’s drive is such that he won’t ever stop trying to improve.
But…but…Who Will Think Of The Children
It’s a big week ahead; three games in six days will need the full depth of the squad but he won’t be rushed into bringing Koscielny back in the centre. Presumably that applies to the other injured players, to varying degrees. Nobody is being hurried is the key message.
In a few positions, there’s some pressure. The centre of defence is, for example, one bad injury from Nacho Monreal as centre-back. Not that I have a problem per se w
That’s unduly pessimistic. It’s matchday and three points takes us back into the top four, with a hatful of goals making third seem possible. Three points though is the order of the day.
But more than anything else. It’s good to have football back. Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.