Unai Emery met the press yesterday ahead of a must-win match tonight. It’s been a while since we’ve had one of these, eh?
The Spaniard is rapidly coming to grips with the millstone around his neck that is the weight of our expectations. Retrieving a one-goal deficit is well within the capabilities of the XI but requires a business-like attitude from kick-off. Rather like the one which did for Chelsea recently; a bit of that wouldn’t go amiss.
We’ll lose some of that intensity due to Alexandre Lacazette’s suspension. He is an intense guy on the pitch, sometimes a little too intense, but he captures the mood in big matches with his work ethic.
Compensating for his absence, we can at least wave goodbye to Shkodran Mustafi as he is consigned to the bench. His lack of intensity, lackadaisical approach to defending and general being sh*t, we can well do without. I know this is a temporary reprieve until the next injury strikes but clouds, silver linings and all that.
There’s little defensive need for three at the back but in an attacking sense, I wonder if Lacazette’s absence makes it more likely. 3 – 4 – 2 – 1 or do we go with the midfield diamond which worked well against Chelsea before the abject failure in Manchester?
With space at a premium this evening, we need plenty of
Battle Over But Who’s Winning The War?
For Unai Emery, it’s a question of whether he starts with two wide players. If we do, there is a big responsibility on the third midfielder to be creative. Torreira and Guendouzi are forming a nice partnership which means the Spaniard has a choice between Xhaka, Suarez, Ozil or Ramsey.
Ramsey’s fitness issues probably put him on the bench while guarding against counter-attacks is natural to Torreira. It was highlighted by Laurent Koscielny as a key area which also puts
So, it is down to Suarez or Ozil and both have questions to answer. The former is simply ‘why?’. If he doesn’t play 150 minutes plus in the next two games, what is the point in his loan deal? There are just a dozen games left to impress.
As for Ozil, Emery turned the tables firmly on the German. Team Mesut won the social media battle but the head coach made it clear Ozil needs to stop bringing in notes from his mum asking for him to be excused from games.
The key is in his hands and he is working very well this week. I know he wants [to play] but he needs to be consistent in training and for matches, without injury or being sick. Without that, we can see the best Mesut with us.Unai Emery slaps Mesut Ozil around the face with an iron glove
The message was loud and clear: work hard and you can get into the first team. Anything less and we know where the problem lies.
It’s All Kicking Off
Will he start tonight? Ozil ought to for the very reason I stated: guile. He’s been training, probably even had a go at knocking over the inflatable carrots from an Unai Emery cross. Or maybe he didn’t and that just made Unai Emery cross.
The starting line-up I’d expect is:
Cech; Lichtsteiner, Sokratis, Koscielny, Kolasinac; Torreira, Guendouzi; Suarez, Ozil, Iwobi; Aubameyang
You could argue Jenkinson is probably a better attacking full-back than the Swiss but I can’t see Emery ditching Lichtsteiner. Other than that, it’s simply a case of working hard to win.
The kick-off is 5:55 which is just daft; why not 6pm? Unai Emery acknowledged it’s a stupid kick-off time and hopes the crowd, whatever it may be, turns up and gets behind the team. Let’s hope so and that the team gives them something to get behind. A brisk start is vital.
Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.