Southampton arrive at the Emirates in a match we must win. Liverpool can do us a favour by winning at Manchester United while Chelsea face Manchester City at Wembley. Remember what City did to us twice in a matter of days last year…? That would certainly do us a favour, especially as Chelsea play Tottenham in midweek.
Much of the focus for today is on Mesut Ozil. Of course he’ll play; it’s a home match against a relegation team, not an away game against a top six side. He’ll develop an illness in midweek which will turn into a spasm on Thursday, I’m sure…
I bet he wishes he had Shkodran Mustafi’s luck. No matter how terrible his performances are, injuries keep him the side. Ozil would probably be one of those who
It’s not going to be a dissimilar match to Thursday. Southampton
If we get the bounce of the ball again and an early goal, so much the better. They will have to open up a bit more. Which is where Ozil is at his most effective.
In all honesty, I don’t expect many changes to the line-up. Ainsley Maitland-Niles for Lichtsteiner, Torreira for Guendouzi, Lacazette for Aubameyang; shuffling the pack a little but trying to avoid losing momentum. The performances aren’t great but we’re more interested in the results. That’s the reality; the two aren’t mutually exclusive but one is more important as Claude Puel found out this morning.
It’s a sign of our situation that Granit Xhaka, like many others, finds himself questioned and his value to the team under the microscope. I’m not saying he is anywhere near as good as Gilberto Silva but for years the Brazilian would only be noticed when he was absent.
I’m first to admit the Swiss drives me nuts with his lackadaisical approach to defending at times but then he delivers as he did in midweek and you appreciate what he brings. There’s a similarity between the statistical evidence warranting his inclusion in the XI and that of Mesut Ozil. Arsenal play better with him than when he is absent.
Is it a case that in this current set-up, Xhaka and Ozil are both needed? Until Emery gets the players he wants in the squad, until he gets the defence sorted out, then he isn’t going to dispense with one or both. Xhaka retains his confidence for his willingness to work hard for the team. Playing at left-back when Emery needed him to is the attitude he desires from players.
It’s the attitude he doesn’t see in Ozil.
Xhaka spoke for us all about this afternoon:
If you remember the first two games of the season, we were six points behind Chelsea. We were not so good. But now we are one point behind Manchester United. They have a big game at home against Liverpool. We hope after this game we can be where we want.Granit Xhaka on the season
Live and Let Die
He had an interesting take on life under Emery.
Of course, it’s not so easy for [Emery] as well. He needs time. He needs to learn better and better and better. But I think we work very well with him and all the players are happy. We now have important weeks in front of us. It’s a week where you can see the way where we go.Xhaka on Emery
The coach is still adapting to English football and England in much the same way as players must. Few acknowledge the situation of the Spaniard; is he living in a hotel still? Is his family here – I seem to recall one of his sons was/is on Valencia’s books? Adaptation is not the sole preserve of players.
It’s not a side issue but for 90 minutes gets pushed to one side. The line-up to help do that is likely to be completely different to this one:
Leno; Maitland-Niles, Mustafi, Sokratis, Kolasinac; Torreira, Xhaka; Ramsey, Ozil, Suarez; Lacazette
Honestly, if Suarez doesn’t start today, I’d genuinely question why he was signed. Ramsey is something of a punt, to be honest. We know he can do a job, it’s just whether Emery wants or needs him to but with an intense fortnight ahead, surely he will need to use the squad to its fullest extent?
Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.