Welcome back. The draw for the third round of the League Cup was made last night and we got Tottenham away. Nothing much to add really, other than Sky Sports will be showing it live and I’m looking forward to Jeff Reine-Adelaide taking the tournament by storm.
Incidentally, the draw for the group stages of the Champions League is made tomorrow afternoon and looking at this piece on the official site, I’ll take PSV Eindhoven, Olympique Lyonnais and Malmo please. More likely though, is that we’ll get PSG, Sevilla and Wolfsburg, giving our new signings Edinson Cavani, Grzegorz Krychowiak and Kevin de Bruyne the opportunity to return to their former stomping grounds.
In seriousness though, it feels a bit odd seeing the likes of Real Madrid, winners of the competition as recently as 2014, in Pot 2, whilst Pot 1 is populated by teams such as Benfica, Zenit and PSV, but then I guess it is called the Champions League for a reason, so having domestic title winners in the top pot makes sense.
The changes in regulation for how seeds are selected also provides potential for some really big games in the group stages, which perhaps the competition as a whole could do with given the mundane manner of many group stage fixtures in previous years.
And speaking of draws, following ours with Liverpool on Monday night, Mesut Ozil has been speaking to Arsenal Player about his desire to add more goals to his game. Yet the German also pointed out that his signature skillset remains picking out a pass and ensuring he does the right thing for the team is paramount. He said:
I want to score more goals than in the last two seasons and that’s my aim for this season. What’s important firstly is that we are successful as a team. That’s most crucial for us and as I said, for me it’s not just goals and assists that mean everything, what’s more important is that we’re successful as a team. My aim is to help the team and I’ll do all I can to achieve that. In truth I’m more the sort of player who doesn’t really go for goal, I tend to look for my team-mates and think, ‘Can I play this pass?’. I think now and then I need to become a bit more selfish – then I’d definitely score more goals. But I’m a player who thinks for the team first and not for my own needs and that’s why I will carry on to play the way I always do. I think that’s one of my distinguishing characteristics.
Whilst it’s great to hear Mesut making noises about upping his goals output, I hope more of his colleagues are doing the same because Francis Coquelin aside, the other five members of any front six we choose should be regularly contributing to our tally. Particularly while our 70 goal-a-season, universe-class striker remains elusive in the transfer market.
One such player is Santi Cazorla and the perma-grinning, string-puller has also been talking to Arsenal Player about how he loves his role in the middle of the park as he gets lots of touches of the ball and that makes him as happy as Wayne Rooney at Wimpy. The Spaniard said:
I’m always ready to play in any position on the field. Luckily I’ve played in many different places, such as both wings, behind the striker or as a midfielder. Therefore, I am no stranger to this new position. As soon as the manager informed me about my role change, I told him I was ready for it. To be honest I’ve found myself very comfortable in this new position since the very first day. I’m a player who needs to touch the ball as much as possible and for any possible purpose on the pitch, from giving an assist to a short pass. The more I touch the ball, the more confident I get and that’s why I need to have contact with the ball. If I don’t touch it for a period of time I feel uneasy. Thanks to playing in this new position, I’m touching the ball a lot and that makes me happy. I’m loving my new position on the pitch.
And I’m loving you in your new position too Santi, most of the time anyway. I mean, I understand there are certain games where, as Arsene Wenger himself said recently, he prefers the more athletic, physical qualities of Aaron Ramsey alongside Coquelin, but for me, those games are the bigger ones where we may not dominate the ball as much and instead adopt a more counter-attacking style.
For the rest, and certainly at home, I much prefer the ball re-cycling and game-controlling qualities Cazorla offers from the middle. But I’ve said that before. More than once. So I’ll stop now.
See you on Thursday.