Hello and welcome back. We’ve suffered yet another injury ahead of tomorrow evening’s Champions League game at Bayern Munich, after Arsene Wenger revealed Hector Bellerin has sustained a groin strain.
I suppose if there is one department we can cope with losing a player in at the moment, it’s defence, but the Bellerin news is still a blow considering how well he’s been performing at both ends of the pitch recently. Thankfully, the boss thinks the right-back only has a ‘small problem’ so hopefully, he’ll be back zooming up and down our right flank in no time at all.
Arsene confirmed Mathieu Debuchy will replace Bellerin for the game at the Allianz Arena, and says he’s confident his fellow Frenchman has the necessary match-fitness to come into the side, having played in the Capital One Cup a week ago. Speaking at his pre-match press conference earlier this evening, he said:
Debuchy will play and I’m confident. I trust Debuchy, he is a 100 per cent educated player in the box and in training. Fortunately he played a full game against Sheffield Wednesday and physically he should be well.
I’m not quite sure what Arsene means by saying ‘educated player in the box’ there, but I’m assuming he means Debuchy knows how to defend, which at times last season, especially during a couple of stints at centre-back, he showed he can be very good at.
Unfortunately for the former Newcastle man, injuries ruined his first campaign with Arsenal and he’s had to sit back upon his return and watch Bellerin play like a cross between Lillian Thuram, Roberto Carlos and Pele.
It can’t be easy as a seasoned, international pro, to watch a player as young and previously inexperienced as Bellerin keep you out of the team, but now he has a chance to come in for a huge game and if he plays well enough, perhaps stay in.
To win back his place longer term however, he’d probably have to help us keep a clean sheet, make five assists and score a hat-trick, because Bellerin has been quite simply sensational. But Debuchy must at least show desire and determination to give Arsene something to think about when he and Bellerin are next both fit.
I mention ‘desire’ and ‘determination’ because on the rare occasions Debuchy has played this season, he hasn’t seemed completely committed, shall we say. A bit sulky even, at the fact he’s now considered a back-up. Perhaps that’s harsh and he was just rusty given his lack of game-time. We’ll see.
So Debuchy will form one part of our back four and Arsene says we’ll need to be disciplined in our defending against the German champions, ensuring we don’t commit too many fouls. He said:
Defensively discipline will be vital tomorrow, of course, but I think we have players with experience at the back and what is important for us is that we show that discipline. We don’t want to get stupid yellow cards and we don’t want to commit undue fouls. We need to manage a good balance between being committed and not giving fouls away.
If there were any doubts as to how tomorrow’s game will play out, Arsene addresses them here. Bayern will dominate possession and no doubt create numerous chances. We’ll defend deep and in numbers and look to make the most of any attacking forays we can muster.
As in the game between the sides at Emirates stadium a couple of weeks ago, we’ll need a little luck and a lot of endeavour to get another positive result against Pep Guardiola’s side, but when you have players of the calibre of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez in your team, you always have a chance of creating chances and and scoring goals, against any opposition and at any ground.
Of course we’ve won at the Allianz Arena in the recent past, which is something Arsene highlighted when discussing his side’s ‘togetherness’ and how Arsenal will approach the game:
We are in a period where we are doing well and that should convince the players that they’re doing something right. We have a good togetherness and I believe we really are a team who stick together when things don’t go well. We will certainly have some uncomfortable moments during the game tomorrow night but that will be a good opportunity to show our togetherness. In good periods of the game, we want to attack. What we want is to play to win. When you’re Arsenal and have won everywhere in Europe, even here, it means we will try to win the game. Are Bayern a great team? Yes, but it’s a good challenge for us as well to show that we have the quality to compete with them.
To be fair, we’ve already shown we can do more than simply ‘compete’ with Bayern, by beating them a coupe of weeks ago but I know what Arsene means.
It’s a shame we’re deprived of the options of players like Theo Walcott, Danny Welbeck and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for the game, because their pace is obviously ideally suited to the counter attacking game-plan we’ll adopt. That said, Sanchez and Joel Campbell are pretty quick themselves.
Yet whether the latter will play has come under some doubt today. There have been reports that we may play Kieran Gibbs on the left of midfield, switch Sanchez to the right and ‘rest’ Campbell, which I don’t understand at all really.
I mean, Gibbs is quick but is he that much more so than Campbell? Plus Campbell has shown in his last two games just how defensively conscientious he is, something which as already discussed, will be vital tomorrow evening.
Back tomorrow with a preview before the big game.
See you then.