Evening all. A very, very brief post for you today because kick-off is fast approaching as we prepare to welcome Swansea City to Emirates stadium in a few hours’ time, when we’ll be looking to reduce the gap to the top of the table to just three points after Leicester could only draw with West Brom last night.
When you consider we play Sp*rs in the early kick-off on Saturday, with Leicester travelling to Watford in the 5.30pm game, we could actually be joint top of the table as early as Saturday afternoon. Despite all the doom and gloom after a disappointing week then, Arsenal still have it in their hands – providing the Foxes lose just one of their remaining ten games.
Tonight’s starting selection should be interesting, because not many players covered themselves in glory in our defeat to Manchester United last Sunday and there are a few who weren’t involved from the start at Old Trafford who will no doubt be strongly urging the boss to give them a go.
I think Per Mertesacker for Gabriel is an obvious change in central defence providing Laurent Koscielny is fit and I do wonder if we could see one or both full-backs rotated for Kieran Gibbs or Calum Chambers with the trip to White Hart Lane in mind.
Further forward, I would love to see Aaron Ramsey replaced at the base of our midfield by Mohamed Elneny or even, Alex Iwobi, if we want to go gung-ho and play just Francis Coquelin as a defensively-minded midfielder in the trio in the middle of the park.
Although Alexis Sanchez has struggled for form, I think Arsene will expect him to play his way back to sharpness rather than take him out and hope a rest will help him rediscover his mojo, and I think that would be the right call. The Chilean had a lengthy period out of action due to injury recently and I think the more minutes he can get right now the better he’ll perform.
On the right, I think we’ll see Ramsey if Elneny or Iwobi come into the middle, otherwise my guess would be Joel Campbell, with Theo Walcott dropped to the bench. Again, I think that would be the right call because Walcott was woefully lacking in impact against United and Campbell should count himself unlucky to lose his starting place in the first place having performed consistently well after breaking into the starting line-up.
My preference for tonight would be the following: Cech; Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Elneny, Coquelin; Ramsey, Ozil, Sanchez, Giroud, but I think Arsene will persist with Ramsey in the middle and bring in Campbell on the right. We’ll see.
Finally for today, after some reports that Santi Cazorla could miss the rest of the season (!) through injury, the player himself today mercifully took to social media to reassure fans he was still very much on course for a comeback at the start of April.
Of course the boss had spoken about Santi having an Achilles problem at his press conference yesterday, which is where those reports were obviously rooted, but it appears what the boss said had been exaggerated in the press. Who’d have thunk it?
Right. That’s me done. I told you it would be short.
Please win tonight Arsenal. Please?