After losing in the Champions League, then came a defeat in the Premier League, and now, Arsenal enters the Capital One Cup against Tottenham. Fans are certainly hopeful that the negative trend doesn’t continue, and that the Gunners can finally get back to winning ways.
Who better to do that against than your living in your shadow rivals? Am I right?!
All the frustration that was built up from Saturday’s match at Stamford Bridge has slowly gone away. With Gabriel’s suspension being overturned and Diego the Scum having been suspended for three matches, it’s time to turn the page. Finally, the FA has done something right.
To be honest, even if they hadn’t taken away Gabriel’s suspension, most Arsenal fans would have been happy to at least see Costa get suspended. But, having the Brazilian defender back in the squad is just an added bonus. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it Mourinho! Looks like the Man of the Match turned out to be the English FA!
Let us now move onto the next chapter of the 2015/16 campaign, as we embark on what hopefully is a long Capital One Cup run.
While many will consider this competition useless or not important, I’m completely against those thoughts.
Is it the top priority? Absolutely not. Is it the least important of all the competitions Arsenal is involved in? Of course. Does that make it a competition we should just forget about and not even make an effort in? Hell no!
Competitions are created so that they can be won. Arsenal is one of the top clubs in the world, therefore they need to be involved in all fronts. While giving some time to other players is great, but completely remodeling the squad for these fixtures is a huge mistake.
These matches should help to get some not so regular players to gel with the regulars. Get them minutes on the pitch together, while also giving the squad an opportunity to compete, without completely destroying the team chemistry.
When you then throw in the possibility of taking on Tottenham HotSpuds, quite frankly it doesn’t matter what competition we are referring to.
If we play Spuds, even if it’s just a friendly match, the mentality needs to be nothing less than a victory. And I’m hoping that’s what the squad is focused on.
The big concern here is how many changes is Arsene Wenger going to make?
Is the Frenchman going to make 6,7 or 8 changes, completely destroying the chemistry, or will he make just a few?
For one, Ospina is likely going to start, although I wouldn’t be all that upset to see Cech in between the sticks, but either way I’m fine with the decision.
Defensively is where we are likely going to see changes.
Debuchy should find himself back in the starting XI, with Mertesacker and Koscielny in the middle. On the left, Kieran Gibbs should get another opportunity to show Arsene Wenger that he’s going to challenge Monreal for the starting role. His effort on Zagreb’s second goal in Croatia last week will have made Arsenal fans upset, so he’s going to really need to step up in his next appearance.
In the middle of the park, we could see a lot of movement as well.
On the right side of the midfield, I’d start Ox. The youngster hasn’t had many chances to start, but I think this could be his breakout season. Maybe a start tomorrow and a positive performance could kick-start his campaign.
Moving over to the right side why not throw Walcott in there.
Alexis Sanchez has played a lot of football over the last 12 months, so giving him a breather will help. He could always be a lethal option off the bench if needed.
With Walcott and Ox wide, they have loads of pace to get in behind the Spuds defenders who like to play a high line looking to keep their midfield compact.
In the front of attack we could have Olivier Giroud.
His hold up play will help open gaps for the speedsters out wide, and if Alderweireld and Vertonghen start, his size will also help in the physical battle.
Anchoring the midfield is more than likely going to be Mikel Arteta.
The Spaniard should have fresh legs after missing most of last season, and having played limited minutes this year. His experience and leadership could be vital in a match where Arsenal will need to be patient.
In front of him, I’d like to see Cazorla and Ramsey to start.
I know from that XI there are quite a few regulars but given the fact that we’ve lost two straight, we can’t overlook this match.
Had we been matched up with a Championship side or a club from League One, then we could rotate more. Unfortunately that’s not the case. Therefore, we need to put a competitive side out on the pitch so that the Gunners can shoot down that dumb bird standing on a ball! Aim, set, fire!
What are the odds of that being the starting XI? Very unlikely just because I could see Wenger reinventing the wheel and putting in a few of the younger guys. And, either Sanchez or Ozil will almost certainly start. If neither start I’d be surprised.
If that’s the case, I’ll have to prepare myself for two potential scenarios.
Scenario one is that Wenger will field a very strong and experienced squad as mentioned above, with Pochettino possibly taking some of his regulars out. He too won’t want to lose this match, but quite honestly, I think for a smaller club like Spuds, trying to finish above Arsenal for once should be their main focus.
Playing this match at home will obviously add more pressure to the hosts, but I’m confident they’ll be fully prepared.
With this scenario, I see Arsenal rising to the occasion and coming away with a victory that could give them that confidence they’ve been lacking over the last week or so.
Scenario two would be a bit more frustrating, with lots of changes.
That would breakup any chemistry we have left, and we’d likely be in for a long 90 minutes.
Putting a bunch of players who haven’t played competitively together on the pitch for a single elimination match against your rival is asking for trouble. Haven’t we underestimated matches and competitions before? Anyone remember Bradford City a few years ago? I sure do, and that’s not fun to go through. Losing to Spuds would make it even worst. So Wenger, please avoid scenario number two, although I think even with a second string squad, Tottenham will have enough changes in their XI for Arsenal to possibly sneak by.
Regardless of the scenario and who he puts out there, they will know the importance of a North London Derby. This should be a highly entertaining match, and may the Gunners come out on top. One other thing, keep Harry The Comb-over Kane off the score-sheet, please and thank you!
I’ll go with a 0-1 victory for the visitors. What’s your prediction?