When the UEFA Champions League Group Stage draw was finalized, not many expected Arsenal to be in such a delicate situation after playing four matches. Arsene Wenger’s side finds themselves in a must win situation against a Dinamo Zagreb side that also needs three points. Fortunately for the Gunners, their scenario is much more feasible than that of Zagreb.
An Arsenal and Bayern Munich victory will keep hopes alive for the North London side. Zagreb on the other hand has to defeat the Gunners and hope that somehow Olympiakos can grab all three points at the Allianz Arena. Don’t let us down Pep! You assured AW that you’d get the job done against Olympiakos.
Claiming all three points at home against Zagreb shouldn’t be the most difficult of tasks, but we would have all thought the same thing in matchday 1. Or even the home match against Olympiakos should have been three points, but Ospina decided to have his worst performance since his arrival in North London, and our entire squad forgot how to play defense.
The injured Gunners get another shot at the Croatian side, this time in front of their own fans, but with a few key injuries.
Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott, Tomas Rosicky, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Danny Welbeck are still unavailable. Joining the out of order list is Mikel Arteta and Francis Coquelin.
Losing Coquelin in the first half on Saturday is frustrating and concerning, but as I mentioned in a previous post, Flamini should be able to do the job against Zagreb. The Frenchman is far from our worst player, and while he’s obviously not a world-class defensive midfielder, nor is he at the level of Coquelin, he’s very well capable of closing the gaps in the middle of the park.
Aaron Ramsey is also set to return to the squad, giving AW another potential option to play alongside Santi Cazorla. Personally it would be best to start Flamini given that he’s been in the squad, while Ramsey is coming back from an injury. Have faith in Flamini Wenger, he can get the job done!
This match shouldn’t be won or lost because of Flamini or whoever AW decides to slot in there. What it’s going to come down to is whether or not Arsenal can be efficient in front of goal.
With Theo Walcott and Ox unavailable, it’s really been up to Alexis Sanchez to provide any sort of pace going forward. For opposing teams, it’s difficult to stop Alexis, but if he’s the only option with significant pace, it makes things a bit easier, if that’s the appropriate word.
Alexis doesn’t have guys like Walcott and Ox to attract attention or make runs behind the opposing backline, therefore he needs to work harder to make things happen. Despite that, Ozil has been in great form and I expect to see him involved in yet another goal on Tuesday. Whether he’s scoring it or setting it up, the German international should be able to make a difference against Zagreb who will have nothing to lose knowing that only three points matter.
We should expect a fast paced match with lots of chances for Arsenal, but we must now hope they can capitalize. Have confidence that Flamini will step up and have a solid performance, while Giroud should continue his goalscoring. I could see the Frenchman grabbing two goals as payback for the soft sending off in their previous fixture. Let them have it Giroud!
Prediction (Arsenal 3-0 Dinamo Zagreb)