There was hardly any player on Wednesday evening against Dortmund who did not put in the required performance to help the team with the victory we needed, both to qualify as well as to lay some criticism to rest. Sanogo scored, Cazorla had a brace of assists and Damian Martinez remains unbeaten in the Champions League, making impressive saves to keep a deserved clean sheet.
While the likes of Chambers and Gibbs, Alexis and the Ox, have been playing beyond the reach of reasonable reproach, there still remain question marks over some players while some returnees would be on the spotlight to prove they are worthy of a permanent place in the team after their protracted absences.
- Mattieu Flamini
We may not fancy Mikel Arteta as the man to rely on for the protection of our back four but the sight of him going down clutching his calf – what has now become an old tiring cow according to humorous opinion – is not the sight of reassurance either as it means the less technical Mattiue Flamini will have to start against West Brom. Flamini’s leadership qualities are of good value to the team but matching his voice with his play is certainly of more immense concern for us. He will come up against both powerful and pacy players and will have to show composure not to give away silly fouls around the area as the left foot of Chris Brunt is still as lethal as Thierry Henry’s 36-year old right foot. (Ok. That was blamphemous.)
- Olivier Giroud
Giroud is yet to start a League game this season but two goals in three substitute appearances all season shows what an important player he is for us. With Welbeck’s knee condition not in top shape and Sanogo going on ‘holiday’ to commemorate his first Arsenal competitive goal, Giroud is all but certain to start against Albion. This fixture doesn’t exactly bring good memories for him as he is yet to score at the Hawthorns after being sent off in his first visit there, and being guilty of spurning the chance to score a winner from wonderfully craft from Jack Wilshere last season. He won’t run around much like Welbeck would do but his ball retention and link-up play would prove good for us, giving the Ox a perfect targets for his crosses.
- Santi Cazorla
His best game of the season by a stretch, Santi was very instrumental to our sealing a passage to the last 16 of the Champions League this season, with all two assists for Sanogo and Alexis. Due to Alexis’s immense work rate on the left, Santi will retain his Number 10 role and should pull the strings again, provided he will overcome Youssuf Mulumbu.
- Lukas Podolski
You don’t quite remember if he actually got a touch of the ball when he came on as a substitute on Wednesday night and that would only give more leaf to the fact that the end is drawing near for the German at the Emirates. However, he still has between now and January to show any usefulness to the team. He was not favored to start in Giroud and Welebck’s absence and there’s no indication he’ll start against West Brom. Perhaps, he can do something significant from the bench if granted the opportunity.
- Emi Martinez
The young Argentine is absolutely under no pressure after a good performance against Dortmund. His only rival at the moment remains 17 year old Huddart and will be looking to make his first ever start in the Premier League, if Szczesny does not make a return. Perhaps he can work more on his goal kicks which were a little suspect on Wednesday evening. The presence of an improved back four before him, with Koscielny likely to return to the starting line-up, will give him more confidence.
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