After keeping a cool head to see off the Baggies’ late rally last Saturday, the challenge of Wednesday is surely one to require another focused 90-plus minute performance from all the lads.
Martinez kept a second successive clean sheet, as Calum Chambers maintained a steady rise and comfort in the right back role. Not much could be faulted in any player from the past two games, and these four above will be looking to stretch the curve further upward.
It’s been whispered over the past few weeks that Santi Cazorla has not a lot in his locker for Arsenal any more, with repeatedly frustrating performances where he has failed to find his range especially in front of goal. The little magician had won all our hearts in that very fruitful first season two years ago, scoring 12 times in the League and providing a frankly astounding 14 assists in all competitions. Though not at his best last season, partly due to injuries at the beginning, he still remained in the top list with a perfectly conjured free-kick worthy of the FA Cup final, en route our first trophy in 9 years. Three assists in the last two games – he’s assisted all goals scored for our last six points – the signs are there that Santi is back. He should thrive again in the central role of creator-in-chief, especially given he won’t have Morgan Schneiderlin tracking him.
Last weekend’s game at the Hawthorns was Giroud’s first Premier League start for the season, and the fact he already had two goals in less than an hour of League football from his 3 substitute appearances gave the impression that he won’t take long to find his feet returning from a 3-month lay-off. For his sake, Welbeck had to play from the flank but having got the only goal of the game, the young English man has shown that he’d still be relevant despite Giroud being the favoured one to play through the center. Giroud’s start also meant Oxlade-Chamberlain had to settle for a place on the dugout furniture but given the impact both English men have on our counter-attacking set up, Giroud would have to show that he can cope with and contribute to the new Arsenal speed brigade, especially with goals. He won this game last season with two, and just a déjà vu would do.
If only he could cut out the mostly unnecessary flicks and showboating, Ramsey’s engine and midfield energy is (arguably) the best available to Wenger, even when Wilshere and all others are available. With Flamini possibly deputizing at left-back if neither of our naturals is available, it would be Ramsey called upon to steady the ship as the pivot and he would need to be much more disciplined on the ball, restraining his insatiable urge to make the runs into the box. It would largely depend on whom he would be paired with as they should be able to take turns to go forth and back.
And his partner would be…
No Arteta, Flamini, Wilshere – nor Diaby (*in whispers*) – means we basically have just Rosicky as the only other central midfield partner to Ramsey. The 34-year old has not started a League game this season, his solitary start of any sort coincidentally being in the League Cup against Southampton in September. He was at fault for Sadio Mane’s penalty on the day, but Rosicky rarely disappoints when he turns up in the red-and-white. He should get his opportunity today to show Wenger that age is just a number, using his unpredictable burst to tempt the likes of Wanyama to commit and open up space for the teammates further forward.
Follow oohtobeagooner on Facebook
for more latest Arsenal transfer news, injury news, team news and rumours.