It has been a rare period of lowered criticism from the press on Arsenal over the past few weeks as it is becoming clear by the week that Wenger’s current team is finally looking like the real deal.
The hard work of 90 sturdy minutes were nearly undone within the last 120 seconds at Selhurst Park last weekend but being able to see the victory out in the end was another testament to the growing confidence of the team.
Against Monaco on Wednesday, more of the same will basically be the required and some players will be using this game to lay down a proper marker.
- Francis Coquelin
I cannot quite think of any other player who deserves this game more than the young Frenchman. He would certainly not have keenly dreamt of playing in the Champions League in the forseeable future while at Charlton just about 8 weeks ago but a whirlwind turnaround means he will be the first on Wenger’s team sheet for the vital first leg. We’ve become accustomed to coming games being labeled as his “test” and though he has proudly held his own in tough games against West ham, City and Palace, even standing out in defeats to Southampton and Tottenham, it will be interesting to see if he will be subdued by the majesty of Europe’s elite Cup competition.
- Santi Cazorla
There is just no sensible reason to ponder letting Cazorla leave Arsenal at the end of the season as he continues to show the depth of his importance to the team. Notice that he never/rarely gets substituted when Arsenal are trying to keep hold of a game as he is as capable in helping at the back as he is in going forward. It is odd to think that such a supremely technically gifted ambidextrous player has only scored twice from open play all season, but more surprising is that he is yet to score at all in the Champions League for the Gunners after-two-and-a-half years. Perhaps it is time to open that chapter of his Arsenal career.
- Olivier Giroud
And speaking of opening a chapter, Giroud will want to waste no time in getting off to achieving a full century of Arsenal goals after proving over the weekend just why he remains the best striker the club currently has. He’s been feeding off the brilliance of his teammates in the most possible way and he will be counting on them to be at their sparkling best for his first Champions League game of the season, having not been registered for the groups stages due to injuries.
- Theo Walcott
His tale has been a mixed bag of emotions since returning fully into the team, scoring three goals in three games but still generally behind Danny Welbeck in the run for the final spot in the attacking third. Danny could still get the nod following his wonderful game at Palace but Walcott could get a chance, and he knows he must do more than just score to keep it for next weekend’s visit of Everton.
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