Watching City comfortably dispatch Ronald Koeman’s side on Sunday would have stirred a conflicting mix of emotions within Arsene Wenger’s interior.
While the first would be a good feeling that the gap between the Saints and us has closed up a little with the possibility of even a further contraction on Wednesday, there also would be the pressure of his team’s performance even being more under the spotlight as a tool for further comparison of its capacity to replicate the form of fellow title challengers.
Both a win and the manner of it will be scrutinized in light of City’s, but given the Saints have already come out victorious once at Emirates earlier in the season, the win will matter most, and to achieve that, five things must happen.
Master the Midfield
The absence of Morgan Schneiderlin must be a big boost to us to get a firm grip of the action in the middle of the park. It doesn’t actually hand us the reins to boss as we have most of our own midfielders out of the game but in Ramsey, Rosicky and Cazorla, Wenger should be able to stir them to turn up both the guile and energy of their play to overrun Alderweirel, Davis and Wanyama. Schneiderlin’s towering physique would have posed a problem to our diminutive collection
Catch ‘em On the Break
Much of what Arsenal has been battered by critics for was done by the Saints against City last weekend and they got their reward. Handed a one-man advantage, their eagerness to get the equalizer – and perhaps in their mind – go on to win it, meant they threw all men forward especially both fullbacks Clyne and Bertrand. Aguero’s pace was instrumental to finishing them off on the break and in Alexis and Welbeck, we have similar strength on the counter which we should be looking to use against them.
Per on Pelle
Graziano Pelle was not known to many fans in England prior to his arrival at St. Mary’s this summer but half-a-dozen League goals has got everyone seat up and take notice. He has not been on the early season form of recent, even being guilty of not taking advantage a brilliant ball from Schneiderlin in the first half against City. That said, he would pose a potent threat to the Arsenal defence and being an incredibly big lad, he could be a bully to Koscielny. Mertesacker would have to lead the team to keep focused as a defensive unit but he will have to match the big Italian leap for leap for the whole game. Not once has been beat to high balls by even smaller players, but a chance at redemption will come against Pelle.
Strained Saints’ Defence can be Stained further
6 two years ago and 2 last season, we’ve generally always have had home comfort in the League, being unbeaten in the last 9 meetings. This season too has shown they could be breached, especially against City. The other advantage of having Schneiderlin out is that Jose Fonte would be paired with Yoshida, a partnership which Wenger must fancy Giroud and Welbeck to give sufficient trouble. Whatever Roy Hodgson’s right back choice may be in the future, it is worth noting that Calum Chambers had kept Nathaniel Clyne out of the first-team for the most part of the second half of the last season. It is a very much a defence that can be breached and whatever Pelle can do to bully our defenders, Giroud should be encouraged to do more.
Press on Forster
Giroud’s lucky opener last season came due to Arthur Boruc being the one between the sticks but even Fraser Forster can be forced into making mistakes too, as he did against Villa last Monday. Alexis is our new leader in pressing and Forster could be the latest to cower under the Chilean’s intimidating pursuit.
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