The argument could be that keeping an under-performing player in the team will help not to crush his confidence but the fact is that others on the bench will be boosted more when given the chance to prove they can do better.
Going into the Everton game this weekend, Wenger will inevitably have to shuffle his squad even if for the cluster of fixtures to come within the next 8 days. But Monaco on Wednesday showed us that some Arsenal players actually need to watch from the bench as a measure of testing their resolve to improve, and these four must not escape the sledge.
The captain will have to go down first as the brunt of the blame for the collapse at home to Monaco was squarely on him. Even Wenger blamed him (somehow) for the first goal and that rant about “losing our rationality” could not have been targeted at no other player – Mertesacker was simply terrible on the day, which is a shame considering he had a splendid game at Crystal Palace last Saturday. It must be time now to see what we can expect long-term from new signing Gabriel. He will not become the best in the League by one appearance and will need a series of games to be duly judged but one good game against Everton could put him well on course.
Probably more a consequence of the team’s default tactics of bombing both full-backs forward, Hector Bellerin was totally lost in the build-up to the second goal and his game all round was not impressive either. Calum Chambers must have been disappointed not to have started the game after a good game the weekend before and he will be willing to seize his chance to recapture his early season form.
BIBS FOR GIBBS
There was no need for Gibbs to have started in the first place but Gibbs should have done better than he showed, given many have tipped him to take more seriously to keeping the England left-back role, with Shaw and Baines in lag. No wonder Nacho Monreal is the new found love of Arsenal fans and it may be riot if the Number 18 does not turn up in the team sheet as the Number 3 on Sunday.
Work rate? Check, but is that enough for a £16 million striker? Not many will say yes to that and not many will agree that he has played his role on the wings so well either, as he was complicit –as was Alexis – in creating that ‘funnel effect’ which kept Arsenal’s game narrowed when the wide areas were there to exploit. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had a mixed bag when he came on but he is certainly the kind of wide player that suits the Gunners attack best, with good combination of energy and genuine threat to defenders with his pace and technique. Of course, Walcott is more of a goal threat but Arsenal need a terror to Baines on that right who can be as much a disturbance as Alexis will be to Seamus Coleman.
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