A pretty successful weekend of football as far as Gooners are concerned I’d say. The only real blemish was that the Spuds rolled over without so much as a whimper against the Mancs where a draw would have been more ideal. That in mind we’ve put some distance between Southampton, Sp*rs and ourselves. Not to mention clawing back points on Chelski and City. It puts us in a great position with 9 games left to play. There’s enough motivation both above and below for us to not rest on our laurels which will help in the final push for the season. The best part of all the point dropping has to be Mourinho’s reaction to their draw. It’s a game Chelski deserved to win and one where it seemed only a matter of time before it happened. But it didn’t. The interview afterwards seemed tetchy and irritated which means the pressure must be getting to him with regards to the style of play they have. So much talent yet not the immaculate football that should be provided from that talent. I still think it will take a lot for them to drop 10 points from now until the end of the season but whilst that element of doubt remains in the players’ minds, it’s not quite over. There’s still a bit of football left to play and I feel there may be a few twists yet. In addition with Liverpool playing away to Swansea tonight there is even more room for points to be dropped. Jonjo Shelvey could once and for all rise to become Lord Voldemort and smite down Brendan Rodgers.
There were plenty of aggrieved people at Walcott’s performance on the weekend but also plenty of people who thought he’s still a bit rusty. I think the rusty excuse is a bit of a stretch, he looks to have lost the confidence he once had in himself as a player. I guess that will come back with time but he should have at least scored 1 out of the 3 golden chances he had. He did however looked to be working a little harder than usual but that again needs to increase progressively if he’s to come back to being the regular starter we all want him to be. Then there’s his contract situation. I have no idea why this takes “a long time for him” as Wenger said, to figure this out. Offer, negotiations and acceptance. Three simple steps. Although rumours are circulating that he wants parity with Alexis and Ozil. Thankfully we’re not in a position where we have to succumb and any offer we make should be with room for it to grow with improvement in his game. There is no way at all he is worth the same as Alexis or Ozil considering their contributions but as Wenger said, to play in the top teams you have to work hard or you won’t play. The 5 other teams that surround us are all teams that he would be in the same situation as he is with us, so unless he takes a step down I think he’ll be signing the contract we put in front of him.
The attention for us now turns to Monaco, where an improbable scenario lies in wait. I’m fully convinced we can go there and get the goals required, what I’m unsure about is our discipline. I really hope we don’t go all hung go too early, leaving spaces at the back. We don’t need to be 3-0 up at half time, the idea is to be able to manage the game and I hope that Le Boss can relay this to the players both prior to and over the course of the game. We need to be calm and composed during the game and not let the occasion get the better of us. If we can somehow get through the game I’m convinced we’ll end up at least 2nd in the league. I fear how we will respond if we go out as the season will become a similar tale. Motivation is the key factor and progression will provide that, else our eggs will end up in the FA Cup basket once again, which is a precarious situation to be in.
I’ve got a good feeling about the game vs Monaco and I do think we’ll go out and make a real fight of it. I’m convinced that the occasion just got to us last time around and that we’ll be doubly determined to put it right. There’s no way we can have Berbatov ambling around the pitch basking in the glow of victory, that just seems too hideous a situation.
I’m really curious as to who we will field for the game. With Ramsey back looking good again it feels like we have options but will a game just 2 days later be a stretch to far for his hamstrings? If he can make it, alongside Coquelin, we will have the base of a solid midfield. With him in the side we will be able to play Walcott and Alexis if that’s the way we decide to go. I do feel though that even with Ramsey, we’ll see Alexis with Ozil and Cazorla and Giroud up top. It will be a game about how we use the ball and as Monaco will be deeper lying, it’s not one where the pace of Walcott will pay dividends in the early part of the game. It’s one where he’ll be able to exploit off the bench I feel with tired legs around. Although second guessing Wenger is one of the hardest things to do so that means we’ll probably see Walcott play! Then there’s Danny Welbeck who’s been playing fairly well recently and someone who works like a Trojan. He is also a possibility on the right hand side considering we have to be mindful not to concede to flatten the momentum too much. It will be a game where we need to be incisive and I’m not sure that Danny Welbeck can provide that subtlety but hard work is also a required trait for the evening. It’s a real team selection headache but it’s a good one to have as we don’t just have a default starting XI. Team selection headaches are a luxury and I’m glad it’s one we have. In addition it looks as though Gabriel is fit, which makes for another interesting dilemma. If he plays we are likely to be able to push higher and press more effectively. That defensive selection will totally depend on our approach to the game. Lots of interesting pre game decisions that the manager will need to make, let’s hope he makes the right ones and let’s hope we produce the miracle required to make it through.
Here’s to hoping we have many eggs in many baskets.
Have a great week!
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