Play The Kids and Give Santi A Break
Match Preview – Arsenal vs Dinamo Zagreb – Champions League – 21.11.15
It’s hard to get excited about the Champions League at the moment with qualification looking difficult to unlikely and Arsenal’s mounting injuries but after our dire performance in the loss to West Brom it’s a welcome distraction and an opportunity to get some momentum before we play Norwich.
We know we can beat Zagreb regardless of the team we put out and maybe this is exactly the sort of game we should throw our fringe and youth players into. Whatever the result the outcome is positive for Arsenal. A loss or draw allows us to concentrate fully on the league whilst a win gives the club a boost as it shows we have depth and provides a slightly rosier outlook on coping with our injuries. Any result is also good experience for those players.
Rumour has it that Ramsey will start tonight and that’s a worry. I’d rather he had a few more training sessions and sub appearances before we chuck him back into the starting line-up but if that is what needs to be done I’d want to see him in the centre. I’m not going to state he’s wasted wide or any other trite observation of the same ilk, he’s clearly been excellent for us in that role. I want to see him in the centre because I think Cazorla needs a wake up call.
I love our diminutive Spanish wizard, he’s an absolute joy to watch most weeks but so far this season he’s been adequate at best but more often than not he’s been pants. There are those who will vehemently deny that and vociferously defend his honour against my opinion because I’m just a [insert expletive laden insult here] and they’re entitled to do that but I think they are wrong. His dispossession and turn over rate is awful. Alexis’ is worse, let me make that clear, but Alexis is scoring and assisting and usually loses the ball trying to make something happen. Whenever I see Santi lose the ball it’s because he’s tried to bamboozle, jink and twist his way out of trouble rather than make the simple pass. When it works it’s finger clicking good but when it doesn’t it’s interminably infuriating. It’s a high risk style of play which we benefited from greatly when he first joined but now Özil is performing consistently to his level it’s not necessary.
Fair play to Santi, he works hard, makes tackles and has a great engine but he just looks so out of sorts. Many are speculating this is his last year with us and if that is the case I’d like him to be at his best and he isn’t. I feel a spell on the wings or the bench might just help him get his groove back. Playing through it hasn’t worked so far.
Injuries and loans means we have few options for changes in this match but if we could I’d prioritise the weekend and rest our best players.
Chambers might start with Flamini for extra defensive assurance and Alexis is likely to play his fourth match in 10 days. Play the kids.
Arsenal from; Cech, Macey, Chambers, Bellerin, Debuchy, Gabriel, Koscielny, Gibbs, Mertesacker, Monreal, Cazorla, Flamini, Reine-Adelaide, Özil, Campbell, Giroud, Alexis, Ramsey, Iwobi
Cech, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Flamini, Chambers, Özil, Gibbs, Alexis, Giroud
I expect to see substitute appearances from Ramsey, Cambpell and Cazorla.
“If we go through now in the Champions League we can be very dangerous for everybody” – Arsène Wenger
Last 3 Meetings
- Dinamo Zagreb 0-3 Arsenal (08.08.2006)
- Arsenal 2-1 Dinamo Zagreb (23.08.2006)
- Dinamo Zagreb 2-1 Arsenal (16.09.2015)
Arsenal Last 5
Zagreb Last 5
Zagreb really shouldn’t present any difficulty for any Arsenal side but one thing to watch out for is their strength on the counter. They’re a physical side and Arsenal must not let that affect them especially if the referee is anything like the one we had in the first match.
- This is the fourth meeting between these clubs with the score currently 2-1 in wins to Arsenal.
- Dinamo Zagreb have not won any of their last 11 away games in the Champions League (D2, L9).
- Arsenal were victorious in their last home game in the competition (2-0 v Bayern Munich).
- The Gunners have not won consecutive Champions League games at the Emirates since 2012.
- Alexis Sanchez has been directly involved in four of Arsenal’s six Champions League goals this term.
2-0 to Arsenal. Giroud and Alexis.
By Edward V
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