Juggling the Ego's: Arsenal's Game Plan
Arsenal face a must win verse archrivals Manchester United on Wednesday. The game at the Emirates must become the bastion of their season. Arsene Wenger is looking for one of his players to stand up and grab the match by the scruff of it’s neck – that player may well need to do the same to his teammates as the available player pool looks nearly identical to the lackluster group that sauntered their way through an embarrassing 5-1 defeat at Anfield.
Let’s look at a few team selections Wenger needs to make.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlin Thru the Middle:
Thomas Rosicky and Mikel Arteta should play the holding midfield roles. Let Ox play just in front of those two players; the point of a midfield triangle in the center of the park. He will win the 50-50’s, pick a pass to his wide players, run at defenders with the ball at his feet, have the chutzpah to take shots from the top of the box, and will make those runs from deep as he did verse Crystal Palace when he combined with Olivier Giroud so well. Now is the time to banish the smell of doubt creeping into the Arsenal side and it is Oxlade-Chamberlin who can serve as the exuberant young midfielder to freshen and perk up the team. Entrust Alex Oxlade-Chamberlin with the responsibility to win the day.
Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil on the flanks:
Play Santi on the left side of midfield where he has had success in many games this season cutting back to his right foot, or wrongfooting his defenders, by being able to swivel to either foot. I’m predicting that it will be Santi Cazorla who steps up in this crucial match – not Ozil. It is too soon to consider benching Ozil (which I warned of the consequences in my last article) and many pundits and fans alike are thinking that this will be his day to shine and regain the faith and confidence of the Gooners. I’m all for it. But I’m not convinced that it’s going to happen. I put more stock in Santi showing up well against the Red Devils and say he’s good for a goal Wednesday night.
‘Rest’ Jack Wilshere for Saturday:
I am calling for Jack Wilshere to be left out of the side. Call it resting him for Saturday and for the games ahead. Call it a change in tactics. Call it chicken cacciatore. Call it what you will; 'JW10' cannot play the anchoring midfield role – he’s not genetically designed for it. He wants to get forward and dictate the match in the attacking third. It’s all well and good to ask him to step in and do a job but only if it is not a detriment of the team - and it was last Saturday. I think brining him on sometime in the second half for Santi or Ozil is the way to play it tomorrow evening. Juggle the egos Mr. Wenger – juggle them like you would chainsaws as catching the wrong end is never pretty.
It’s a bit of a tiger by the tail – starting Rosicky over Wilshere – but I think it’s got to be done. United will be out to rile Wilshere up, of this I have no doubts. They will be looking to get him sent off. Rosicky should offer more discipline in the defensive center mid role and will still give you similar quarterbacking with his quality distribution.
I am asking for boldness in these times of uncertainty.
The season is on the line and egos must be checked at the door.