If stats are anything to go by, tomorrow’s match should be very tight, but only if we play our cards right. There are some issues that need to be ironed out, and some tactics that need a refresh, but we should hold our heads high going into this clash, as it should be one to remember. Here are the three things to look out for against our German Doppelganger.
1. Beware the Hunter
Rumoured transfer target and second most hated striker by yours truly, Huntelaar should never be left alone. He’s proven himself to be one of the most lethal strikers this past season, and his form has carried over into this season, scoring 3 goals and providing 2 assists in 8 appearances so far. While he may be dormant during 90% of play, Huntelaar’s niche is sitting on the shoulder of his defender, waiting to pounce on any chance that comes his way. Thomas Vermaelen will have to remain disciplined throughout the entire match, which means no bombing runs forward unless absolutely necessary. Vermaelen will certainly have his work cut out for him, especially in the presence of a defender as unconvincing as André Santos.
2. Stifle the Midfield Trio: Embrace Le Coq
Schalke have an extremely talented midfield three in Ibrahim Afellay, Lewis Holtby, and Jefferson Farfan. In order to deal with these three dynamos, Francis Coquelin should start alongside Mikel Arteta. While some may argue he could hinder our creativity in the final third, what Coquelin brings to our 2 man pivot is stability and tenacity, something that’s missing with Ramsey playing there. Say what you like about the Welshman, a central midfielder, he is not.
If we take out the midfield, the game is ours.
3. Get Creative
There are many ways to set up our attack, but I’m in favour of putting Ramsey on the wing. For one thing, he never stays there, which creates some confusion for the Schalke defenders as to who marks who. It also creates a dual striker spearhead, with Lukas Podolski an Olivier Giroud left to torment the Olympiacos backline. They’ll be missing Kyriakos Papadopoulos, their man main at the back, so overloading the centre of the park from back to front is out best bet. With Theo Walcott and Alex Oxo injured, it also seems our only one. I don’t want Gervinho anywhere near this match.
If I had my way, I’d use a 3-5-2, purely out of curiosity. I think it would work well, but there really is no way to know before hand. For now, let’s play it safe, and play 4-2-3-1 like we always do.
I’d be happy with a draw, but since we’re at home and looking to get over Norwich, I’ll predict 3-2 with Vermaelen on the score sheet.
That’s about all my tired fingers can manage for today. Hopefully when I next post, it’ll be after a tremendous thumping at the hands of Cazorla and co.