This is a bit of a roundup of last week, so rewind to Wednesday if you will, and everything will make perfect sense.
I’ll never like him, I’ll never rate him, but damn. All he needs is a chance, and if he misses that, you damn sure don’t give him another! It was a night to forget, as we fell defeated twice on the trot to Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and his blue men. It really wasn’t what I had expected. Most of the game was pretty tight, which saw the middle of the park the most hotly contested area of the pitch. Schalke were by far the more dangerous on the attack however, and fashioned many a chance down the left hand side, either though Jefferson Farfan or Atsuto Uchida. It’s not secret that they would favor that side, due to the defensive weakness of the left, with the shortcomings of André Santos (stamina, tackling) and Lukas Podolski (low work rate caused by injury/fatigue)
After this week’s AGM, I’d have to say that the Schalke slip was firmly placed on the back burner. There have been figures thrown around for ages, pertaining to our long-fabled “warchest” containing riches almost too bountiful to quantify (mostly because no one actually knows how many stacks we’re sitting on) but as it stands, Arsène Wenger has £70million to spend on transfers and their wages, which really leaves you scratching your head. We sold our top two performers last season, and replaced them with players completely different. We sold one of the best strikers in the world, and bought two very capable strikers, but were they really of the calibre we were hoping for? Not yet, is my answer. Both Giroud and Podolski are brilliant players, but neither have hit 30 goals a season, which is what we need. I understand the mentality of sharing the goal burden among the squad, but it’s still nice to have a prolific goal scorer to rely on, something we’ve lacked so far.
We sold Alex Song. I never thought I’d say that. In all honesty, Song seemed to have Arsenal branded on his chest, and not just because of the quotes. He was blooded by Wenger, moulded and shaped into the footballer he is today, and he gets his feathers ruffled by our complacency in offering an improved wage, and he leaves. Alright, cut the ties, sign a replacement: oh wait, we didn’t. It’s summers like that which make fans bitter. We had the money to make our squad even better, and yet everybody sat on their hands. Frustrating at best, it just shows how out of touch Arsenal can be with the rest of modern football. Gazidis and co. have used FFP as a curtain to hide behind, but it’s so obvious that other teams have disregarded it completely, either in sheer arrogance, or in finding a painfully obvious loophole. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but the Arsenal are falling behind.
Anyway, enough negativity concerning financials, let’s hold our heads up high as QPR make their way to the Emirates. In keeping with the theme of change, I suggest a lineup that’s very raw and experimental. It infuses the exuberance of youth with the discipline of experience, flair with grit, and most importantly, goals along with defensive solidity.
From the back, Koscielny replaces Vermaelen because a) he needs some rest and b) Koscielny needs games. It may be strange to bench your captain, but our best defender can’t ride the pine all season, that would be ridiculous. This is why I maintain that captaincy should be handed off to Arteta, a player who starts regardless of others. He’s a good leader, he’s experienced, and he has a starting spot locked down at the moment. Anyway, I digress. With Diaby still out and Jack looking to make a short cameo, Coquelin is the obvious choice to play. He deserves games and hasn’t put a foot wrong lately, despite his criticism for his performance against Schalke, which wasn’t that bad in actuality. Cazorla seems the obvious choice for to start, but he has seemed fatigued these last few matches, mostly because he was to work much harder without Diaby around. He’s been man marked out of matches recently, leaving him to drop deeper to collect the ball. Should Santi be tuckered out, we could do worse than to hand Thomas Eisfeld his EPL debut. It may seem a bit soon, but it may be a risk worth taking, looking at all the injuries we’ve sustained already. He’s an attacking midfielder who’s also a proper finisher of chances, not something you see every day. With the way things have been going lately, what’s the worst that could happen?
Theo Walcott trained with the first team again after his rib injury against San Marino, and should start the match for me. His pace and instant chemistry with Giroud could be a deadly weapon against QPR’s unstable defense. On the left is Serge Gnabry. I don’t want Gervinho anywhere near that left wing until he learns to release the ball at the appropriate time. We all know how frustrating his dribbling antics are, so why bother to stick with him? Gnabry is a breath of fresh air, a winger with an eye for a pass, the only other similar option being Andrei Arshavin.
Giroud shouldn’t de dropped yet again, it never works out. He needs time to adjust to the opposition, and as such should start the match. Couple that with the fact that Podolski is carrying an ankle knock, making him our only proper striker.
The team picks itself on most occasions, but today should be the day where Arsenal don’t think they simply have to show up to win. Players who deserve to play get their chance in this lineup I’ve created. Whether or not the boss will implement something similar is an entirely different question.
It should be a tough test, and the flanks with be QPR’s battleground, as they look to use David Hoilett and Adel Taraabt’s pace and trickery to weasel past our defense.
Should be a chippy game, and one that I can’t say I look forward to. Rangers have a knack for turning up against us, and hitting when we least expect it. We’ll need to be on our toes to emerge victorious.