Nothing like starting your morning with a huge scare, is there? It’s 6.30am, there are no lights in the house on bar the one in the kitchen where I’d just made coffee. I walked through the sitting room to upstairs my office, and the door into the front hall is open a crack.
There, on the far side of the door, is a person. Just standing there. Watching. Unmoving. Sinister. Ready to pounce. The light from outside is shining through into the hall, this person is just standing there, and my heart goes into my mouth and I freeze. Who the hell is in my house? Why are they just standing there? Why didn’t my super alert German Shepherd notice this? And how loudly will they scream when I throw a mug of hot coffee in their face?
Then I realise that because it was a horrible rainy day here yesterday, Mrs Blogs left her rain jacket in the hall when she came back in from walking the dog yesterday, and it’s not a person at all. Just a piece of clothing. The relief I felt far outweighed how foolish I feel now writing about it, but still.
I think Arsenal have me on edge.
We’ll be hearing from the manager later on this morning as we get ready for tomorrow’s early kick-off against Chelsea. Reports yesterday suggest that because the Director’s Box at Stamford Bridge is situated on the far side of the stadium from the dressing rooms, Arsene Wenger is going to eschew the opportunity to watch the game from there and instead sit in the stands with the Chelsea fans.
This is because he’s allowed give a pre-game and half-time team talk, but the distance between his seat with Roman and his pals is so far away he’d miss too much of the game going from one side of the ground to the other. Whatever else you might say about it, if this is the case then it’s a pretty brave move, even if he is going to be accompanied by an Arsenal security detail.
It’s hard to imagine any manager sitting amongst opposition fans and not getting an absolute verbal pasting, regardless of what’s happening on the pitch. If his team is winning, he’ll draw ire; if they’re losing, there will be taunts; either way it’s going to be a pretty uncomfortable afternoon if that is what’s going to happen. I suppose he might be all right considering he’s white and won’t be trying to get onto a train, but even so it’s a situation that could become complicated very easily. Perhaps it’s something he’ll expand up on at his press conference in a little while.
My suspicion is that he’ll be far more concerned about how to set his team up for a game that we simply cannot lose and one, if we’re being brutally honest about making any kind of title challenge, we have to win. He’s got plenty to choose from up front, his back four and goalkeeper more or less picks itself, but how does he deal with the midfield?
Can he do anything other than throw together Francis Coquelin and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and hope for the best? Is there a way he can set up his team to offset that weakness – and let’s be honest, it is a weakness away from home against the league leaders whose midfield has been outstanding? A tactical shift, perhaps moving Ozil left and using Alex Iwobi slightly deeper? It’s going to be a real challenge for him to find balance, and to get his team to play with all the necessary fluidity it will need to get a result.
Maybe it ties in in some way with what Tim Stillman wrote about in his column this week, touching on the issue of Wenger and how he selects his teams. Lack of options may provide some clarity, but overall it’s a massive headache and I’m sure he’d much rather have the likes of Granit Xhaka, Aaron Ramsey and Mohamed Elneny available to him for tomorrow.
Right then, time for this week’s Arsecast and to discuss the last week and the game against Chelsea this weekend, I’m joined by Philippe Auclair. We talk Watford and the disappointing defeat, the lack of midfield options going into the crunch clash at Stamford Bridge, whether or not Aaron Ramsey fits into the team, and then the future of the club and the manager based on a couple of hypothetical scenarios as to where we might finish in the league this season. It’s good chat, minimal waffle, and you should listen.
You can subscribe to the Arsecast on iTunes by clicking here. Or if you want to subscribe directly to the feed URL you can do so too (this is a much better way to do it as you don’t experience the delays from iTunes). To download the Arsecast directly, use the links below the player.
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We will have all the press conference news, team updates, where the manager might sit, and all the rest over on Arseblog News throughout the day. The Gent will be here with his weekly review later on, and I’ll be back bright and early tomorrow to preview the Chelsea game.
Enjoy the podcast, have a good Friday.