Premier League action with a novelty 3pm kickoff today as we face Swansea at home. Except it’s not 3pm here, it’ll be some time after midnight, but given that I didn’t wake up until 1pm today I suspect I might be able to stay up for this one.
I’m finding it quite hard to stay up to date down here, I think it’s to do with time rather than accessibility of information. The Carabao Cup game in midweek seems like something that happened months ago, or something, but anyway, here we are.
In terms of the team, we’re probably going to see the same starting line-up that won 5-2 at Goodison Park. The 120 minutes of League Cup action more or less precludes anyone who played in that game starting this afternoon, and it means those given the nod today should be refreshed and ready to go.
That means another chance to see Alexis, Ozil and Lacazette as our front three. Against Everton they were devastating, with three goals and two assists between them, so it’ll be interesting to see how they fare today and what they can contribute.
It’s hard to envisage any changes to the three at the back or the midfield, although we have to make sure that we don’t make life difficult for ourselves. The two goals we conceded to Everton were avoidable, the second in particular down to real carelessness, so hopefully there are some lessons learned there.
Arsene Wenger is banking on his attack to make the difference, not just in this game, but going forward now that he can call on Ozil and Alexis after their availability issues at the start of the campaign. He says:
We have many opportunities on the offensive front. We have variety in midfield, creative midfield, and up front as well.
What is at stake for us is that we have used our flops [mistakes] already at the start of the season, and we’ve had a strong run. It is important that we continue that. We responded well at Everton and it’s important that we focus on repeating that quality that we showed at Everton to prepare ourselves for a tough game. Every game is massively difficult.
Swansea have had some successes at the Emirates over the last couple of seasons, so we shouldn’t view this one as a foregone conclusion by any means, but given they come into this one having lost four of their last five, it’d be fair to say that their form isn’t great and that should be something we look to take advantage of.
If we can play anywhere near the way we did at Everton, then this is a game we should be taking three points from.
Elsewhere, Mesut Ozil has reiterated that his favourite position is as a number 10, but says he has to do a job on the right hand side in the current set-up:
Everyone knows my favourite position is the playmaker, the No 10, at the moment the coach plays me on the right and it’s a thing I need to accept and to show my quality in that position.
I was curious about how much he was on the right during the Everton game, and a quick look at his heatmap shows that he seemed free to drift everywhere, especially the middle.
In the current system we don’t play with a traditional number 10, that won’t happen until we go back to a back four, but I don’t think that makes him any less effective or dangerous. The 8 chances he created against Everton shows that.
As for his future, he was giving little away, saying it was ‘nice’ to hear Stan Kroenke say he wanted the German to stay at the club:
I’m happy here, and I do my job to 100 per cent as I always have. I give everything and leave it all on the pitch for the team. The most important thing is football. I want to give everything, 100 per cent for this club. It’s important for me to give my all and enjoy playing as well. Whatever else happens, we will see in the future.
Fingers crossed he can do the business again today, because whatever else happens in the future, to achieve what we’d like to this season would be made easier if we had an in-form Ozil to call on.
Right, that’s that. For those in Melbourne, I’ll be watching the game later in the Imperial Hotel – I’m sure you guys know where that is, so hopefully see some of you there and hopefully we’ll have three points to celebrate.
For now, I’ll leave you with some lovely stuff from the Arsenal Gent.