All we ask by Twig
It has been an exhilarating season for Arsenal hasn’t it? Exhilarating in a negative way I mean. We began the season as one of the top favourites to clinch the 2016/17 title, but presently we’re out of the top four with only about 10 games to play. Shock defeat against Watford; gutless losses against Chelsea, Liverpool and Bayern Munich have turned Arsenal into a joke team. Michael Owen claims Arsenal are the most “consistent” team in the league. Again, consistent in the negative sense.
This evening we go into the second leg champions league quarter final clash against Bayern Munich on the backdrop of a 3-1 defeat to Liverpool. Not the best result to have before such a huge encounter. It almost feels like a charity game with nothing at stake. It’s like going through the motions knowing it wouldn’t make a difference any way. There’s hardly an Arsenal fan who believes Arsenal can win this game, let alone progress at the expense of Bayern Munich. In fact, the overwhelming majority of Arsenal fans will probably feel Arsenal will lose tomorrow – by a heavy margin. Although Barcelona are mathematically in a worse shape than we are (as they don’t even have an away goal), you feel it’s the Barcelona-PSG game that’s far more likely to spring a surprise than the Arsenal-Bayern game.
Very few football followers will expect Arsenal to win tonight, but as fans, we certainly are within our rights to make demands that shouldn’t be too difficult for Wenger and the players to provide:-
1. If we are to lose, it should be done so honourably. Fans appreciate a brave display even when their team loses. We’ve suffered enough heavy losses of recent, and what’s for sure, is we certainly don’t want another heavy loss tomorrow. That will almost definitely make Wenger’s mind up about finally bringing his Arsenal career to a close.
2. If we are to concede, it shouldn’t be through silly mistakes like the avoidable 5th goal in the first leg. That was simply inexcusable.
3. Still if we are to concede, all players – whether attacking players or defending players – must be seen to be helping out defensively. It’s a team sport first and foremost. If a defender is expected to score when he’s sent through on goal, why shouldn’t an attacking player put in a tackle, to prevent a goal, when he’s in a good position to do so?
4. From the manager, we expect the team selection to be spot on. For far too long, Arsenal fans have been left scratching their heads over our tactics especially in the big games. We certainly welcome things to be changed a bit from time to time, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of our best player!! Unless, if it’s for disciplinary reasons of course. If Oxlade-Chamberlain is to play, it should be in the middle as he has been doing well in that position lately and is the closest replacement we have for Santi Cazorla.
5. Coquelin should be benched as he has been out of sorts lately.
6. Welbeck must start. He has looked very bright since his return from injury. He’ll be my first choice to lead the lines tomorrow given his pace and power.
7. Perez must start, Perez must start, as he has the best attacking stats PER MINUTES PLAYED in the squad. He’s the sort of player that always seems to make something happen.
8. Giroud should be used as a sub. We’ve seen enough of Giroud to know he’s more effective as a sub, or against teams that sit deep. Bayern won’t sit deep. Besides, we tend to start slowly when Giroud starts. Our best displays in the past few seasons – the 5-2 victory over (eventual champions) Leicester, the 3-0 demolitions of Chelsea and Manchester United – have been when we’ve played with the pacy duo of Walcott and Sanchez up front. It wasn’t a coincidence, was it?
9. Giroud is not a bad player, far from it. But if Wenger decides to play him, then he must play to his strengths by playing him with proper wingers. That automatically rules Iwobi out of the equation as he rarely crosses. If Giroud is to start then he should play with Sanchez (from the right) and Perez (from the left). Our full backs must be charged with sending accurate crosses whenever they have a good chance to do so. Bellerin, in particular, had a lot of chances in the game against Liverpool, but his crossing left a lot to be desired. That must change tomorrow, especially if Giroud starts.
10. Iwobi started the season well, but has faded badly in recent games. It’s hardly surprising though, as that’s what you often get with young players. Perhaps Iwobi had played too many games than he needed to. Selecting him ahead of Perez – especially in a game against Bayern – is wrong. It’s just wrong.
That’s all we ask. Should we now toast to a hard fought 1-1 draw tomorrow? That’s as good as it can get, isn’t it?