I have a feeling that Arsene Wenger had Arsenal’s next game in mind when he picked the starting line up for the away game at Bournemouth yesterday, specifically his decision to prefer the Brazilian centre back Gabriel to Per Mertesacker and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to Theo Walcott or Joel Campbell.
Of course there was a great need for Arsenal to win the game against Eddie Howe’s team as well but unless we now go on and beat the league leaders then our chances of being crowned champions at the end of the season will be hanging by a thread.
Leicester City are likely to be a much tougher prospect, as they proved once again with a fantastic away win at Man City, but we do at least have a pretty good idea of what to expect from them at the Emirates on Sunday. They will be well organised and hard working and will defend well and try to hit us with fast counter attacks.
Claudio Ranieri’s tactics have worked very well for them so far, especially away from home. The last team to beat them in an way game was Liverpool who won 1-0 at Anfield and even then the Foxes created some very good chances.
Arsenal will need to be patient on Sunday and if we do not score an early goal we cannot be too gung ho. But the fact is we really need to win while a draw is fine for them so we may have to take a few risks and with the pace and ability they have there is no way we can afford to leave Mertesacker to deal with it. That’s why Gabriel must start and why Wenger has been giving him a chance to get settled with Koscielny.
I was surprised that Coquelin didn’t start in Bournemouth but it may have been a fitness thing and after he did well from the bench then he must also be in the from the start against Leicester. His speed and energy are better than Flamini’s and he is less likely to get himself sent off.
Then we have the Ox. He might not have the pace, movement and finishing of Theo but he can also produce something from nothing and will be confident after his goal. Ranieri will have a plan for Walcott but the Ox is much more unpredictable and hard to plan for.
Do you agree that these three Gunners have to start this crucial clash?