One of the big criticism of the Arsenal team over the years with Arsene Wenger in charge is that we are too predictable and that our manager does not do enough research or make any plans to cope with and counter the different dangers posed by different opponents.
Well I hope that the boss has been taking on board these criticisms and that he responds to them today when the Gunners take on West Ham at the Emirates stadium later, because if he does not do something to negate the threat posed by Andy Carroll then we could be in for another painful 90 minutes of disappointment.
To be fair, Wenger should be well aware of just how dangerous the big England centre forward can be, even in a team that is not playing well, because he showed it against us just last season. We were 2-0 up and cruising to victory when Carroll stepped up and in the space of 10 minutes or so Arsenal were trailing and needed a rare Koscielny strike to claim a point.
Carroll also scored against us in our away clash this season, although it was nothing more than a consolation in their 5-1 defeat. It does reinforce his threat though, so I was glad to see Wenger address just that in comments reported on Arsenal.com this week.
He said, “The best way to keep him quiet is to play in their half. Apart from that, Carroll’s strengths are that he protects the ball well, he’s good in the air, he’s very forceful with his commitment as well, so we will need to be good to stop the crosses. Once a cross comes into the box, he’s always very dangerous against anyone.”
As well as the full backs having a big part to play tonight, our centre backs need to be on the ball to stop Carroll making the most of any service, but does that mean turning to the stature of Mertesacker or sticking with Mustafi and Gabriel after their second half showing against Man City?