Arsenal conceded three goals in their opening game against Leicester, but luckily we had enough goals in us to still take the three points. Of course the reason given is that we had to play with a makeshift three at the back due to the suspension of Laurent Koscielny and injuries and lack of fitness with our other centre-backs.
We had to make do with our only confirmed defender, Rob Holding, who certainly didn’t look as fit and comfortable as last season. Nacho Monreal was forced to play in the centre of the three, having just got used to playing on the left, and Saed Kolasinac, on his debut was played as a defender rather than a wing back, although you wouldn’t know it from his thrusting forward runs!
But we should have a much more balanced defence for this weeks game. Although Koscielny still has one more game of his ban, Arsene Wenger tells us that Per Mertesacker is now recovered and will surely play back in the middle. Le Prof said: “Early team news is that from last week I think Mertesacker will be available again.”
He also gave us good news on Mustafi and Coquelin when he said: “They will be in the squad, yes.” So we will have three proper centre-backs available, Hopefully Holding will feel a bit stronger and happier with his usual partners and Mustafi and Mertesacker will add a bit of steel. Our BFG looked perfectly suited to a back three formation in the Cup Final and his experience will help us immensely with the organisation.
Stoke are famous for being experts at set pieces so we will need a strong defence throughout the game. Surely we will be more solid than in the Leicester game?