Just like the last time Arsenal were preparing for a Premier League game, most of the concern about out opponents is centred around one player. It is a bit too simplistic of course, as football is a team game, but just as Raheem Sterling was clearly the danger man for Liverpool on Sunday, it is the QPR striker Charlie Austin that will be foremost in the thoughts of Arsene Wenger as he prepares the Gunners for the home game on Boxing day.
And there is good reason for concern as well, because the 25-year old striker is in red hot form. Austin took a little time to find his feet in the Premier League but it was just a brief time and he is now making his mark, with a hat-trick in QPR’s last game at home to West Brom taking his tally this season to 11 from just 15 games. The fact that Austin is key to his team, with a direct involvement in a staggering 59 percent of their goals does suggest that Arsenal’s job on Friday will be so much easier if Austin is kept quiet.
But Austin poses a different sort of danger to Sterling. He is more of a traditional centre forward and as such should be easier to deal with. What I mean is that Wenger does not have to plan specifically for him as he did with Sterling. That means that Calum Chambers rather than Mathieu Debuchy will probably partner our big German in the centre of defence.
The Gunners will still have to be very careful not to let Austin have any chance to do what he does best and stick the ball in the back of the net. But we should be a more natural back four and will not have to change our nornal game plan too much to cope with one special player.
Can you see Arsenal getting a clean sheet as well as a vital win against QPR?