I must admit that I thought Arsene Wenger got his Arsenal team selection wrong for the Premier League game against Southampton at the weekend. Luckily for us and the Frenchman we got away with it and if the squad is now rotated and the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud help Arsenal to beat PSG away then the manager’s risks will seem well worth taking.
With the Premier League table the way it is, Arsene Wenger knows that Arsenal do not need to beat Man City tomorrow. Man City do have a much better goal difference than us, though, so with only three points separating the clubs they would overtake us in the league table with a win and a draw would mean that Arsenal would have to take something from the final game next weekend to ensure finishing above Manuel Pellegrini´s team.
Arsenal have plenty of injury problems of our own to worry about at the moment and they are important players that Arsene Wenger is having to cope without as well. The likes of Jack Wilshere, Danny Welbeck and Tomas Rosicky may not always be guaranteed starters but they do have a significant impact for Arsenal, while Alexis Sanchez, Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin would walk straight back into the first team if they were match fit.
I am writing this article before Arsenal and our Premier League rivals like Man City and Leicester City kick off for the first matches of the new year, so the numbers in the statistics I am using to compare our assist king Mesut Ozil with other players doing well in the same position will have changed by tonight.
Being a Gooner it is easy to get wrapped up in all things Arsenal and ignore what is going on at the other clubs trying to win the Premier League title. The long and short of it is, however, that even though Arsenal will go to the top of the table if we win away at West Bromwich Albion tomorrow, it will be a short lived spell on top if Manchester City win their own game later in the day.
Well when I say ultimate, this recognition for one of the current Arsenal stars does come from a former Gunner who was probably the last to do the job well enough to help the Gunners to a title. Gilberto Silva certainly did that, playing in 32 Premier League games in the season when Arsenal were crowned champions of England without a a single league defeat.
First of all you have to decide whether the former Arsenal forward and current TV pundit Charlie Nicholas has a point and if he does, whether it is a big problem for Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal players to overcome. The fact that the Scot made his claim about the Gunners before we struggled to a draw in the north London derby certainly supports the theory he put forward that Arsenal are still suffering the same problems that affected us last season.
Well we have only played one round of the International matches, and only have Arsenal players scored quite a few goal (as in Walcott, Cazorla and Sanchez) but suddenly our opponents have become severely weakened. Is this the year where injuries actually work in our favour for a change?