Do not believe for a second what Arsene Wenger said in the Arsenal press conference today which is reported on the Arsenal website ahead of the trip to face the Premier League leaders Chelsea. Well that may be a bit harsh, but in reality the boss will have to go with Francis Coquelin and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in central midfield at Stamford Bridge.
He could experiment with either of the young Gunners doing well from the academy, but in a game as tough and vitally important as this one it is no time to experiment so if the Frenchman does go with Ashley Maitland-Niles or Jeff Reine-Adelaide then I will eat my red and white hat.
Wenger said, “Yes, we are a bit short [in midfield] at the moment but I think we have young players who can do well in there. We have Jeff Reine-Adelaide, we have of course Ainsley Maitland-Niles, we have Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Alex Iwobi can play in there. Elneny will come back after Sunday, so I still have some strengths.”
Yes but they are severely limited Arsene and we all know it. If the Arsenal boss is trying to keep his managerial rival guessing then he is wasting his time, because a fool could see that he will not throw one of the inexperienced players into the lion’s den and while Alex Iwobi has been great for us this season, he has not played in that role and would be too much of a risk.
Antonio Conte is no fool so he will know that it will be the Ox playing in the middle for Arsenal with Ramsey, Elneny, Cazorla and Xhaka unavailable. Wenger has no other decent option and he must hope that Chamberlain steps up to the mark and plays like he did in the FA cup against Southampton.
Will this lack of midfield options prove too much for Arsenal to cope with?