The thing about playing at home is that there is a massive expectation for us to get a really good result, especially as the opposition has definitely performed under-par so far this season. The reverse fixture saw Ozil and Welbeck combining to destroy Villa. Welbeck’s movement provided the perfect foil for Ozil’s probing through balls and dribbles.
With that in mind, it’s a damn shame that this Sunday comes a bit too early for the returning Welbeck, so it will be Giroud up top. Alexis faces a late fitness test and given the circumstances, I would prefer to see him benched, or rested complelely, rather than being risked unnecessarily, despite how much he might be annoyed with the decision of the manager. I always say it should be up to the player, they know if it hurts or not and whether they can compete, but we always know that if he played and injured himself further, the criticism of the manager would be horiffic.
The game against Brighton saw Per rested so I expect him to return to the starting lineup alongside Koscienly with Monreal left and Bellerin right. Make no bones about it, Villa won’t be a walkover, but I don’t expect our defence to be overwhelmed, they’ve scored 11 goals all season, home and away. So Bellerin’s attacking dynamism should be preferred over Chambers. At left back Monreal should continue, he has been solid recently, his stint as a cover centre-back appears to have sharpened up his game somewhat and his return to his natural position has been impressive indeed.
Further forward the team almost picks itself, Coquelin should continue in front of the defence, his ability to break up play without giving cheap fouls has been awesome and I hope that it continues and its not just some crazy, contract-related, purple patch. That’s the pessimist in me creeping out a little, but in truth, if he continues in this form just until the summer, then I will be a happy bunny and we should have had a good run at some silverware.
In front of Le Coq, I see an a pair of Cazorla with Ramsey sitting deeper to help Le Coq and link midfield with Cazorla, who will move into space and again try to occupy that difficult space in between midfield and attack that Villa found it so hard to deal with when Ozil played in that position. Giroud is in a rich vein of form so should take advantage of Villa’s discomfort with Cazorla’s roaming. If he puts himself about and bullies Vlaar a bit, he should get real rewards tomorrow.
Out Wide, I see a return to the advanced left-wing position for Ozil, with licence to roam and again torment Villa. It would be foolish not to start him given the nightmares he gave them last time out. I see the Ox deployed on the right to add a bit of graft and direct-running to pen back their left-back and add balance to the side.
So I expect the side to line up something like this;
As per thw graphic, I expect Ospina to remain between the sticks, his performances have been assured and he has emitted an air of serenity whenever he has played which has spread throughout the defence. Sczcesny will have to bide his time, hoping that he win’s back the manager’s affections through his performances in training and perhaps hope Ospina picks up a knock.
I for one hope that Sczcesny sits on the bench a bit longer whilst we build some momentum. The league fixtures are kind to us at present with opportunities for rest, but the Champions League will resume soon and we will need the momentum to take us through.
For tomorrow, considering that Villa don’t score many goals, especially on their travels, but I expect them to come lining up as a 4-3-3 in an attempt to put early pressure on us. We have plenty to counter that with though so I expect a strong result from us tomorrow.
COME ON ARSENAL