Part 3 of a 4 part series sees Arsenal welcome Olympiacos the North London. We’re 3-1 up. They have to score at least 3 goals with no response to go through. It’ll be a tough day out.
The worst thing we could do tonight is assume this is a ‘rest’ game and rotate so hard we lose our footing.
There can be no slip-ups. Last time we played them, we were dropped out when Auba missed a sitter at the death. It should never had gone to extra time.
Arsenal need to be ruthless this evening. We can afford to be patient, because they have to come to play. Arsenal has more than enough players to kill them in behind if they overextend.
The big worry? Arsenal LOVE to concede an early goal in big games. That can’t happen tonight. We’re more than capable of defending like warriors, the thing that needs to be ironed out is the big lad called UNFORCED ERROR.
Our defending has been solid this year, but the clean sheets haven’t been as prevalent as I would have liked. Now would be a good time to change that.
Arteta has two games to deal with before players go on international break. I think he’s going to go all-in with minor changes. He has a full squad to pick from. The question is how hard is he going to batten down the hatches? In the away leg, he took Thomas Partey off after 55 minutes for tactical reasons, which I suspect revolved around the NLD. Will he do that again tonight? Or will he give minutes to Elneny or Ceballos?
The front 3 will also be interesting. Who is he going to roll with? After the Auba nonsense at the weekend, the show of unity would be to start our captain. At the same time, having him fresh for West Ham might also be a bonus. If you’re going sit in waiting and strike at this Greek side, Gabriel Martinelli as a #9 wouldn’t be the worst move if you were looking for a viper move.
It’s hard to say the game at the weekend is more important, because business-wise, it’s probably not. What is important is making sure we don’t ruin the run-in by injuring players that are on the edge load wise. Smith Rowe picked up a tweak a week ago, Saka rolled off at half time at the weekend. Tierney has played a lot of games, Xhaka plays every game, Partey was very leggy in the last 15 at the weekend… I know you have to push the limits in this game, but our squad is too shallow to suck up mega injuries, particularly with our creative names who are in limited batches.
It’s quite interesting listening to the press conferences at the minute, Arteta has more colour in his face and looks like he’s started eating again… the new addition is the Norwegian press who all seem very keen to know what their captain is up to. I love that everyone is a little bit worried about what will happen with him next season. If the club sell well this summer, they’ll try and buy him. If not, I don’t think there’s much doubt that we’ll have the player on loan next season, hopefully with a clause where we can buy him.
Arsenal are giving him love he’ll never get at Real Madrid. He’s giving us the work rate maybe Madrid couldn’t get from him because he didn’t feel welcome. I wonder if part of his difficulties at Madrid are born of the deal they made for him, I think Carlo went out of his way to say he was only playing him because it was in his deal. There was a big fuss about him training with Ronaldo. Zizou can also be quite brutal. Bigger thing here… it’s hard to be a superstar in a team of superstars. Arsenal can offer him something Madrid can’t. He can be a star boy, he can grow with ESR, Martinelli, and Saka. He can take Arsenal back to the very top, become a legend and do it in the most-watched league in the world with fans that will absolutely adore him.
That’d be my pitch…
The pitch for tonight? No drama. Cleansheet. Next round please. See you in the comments. x
P.S. That magazine in the main picture is The Gooner. It’s an iconic fanzine I grew up reading with my dad and football family. Passing it around in the car with my cousins after a game is a fond memory. Discusing the gossips hidden in the pages was always fun. I LOVED the back page joke it always had on it. Anyway, I’m going to be contributing a nice chunk of words on the regular for them. If you can buy a subscription to it, that’d be amazing. These sorts of things make the game experience special and they look nice on your coffee table. I took a big chance on the topic this month, it’s about the future of Arsenal and why you should be excited. Looking like a good bet.