Antonio Conte exited another cup, this time a semi-final against Chelsea, his side were utter, utter dross all game. No energy, no idea what they were doing, no real output.
That means they’ll show hard at the weekend and we’ll all be wondering how a team so bad can pull a performance out the bag so good just because it’s Arsenal.
Or… Arteta and the coaching gang might have a plan to take more than a point of a very average team bereft of ideas.
That does take me neatly into the game this evening. I really hope Arteta knows the most important thing for Arsenal fans this season is beating Spurs. I don’t care what happens tonight. It’s Liverpool over two legs and we know they are so desperate to win, they basically cheated to get out of playing us last week when we were in good form.
Arteta is going to have choices to make this evening. Dice to roll. I just hope he doesn’t take risks on players that are important to the season. Emile Smith Rowe is key to what we do, if he breaks, we’re in trouble. Tomi is THE MOST PRECIOUS of players, nothing hurts more than seeing his name of the team sheet, but at the same time, this is a League Cup no one cares about, and I’d rather live to fight another day with our first teamers… because we are not strong enough to make top 4 with the second-stringers. We saw that against Forest.
If there is a chance of losing a big name for Sunday, it’s just not worth it.
Granit Xhaka is different. He had COVID, I’m guessing his 7 days are done. He’ll be in the mixer and we need him next to Lokonga. That man is made of different stuff. So I’m not really that worried with him. But I think people are starting to see the reality with Granit, we’re better with him in the side, he’s very solid bar a few brain farts a season. Sambi needs experience next to him, he’s too young to carry a junior.
The big picture here is taking 4 points from the next two Premier League games. If we can manage that, Top 4 is game on. We have 2 games in February, we’ll have a little midseason break to bed in the new players, then we’ll be fresh and ready to hit the rest of the season VERY hard. 1 game a week is a huge advantage if the luck rides with you.
We could blow that in leg one against Liverpool if we rush players. It happened last season when we brought TP back early. That cost us big time. Let’s hope we’re not thinking similar things this evening.
Liverpool needs a lift. Klopp is under pressure. He needs a trophy, this is the earliest one he can take, but make no mistake… that team is stammering and he doesn’t have VVD to blame this season. It’s on him. Pep is taking him to the cleaners.
I’m saying that because it’s likely he’ll roll with the big guns. This evening might see us shithouse them with a 5 at the back jobby. Arteta needs to realise that Cedric is not very good and if he rolls him out against elite full-backs, we’ll be beaten before we leave the tunnel. Try something different. If we can escape Anfield with a draw, it’s game on in leg two and we can go for it with a fitter group of players.
We have seen a worse group of players at Arsenal beat better teams with 5 at the back. There is no shame in doing that at Anfield. NONE.
The key is not to get hammered like we have been recently. Super basic, but just don’t get railed. We need a resolute performance, everyone focused on the job, and we need to frustrate them. Liverpool were walked through over and over by Spurs a few weeks ago and as we all know, Conte’s Spurs are shite. We have power players who can make runs, we have talent that can find feet from distance… can we piece those bits together and make it count?
We’ll go big tonight with our starting 11, really, we can’t take a chance with Leno in a game like this, he’ll panic. We need to have Gabriel in the mixer because Rob ain’t it, and I suspect we might see Nuno on the bench in a game this big.
But who knows… just don’t break anyone. That’s all we ask. Spurs is all that matters. That’s the real Cup Final.
Ok, have fun in the comments. x
UPDATE: Odegaard, Tomi, Smith Rowe all out. GOOD. Arteta derisked it. I bet they’re all back this Sunday.