Arsenal Fan: Giroud Back On Form & More Things I Want To See vs. City
Remarkably, Arsenal have never lost a league game in which their current back 5 (Gibbs, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Sagna, Szczesny) have all started, and this has been down in a large part to Koscielny and Mertesacker’s partnership. Away at the Premier League’s top scorers will be their biggest test yet, and a clean sheet and a victory would emphatically put doubts about their ability to bed.
2. Sagna’s hamstring to repair itself overnight
The Frenchman is struggling slightly with injury at the moment, a concern at any point but especially with Carl Jenkinson the supporting act. We can only hope that in between now and his inevitable transfer to Sunderland the Englishman keeps cock-ups to a manageable level and spends the night before every important match massaging Sagna’s hamstrings and carrying him around everywhere on his back to avoid any stubbed toes. The idea of him starting against Manchester City is keeping me awake at night.
3. Arsenal to play well
This sounds obvious but note that it’s in place of “Arsenal to win”. The odds of taking points are heavily against Arsenal, especially after a sapping defeat to Napoli, in terms of morale and energy. City rested key players in their win at Bayern Munich and have been scintillating at home this season. A defeat such as the one at Old Trafford wouldn’t be too huge a setback – depressing, certainly, but not the kind of thing likely to really shatter a season. Get thumped and the already difficult fixture against Chelsea becomes even more pressurised, and heads will sink further.
4. Giroud to improve
After threatening early in the season to start scoring with the regularity you’d hope for, Olivier Giroud has been drifting slightly. He’s not been bad by any means, and he’s chipped in here and there, but so far it’s looking like he hasn’t improved much since last season. He’s been winning headers and laying long passes off all season and is underrated for it, facilitating as it does the goal-hungry midfield getting forward, but he’s been poor within the penalty area where he should be doing a lot better. A goal at Man City would put that to rest, and he might fancy his chances against Martin Demichelis.
5. Walcott to add an extra dimension
For all Arsenal’s attacking verve this season, at times they’ve lacked the pace to get behind full-backs and discourage them from getting too far forward. Walcott’s return is welcome, and in theory his diagonal runs into the box should be ready made for through-ball merchants of the skill currently in Arsenal’s midfield. He missed a few such chances from Özil passes early on before getting injured. Hopefully with a run of games he can start scoring with a regularity that has occasionally deserted him.