After two successive away defeats to Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League and Chelsea in the Premier League we finally registered a 2-1 away win over our fierce North London rivals Tottenham in a Capital One cup third round fixture. Our bench strength was put to test against Spurs and we came out victorious with two goals from French midfielder Mathieu Flamini who was in the firing line before the start of the match.
The victory signified the fact that we do have good squad depth. However with Coquelin joining the likes Wilshere, Welbeck and Rosicky in the treatment room, Wenger will have to think hard as to whom to play in the defensive midfield role on Saturday against Leicester City at the King Power Stadium which will be our fourth consecutive away game.
Players who played in the League cup fixture versus Spurs namely Ospina, Campbell, Chambers, Debuchy, Gibbs and Flamini look set to make way for Cech, Sanchez, Koscielny, Bellerin, Monreal and Cazorla(who returns from suspension) for the Premier League fixture versus Leicester. Fullbacks Mathieu Debuchy and Kieran Gibbs had pretty contrasting outings against Spurs. Debuchy had a bad first half while he improved as the game went on in the second half but he has work even harder to cement his place as first choice RB. On the other hand Gibbs had a good game overall and his goal line clearance off Kane was indeed the talking point of the match.
However our Spanish fullback duo of Bellerin and Monreal look set to return for the Premier League fixture as both of them are in good form and work well in tandem. Our 2nd choice goalkeeper Ospina meanwhile had a decent cup game with some good saves against Tottenham. But again our only summer first-team signing Petr Cech will be back in goal for the Leicester game.
Players like Alexis Sanchez, Laurent Koscielny and Santi Cazorla will come in place of Joel Campbell, Calum Chambers and Mathieu Flamini respectively as they are players who are assured of first team starts due to their top performances of recent times. So Wenger will at least be making six changes to the side that beat Spurs on Wednesday. Leicester City have made a flying start to the 2015-16 season with 12 points from 6 games. Hence it would be best to field our first choice players against them. With new manager Claudio Ranieri at helm, their team is shaping up well with Algerian international winger Riyad Mahrez leading from front.
It would be a tough job for Monreal to prevent Mahrez from making any inroads. Mahrez along with Japanese International forward Shinji Okazaki and English forward James Vardy are slowly turning out to be one of the most lethal attacking trios in the entire United Kingdom. Leicester are currently in fourth place and are the only unbeaten team in the Premier League so far this season. They have also scored the most goals (13, tied with West Ham) so far this season. Hence it would a difficult job for our defense to keep their forwards silent.
Though their attackers are playing really well, Ranieri might have to worry about his defense a little. Leicester have conceded nine goals so far this season and their defenders have no clean sheets to their names so far this season. Hence we have to use this to our advantage. This is why I insist that we play Cazorla over Arteta as a CDM and Walcott over Giroud as striker. Leicester play good fast-flowing football. To tackle that we must we employ a good counter-attacking style of play. Hence the last two changes from the Spurs game I would like to suggest are Walcott for Giroud and Ozil (who returns from rest) for Arteta.
The Cazorla-Ramsey midfield duo will provide us with lot of flexibility and pace in central midfield. Sanchez and Ox on both sides of Ozil will significantly influence our counter attack. Ozil can create goal scoring chances day in and day out and hopefully Sanchez breaks his goalless drought from one such chance. Ox on a given day can dribble like Messi and score like Ronaldo. Hopefully that given day is this Saturday. And finally Walcott should start purely because he is fast and can dribble better than Giroud. Though Giroud is defensively better than Walcott and has better finishing than him, we must try to expose the Foxes’ defensive line using our extra pace.
Though this is an away game we must try to attack from the very beginning because attack is the best form of defense. We can beat the Foxes only by giving them a taste of their own medicine which is ‘ATTACK’. Our defense must always be ready to tackle any lapses occurring in midfield. Per and Kos need to command our defensive unit well to prevent Mahrez and co from scoring freely. Hence this fourth consecutive away match will definitely test our endurance to new levels. Hopefully we are well prepared for this tough acid test.
Bellerin Koscielny, Mertesacker©, Monreal
Oxlade-Chamberlain Ozil Sanchez
Subs: Ospina(gk), Chambers, Debuchy, Gibbs, Arteta, Campbell, Giroud.