If Thursday evening’s game against Cologne taught us anything, it’s that you can’t beat a good old fashioned back four, as long as you have the right combination.
Holding was withdrawn and replaced with the bargain of the transfer window, Sead Kolasinac. Whatever the reason Wenger left him on the bench, he must realise now that he can not afford such a lack of judgement this weekend.
With Kolasinac’s introduction Arsenal suddenly came to life in a game which was overshadowed by external factors. Arsenal had been curiously misshapen, lifeless and unimaginative in the first 45.
The superb strike from the industrious and versatile defender settled the team and calmed the crowd, who feared another giant blip in Europe.
Kolasinac is a bruising powerhouse and has undeniable presence and that was in evidence in this most unusual of matches. It had an almost surreal atmosphere, like a tricky away fixture and Arsenal came out the traps sluggish and ponderous at times.
There was a degree of fine exchanges, nice interplay but it lacked punch where it counted, in front of goal. Only the long suffering Giroud looked as if he might get the Gooners back on terms and his efforts gave the nervy home fans hope in their first Europa league outing.
All the anxiety came to an end when Sanchez came to life as Kolasinac removed the shackles and the Bosnians endeavour became infectious. Suddenly the shape looked better and the end product that was missing was finally forthcoming.
As a result, Wenger must be thinking seriously about dropping the ‘fad’ back three, in favour of the traditional back four which served them so well over the years.
Wenger’s main problem here is finding that four and the best combination. The Gunners can’t afford any more banana skins so early in the season and a win is a must against the Premier League champions.
Arsenal are capable, they ran riot over Chelsea in the FA cup final making them look disorganised and ordinary, so intensity is going to be a key factor.
If Wenger doesn’t play Lacazette or Kolsasinac there will undoubtedly be questions asked but surely he has realised that their omission from the Liverpool game was one of the reasons they lost.
Both can influence the game and Lacazette is an extremely good player that can link up with others and is fantastic at finding gaps in a defence. It’s a mouthwatering prospect and if Arsenal show the same work rate and application of their FA cup win, it should be enough to rattle a Chelsea side that are ringing the changes.
Chelsea are worse off this season than they were the last and the sale of Nemanja Matić to United is still regarded by many as the gaff of the season. Mourinho must have been astonished that the Londoners were willing to part with such an important and integral link in the Chelsea chain.
Wenger would have done well to gazump the former Chelsea manager and secure the services of such a determined and consistent performer.
As a result of his departure, they look more vulnerable and uncertain which will help Arsenal if they are to be considered serious title contenders again. Wenger certainly needs to improve his record against the top six to stand any chance of that happening and he has suffered badly over recent years.
Yet if Sanchez and Ozil are on their game with the additions of Lacazette and Kolasinac, I can see an unexpected win, possibly by a clear margin. The Arsenal boss has plenty to think about but it’s as easy or as difficult as he wants to make it.
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