Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Arsenal vs Marseille: Match Preview

We play Marseille today in Matchday 5, and I think that it's safe to say that it's a must win. And by that I don't just mean that it's an important clash, but it's a match that we really should be getting 3 juicy points out of.

With Walcott back and set to start, we now have our full strength squad available at our disposal to get a convincing result at the Emirates. Few might argue that Podolski isn't match fit yet and that our first choice lineup isn't complete without him, but I think that even if the German would've been available, Wenger would still start the forward trio of Theo, Santi and Giroud.

It's telling that our squad is strong enough to bench the likes of Arteta, Jack Wilshere, Rosicky, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski (assuming all are fit, of course). And while jumping from a player like Giroud, to that guy who got arrested for criminal damage (effects of too much GTA, huh?) is a gaping hole in the team, at least we'll have a temporary solution in Theo and/or Podolski to fill in in the near future.

Don't get me wrong - a striker needs to be top priority for the January transfer window. It's utter madness to expect Giroud to be alone upfront for the second year running, which makes a striker nothing less than a necessity. I'm just trying to say that things aren't that bad in the striker area as they are made out to be, and that we don't have to turn our eyes on the guy whose hair is more hideous than Madonna at her worst if Giroud gets injured.

Give him a chance, maybe?
I don't understand the deal with Wenger's man management, though. The understood reason of Alex Song's departure was the fact that his attitude was too cocky and arrogant, which was why a £15m bid from Barcelona was accepted. Why not do the same with Bendtner? I get that we have a lack of strikers and that we needed some backup, but why didn't we turn to Park Chu Young instead? I thought that he was pretty decent against Chelsea in the Capital One Cup, and I'm sure that he has a much better attitude than Nick.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure that the above two mentioned players won't play a part in tonight's game, apart from the possibility that Bendtner might be brought on from the bench. I'm pretty certain that we shall see a lineup comprising of Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Flamini, Ramsey, Ozil, Walcott, Cazorla and Giroud, with Arteta, Wilshere and Rosicky benched. However, I feel that it's about time that Ozil needs to earn his spot, because his recent performances have been underwhelming. I would suggest benching him, placing Santi Cazorla in the centre and Jack Wilshere on the left, for that might be more effective.

I also feel that this is a match where Vermaelen should get a crack at. He is the club's official skipper after all, and he had an encouraging game against United. I don't want to lose him in January, which might be a possibility if he doesn't get the playing time that he needs. I'm wary that Vermaelen and Nacho Monreal will consider leaving the club if they don't get football matches under their belt,  which would be a huge blow to our side.

Anyway, it's the manager that calls the shots, and not me. We'll just have to wait and watch, and see if his team selection pays off tonight. The importance of this game will undoubtedly be decided on the outcome at Westfalenstadion, and I'm silently rooting for a Dortmund victory over there. If that does indeed happen, Napoli and Dortmund will be stuck together on 9 points, while we will be cruising on 12, only requiring a draw in Naples to finish first.

If we finish second, the likely choices for us to face are Real Madrid, PSG, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid or Barcelona. It's a really frightening thought, and one that we can put off of our minds if we comprehensively beat the worst team in the group who have virtually nothing to play for. It will be tough, as every match is nowadays, but not that difficult for a team that had the capacity to beat Bayern, Spurs, Napoli, Liverpool and Dortmund in the same year.

Fingers crossed for a comfortable victory tonight. Come On You Gunners.

P.S. With Dortmund needing a victory to keep their Champions League hopes alive, I expect a cracker at the Westfalenstadion. Keep an eye on that game.

-Santi (Follow me on twitter: @ArsenalBlogz )