Arsenal travel to a Stoke City this weekend after a lengthy week break that will have allowed the Gunners some rest and an opportunity to work on the training ground.
Last Saturday’s emphatic 4-1 win over Sunderland asked a number of questions, one of which involved record signing Mesut Ozil and whether he should be reintegrated into the starting lineup?
Tomas Rosicky was deployed in the German’s absence who was injured/rested and performed excellently. The experienced Czech is an excellent alternative to Ozil, but the former Madrid playmaker needs to get his confidence up and gain some momentum ahead of our difficult fixture list. Anyway, more on that shortly.
Another problem that arose was the amount and severity of injuries sustained at the back, with Nacho Monreal, Kieran Gibbs and Laurent Koscielny all struggling with recent knocks, while Wilshere also appeared to have sustained a late injury against the Black Cats.
Wenger has confirmed the injury worries are not as bad as first thought, but it appears likely we will be without Monreal and Gibbs, however Thomas Vermaelen has returned to the squad albeit is short of practice.
Wenger confirmed he is undecided whether he will start his captain on the left, which means Sagna could switch to the other side and Carl Jenkinson be afforded a rare start at right back. This seems a more likely scenario.
Koscielny and Mertesacker will start once again in the heart of the backline, with Szczesny between the sticks.
In midfield Mikel Arteta will likely start alongside the excellent Jack Wilshere who enjoyed a stellar outing against Sunderland. The Arteta-Flamini partnership can work, but usually at home when they are able to dominate possession. On the road they tend to sit back a little more, so Wilshere’s deeper driving runs will be necessary.
Mesut Ozil will highly likely reprise his No10 role, despite the heroics of Rosicky. There of course is the case of ‘why change a winning team?’ But Ozil will slot seamlessly into the side and this could provide the perfect platform to regain confidence on the road.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain should hopefully slot back onto the right wing after receiving a rest against Sunderland, although again Rosicky could quiet easily get the nod on the flank. Santi Cazorla should operate on the left with Podolski likely to be on the bench.
Up front Giroud will start after a clinical display against Sunderland where he has hopefully kick started a run of form. The brace will have done him a world of good after a difficult period on and off the pitch.
Here is our predicted lineup:
Jenkinson Merts Kosc Sagna
The Ox Cazorla
What are your thoughts and ideas? Comment below..