How much information can one pack in to an opening sentence?
“Table-topping Arsenal will be happy to have midfield enforcer Matthieu Flamini back for their trip from North to South London where they will face a leaderless, bottom of the table, Crystal Palace side and hope to regain momentum in their Premier League title charge after a bitter late loss to Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League midweek.”
Gah, I could edit that all day but I can’t spend all morning on that because there are plenty of other topics to cover. I suppose I could have done it in stream of consciousness style… maybe I’ll save that for the post match report – it will be just one long sentence. Anyway, on with the show.
Yes, Flamini is back, which is a boost to the side not because Arteta did so poorly, he was the standout player for Arsenal in midweek, but rather because Flamini-Arteta gives Wenger contrasting options in the deep lying midfield position.
Arteta tends to fill out a stat sheet as he did against Dortmund where he made 11/12 tackles and led all players in passes made. And while Arteta is filling out the stats sheet, Flamini tends to fill out the pants of opposition midfielders. Given that Palace’s players will probably be trying to show off for their new manager, reportedly the former Stoke boss Tony Pulis who once headbutted one of his own players in the shower, I think that Flamini, with his cold, steely gaze and proclamations that he will “blind you” if opposition enforcers try to push around Arsenal’s more creative players, gets my nod for the starting center mid.
In that more creative role Wenger again has options. Asked at his press conference whether Cazorla and Özil can play together (paraphrasing) Wenger responded with “of course.” It’s obvious why once you think about it for a few seconds: teams will try to target Özil and keep him from creating for Arsenal, but if you have two players of Özil quality, it’s much more difficult to shut them down. We saw that against Dortmund. The Germans targeted Özil for the majority of the game and given that he was still a bit sick, he really struggled, that is until Cazorla came on. As you can see from this animated GIF of Özil’s dashboard:
Özil created just one shot for teammates until Wenger brought Cazorla on, then he created three. It freed Cazorla up as well, who created a shot and took two shots, I believe both from Özil.
Now add in that Ramsey is playing almost at the level of Özil and Cazorla and Arsenal have three players for Palace to try to keep quiet. Oh, and Giroud leads the League in assists as well. Legitimate question here… do we even need Wilshere tomorrow? I’d rest him and maybe look at Arteta-Flamini in CM (which puts Arteta back in his favored shuttling role and gives Arsenal both pants stuffing and stats stuffing, ALL THE STUFFING) with Cazorla-Özil-Ramsey behind Giroud.
I could go on for another 500 words and add some flowery language or maybe a metaphor like
…so you know how in Star Wars, they are stuck in the trash compactor and there’s this weird snake like thing? How does that creature escape? And more important, how did he get there in the first place? This really raises questions about the shoddy construction of this Death Star. No wonder a guy flying a tiny fighter ship could blow it up with a single bomb. Also, let’s talk about their defenses. I mean, yes, offensively the Death Star was awesome, but who builds a giant ship like that and doesn’t have an adequate airforce around it to fend off a few rebel planes? Which is all to say that hopefully Wenger has constructed a solid enough defense to compliment his awesome offense and we aren’t undone by some kid “shooting wamp rats” at our exhaust pipe.
But I don’t need to do that. Arsenal need to respond to the loss against Dortmund strongly. Palace is a very weak team, though Arsenal can’t take that for granted, and Arsenal need to sweep them aside if they want to be considered legitimate title contenders.
Tomorrow’s match is on at 5am for me. I am going out tonight. I will still get up and watch the match, and then crawl back into bed. You will see a By the Numbers post from me on Arseblog News later in the day and a post-match wrap up on Sunday. Hopefully it’s a good one and it is full of metaphors that aren’t all Star Warsy.
Cesc is back!
…In the news. Sid Lowe has a two-part interview with Cesc and it comes across like Cesc is trying to re-write history a bit here but I’ll leave that for you to decide. Would you take him back?*
Song is back!
Ha! Song is also in the news and saying that he’s not ruling out a return to Arsenal. Uhh.. this is a Song sung blue. I would be very surprised to see him in an Arsenal shirt ever again. That said, I almost got rid of my Flamini shirt and he came back after burning that bridge in a way that I don’t think Song ever did, so I guess anything is possible. Would you take him back?
*This isn’t a real question is it?