Quotidian quotidian. How many trusty old Arsenal chestnuts would you like to see roasted today?
Let’s see, we’ve got “should Arsenal lose this match or win this match?” There are basically three outcomes: win the match, win the next match and finish 2nd; win the match, lose the next match (or vice-versa), finish 3rd; and lose the match and lose the next match and finish 4th.
If Arsenal lose to Dinamo they will almost certainly finish the group at the bottom. Thus avoiding the Europa League and matches on Thursday. And there is a logic to this, as I said before: only Arsenal fans could wish that their team finishes 4th in the Champions League group stages and have legitimate, logical reasons.
Personally, I’m not sure how much Europa League matches will really matter. I know, I know, I’m saying that amidst an injury crisis at Arsenal and the Gunners don’t need more matches to twang more hamstrings, but the third place team goes straight into the knockout phase. So, while it’s the least desirable outcome of all three outcomes, the way Arsenal are playing in Europe at the moment isn’t exactly filling me with confidence. I wouldn’t be surprised if they got knocked out in the first knockout round of either Champions or Europa Leagues.
Plus, Wenger has admitted that he may need to buy someone in January to cover the Coquelin hole. What if the prospect of a run in the Europa/Champions League might force his hand? See? SILVER LINING!
Of course, that is pretty speculative and wildly optimistic on my part. After all, when has Wenger ever felt his hand forced to buy in January. Yeah, just that once, when we got Andrei Arshavin.
The other old chestnut is the doping and other scandals surrounding Dinamo Zagreb. I heard on the Guardian pod that Dinamo lost all five matches since beating Arsenal and I was going to start this blog with “what would you think about a team caught doping who went on to lose their next five matches?”
But when I went to transfermarkt to check their record, it turns out that Dinamo have lost five matches, out of the last 11 matches they have played, and three of those losses were in the Champions League. In essence, they have only lost all of their Champions League matches since beating Arsenal 2-1, while doping.
Then there’s the old warhorse about how Dinamo are going to approach this match. They are going to sit so deep they may even out West Brom West Brom. The secret to this approach, the thing that no one talks about, is that it’s a formula that works as long as you don’t have to win. If you approach the match assuming you’re going to lose, happy to get a draw, and hoping you get one or two good chances to win, you play this way. It’s especially effective if you have world class players who are guaranteed to bury most of their big chances, like Chelsea.
But yeah, Dinamo don’t have to win. They have nothing to lose by getting a 0-0 draw. So, the opposite tactic of this (giving them the ball and forcing them to play) won’t work. I guarantee they would be happy passing the ball between center backs and keeper all game. If Wenger wants to win (and he does) it’s going to be up to Arsenal to pick the lock.
One weird thing that often happens in matches like this is that the defensive team will come out and try to get a goal in the first 10 minutes before settling into their defensive sets. This often leads to a basketball style opening 10 minutes and Arsenal, being the better of the two teams, might be able to capitalize on that openness.
Which leads me to the final hoary narrative: who are Arsenal going to play today? Injuries, of course, have taken their toll on Arsenal as we lost our numbers 1 and 2 defensive midfielders to injury in the loss to West Brom last Saturday. Those injuries combined with Ox, Rosicky, Welbeck, Wilshere, and Walcott, have drained the spirit from the Arsenal faithful.
Arsenal do have Ramsey back but I wonder if he is ready to start. The last thing we (fans, players, managers, medical staff) need is another Ramsey injury so rushing him back seems foolish. But you can never tell with Wenger and his lineups and of course we have bingo information about Ramsey’s physical condition. So, instead of trying to guess what Wenger will do I would like to see what he does and then guess what that means.
For example, he could play an experimental lineup and test out partnerships in midfield. Maybe something like a Ramsey-Chambers center mid pairing. He could go ultra conservative and stick with the lineup that probably should have won against West Brom. That means Cazorla and Flamini in midfield with Joel wide right and Alexis wide left.
Given that Wenger said “the task is very clear, let’s go and win our games” I’d guess conservative. But hey, you never know and I don’t want to ruin anyone’s dreams.
I started with quotidian quotidian, which means “mundane daily”, but Wenger often surprises me just when I expect him to be conservative. Which is a funny way to end a blog. Basically I’m saying “I know *&*^ all about what Wenger is planning for today’s match. In fact no one knows what he’s planning for the match, except that he wants to win.”
So, there you go. He wants to win. Let’s win one then!