Arsenal skipped into the next round of the EFL cup after a convincing display at Nottingham Forest last night. Arsene Wenger made 11 changes and those players did not let him down. As usual a few kind folk from Twitter volunteered to take part in a post match Q&A of the game. If this is something you'd be interested in doing then give me a shout before or during any game via the contact page or on Twitter and I will send some questions your way.
1) Many changes to the line up from the weekend, before the game were you satisfied with the selection choices?
@ArmstJack - I was actually really excited to see that he rotated well this game. I thought the inclusion of Perez was a good way to get him introduced and up to speed but I'd have rather seen him playing up front to get a better feel for what (I hope) is his position moving forward at Arsenal. I'm not sure that even that goal near the end could convince me that the Ox deserves a start in anything but ELC. If AW doesn't start Xhaxa next EPL game though, I will personally fly to London to bi*ch slap that Frenchman.
@SarriesKid10 - The starting lineup yes I was despite the fact Kieran Gibbs (given his lack of participation in training and his injury record being a concern on Championship pitches similar to Ox and Walcott at Hillsborough) and AMN being drafted in the morning before the game. However the bench no I was very concerned about what we took and maybe on any other day where the result is in the balance we need a stronger bench than the one we picked which surely Iwobi and Walcott could have been a part of (I'm not bought on the part Giroud that has a injury I there has to be other reasons to his absence).
@Welsh_Gooner - I thought it was a much better blend of experience and youth than we have seen in recent years in the competition. I was very surprised, but very pleased to see Xhaka play such a large part, although that does worry me that he may not start the game on Sunday. I was equally delighted NOT to see Debuchy who’s performance vs Sheffield Wednesday last year still makes me wake at night in cold sweats.
2) How do you think the team played considering the changes? Was it down to the opposition or good play on our side?
@ArmstJack - Only a fool would suggest that Nottingham were stiff opposition, that being said, we've lost to a lot worse recently in these types of contests with far better players on the field. I think that the high quality level of this victory was down to the hunger of the players on the field to prove that maybe they deserve a place in EPL and UCL games, and for most of the senior attacking players who were included ( i.e. Xhaxa, Elneny, Perez) they absolutely showed they are ready to shake up the stale first XI.
@SarriesKid10 - As I said given I don't think Gibbs and Ainsley were due to start tonight if other circumstances don't happen I think they both did very well. Monreal I am a big fan of but he hasn't been his usual self consistently and has struggled with pace so far so for Gibbs to play so well surely means he has to be considered this weekend to start. Ainsley I think may have ended Debuchy's chances of playing for us again after tonight which is lovely given his head isn't in it at Arsenal anymore. I don't think he looked at the opposition however and thought these are my reasons to picking them I just think he doesn't want to risk certain players on a Championship pitch (see above) but picking Xhaka helped the team play with such freedom so its just pure idiocy if he isn't being picked in the league at this point.
@Welsh_Gooner - The first half was pretty frustrating and it is easy to forget the periods of the game where we couldn’t string three passes together, given the end scoreline. I don’t think we were that fluid at all, but I have to say when it clicks, it really does click and there were some great moments to savour during the game.
3) Who was Arsenal's best player on the day and why?
@ArmstJack - For me the best player on the day was Perez. Yes I'm feeling a bit of that "new striker fizz" but I think he earned it. He combined with everybody on the front line well, he was strong on the ball when he needed to be, and he showed that he has a good eye for when to keep the ball and shoot, and when to try a pass. I think that is something that Giroud has been struggling with the past few seasons. Xhaxa the wonder goal was a close second though!
@SarriesKid10 - Lucas will get the plaudits but for me Xhaka was easily our best player running the midfield and making Gabriel who probably isn't fully fit look comfortable tonight. He is one of our most important players already.
@Welsh_Gooner - I am not a believer in Oxlade Chamberlain’s ability at all but for me, he was the one player who would inject a bit of drive and pace into the attacks. I found it all a bit pedestrian but he would drop the handbrake and put the Forest team under some pressure. I’d give it to the Ox through gritted teeth!
4) Which Arsenal player(s) were not at their best and why?
@ArmstJack - I still think Gabriel looks a bit underdeveloped, but that isn't really an issue with this game in particular. He should start as many of these kinds of cup games as he can because we shouldn't want him to be making rookie mistakes when the inevitable injury crisis comes and we have to use him long term.
@SarriesKid10 - Till his goal AOC wasn't good and kept missplacing passes but I guess at this point all that matters is that he is showing a end product which he has done tonight with the assist for Xhaka's goal and finishing a Lucas pass with the last kick of the game.
@Welsh_Gooner - I thought Jeff and Chuba were disappointing. I can forgive Chuba because he was playing on the left which clearly is not a natural position for him, and I think he made for a frustrating evening for Kieran Gibbs who loves to get forward. Jeff just didn’t impact the game, and I thought his passing was off and to be honest, I felt like he was trying to walk past players (unsuccessfully) who were probably a cut above what he is used to playing week in, week out.
5) Did anyone play well enough to force their way into the team vs Chelsea on the weekend?
@ArmstJack - Like I said, if Xhaxa doesn't start, I'm going to be very upset. Sub him off if he looks really bad, but its a gamble worth taking given what he has produced every time he's pulled on the red and white recently. Also I really think Perez deserves a 45-60 minute chance. I like Alexis upfront okay, but his best position is on the wing, and I really think that Sanchez - Perez - Walcott with Xhaxa providing long balls and anchoring could be lethal.
@SarriesKid10 - Kieran Gibbs and Granit Xhaka as I said.
@Welsh_Gooner - Granit Xhaka for me. Coquelin, despite my reservations, has been playing very well when in the team though so I can see an argument for both. For me, he adds some size and meat to the midfield which I think we lack when we have Cazorla and Coquelin.
6) Give us your thoughts on Lucas Perez in that game?
@ArmstJack - He looks hungry and we desperately need that. I know it was lesser opposition today, but he scored. He cleared the jitters off, he didn't get sent off for some stupid offenses, and he doesn't have a phantom pain toe injury because he's too much of a cry baby to keep his emotions in check. I think playing him as the central striker he is, allows us to play Alexis and Walcott where we get the most production out of each. Even if you try him for 45 and he looks lost, it never hurt to try something different when the same old thing hasn't made in impact in years.
@SarriesKid10 - Very quiet in the 1st half but maybe that was because the guys wide of him are guys who prefer to take on players (I'm talking about Akpom and the Jeff) so weren't playing throughballs to him as much but 2nd half you can't ask for anymore when he's been involved in all 3 goals. After 4 years of Giroud refusing to challenge central defenders like Lucas did on his 2nd goal its refreshing to see us have a different type of striker who isn't injury prone or not up to it upfront (looking at you Welbeck and Walcott) who can add something different that we badly lacked last season.
@Welsh_Gooner - I found him pretty frustrating in the first half but he seemed to come alive in the second. When The Ox and the rest of the midfield starting interchanging with him, the guy can clearly play and I probably thought he was hampered by the performances of those around him. Still, he managed to have a great second half and it is a promising sign for us.
7) What would your line up be vs Chelsea and explain your reasons.
@ArmstJack- Front: Sanchez - Perez - Walcott Mid: Elneny - Xhaxa - Ozil Defense: Monreal - Koscielny - Mustafi - Bellarin Keep: Cech ------> My thinking is that we're going to get pressed by an in-form Hazard and company. Knowing that teams seem to have decided that pressing to the hilt is the strategy for beating Arsenal, we should set our selves up to counter intelligently. We also need players who are willing to play both sides of the game (i.e. drop Iwobi and the Ox who just don't track back). I would still bring a striker on the bench, maybe shape up Giroud or (if you're going to not use him anyway) put Akpom or someone just in case Perez still looks out of sorts in EPL action.
@SarriesKid10 - Cech Hector Mustafi Koscielny Gibbs Xhaka Cazorla Walcott Ozil Iwobi Sanchez
Quite simply I think this lineup works and actually has form players and players with movement in it something we lacked in the 2nd half of last season.
@Welsh_Gooner - My lineup would be - Cech, Hector, Gabriel, Kos, Monreal, Theo, Xhaka, Cazorla, Ozil, Sanchez, Giroud (if fit). The two biggies there are Gabriel, who let’s face it is very scatty but I have not been convinced by Mustafi just yet and Gabriel as we know can handle Costa. Mustafi looks excellent in the tackle but we have to admit teams have been absolutely slicing us open over the last few games despite ultimately positive results. Giroud has to start if fit, the Sanchez lone striker experiment needs to be canned pronto! He can do all he does well from the left, let’s get the guy some space to create things.
8) How do you compared our squad at present compared to others in the Premier League?
@ArmstJack - I think that up until you hit the striker side of things, we have one of the top three squads in the league, only shared by Chelsea and ManC. Our keepers are world class (and we have several), our defense could use a little work but I would argue in Bellerin and Monreal we have the best fullbacks, and Koscielny has to be one of the best CB's in the world. Our midfield has only gotten stronger and we already had Ozil and Cazorla, and Alexis is a great wideman. I hope Perez proves me wrong and is a world beater, but for now I'll just take him scoring goals (please for the love of god more goals).
@SarriesKid10 - Despite the fact we will be able to field a completely different 11 on the weekend who would be fresh and despite the fact Ramsey and Giroud still have to come back into the mix, I think City's squad under Pep trumps ours right now but what matters is that we now have depth in every position even if Jack and Serge departed (and were at least replaced short term with Jeff and Willock taking what minutes they may have been getting in cups like tonight) and now we need to rotate wisely this season so we don't have a situation like what we had with us slogging a dead Giroud for 16 goals with no viable replacement for him at the time.
@Welsh_Gooner - I think it is very good, sprinkle in a bit of Welsh Messi on his return and I think we have the squad to be able to challenge for the title. Whether we will or not remains to be seen. I will be extremely disappointed if we are practically out of it in March/April again.
9) Any other thoughts?
@ArmstJack - I'm that annoyingly positive person (at least when it comes to Arsenal), so I'd like to think that this is signaling a change for the better. That being said this is the most cohesive we've seen the team play all season and it was against Forest on a Tuesday. I hope that the Senior boys take note, but I'm not very optimistic about Chelski on the weekend at the moment.
If you look at our results since the opening day draws away at PSG and the Champions plus wins v Southampton a team I hate playing given they always turn up v us, a 4-1 win at Hull, a convincing 3-1 win at Watford a team that trashed United at the weekend and now tonight's results our form looks much improved for the 1st time in like a year with 4 wins and 2 draws in our last 6 matches. But the real test will be Chelsea on how far this team can really go, I am sick of us turning up at the Emirates and being played off the park by them it's time for this team to lose their bottlers tag v Chelsea and actually put them to the sword especially as I think they are there for the taking with their backline.
@Welsh_Gooner - That was my first visit to the City Ground and I have to say I was very impressed, such a beautiful stadium. I didn’t think our support was great tonight, unusual for us but it was great to tick off such a great stadium and such a historic club. It was also good to see Bendtner and Lansbury, both of whom I have fond memories of even if they were not at the level we should be demanding for Arsenal Football Club.