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I reckon the plan will go something like this, start defensively, make a lot of blocks and tackles. Francis Coquelin will be very important and hopefully he will be closer to the pre injury Coquelin. When the draw was made, I said that without Coquelin we wouldn't be able to get a result from this game, but Francis Coquelin in the team gives us a much better chance. He is one of the best players in the Premier League without the football so I expect him to be making a lot of important defensive contributions. Then if the game is level or very close on 70 minutes, we will see Arsenal applying some pressure on Barcelona. It is a tactic that has worked against this team a few times now, to some success I might add

You know what I'd like to see today? Some good old fashioned aggression. Not the Tony Pulis 'let them know you're there' type aggression but the 'don't let them look up and find a team mate easily' type of aggression. I mentioned this after the Southampton draw but we are too tentative at the start of games. Almost like we are dipping our toe in the water, cautiously waiting to find out what the temperature is like. A little keep ball here, a little bit backing off there. Scrap that, let's dive bomb into the bath, holding our knees as we splash. Force the issue from the first whistle and take some risks. Let's stop giving the opposition so much respect. Yeah, I'm pumped now

Joel Campbell is in good form and is fully rested but also know that Arsène loves a bit of the Ox, as do I in fairness. Chamberlain had a good game against Burnley and might want to give him another go to see if he can gain some momentum, he did that after the last FA Cup match against Sunderland, Ox went on to start the next Premier League match. It would be very harsh on Joel Campbell who has worked his socks off, so much so that Vic Akers has had to dig around for a new pair. He deserves his place in the first team at the moment but I get the suspicion that the Ox is still higher in Arsène's long term pecking order

Alexis Sanchez should return to the squad after a lengthy period out with a hamstring problem. As much as I'd love to see him up against Ivanovic, I think the sensible decision would be to place him on the bench and ease him in gently. Theo Walcott was not at his best at Stoke at all so I could see Arsène wanting to give him a chance to rectify his performance. Arsène likes to do that. Not only this but Theo Walcott has a habit of turning on the style in big games against Chelsea.

In a few hours time, the Arsenal players will be walking out at the Britannia stadium and if rumours are to be believed, it will be without Mesut Özil which will be a massive blow offensively. If he is out injured I really hope it is very short term and nothing long lasting. It would be typical at a time where we can expect Alexis Sanchez to return to the squad today. We have been waiting to get them both on the pitch together.

Arsenal's performances have been patchy for a few weeks now. We have done very well to pick up the amount of points that have been gratefully received since the enforced midfield reshuffle but you get the sense that we are only playing well in moments rather than full games. I don't think we've played anywhere near our best since we beat Manchester City

I was expecting massive amounts of rotation for this game given just how difficult a run of games we have coming up. Not only that but much of the same 14 or so players have been heavily relied upon to get us through the traditional busy festive period. But Arsène Wenger in the pre match conference was not speaking like a man ready to make 11 changes to the first team.

  • 15 Sep 2015
    So let me stop reminiscing of days gone by and let me focus on our Welsh wonder. Let me start off by saying that I think it is quite obvious that Aaron Ramsey is better in central midfield. His partnership with Mesut Özil, his running from deep and his underrated ball winning ability makes him a ...Read more