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You have to imagine that Mesut will have to deal with more and more attention both on and off the pitch given his stupendous form. The good news however is that Mesut Özil is no ordinary footballer, is he? He is the master of finding space where there seems to be very little. Imagine how tough it would be to mark a player like that. You can be next to him one moment, watching the ball then you turn around and Özil is on the opposite side of the pitch in a neat little pocket of space that didn't even exist only a moment or two before

They have lost 5 of their last 6 games, the only point they managed was a 1-1 draw to bottom of the table Aston Villa during that sequence. They were thumped 6-1 at St Mary's on December 2nd by Liverpool and they have not recovered. So I am very much in two minds here. Part of me says we should batter them after our confidence boosting 2-1 win against Manchester City and the Saints woeful form but the worried part of my brain says that teams love to bounce back against Arsenal.    

I am hopeful that we can do the same to City tonight. They have a wealth of attacking quality going forward and have been suspect defensively. Perhaps the best way of stopping their offensive players will be to win the ball back before it gets to the likes of Silva, De Bruyne, et al. If we are to play that way it would be kinda helpful to have Alexis Sanchez fit and starting on the flank, Arsène has understandably kept his decision tucked away under his hat. Arsène said that Alexis was running but hadn't started ball work, but you cannot take much of what he says about the team pre match at face value.

Ramsey's running gave him the opportunity to get a goal and an assist to his name but in other matches the dice may fall on the wrong side, especially if Flamini continues to abandon his station. There was talk of Calum Chambers being brought into the side in between Flamini and Ramsey but I just don't see that happening, especially as he has not started in that position since our defeat at Southampton roughly 11 months ago. I think Arsène would rather go with the players he has put his faith in so far, players who have had at least a bit of a feel for the team

It is looking like we will have a midfield pairing of and Flamini, two players who have made a career of covering large distances getting up and down the pitch. None of those players are naturally suited to sitting and dominating possession, moving into spaces to receive the ball and then pass it on to team mates. This is where we are going to miss Santi Cazorla and indeed Mikel Arteta so it will be interesting to see how Ramsey and Flamini work together over a longer period of time, assuming both can stay fit long enough to develop an understanding of sorts. Will both players be a little more restricted in their game or will today's opponents likely defensive strategy mean that both players will look to join Giroud in the

I am hoping beyond hope that the trio of Cazorla, Alexis and Özil can continue where they left off in midweek. When those players produce that level of football you can almost allow the rest of the team to focus on being defensively stable and not making mistakes because you know one of those three will do something special during the course of 90 minutes to find a breakthrough or two. The understanding between the three was evident against Zagreb. The understanding between Cazorla and Özil seems obvious while the Özil and Alexis duo seems to be flourishing more and more. Norwich cannot be seen as pushovers though, it took a big effort from Chelsea to squeeze past the Canaries by a single goal last weekend, Norwich have really attempted to tighten up defensively ever since Newcastle stuck six past them in October so it might have to be a case of looking back at what went wrong against West Brom and sticking to what went well

So it's knife edge stuff this evening isn't it? If we are to hold onto any hopes of the knock out rounds then nothing less than an Arsenal victory tonight will do. Even if we win we could still be dumped out of the competition should Olympiacos get anything at all from Bayern Munich in Germany. Not impossible but gee whiz I'd be surprised. If results go as we hope/think then it will leave Arsenal and Olympiacos going for a final group game shoot out. But that is too far away for me to think about right now in too much detail.

  • 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