Champions League football returns for another year, it is quite amazing how we take it for granted these days such is the consistency of our participation in this competition. But participation is not the only thing that Arsène Wenger wants I imagine, he wants to win the one trophy that has escaped his grasp so far. But this is no Mickey mouse competition and there is a reason why only a handful of clubs have a strangle hold over the trophies for the most part. But regardless of the odds, Arsène Wenger will want his squad to give it there best shot and that starts in Croatia against Dinamo Zagreb who are undefeated in 41 games, that is a hell of a lot of games. Maybe we can end that by kicking the Zagreb players all over the pitch, pulling their forward down when he is running through on goal and wait for the referee to award us a penalty for a dive. Yup, I will always be bitter about that.
It is fair to say that tonight's opponents will be feeling pretty chipper about themselves and playing with confidence should not be a problem for them. But we are not Slaven Koprivnica, we are the Arsenal mate. You'd like to think we will be more than capable of giving them a good game even though the worrying part of my brain is screaming banana skin at me.
So Aaron Ramsey and Hector Bellerin have been rested for the trip eh? I find that news particularly interesting as I wrote an article yesterday about how those two work so well together, so maybe I need to write a piece about Hazard and Costa just before we play them on Saturday. Anyway back to the matter at hand, I wonder if both Gibbs and Debuchy will come into the side in order to keep the balance right as Arsène alluded to pre match.
Oxlade-Chamberlain will surely replace Aaron Ramsey on the right ahead of Debuchy. Maybe we will see Oliver Giroud come in for Theo Walcott but after his goal at the weekend I wonder if Arsène will want to stick with Theo. Not in terms of confidence so much but more for momentum and continuity.
Will Mikel Arteta get a chance to play ahead of Coquelin? But can you play Arteta in a midfield of Cazorla and Özil without the athleticism and engine of Coquelin or Ramsey? I'm not so sure, especially away from home. Maybe he will play with Coquelin to give our midfield some stability, maybe Arteta will be just fine without runners around him, who on earth knows? (Arsene knows) Basically it is almost impossible to guess as there are so many different permutations.
Too many changes could lead to a disjointed performance but a Wednesday match away from home followed by a Saturday lunch time game also away can't be much worse for us in terms of preparation.
Mean Lean's Predicted Line Up:
With the changes likely to take place in the team, it will be interesting to see how we cope with that. I have worried about this a few times recently but every time I have been pleasantly surprised so hopefully the changes will make little difference to the quality of our football. Ideally we will rest many legs and the ones that come in perform at a high level, not only that but we score some goals, grab three points and look forward to Saturday with some real belief in our bellies.
That's not asking too much now is it?
Before I end this, I would like to express my sadness at Jack Wilshere's latest setback, how gutting must this be for him? Even more so given his form at the end of last season. He had been working very hard before the season to get back to his best for this to happen to him, the poor guy. I think he would have been a wonderful option in the wide midfield position on the same side as Bellerin. But we are not going to be able to see that for a while now. I wish Jack a successful recovery, forget the speedy part, just make sure you come back ready whenever that is.
Ok, let us cross fingers for a result better than the Manchester clubs last night and if I may add a good performance that would be most kind.