It's a new week, which hopefully means a good time to wipe away any residue from last weeks footballing nightmare. Back to back defeats in Zagreb and then at Chelsea has left a rather sour taste in the mouth and the confidence from the squad will have more than likely taken some sort of a knock, how big a knock (if any) we don't know. So as much as we hate hearing it or hate saying it, we are going to have to bounce back from this, regroup and all the other buzzwords you can think of. The trouble is we do not have an easy home match to fall back on and regain some belief, we have the small matter of the North London derby at White Hart Lane in the league cup.
On the latest Arsenal Vision Podcast, Elliot (@YankeeGunner) mentioned that he would want Arsène Wenger to select the first 11 for the game as a third defeat on the trot could be very damaging to us. I think Arseblog said something similar recently also. You can understand the point of view, not only do we have to consider the impact of losing another game but the fact that we are playing our historic rivals would add water to a sizzling piping pan of oil. But I cannot see anything other than rotation for tonight's encounter.
Regardless our form in recent matches and regardless of our opponents we are playing in a tournament that has always and will always be the last in a list of priorities. We played on Saturday 12th September against Stoke City then four days later we faced Dinamo Zagreb in Croatia. Arsène had made a few changes in that game because we only had three days before we had to play Chelsea which was also away from home. Not only all of that but we had to play with ten men in both away fixtures and even went down to nine men for a period, both fixtures we had to chase the game so there was no energy conserving.
Arsène is a stats man so I wonder how much he will take the minutes played of his players into account. Here is a list of players who participated in the previous three matches and how many minutes they played. I also included how many minutes each player played when the team was down to 10 men which happened in both the Zagreb and Chelsea matches. The last column is for the players who played with the team down to 9 men which doesn't actually tell you very much. It was either 11 minutes or 0 because no changes were made after Cazorla was dismissed
* MPWRC (Minutes Played With Red Card)
* MPW2RC (Minutes Played With 2 Red Cards)
I am pretty convinced that the last 6 players on that list will be starting tonight. This is an interesting read about match recovery and the link to injuries. And I think this will play a part in Wenger's decisons.
The Leicester City match will be the one Arsène will want to get his players back in the best condition possible for, and I think the line up tonight will reflect that.
Mean Lean's Predicted Line Up:
Many of the squad players did not take their chance in Zagreb but hopefully with some football under their belts, we can see better performances individually. It is a great chance for someone like Joel Campbell to impress. He needs to put it all together in one performance, whenever I have seen him he tends to do two good things before messing up the third. Oxlade-Chamberlain has dipped a little in recent weeks but he is capable of much better. Ripping Danny Rose to shreds would be a good start.
My worry about the above line up is the absence of any real connections apart from Gabriel and Mertesacker who have looked good together whenever they have played. That aside, these players have not had much football together so if Tottenham press us the way they did last season we may find it difficult to cope with, especially without the likes of Özil and Cazorla who are better at handling the ball in tight situations.
Hopefully the boys can pull out a big performance tonight and get us through or at least get a draw. If we do go big with the changes then I hope we play a more conservative game rather than try and play Wengerball on the fly. We have players with quality in the team that can hurt Tottenham on the break or during a good spell but we need to be able to keep them out and stay in the game.
Fingers crossed for tonight, post match stuff over the next few days.