Arsenal v West Ham preview: New Season New Optimism

We go into this new season on a high, full of confidence, after a successful tour of Singapore, winning the Emirates Cup and victory over Chelsea in the Community Shield. The players look sharp, fit and should be ready to begin the new Premier League season.

After the results yesterday, Manchester United scraping a win by an own goal and Chelsea getting a draw, we need to take advantage and start strong. Although it does show that the first game of the season can be unpredictable and focus has to be maintained.

I expect we’ll see the same lineup as against Chelsea but with Giroud starting up front in place of Theo Walcott.

Cech – Bellerin – Koscielny – Mertesacker – Monreal – Cazorla – Ramsey – Coquelin – Ozil – Giroud – Chamberlain.

West Ham have a new manager who the fans are fond of and had a successful stint at Besiktas. You always have to be wary of teams that have recently had a new manager appointed as enthusiasm to impress is dangerous for opposition. Billic threw away their chance at European football in the Europa Cup by fielding a reserve team so they can focus on the domestic competitions.

Wenger is aware of the danger and the necessity of starting strong:

“One of our targets is to start strong. We had a good preparation and that should give us the needed confidence. The Premier League is a fight in every single game so we have to prepare ourselves mentally for that and come out of the blocks straight away against West Ham.

Our ambition is to win the Premier League but we have to sustain that by performance and fighting spirit in every single game.”+

 

With all the rumours circulating about Arsenal attempting to sign a striker, namely Benzema, the boss has tried to instil belief in his current squad by asking for the entire team to chip in with the goals:

“We have to develop our collective game. I think we have to depend less on one guy who comes in and then scores all the goals, and continue to develop our players and the collective aspect.

I don’t see why a guy like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain should not aim to score 10 or more goals. Alexis can score goals and Ozil has to fix himself a target of at least 10. Five for a guy who plays behind a striker, you want more goals from him. We can share that a bit.”

 

It was great to see Alexis Sanchez back in training already but I hope we don’t call upon him to play before he is ready. It’s going to be a great feeling being back the Emirates this year, if pre-season is anything to go by, but getting that first win in the league is vital.

Arsenal vs West Bromwich Albion: Preview + Rosicky Renews

The last game of the season is finally upon us and it is against West Bromwich Albion at home. After the FA Cup final next weekend, we need to brace ourselves for the tiresome newspaper rumours that link us to everyone under the sun and click bating on social media. A win today would be a nice way to end the season after our last few results. Boost spirits before the big one next weekend.

With a top three finish all but settled, I expect we’ll finally see some rotation today so our players can rest up before the FA Cup final, as well as a few goodbyes from departing players.

I think Gibbs will continue at left back and Calum Chambers may possibly get a start at right back alongside Gabriel in the middle. Debuchy returned to training this week but won’t be fit to start today but should get a place on the bench next Saturday.

In midfield I would continue with Jack Wilshere and we may even see Arteta but would love to see Rosicky get a start. We looked a totally different team once he came on the pitch against Sunderland and having just renewed for another year it would be a great way to end the season.

I would definitely rest Alexis ahead of the FA Cup final as the Chilean looks exhausted and we need all of our players to be at the top of their game, so this is a perfect chance for Walcott to show what he can do before contract negotiations get fully underway.

Giroud should continue up front as it would do his confidence the world of good to bag a goal or two, as he has looked a little wayward in the last 5-6 games. The last position up for grabs will be filled by either Ozil or Cazorla.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has also returned to training this week but I think it is safe to say that, unfortunately, he may only just edge a place on the bench.

Wenger’s comments on today’s match:

“The confidence level will come from recent results. And the important result will, of course, be from the game against West Brom. So it is vital. We have used up our hiccups at home and we want to go out on the final day finishing on a high and sending the fans home in peace.”

 

There are plenty of rumours already circulating about who we have pre-agreements with, already signed and the like but I wouldn’t believe any of them. Jackson Martinez is not the calibre of player we should be aiming at, any more, as he offers nothing different from Giroud.

Arturo Vidal is a player I would definitely take, not just for his ability in midfield but also for his companionship with Alexis Sanchez. Another contender for the midfield role is obviously Morgan Schneiderlin, who is Premiership ready.

The one player I want more than any other this transfer window is Petr Cech. He is a natural winner, as well as leader, who has vast experience. Take nothing away from Ospina’s performances this season but Cech is that level above for at least another 3-4 years. Cech could also bring in some new goalkeeping training methods and mentorship that we have lacked through our archaic coach Gerry Peyton.

In other news, Jack Wilshere has been speaking about how he would be hurt if Arsenal sold him but there have been no conversations with Arsene Wenger yet. This is what Wilshere had to say:

“I would be hurt if they sold me, I want Arsenal to want me. So if they didn’t want me, it would hurt. It would be strange playing for another club. I went to Bolton on loan and that was strange.

I feel like I’m ready to play now and that’s not going to change. I want to play more minutes before the end of the season and then I’ll have to wait until next season and see what the boss’s plans are for me, for the team.”

 

Arsenal vs Sunderland preview: Rotation?

A win tonight guarantees us a minimum position of third. If we win both our remaining games and Manchester City lose to Southampton on Sunday then we can sneak second. As mentioned before, I would not be disappointed at finishing third and, hopefully, winning the FA Cup as it means we don’t have to play in the dreaded Champions League qualifiers.

I expect we’ll rotate a few players tonight given that we are coming towards the close of the season and we want to maintain freshness for the FA Cup final and avoid any last minute injuries. The rumours that Koscielny may have flu seem to be exaggerated as he was in the training photos yesterday and will probably be rested, with Gabriel filling in.

Will we see Kieran Gibbs and Calum Chambers starting on the flanks tonight? Possibly the former but not so sure that we’ll make three changes to the back four.

In midfield I think we’ll see Santi Cazorla rested, who appeared to be slightly burnt out against Manchester United, and Aaron Ramsey taking up his role in central midfield. Coquelin will probably continue in his defensive role but a second half sub, depending on the score, to be replaced by Flamini is also on the cards. Could Jack Wilshere finally get a start?

One player I do think needs to be rested tonight is Alexis Sanchez. I’d play Theo Walcott in his position as he should be raring to go and fresh, as opposed to the Chilean who has played 50 games this season. Our lack of pace and width has been evident in our last few matches with the absence of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Danny Welbeck.

In the presser yesterday, Arsene Wenger was asked several times about his interest in Raheem Sterling.

“At the moment we are not in a transfer mode. We want to finish our season well. We have put massive effort in since the start of the season to come back into a potentially good position in the Premier League, and now we need to focus on finishing well. We have put so much effort in that it would be stupid not to finish the job well. The transfer period comes after the FA Cup final.”

 

Wenger was then questioned on Coquelin and whether we would still consider buying a defensive midfielder now the Frenchman has shown his ability:

“He is ready for a fight – even if somebody comes in. Even if somebody else comes in, he will stay here. I extended his contract. That means I believe in him. Coquelin has shown he has the capacity to play for us and play a big part in the success of the team.”

I personally believe that we do need to sign another defensive midfielder, such as Schneiderlin, not only to provide competition to Coquelin but as an extra option and cover. These comments regarding the quality of Coquelin vs the price paid for a player was interesting:

“The world has changed. The appreciation today of the quality of a player is just down to the money you spend. If we had bought Coquelin at Christmas for £40m, everyone would say ‘What a signing!’ I am sorry he didn’t cost any money, (but) he is still a good player.”

 

Manchester United 1-1 Arsenal: A Point Will Do

A poor performance from Arsenal yesterday but we managed to scrape a draw which is good enough for me. I know we had chances to win the game, and that’s what the fanbase would have also wanted, but a draw at Old Trafford with the current table is not a terrible thing at all.

We now go into the final two games needing a single point to finish third, barring Manchester United winning by 7-0 or more in their final game. Second is still mathematically possible as long as Manchester City lose their final game to Southampton and we win our final two. But honestly, I’d settle for third, as long as we don’t have to play the Champions League qualifiers again (and hopefully defend the FA Cup).

The first half was extremely poor and rather sloppy. Passes were going astray and players didn’t look like they wanted to expend a lot of energy making runs. Manchester United also didn’t look too threatening with all the possession they had and their goal could have been avoided.

Ashley Young sent in a cross from the right and found Ander Herrera completely unmarked at the back post. Herrera struck the cross well with the side of his foot but you couldn’t help thinking that Ospina could and should have done better. Also, who was supposed to be marking the Spaniard?

We looked shell shocked and Manchester United could have easily made it 2-0 before half time but we held on and made it to half-time with just the one goal deficit. Hopefully Arsene Wenger was going to let the players know how poor they had been and what they need to change.

For the first ten minutes of the second half Manchester United picked up where they left off and looked more dominant, but when they couldn’t take advantage of our performance we started to finally grow into the game. It was hard to see where our goal was going to come from as we lacked width.

Cazorla was not having a good game at all, Ramsey was stuck out wide and didn’t provide an outlet due to lack of pace and taking players on. He needed to come more central to make an impact. Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott were introduced in place of Santi Cazorla and Hector Bellerin.

Jack Wilshere immediately made an impression and tore open the United midfield with his trademark runs. Ramsey moved more central which allowed him to get more involved and influence play. Theo Walcott provided that pace out wide and up front we had been missing. I know we had Alexis on the pitch but he wasn’t fully fit and looked off the boil.

Theo Walcott scored the equaliser after a sublime pass from Ramsey, albeit with a bit of good fortune due to the deflection off Tyler Blackett. De Gea had been replaced by, former Barcelona keeper, Victor Valdes due to a hamstring injury. Valdes had no chance to stop the deflection effort due to his commitment of thinking he knew where the ball was going.

Not long after equalising Olivier Giroud had the chance to win the game. Mesut Ozil played a perfect pass into the handsome Frenchman, who could only strike the ball wide. We have grown accustomed to seeing Giroud at the near post and blasting the ball into the roof of the net but he is going through a barren patch currently. Hopefully this will pick up for the final two games leading into the FA Cup final.

There was one last bit of drama caused by Robin Van Persie (who else?) as he found himself in space in our box but blazed over the bar. If you offered me a draw before the game then I would have gladly taken it and judging our performance after the match I am not disappointed that we didn’t sneak a win but glad we didn’t lose. Of course I would have been ecstatic if we had won before anyone comments that I didn’t want us to win.

Arsene Wenger had this to say after the match:

“The only regret I have is that we didn’t take the three points in the second half. We started the first half slowly, Manchester United were sharper at the beginning, and we were a bit stretched as well width and length-wise. The second half we were more compact and we took over. We showed a great response and got a deserved point.”

Let’s get a win against Sunderland on Wednesday to wrap up third and allow us to rotate for the last game of the season. This would allow key players to get a small rest before the FA Cup final and are raring to go and allow some final farewells to certain other players.

Manchester United v Arsenal preview: Can’t Afford to Lose

We go into this match after a very disappointing defeat to Swansea at home. As I said in the review of that match, let’s hope we have got the bad game out of the way and we will bounce back stronger looking to make amends.

I expect we’ll name an unchanged starting XI with the following:

Ospina, Bellerin, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Monreal, Cazorla, Coquelin, Ramsey, Alexis, Ozil and Giroud.

I would be nice to have another appearance from Danny Welbeck from the bench but I am not sure if he has fully recovered from the knock he received. Jack Wilshere is available though, who I felt played well against Swansea.

Manchester United are without Wayne Rooney, supposedly, today who has always been a thorn in our side when he has played. We must take advantage of any weaknesses in their game we can as a loss is not acceptable today. A draw wouldn’t be too bad but obviously a win would put breathing space between us and Man Utd for third.

If we go into this game knowing how they played against us in the FA Cup and exploit the frailties shown in match, as well as taking note of several players’ antics, then we should be able to frustrate them and come away with the win.

Wenger had this to say about the match:

“To win at Old Trafford again would convince us that we have the strength and help us be stronger next season. We feel we have made progress. Only one thing shows you have made progress and that’s the continuity in your performances.

We want to bounce back from our defeat against Swansea and put in a good performance. Any positive result, a win or a draw would be great. Mathematically we can put distance between United and us in the top four and secure a top-three place.”

 

In other news, Wenger has also spoken about how Manchester United are chasing every player that he has been offered and will cause some issues in the transfer market with their massive expenditure.

“I expect Manchester United to be active in the transfer market,” Wenger told reporters. “Every player I am offered, Man Utd are already on his case! He[Louis van Gaal] has shown that he has the personality to be at a club of that size. We expect them to buy some strong players.”

 

Let’s get the win today boys and show our FA Cup victory over them was not a fluke. We can also ease the pressure of finishing top 3 with a victory today. COME ON YOU RIP ROARING GUNNERS!

Arsenal 0-1 Swansea: Where Have the Goals Gone?

As we all know with the invincibles, you will eventually lose and unfortunately that was last night. Let’s just hope we got the poor performance out the way before we play Manchester United and up our game. We had 12 attempts on goal last night, with 9 on target, yet we couldn’t convert any of them. Swansea ended up scoring with their first real effort.

What made it more gutting is that it came 5 minutes (9 including injury time) from the end when it looked like a draw was the correct result. At first glance it appeared that Ospina had kept it out but goal line technology prevailed and the ref was alerted by his watch.

I can’t remember anything from the first half as it was that dull. Ozil played some great passes, Alexis kept running, Ramsey tried to make things happen but other than that nothing really stood out. We kept possession and passed it about whilst trying to break down an organised Swansea team.

The second half we injected a bit more urgency and took the game to Swansea. Most of our efforts were thwarted by our former Polish keeper Fabianski. Giroud had a great chance to score after being setup by Ozil but couldn’t finish. Alexis and Ramsey both had efforts that hit the side netting.

It was one of them games where you just knew a former player was coming back to haunt us. Wilshere came on for Coquelin to add some drive to the midfield and run at players. This is something we have really missed during some of our games, we don’t have players who take others on and try to beat them. Most notably down the right hand side ahead of Bellerin, you feel we lack a traditional right winger.

Theo came on for Giroud and played through the middle. He really ought to have scored when Alexis has his effort saved, which he also should have scored. Gomis, the player who scored the winner against us earlier in the season, came off the bench and produced the same again.

Montero went passed Bellerin and got his cross away and it was met by the head of Gomis and despite Ospina’s best efforts he couldn’t keep it out. Swansea’s first effort on goal and guess what….it was a goal. Typical. There was too little time for us to try and get the draw and we suffered our first defeat in a long time.

Wenger had this to say:

“Overall I was encouraged by the quality that we showed in the second half, but it’s frustrating. We rushed our finishing because we had plenty of chances in the second half. It was just a question of scoring a goal”

Let’s hope we have got this bad match out of our system before we play Manchester United on Sunday. A victory there should help alleviate the pressure of finishing in the top 3, rather than ending up in the dreaded 4th spot again.

 

Hull City 1-3 Arsenal: Majestic Midfield Performance

What I thought may be a tough game due to Hull City dangling just above relegation turned out to be one of our best performances this season. The side, as expected, was unchanged from the one that played Chelsea and they wanted to show how exciting they are, as well as effective. Even though the match ended 3-1 it could have been 5-1.

The shape of the game unfolded within the first 10 minutes with Arsenal having plenty of possession and passing the ball around, whilst Hull got physical and a few ex Spurs players tried to kick lumps out of our players. One notable challenge was by Tom Huddlestone on Aaron Ramsey. Somehow Huddlestone looked like he kicked Ramsey’s ankle, shin and knee in a single movement but the Welshman managed to continue.

Not long after this incident we scored our first goal and it was scored by none other than Alexis Sanchez. Ozil played in Alexis and he was brought down by, yet another ex Spurs player, Jake Livermore and earned a free kick just outside of the box. Alexis stepped up and skilfully, of course, aimed at Dawson’s head (3rd ex Spurs player) to fool the keeper and scored.

It only took us 5 minutes to score our second. Santi Cazorla, who has been one of our stand out players of the season, spotted Aaron Ramsey running into the space left in the centre of the pitch and performed a quarterback-esque pass straight into his feet. Ramsey’s first touch killed the ball and allowed him to turn and get his shot away. It was deflected by the defender and looped into the goal.

We nearly had our third when Cazorla split the Hull defence with a precision pass to Alexis but he just couldn’t manage to finish the chance. He didn’t have to wait long though as Ramsey played Alexis in behind with a great ball and he rounded the keeper and slotted into the empty net. We went in at half-time 3-0 up, not as hectic as the Liverpool game but extremely enjoyable.

The second half we were content to hold on to the ball and pass it round but we still managed to fashion chances. Hull managed to pull a goal back after Quinn headed home a ball into the box. The Arsenal players were not happy at all as they felt Koscielny was fouled in the build up to the goal. I thought it was a foul as well but there was no amount of complaining that would have changed the outcome.

It felt like we were playing with the handbrake on, bar the odd opportunity that was too good to pass up, and we could have taken it off at any point. We were comfortable though and there was no need to take risks due to how in control of the match we were. The moment that made Twitter explode though was Mesut Ozil’s no look flick, it was a thing of beauty.

 

There was a rare appearance for Jack Wilshere as he replaced Aaron Ramsey. You could tell he really wanted to make an impression and prove his worth again. There was one point where he done a classic Wilshere burst through the middle and then was brought down on the edge of the box. He’s a player you want to do well at the club but you can’t help but think he knows his time may be coming to an end soon unless he can up his game. Jack nearly managed to make it 4-1 but his shot was blocked by an arm and should have been a penalty.

Another forgotten man came on at the end, called Theo Walcott, and also ought to have scored but fired wide. It’s a shame we signed this British core to a lengthy deal and now they can’t get a look in due to how well our current first 11 are performing. The performance was an accomplished one and also what you would expect from a team of our quality. Let’s hope we can continue our good form and consistency to the end of the season.

Here are Arsene Wenger’s comments on the match:

I’m very happy with the performance because we had a fluent game, [we were] pacey, created many chances. The amazing thing is that the [first] two goals we scored were deflections and the clear cut chances we had we didn’t score. Overall, you can see we have a good dynamic in the team and that our game was very good.

 

Also something to note is Alexis Sanchez’s goal tally. He now as 24 goals in his debut season and is just 2 short of Thierry Henry’s debut goal record, of 26. I’m confident he can break this with the remaining 3 league games and FA Cup final coming up. Wenger had this to say about our explosive Chilean:

“Yes [I’m surprised], because I expected him to be more of a provider than a goal scorer. Especially as well because I play him on the flank where you have less chances. He has the timing and the quality of his runs are very good. He gets into good areas to finish”

Onto Swansea on Monday.

Oh……and HAPPY ST. TOTTERINGHAM’S DAY!

Hull preview: Opinion on Giroud comments

It’s been an awfully long time since I last posted a blog but I am hoping to get some consistency going again. Tonight we take on Hull and if we take 3 points then we guarantee a top 4 position. It’s hard to see us not getting top 3 this year and I truly believe we will finish second.

I expect we’ll go into this match with pretty much the same squad as previous games. Debuchy is a doubt with a slight hamstring strain, Arteta and Chamberlain are still not ready. There is no real need for the manager to make changes to a winning formula. We are unbeaten in the league since February 7th.

Jack Wilshere has been included on the bench for the last couple of games and he may yet have a role to play in the final few games but it is hard to see how he will fit into the starting lineup. Our midfield has found their groove with the combative Coquelin, energetic Ramsey, precision of Ozil and the tricky Cazorla. If we buy the extra defensive midfielder in the summer, hopefully Schniederlin or Gungodan, then his chances of breaking back in are further shortened.

Arsene Wenger had this to say about Wilshere:

Every week he is stronger, he is getting back to the level now. This week was the first week he is sharp again. His strength is in the final third, offensively. That is where he really expresses his talent. It is difficult to get in this team, I don’t deny that. If you consider any individual case you can say you are sorry that he doesn’t play.

 

For everyone expecting us to go to Hull and turn them over, I personally think it may be a bit tighter as they are barely above the relegation zone, of course I could be wrong. I don’t mind what the score is as long as it is in our favour and we get the 3 points.

There has been a lot of commotion over Thierry Henry’s comments about Olivier Giroud lately and even Wenger has got involved. The legendary talisman said:

“I think they need to buy four players – they need that spine. They need a goalkeeper, they still need a center back, they still need a holding midfielder and, I’m afraid, they need a top, top quality striker to win this league again.”

 

Okay, I can accept we may need another goalkeeper, preferably Cech. Center back is questionable with Koscielny, Chambers, Mertesacker, Gabriel but would make sense if Mertesacker is nearing the end of his Arsenal career. Holding midfielder is a given. But to say Giroud is not a top quality striker and won’t win the league with him is a bit silly.

Giroud has scored 18 goals in 29 games this year and that is after missing 3 months at the start of the season. We were having to play Yaya Sanogo up front, before purchasing Danny Welbeck. He may not be ‘World Class’ but he is defintely more than capable and performs extremely well, not only as a goal scorer but as a focal point and holding the ball up to create chances.

Wenger had this to say about the matter:

“I think he’s wrong. I can accept that’s an opinion but the comment on Giroud was a bit more wrong. Especially because I heard the same thing being said about Nicolas Anelka, about Thierry Henry himself and about Robin Van Persie. And they all became world-class players themselves. It doesn’t cost to say that.

We know all the system now of the modern media, especially on TV. I know how it works. They push you to be controversial because they give you a lot of money. He’s paid for that.”

 

Let me know your opinions on Giroud in the comment section below and COME ON YOU RIP ROARING GUNNERS!

Arsenal 3-0 West Ham: Momentum

Arsenal have now won 11 out of 13 matches since New Years Day, which includes 7 out of 8 in the league. The gap between us and second is now only 1 point, thanks to Burnley, and, depending on the result of the Chelsea vs Southampton match later today, we could even throw down a late title challenge.

The first half yesterday could be summed up as typical Arsenal. We kept knocking on the door, chance after chance, only for the opposition to hoof the ball up to their striker who, if he had a bit more quality around him, punished us. We started brightly and could have scored within the opening 5 minutes. Theo was put through only to be tackled at the last moment.

Theo, who got his first start since coming back from injury, was the point of frustration for the Emirates yesterday. He started well by making runs and getting into goal scoring opportunities but quickly showed why he wasn’t being picked. His laziness did not sit well with the fans in the stadium. He didn’t track back down the right to provide cover for Chambers. He didn’t move into space down the right whilst Chambers was bringing the ball forward and reduced our options. He kept coming central and hiding in well occupied areas. He was jogging up and down the field, constantly being passed by other plays busting a gut.

Ozil, on the other hand, has been outstanding since his return from injury, especially in the last week. Since being moved more central he has flourished and even chases down the ball. Earlier in the season he was not up to his expected standard and people were frustrated with him, which is what you expect when you shatter your transfer record for a player of his quality. When he is clearly performing well, people just try and find every reason to continue hating on him. He can’t win. The one criticism I have of the German is that he needs to shoot when he is in a goal scoring opportunity more. He was one on one with Adrian and he decided to play it to Theo over the other side of the area was crazy. Shoot across the keeper and force him to make a save which could bounce to one of our players to tap in.

We finally managed to break through at the death of the first half with a brilliant Giroud goal. He is such a great player for us as he does a lot more than just score goals. He is up competing for every ball in the air, holding off players and involved in most of the build plays.

Ramsey also came in to the first team to replace Cazorla. I have been critical of the Welshman this year as he has not continued his form from last season and has been over complicating his game. Yesterday he was back to his best because he kept it simple. He didn’t try to force the play or try too many flicks and overcomplicate things. He was rewarded with a goal after some brilliant interlinking with Giroud. The Frenchman sold a defender a dummy, from a throw in, then Ramsey played a one-two with him before finishing first time.

There were two moments of togetherness between the Arsenal and West Ham fans as they started singing “Stand up if you hate Tottenham” and we joined in. Goes to show everyone hates Tottenham. Another was the rather humorous “You’re not fit to referee” as Chris Foy had to be substituted for Anthony Taylor. We also had a giggle when they started singing about “Alex Song left because you’re shit”.

Wenger made some subs and one of them, being Flamini, scored within a minute of his introduction. Once Welbeck and Cazorla came on I felt it added more of an outlet down the wing. Their energy and fast pace demonstrated that by being involved in the latter 2 goals. Welbeck was also unlucky not have scored himself, from a header, forcing Adrian into a good save.

Wenger had this to say after the match:

“It’s a good performance. We controlled the game in the first half, created many chances but couldn’t score. In the second half I felt we were a bit short of energy coming out of the dressing room for a while and West Ham were on top for that period. After, in the final part of the game, we always looked dangerous and capable of scoring goals. We had to patient, organised and steady. Overall we scored great collective goals like we love to play.”

What a week this has been for us Arsenal fans. Beat QPR, beat Manchester United away and finally getting the result we deserve up there as well as booking our place in the FA Cup Semi Final at Wembley (for the second year running) and now beating West Ham. Could we…..just could we go to Monaco and produce a ‘miracle’? We nearly done it in previous years against Bayern Munich (2-0 to us away) and AC Milan (3-0 to us away) but can we do it this year? We’ll find out Tuesday!

Leicester City preview: No Mercy Please

With reports suggesting Wenger will be ringing the changes with starting XI tonight, I don’t think we’ll see too much change. Saying that, I would like to see a team full of hunger and determination to make amends to the poor performance against Tottenham on Saturday.

Ramsey, as poor as he has been this season, will surely get a start in midfield again. Sometimes I question what he actually brings to the team this year, after last years glorious form, but tonight could be a good chance for him to gain some confidence and get a spring back in his step.

He will most likely be partnered by Coquelin and either one of Cazorla or Rosicky. I’d like to see the Czech get a start and give Cazorla a rest as his performance against Tottenham wasn’t effective. Rosicky, when he has played, has been effervescent.

I think we’ll see the reintroduction of Theo Walcott over Welbeck on the left and Alexis Sanchez on the right, if fully fit. Giroud will maintain his central striker role as he performs better when surrounded by pace. His hold up play, as mentioned many times before, is one of the best when he is on form.

I don’t think we’ll see any changes to our back 5 as we have the FA Cup on Sunday. Szczesny will probably get the nod for the match against Middlesbrough and potentially several others, but we’ll cover that nearer the time.

There’s not much else to talk about in the build up tonight apart from wanting another 5-0+ result.