The first fixture of 2021 is upon us and what a place to go to. What a manager to face too in Big Sam. Does it get any worse?
Big Sam has been employed by West Brom in attempt to avoid relegation. He started his mind games almost as soon as he walked in the door by saying Arsenal are a relegation rival. He was right of course but could have disposed of his chewing gum before spitting out his words. Oh how I laughed when Leeds Utd rocked up at the Hawthorns and battered his team 5-0. Leeds play like they’ve been drinking Red Bull for five hours before they go onto the pitch. They are lively and their football is quick.
Logic says Arsenal need to play in a similar fashion to Leeds as far as attacking football goes. A repeat of the first half against Brighton and well struggle, a repeat of the second half and we have a good chance of coming away from the Midlands with all the points.
Thomas Partey misses out again but having seen him involved in training on the official website photos, I think he’ll be back for the next game. Gabriel remains in isolation but Willian and Luiz are back. Although I hope they’re not back if that makes sense.
If it’s not broken then don’t try and fix it is my motto and with two victories under their belt, I hope Mikel Arteta plays the same team which has earned maximum points. The only question Mikel should be asking himself is who out of Lacazette and Aubameyang starts. With next weekend all about the FA Cup, that’s the ideal opportunity to give anyone a breather if needed. Right now we need points and in my opinion it’s not the time to make big changes.
Let’s not forget that a week ago, Big Sam took his team to Anfield and nicked a point. After going behind early in the game, they dug deep and snatched a draw in the 82nd minute despite having just 28% possession. So tonight’s game isn’t going to be easy regarding of the struggles West Brom are going through.
I watched a bit of the Leeds fixture and the West Brom defence were all over the place. The own goal was a shocker but credit Leeds for putting pressure on the defenders in the first place. Our forwards need to do the same. Press from the front and force the errors. Be direct, decisive and aggressive. Want the victory more than West Brom.
As said yesterday, our two recent victories are a positive end to what’s been a dreadful first half of the season. That dreadful first half was a result of a few things I’m sure but what was evident to fans is that certain players really couldn’t give a toss out there on the pitch. They let the manager down, their teammates down and the fans too. They got us into a mess which the kids together with the right senior players, are trying hard to bail us out of. Many managers would have been sacked during that awful run but Arsenal have stood by Mikel and I think they were right to. Mikel has done with some of the senior players, what he did with Ozil. Given them their chance before moving on, in this case, to the younger guys. The guys who waltzed through the group stages of the Europa League. The result being Willian, Luiz, Ceballos and Pepe left out of the starting eleven. Had Partey not been injured, Xhaka might have found himself sat on the bench too.
What Mikel Arteta can’t afford to do in my opinion is to go back to those players who weren’t performing and let them back in because not only will they ruin the rhythm we’ve seen in the last two games but I fear they’ll ruin Mikel Arteta’s career at the club too. Not to mention the younger guys who’ve not put a foot wrong.
Go forwards Mikel, not back.
See you in the comments.