Wait, Arsenal have a match?
With the intense speculation surrounding Unai Emery’s position, footballing matters have taken a firm back seat, but Arsenal still have a fixture schedule and it is starting to heat up.
Next up is Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League.
The job is not quite done for the Gunners in the group. With Standard Liege and Frankfurt themselves just four points behind in the group and six points still up for grabs, a win in this game is needed to ensure qualification and top spot in the group, ensuring an easier draw for the next round.
So there is still a bit of work to do, and Frankfurt represent the toughest team to face in our group, despite the corresponding fixture a few months back. We defeated the Germans on their home turf 3-0 last time out, and in what was an incredibly open game, the scoreline could easily have shown a draw.
With our current form, home advantage is key for us, but we have looked far from convincing at The Emirates as well. We need to slip off this dark cloud that is hovering above us right now and the only way to do so is with a win – and continue winning.
With the club seemingly holding the axe above Emery’s head and every game from here inching him closer to the exit door, this match could be an angst-filled game.
Especially if we intend on playing as we have done in the last month or so.
Emery could do with a big performance – so who will stand up for him on the pitch?
Dani Ceballos and Sead Kolasinac are both certain to miss out, with the Spaniard out until December with a hamstring injury, and the Bosnian only just returning to first team training.
Hector Bellerin is being assessed ahead of this game, but will likely be rested with a view to playing in the Premier League fixture against Norwich on Sunday. That would mean either Ainsley Maitland-Niles or Calum Chambers could play on the right. With Maitland-Niles being used in the Europa League as a central midfielder, Chambers could get the nod, or perhaps Shkodran Mustafi could get a shout.
Up top, Nicolas Pepe has been used sparingly of late, so the Ivorian may well play here. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette might get rested too, along with Mesut Ozil, so that could mean starts for the exciting Gabriel Martinelli and youngsters Emile Smith-Rowe and Reiss Nelson.
Player to Watch
The German was one of the youngsters touted to make a big splash when he signed for giants Bayern Munich five years ago. He had made his name with Frankfurt but after two years with Bayern and three seasons with Dortmund, Rode has returned home. A disciplined player who adds balance to the side, Rode keeps it simple and can constrict play. He will be the one who starts moves from deep and with our central midfield all too easy to play through, Rode could be the man who makes Frankfurt tick.
How This Could Go
Frankfurt are an entertaining side who really didn’t deserve to lose by a 3-0 scoreline last time out. They created plenty of chances and if it weren’t for Emi Martinez in goal and some wasteful finishing, they could have easily had a share of the spoils.
We need to get tough and defend and attack as a unit, instead of combusting when under pressure. We have let our opposition play their game, instead of imposing ourselves. Especially at home.
That is evidenced by the shot count in each game recently. We have let mediocre opposition take potshots at us and it only increases our chances of poor results. That must end.
So much hinges on our midfield. We need a solid shield in front of the back four and we definitely need a good transition from defence to attack. Jo Willock could well put a marker down here.
We have all the components of a good side. We just need the gameplan and tactics!
Predicted Lineup – Martinez, Chambers, Mustafi, Sokratis, Tierney, Maitland-Niles, Willock, Nelson, Smith-Rowe, Pepe, Martinelli
Predicted Scoreline – 2-1 to The Arsenal