The more I think back to the weekends defeat at St Mary’s and the abrupt end to our 22 game unbeaten run the less disappointed I feel about the whole thing. I think we could all agree that if we were to cast our minds back to the day Unai Emery was appointed and were told that 17 games into the Premier League campaign we’d be 3 points outside of the Champions League places having only lost to City, Chelsea and Southampton we’d have been pretty pleased.
In many ways, I’d rather Southampton (a club for whom I have no ill feeling) were the ones to beat us because I wouldn’t have fancied going into the Carabao Cup quarter final with the fear of Spurs being the ones to finally turn us over. The club who notoriously released a DVD of the 4-4 draw back in 2008 would have been talking about it for at least 124 years had they been the ones who finally brought the run to a halt.
I’m not sure how to feel going into tonight’s game and I guess that stems from the fact I have no idea what sort of team Unai Emery will select. Shkodran Mustafi is back in full training and Sokratis Papastathopoulos returns from suspension so the hope is we’ll be far more competent in the central defensive positions this evening. I could be way off the mark here, but I believe the weekends defeat will have altered Unai Emery’s approach to tonight’s fixture.
It’s important that Arsenal bounce back immediately and collect as many points as possible before the trip to Anfield on December 29th so what better way to boost the morale amongst the group and get the fans back on side than to knock our fiercest rivals out of the Cup and register a second victory over the spuds in less than three weeks!
No matter how much you value or disvalue the Carabao Cup any fixture versus Spurs is a must win, whatever the competition or however high it sits in your list of priorities as supporter. I’ve made no secret over the years of my careless attitude towards the League Cup but the minute the name Tottenham Hotspur was drawn everything changed.
Taking all of the above into account this is the line up I’d start with this evening:
Cech, Lichtsteiner, Sokratis, Mustafi, Monreal, Maitland-Niles, Xhaka, Torreira, Ozil, Lacazette and Aubameyang.
Nacho Monreal would slot into the left centre back position with Maitland-Niles operating at left wing back, that’s assuming Sead Kolasinac remains sidelined. I thought that would have been a smarter approach on Sunday too, AMN showed last season he’s composed and confident enough to come in and do a job but whilst I’m not convinced Emery feels the same way that’s what I’d personally go with.
I’d like to see Alex Lacazette start as the central striker, his hold up play is noticeably better and he gives us a bite, grit and determination that I’m just not seeing from Aubameyang at present. The Gabonese forward has certainly chipped in with his fair share of important goals and so it’s almost impossible to leave him out, however as we’ve seen on many occasions this season he carries that goal threat even whilst operating from the left thus creating space for Lacazette to come back into the side.
Mathieu Flamini’s not around anymore to bag a brace and break Tottenham hearts as he did back in 2015 so it’s over to the new crop to make it happen. I’m not overly confident ahead of this one but I’m certainly glad it’s at our stadium and not theirs, oh wait they don’t have one! Not a finished one anyway!
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