Yes, there is another game today.
After yesterday’s Boot Country theatrics and the quibbles that seem to be following Roma, I’m highly inclined to only take in the score of that game. Probably a mistake but…the headliner:
• Cesc It Ain’t So: Will
Arsenal Hold The Line at Home against Barca?
Wonderful that this rematch is happening from last year. Better yet with different actors in it.
With less than a collective fifteen observations of both teams this year, I’m not going to go out with a prediction.
Here are just some thoughts.
I don’t think–even with the swap of Villa for Zlatan–that Arsenal can afford to sit deep in this one. Their defensive organization is simply not good enough–this is an Arsenal team that has consistently conceded against lower level Premiership sides as well as Championship sides.
That said, the addition of a nimble Johan Djourou–well-respected at this publication–and 25-year-old Laurent Koscielny give Arsenal an agile interior. Their relative youth suggests that the pair could either have a howler or not grasp the moment and be difference makers–watch how this duo comes out.
Secondly, and I’ll probably eat my words shortly here, if I’m Arsene Wenger, I use the same deployment of Theo Walcott as I did last year–after the half as a sub when Pep and company can only make adjustments in-stream.
Walcott is not a 90-minute player and adding him in early takes away the known threat that must be accounted for later–when Maxwell and company are slowed. I’d stow him on the bench for the start.
Finally, if I’m Arsenal, I’d bang on the right rear guard of Barca–use Van Persie off-center and bring Nasri–if fit. Force Busquets to drop to help out and hopefully open up space for Cesc in the middle.
All of this, of course, easier said then done.
For the interlopers, it will likely be business as usual. Press up the pitch, bring Dani Alves up the right flank using Busquets as cover (hence the Arsenal comment above) and then, of course, Xavi pulling the strings.