Ahead of a huge game on Sunday at the Etihad there will be 2 players in particular desperate to play and prove their readiness to their international managers. Jack Wilshere has already featured briefly for the Arsenal first team after 10 months out but only for 6 minutes. Santi Cazorla has been out since November and will also be anxious to be involved in the last 2 matches of the season to earn hi selection to the Spanish squad. I am sure Roy Hodgson will be one of many seeking tickets at this link for this cup final style winner takes all clash.
So that is one interesting backdrop to the match but the bigger picture Arsenal and consequently Wenger has to be the battle with Sunday’s opponents to secure the 3rd spot, or in Arsenal case perhaps even 2nd and secure automatic Champion’s League group phase football without August qualification. As intimated in this piece yesterday securing the knowledge of top table football now is more crucial for Arsenal as you sense a need for fast pre Euros transfer activity. City with the combined package of Pep and deeper pockets are certainly in a stronger position so the certainty and head start is critical to Wenger and The Gunners.
With this being the case it is hard to make a case for Wenger to start Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla but both will no doubt be on the bench praying for an Arsenal performance from their team mates that allows him to introduce them. Of course the Etihad last season was a match that should have defined a new Arsenal. A mature, cautious away win with a new playing structure for such games seemingly heralded a new Wenger. One who admitted past mistakes and confessed to listening to his players. He used a similar structure away at United in the superb FA Cup victory but sadly this season he has reverted to type and has predominantly used his staid 4231 which was working with Santi and Coquelin but failed without them in the main.
Man City will be hurting after their meek exit from Europe this week and it remain to be seen which City we see on Sunday but there must be a strong argument to set up in a similar fashion to set up as we did in those crucial away wins in 14/15. Against United in Match we played with a 4141/433 with Danny Welbeck working a solo front line and I would hope to see the same. For this match and this match alone just ensure victory I would leave out Alex Iwobi. The young man has played a lot of first team football in a short space of time and is looking a tad jaded. I would like to see Coquelin sitting with Ramsey and Elneny working in partnership as Cazorla and Ramsey did at the Etihad last season. Leave Sanchez on the right and play Ozil in the wide left role. The alternative is to allow Ozil centrally as at Old Trafford and play Alexis and Ramsey in the wide box to box role. Either would work well.
If this system works and the game is going according to plan Cazorla slots in seamlessly for one of the 2 central positions in the 4. Wilshere could also come into one of this two positions or indeed wide. Win this game and Cazorla, Wilshere and even Tomas Rosicky in this last game for the club can play a full part against a woeful Aston Villa side already on the beach
Thanks for reading @goonerdave66