So, it’s the north London derby on Saturday and Arsenal are without a few key men for what is one of the most important meetings between the two sides ever.
David Ospina will start in goal with Petr Čech injured, and absolutely everyone is terrified about that. No matter your stance on Ospina (and many don’t rate him at all), he will play at White Hart Lane and we have to sort of just get behind him.
His task will be made no easier by the absence of Laurent Koscielny, who also missed the defeat to Swansea City on Wednesday. That means Gabriel will partner Per Mertesacker in defence again, unless Arsène Wenger has a late change of heart and selects Calum Chambers. The usually reliable Héctor Bellerín and Nacho Monreal will complete the backline.
In front of them, Francis Coquelin and Aaron Ramsey will have to improve their play under pressure to evade Spurs’ energetic midfield. That’ll mean supporting each other on the ball much more – beating a press isn’t all about being good in tight spaces, you know. Arsenal’s midfielders have to offer each other much more support on the ball too.
Mesut Özil will have an important role in that regard, and can’t isolate the double-pivot as much as he often does. All being well, he will be flanked by Alexis Sánchez and, well, who knows? Theo Walcott is good in big matches and crucial on the break but well off form. Joel Campbell played well on Wednesday but was hooked and can’t play if Wenger wants Danny Welbeck and Olivier Giroud both in the side.
So, I’m going with Welbeck wide and Giroud up top. I say I am, but what I mean is that’s what I think the boss will do. Welbeck is crucial for keeping the ball and playing on the break, Giroud can hold it up when we’re under a lot of pressure.