The Premier League is well underway with Arsenal picking up just 1 point from their opening two games. This weekend the Gunners will take on Watford looking to earn their first win before the September break.
Arsenal’s notorious lack of transfer activity combined with a number of absentees has placed Wenger’s decision-making in dispute. However, we have had a chance to cast a judgemental eye over summer signings Granit Xhaka and Rob Holding.
Holding and Calum Chambers were thrown into the starting eleven for Arsenal’s opener against Liverpool. Although no one will solely point the finger at them, their inexperience was to the detriment of the team.
Sunday however, saw the return of Laurent Koscielny – the linchpin in central defence. His experience and quality provided solidity to the back four and reassurance to Holding. His inclusion ahead of Chambers was perhaps the most telling point of discussion, raising doubt over Chambers’ Arsenal future.
Personally, I feel Holding seems to be the better the defender between himself and Chambers. Despite the latter’s experience in the Premier League, I’d like to see Holding retain his spot this weekend.
Wenger has had to make do with the players at his disposal, experimenting with Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez up top. Unfortunately, Wenger’s decision backfired. Walcott and particularly Sanchez aren’t nearly as effective in this position. Sanchez looks alienated and ultimately wasted in this position, with the Chilean providing a bigger threat on the left.
On the opposite wing, Oxlade-Chamberlain provides a sterner threat than Walcott. The Ox looked far more dangerous in this position against Leicester, showing great skill and power whereas Walcott provides neither. So Chamberlain should retain his place.
Giroud’s presence has been sorely missed, as he provides the target for the wingers to cross into the box. He may not be the best finisher, but based on recent evidence, the team is lost in attack without him.
The midfield is also up for discussion but one position which shouldn’t is that no. 10 role. Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey have had chances to impress during Mesut Ozil’s absence, but neither could. The German returned to action on Sunday and changed the game, as he slot back into that position effortlessly. He’s undoubtedly another player the team are lost without and his a huge part of Arsenal’s spine.
At the base of midfield, Granit Xhaka and Francis Coquelin controlled the midfield very well against Leicester. However, questions remain over Coquelin’s discipline with the Frenchman picking up his second yellow in as many matches. Despite his courage, bite and bravery, he always looks one stupidly reckless tackle away from a sending off.
Xhaka’s passing is a major asset as well as his aggression, however he’s still adjusting to the pace of the Premier League. Mohamed Elneny seems to be the much calmer of the trio. Honestly, I’d be happy with whichever combination the manager goes with in this area of the field. However, It makes sense for Xhaka and Coquelin to remain.
Elsewhere, Petr Cech returned to better form in goal after a questionable performance against Liverpool. He added some more crucial saves to his portfolio, which kept Leicester from snatching a goal in a couple of instances. Either side of defence should see the ever consistent Spanish duo keep their places.
Saturday’s game is a real chance to return to form and keep from falling further behind the league leaders. Although Watford will not prove an easy ride, nothing less but 3 points will do for this fixture. The fans will undoubtedly put further pressure on the club if another embarrassing result is to occur this weekend.
It’s time for the team to lift their heads and start sprinting. Playing catch-up to the likes of Jose Mourinho has proved next to impossible in past seasons.
Starting XI: Cech
Bellerin Koscielny Holding Monreal
Ox Giroud Alexis
Bench: Ospina, Chambers, Gibbs, Elneny, Wilshere, Walcott, Akpom