Arsenal: Cup team news; Wenger predicts league-winning points total; Cazorla sorely missed
Arsenal host Reading in the EFL Cup fourth round this evening, as ever Arsene Wenger is poised to make plenty of changes. The difference nowadays however is that Arsenal’s squad is big enough to ensure a second-string eleven still contains several familiar names. Some supporters look down their noses at the domestic cup competitions, which is an odd position because there are only four chances to win a trophy each season.
Winning the Champions League is something of a pipe dream for all English clubs at the moment, the Premier League is can immensely competitive nine-month slog, which leaves the FA Cup and EFL Cup as feasible chances to scoop some silverware. Arsenal haven’t won a great deal in their recent history, so should take every chance to add to their haul of medals very seriously.
According to The Daily Express, Carl Jenkinson is set to make his first Arsenal start since 2014 as he continues his rehabilitation from a serious knee injury. A popular figure among the fans, Jenkinson is always a whole hearted performer and the Gunners could use some back up to Hector Bellerin. Jenkinson had some fine games for Arsenal, notably away at Manchester City and Bayern Munich but never full convinced he was quite up to standard.
Gabriel, Lucas Perez, Kieran Gibbs and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain are among the other senior players set to feature, while Oliver Giroud is in line for his first start of the season. Ainsley Maitland Niles and Jeff Reine Adelaide are younger player who could play a part.
Elsewhere, Wenger managed to attend Arsenal’s AGM yesterday and as usual his speech was the highlight of the day. Among an array of other topics, the long-serving Arsenal manager had some interesting things to say about what it will take to win the title this season. The Frenchman said:
“If you look well after nine games, the first trend is set, as they have 20 points. So the champion will have 82-86 points. Every game is a fight in this league. In every game you have to be absolutely at your best to win. For everyone else it is exactly the same, you have to be really focused on details, at a top, top level for every game. Every detail can make a difference to get you points.”
The first half of any league season is about accumulating points and jostling for position. By Wenger calculations, Arsenal have to pick up another 22 or points to keep them on track to hit Wenger’s target. That will not be straightforward, with Spurs at home as well as Manchester United, Everton and City away in that run. The Gunners will need at least two wins from those games to keep them on course.
Finally, Arsenal’s 0-0 draw with Middlesbrough on Saturday has been blamed on the absence of Santi Cazorla in central midfield. This piece of analysis by Adam Bate for Sky Sports seems to back that theory up. On two occasions this season, Arsenal’s highest pass combination has been from Cazorla to Ozil (28 in the 4-1 win at Hull and 26 in the 3-0 win against Chelsea).
However, against Middlesbrough there most frequent pass combination was Shkodran Mustafi to Mohamed Elneny ahead of Elneny to Francis Coquelin. This shows that Arsenal were not zipping passes between the lines are easily. The Gunners average 2.15 points per game from the last 85 Premier League matches the Spaniard has been involved in, but just 1.63 points from the last 38 games he has missed.
Featured image: All rights reserved by Emrah Partal
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