Sunday 17 May 2015

Time for a new starting XI for Arsenal?

It's all very laudable, Wenger sticking with the same team for the sixth consecutive time. However, it's important the team earn their right to be certain starters and, like against Swansea, some were well short of that mark.

Then again, a draw at Man U feels like a win. So says Theo Walcott, who's claimed the deflected cross that went in off Blackett as a goal. To be honest, I'd do the same. I mean, if Theo doesn't try to knock that ball into the box then it doesn't hit the net.

An own goal to me is more than a deflection. It's when a player completely alters the direction of the ball or intentionally plays it towards his own goal.

I agree with Wenger that both Walcott and Wilshere had a positive impact on the team when they came on around the (surprise, surprise!) 70th minute mark. Ramsey really came into his own, once moved into the middle and the fresh legs certainly paid off as Arsenal appeared to be the fitter side.

It now seems as if Arsenal have clinched 3rd place, which means no play-off for Champions League football next season. That is something to celebrate, but I still get a sense that this team is playing with the handbrake on.

That's understandable with an FA Cup final coming up. You can't expect players to play with the same level of commitment to challenges when they know a knock could keep them out of the Wembley line-up.

That's normally going to affect the first XI most, as they will feel they've done enough to warrant their selection for the biggest game of our season against Villa. However, Wenger's policy is to field reserves in this tournament, especially in goal, so I expect to see Szczesny back for what could turn out to be an unexpected reward for a below-par season.

In fact, the more I think of it, the more I realise there's no logic in playing your second best side in a cup final. By doing that, you punish in-form players and reward the off-form ones. A deal is a deal, but you try telling that to the fans if we throw away our only chance of silverware because of a gentleman's agreement.

I always feel Ospina is less likely to make a major mistake than most keepers, so he'd be a shoo-in for me. He had a reasonable game at Old Trafford, but the game showed we do need to tinker with the starting line-up.

This was another disjointed performance, so I would suggest that Theo starts on the right against Sunderland allowing Ramsey to move to the middle. I'd drop the jaded Cazorla to make way for Theo and see how that starting XI performs.

Sent from my iPhone

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