October 23, 2012
If there was one positive thing to come out of that Norwich game (and there wasn’t) it’s that at least it took place right after the international break and not right before it.
I’m not sure I could have handled staring into the abyss of two weeks of international football off the back of such a depressing display. But with so much football to be played in the next few weeks we should be able to put that misery behind us pretty quickly, starting with tomorrow night’s Champions League Matchday Three, as I believe the authorities would prefer for us to call it, against Schalke.
There’s not much team news to talk about at this stage as Arsene Wenger is due to give his pre-match presser later this morning but we do know that Laurent Koscielny is likely to be back in the squad and other than that…not a lot. We were told after Saturday that Kieran Gibbs was the closest to making the squad and he wouldn’t make the squad so I suspect we’ll be pretty much as you were. Except without Oxlade.
Frustrating maybe, but as I said yesterday we can’t really blame the team selection for our display at the weekend. Give or take one or two, these are the same players that we’ve spent most of the season getting excited about and while they may have all collectively dropped the ball against Norwich, it’s time for them to pick it up again tomorrow night. If we win we’ve got a chance to more or less guarantee our passage into the knockout stages having barely broken a sweat and apart from anything that means we would be able to turn full focus back to our league form for a while.
While tomorrow night will no doubt be too soon for him the likelihood of seeing Jack Wilshere back in first team action at the weekend took another leap forward yesterday as he completed another 90 minutes for the U-21s alongside Frimpong and Sagna too. More exciting still is the fact that Jack was instrumental in both of the goals in our 2-1 win over Everton. For the first he sent a raking ball down the wing, allowing Jernade Meade to cut inside and feed Thomas Eisfeld who timed his run to perfection. For the second he foraged down the right hand side before cutting the ball back for Eisfeld again who made no mistake.
It’s tempting to ask whether Eisfeld himself should be on the brink of the first team squad at this stage. He was the revelation of pre-season this year and along with Serge Gnabry looked most likely to be the next to make the step up. He’s 19 years old, in fact he’ll be 20 in a couple of months so while young he’s not a baby. And he has a very nice habit of popping up in and around the box at the right time and taking his chances. He’s our joint highest scorer at U-21 level with four goals from six starts and as Le Boss’ game plan this season revolves around spreading the goals through the team, those are the sort of numbers that will make him sit up and pay attention.
Eisfeld’s biggest issue at the moment seems to be how extremely well stocked we already are in those midfield positions. If the likes of Coquelin and Frimpong are struggling to get a game, even before Wilshere and Rosicky and Diaby come back to fitness then what hope does the young German have? Well, simply put, if he’s good enough he’ll get there and it’s refreshing to have such genuine competition for places that you can be assured that if there are too many performances like the one at the weekend, certain players will come under real pressure.
Already you wouldn’t put it past Arsene Wenger to spring a surprise tomorrow night and start Serge Gnabry in favour of Gervinho following his brief cameo on Saturday evening. It probably won’t happen but the knowledge that it could should keep Gervais on his toes regardless.
We’ve talked a lot over the last couple of days about players being properly motivated and whether the coaching staff were at fault for failing to prepare the players mentally for Saturday’s game. But if we have a competitive enough environment at the club, that motivation should come naturally.