Arsenal face QPR at the Emirates, for their Boxing Day match. Anything less than a win would be unacceptable and a terrible way to start off the busy holiday schedule.
There are some positives that can be taken for last weekend’s match against Liverpool. Arsenal responded well to falling behind, the were prolific in front of goal and took their chances well when they had them, Wojciech Szczesny had his best game of the season, and Arsenal managed to keep Liverpool’s chances down to half chances, although improvements can made me on the structure of their defense.
A lot of pundits, fans, and internet trolls were quick to criticize Arsenal’s performance, and while they were not at their best by any means, they responded well to adversity and they learned their lesson from last years 5-1 thrashing at Anfield, something that they most definitely had on their mind during last weekends game.
Now Arsenal need to focus and getting healthy, staying healthy and build from there. Like Mathieu Flamini said, the best of Arsenal is yet to come when you look at the players returning in January.
A run at the League title is unrealistic at this point, but Champions League qualification is expected and so is a successful defense of the FA Cup. A good run in the Champions League will only build on confidence, and revenue. Things can only look up for Arsenal.
Here is their probable lineup versus QPR:
Goalkeeper – Szczesny
As mentioned above, Szczesny had his best match of the season and will look to build on that by putting in consistent performances like the ones we saw last year.
Right Back – Debuchy
Mathieu Debuchy’s performance at center back versus Newcastle was the reason why Arsene Wenger played him there again at Liverpool. Look for him to move back to his natural position at right back, allowing Calum Chambers to move to center back. Wenger can revert to this selection, due to QPR’s less potent attack.
Center Backs – Chambers & Mertesacker
Per Mertesacker came under heavy criticism for not attacking the ball on Liverpool’s equalizing goal. While it’s true he didn’t attack the ball, criticism is a little unfair and it’s easy for pundits to point such things out when they aren’t playing. There are a lot of “ifs” and “buts” when criticizing Mertesacker in that situation and it’s how pundits make their money.
Left Back – Monreal
Nacho Monreal returned to health last week, and this week would be a good game to give Kieran Gibbs a rest, allowing Gibbs to be selected on Sunday instead. Monreal has been in good form this year, as has Gibbs, so the quality drop off isn’t too significant and Wenger can afford it.
Defensive Mid – Flamini
Another player who came under criticism for his performance against Liverpool, again a bit unfair considering Arsenal’s problems did not start with Flamini, but rather the team’s inability to pass the ball and keep possession.
Mikel Arteta won’t be available until January it now seems, so Flamini will have to grind it out the next week.
Central Midfield – Rosicky
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was not fit on Sunday and should not have played, but had to due to injuries to other players. It’s unlikely Wenger will force him to play again, now that he has Tomas Rosicky at his disposal. Rosicky has yet to stamp his mark on the season, but Friday’s match could be his chance.
It’s possible though, that Francis Coquelin starts, considering Rosicky just returned from injury.
Attacking Midfield – Cazorla
He was nominated for EPL player of the month of December for his torrid form this month. There is no reason to think that his form won’t continue, and is one of the starters who doesn’t need the full weeks rest for this match.
Wide Right – Welbeck
Danny Welbeck will start on the right; Theo Walcott will come of the bench later in the game to continue his return to first team football. Walcott is close, but not quite ready yet, otherwise he would start here.
Wide Left – Podolski
This match has Lukas Podolski written all over it. Alexis Sanchez is jaded and it was evident during his anonymous shift against Liverpool. Up steps Podolski who will put his stamp all over this match.
Striker – Giroud
Olivier Giroud was responsible for Liverpool’s first goal; he gave away possession far too easily in a dangerous position, and almost did it again in the second half. He made up for it though, by finishing a well taken goal after a one-two with Santi Cazorla.
It’s possible Yaya Sanogo starts this match, he just returned from injury, allowing Giroud to rest after recently returning to full fitness. Sanogo looks set to go out on loan, but Wenger should rotate while he still can, to ensure that Arsenal’s front line stays healthy.
Via – Lineup Builder