We get again on the horse tonight with a Europa League quarter-final first leg towards Slavia Prague, needing to place that Liverpool efficiency nicely and actually to mattress.
The large information within the build-up to this one is that Kieran Tierney’s knee ligament injury will hold him sidelined for 4 to 6 weeks. On the one hand, it’s not as dangerous as I used to be fearing, however on the opposite it mainly places paid to his season if it’s the longer fringe of that time-frame. If, by some means, we are able to carry out constantly in Europe, he may very well be again for the ultimate, however we’re getting forward of ourselves right here. There’s so much to do – and so much NOT to do – to place ourselves in that place.
The query now’s, what can we do to exchange him? Mikel Arteta says:
“We’re going to must make some changes as a result of his qualities are distinctive and we don’t have anyone to exchange these qualities within the squad until we begin to transfer quite a lot of items.
“With none time to coach that’s slightly bit harmful to do. We’re going to have to seek out alternative ways to fulfil that hole and use different issues that may be as efficient as nicely.”
I are likely to disagree right here. Clearly I believe Tierney is massively vital and influential, and the nominal substitute, Cedric, can’t do what he does. Nevertheless, as I’ve been saying, I believe Bukayo Saka can kind of slot into that position and be a reasonably affordable facsimile – particularly within the attacking third, the place we try to get our left-back as a lot as attainable. It additionally permits us to play just about the identical method we’ve been, with out disrupting an excessive amount of.
I’ve seen folks counsel that we revert to a again three, however on our Patreon preview podcast, Lewis Ambrose made the wonderful level that Tierney (and generally Kolasinac) was an enormous a part of that system because the left-sided centre-half. His job was to get ahead as we shifted right into a again 4 in possession, and with the best of respect, I can’t see Gabriel or Pablo Mari do this job. And that’s not even acknowledging that the worst soccer we performed this season got here with that again three, and shifting to the 4-2-3-1 is once we noticed real enchancment in how we performed.
Saka doesn’t must play each recreation at left-back, I believe there are some when Cedric can do a job, however within the huge video games that we’ve to win, changing one in every of our most inventive items of the workforce with somebody who can do one thing fairly comparable makes quite a lot of sense to me. Saka makes possibilities, he does it in another way to Tierney, however he nonetheless does it. On the correct you might have Pepe or Willian to select from, imperfect choices, however nonetheless affordable ones within the grand scheme of issues.
There’s a possible additional complication with the information that Martin Odegaard is carrying an ankle harm, a relic of the incident in the course of the Interlull, however we performed him towards Liverpool so we weren’t that frightened about it then. If I needed to guess, he’ll begin tonight and if it performs up we’ll relaxation him on Sunday to ensure he’s round for the second leg.
As for who performs up entrance, it’s acquired to be Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Slavia play with a excessive line of defense, they’re lacking key central defenders, and have worries within the goalkeeping place too. It appears apparent that he’s one of the best man to have in that place tonight, reasonably than asking him to spend many of the recreation defending in our half. He has to ship, no query, but when we give him service he’s greater than able to getting the objectives we’d like tonight.
As for the opposition, they’ll be a tricky nut to crack. We have to do not forget that they beat Leicester earlier within the competitors, and so they’re a workforce having a lot better Premier League season than us. They work extraordinarily onerous, and it was fairly attention-grabbing that within the two preview items we did, the authors independently of one another made comparisons to how Leeds play. Slavia haven’t misplaced a league recreation this season, and in latest seasons have been tough opponents for the likes of Chelsea, Inter and Barcelona.
These two items are each nicely price studying to present you some perception into what we’ll be going through later. First, Lewis checked out how Slavia performed from a tactical perspective after they beat Leicester, and from Prague we’ve a view from Franz, a Slavia supporter who is aware of his workforce inside out.
For all that although, the underside line is us. It’s all the way down to how we arrange, how we play, and if we are able to present the correct of depth. It’s a must to hope delight has been dented by what occurred on the weekend and we see a need to place that proper with a efficiency this night. Europe, and the Europa League, is our final likelihood saloon this season, and we have to guarantee we don’t find yourself getting chucked by these swinging doorways out onto our arse.
As ever we’ll have a dwell weblog, and all of the post-game protection for you on Arseblog Information. For extra studying this morning, Tim’s column actually resonated with lots of people yesterday, in order ever that’s nicely price your time, and the aforementioned preview podcast for Patreon members is right here.
Proper, that’s it for now. Catch you later for the sport.