Have you missed me? Of course, you have!
Let’s be honest, you’ve been sat twiddling your thumbs for months waiting for the return of I’m The Boss, thinking, ‘I really miss Dan’s random tactical antics…’
Well, luckily for you, despite sending numerous CV’s consisting of my Football Manager exploits and links to every piece from last season’s edition of this series to the Arsenal board, Arsene Wenger has kept his job.
Dejected and unable to undo the zip on my Arsenal coat that happens to a couple of sizes too big, I have returned to my laptop, so you are stuck with me for the time being.
As for the game tonight, Arsenal take on Craig Shakespeare’s Leicester City at The Emirates in the opening game of the Premier League season.
So, without further ado, here’s the team I would pick to start against The Foxes.
With Wojciech Szczęsny and Emiliano Martinez both gone I am left with the choice of just two goalkeepers. Well actually, it’s not really a choice as Petr Cech is always going to be picked ahead of David Ospina. The former Chelsea man’s experience will be crucial if Arsenal want to achieve trophy success this season so he gets the nod, shockingly…
I’ve decided to ‘borrow’ Arsene Wenger’s tactical masterstroke and play with the 3-4-2-1 formation that has work oh so wonderfully well since it was first used away at Middlesbrough last season.
The first player in the back three is a man who is certifiably better than Fabio Cannavaro, and he only cost £2 million from Bolton Wanderers. Rob Holding has been superb since being drafted in and this season will be a huge one for the Englishman. Start it off right with a clean sheet, Robbo.
I was never Per Mertesacker’s biggest fan until the cup final, when he seemed to turn into Franz Beckenbauer and put in the performance of his life. He will marshall the defence from the middle, although I do fear the fact that Jamie Vardy will be running at him. We could have a bloodbath on our hands but let’s hope Per pulls it out the bag for us.
With Laurent Koscielny suspended and Shkodran Mustafi not match fit, Arsenal’s man mountain, Sead Kolasinac will make his Premier League debut on the left of the back three. If Vardy does get at Mertesacker, the pace and power of the Bosnian will surely put the WDK drinking speedster in his place.
The wing-back’s pretty much pick themselves. Hector Bellerin and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain put in top notch displays against Chelsea in the Community Shield so they both retain their place. The pace down the outside will be a real weapon against Leicester so both will be asked to get forward while also remembering their defensive duties. If they could also have a word in the ear of Riyad Mahrez and convince him that Arsenal is the best place for him, it would be greatly appreciated.
Granit Xhaka has a big season ahead and he may be a crucial player for Arsenal. His passing range and dominance in midfield could be the difference maker in many games this campaign so let’s hope he’s at his best throughout. He starts in midfield.
While Aaron Ramsey could be back, I’m not going to risk the Welshman as I want him fully fit for as long as possible so he can make a real impact this season. Jack Wilshere is unsurprisingly still injured so he’s not an option. If you’ve read this series before, you know I love a controversial selection now and again, but just as I go to call Joe Willock’s name, Mohamed Elneny’s eyes catch mine across the changing room and I blurt out his name instead, so he starts. To be fair to the Egyptian, he had one of, if not his best game in an Arsenal shirt against Chelsea last Sunday so dropping him would have been harsh.
Praise the Lord, it looks like Mesut Ozil is staying. Even if it’s only for this season, at least he’s still here. We’ll if that’s the case, I may as well get my use out of him so he plays. Not like he’s world class on his day or anything.
To me next pick and as my eyes move around the dressing room. I am looking Mesut’s partner in crime. Then I spot him, Alexis Sanchez, but, as soon as I lay eyes on him he starts clutching his stomach claiming an abdominal injury. All I imagine is Pep Guardiola’s smug face and I see red, but I decide against taking it out on Sanchez as it might ‘injury’ him for a further two weeks. In light of this, I pick Alex Iwobi because he’s had a strong pre-season and I didn’t give him enough of a chance last season. Congratulations, Alex.
Now for the striker.
I look around the dressing room once again, and to my delight, Yaya Sanogo is nowhere to be seen. Lucas Perez is packing his bags so he’s clearly not up for it. Danny Welbeck and Olivier Giroud both seem to be trying to get my attention by smiling and waving but, then I see him.
Alexandre Lacazette, the world class striker I’ve been waiting for, it’s like Christmas has come early. I feel a bit a giddy and emotional but through it all I manage to say the words, ‘Alexandre Lacazette, you are the chosen one’.
So, that’s my team, what do you think?
I’m confident the team I have picked will get us the three points and start the season with a win.
With a few weeks left of the transfer window, I’m hoping I could have some new toys to play with in the coming weeks, preferably Thomas Lemar, but beggars can’t be choosers.
For now, it’s just good to be back.