With the trending injury crises plaguing Arsene Wenger’s side, the Arsenal boss must prepare to go all out against a similarly struggling Belgian side that has drawn five of their eleven league games this season.
Should Wenger aim to repeat the feat he achieved against Galatasary, the Frenchman must seek to put some things in place ahead of his crucial match against Anderlecht. Below are five things Wenger must put in place to beat Anderlecht.
Motivation: Wenger has been living in denial over the past two weeks following the clash with Jose Mourinho and Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Hull City. The Arsenal boss understands his injury woes but has derived pleasure in delighting in statistics, rather than on seeing eventual results in a match go the way of Gunners. Just after Saturday’s 2-2 draw against a persistent Hull, BBC reporter Jacqui Oatley asked Wenger why his side didn’t win the game, bearing it in mind that they “dominated” all through. A rather frustrated Wenger told the reporter:
“You look at the number of shots on goal, how many times did they come into our half and you will see that they defended well and [we] made it difficult for ourselves by giving them a second goal and we were a bit unlucky as well and the usual football game where one team defends and one attacks and the team who takes the initiative doesn’t always win, especially when you are one goal behind it gives them morale to defend well and they did it well.”
It was obvious Wenger delighted more in after-match statistics when the result showed the result was tied.
The Frenchman knows that getting all three points in Belgium is as important as it can ever be, irrespective of what statistics read. He must provide the necessary motivation for a depleted side; ‘we can do this’ should be his words to a Gunners’ side that is struggling for fitness.
Off The Ball, On the Mark: One of the very many complaints about the Gunners over the last few years has been that they have players who push the ball around and not the ones who press them from opponents. Arsenal has been likened to Barcelona overtime but the difference in both teams is that the Gunners lack the will to torture their opponents mentally, as opposed to Barcelona. The Gunners succeeded in making Galatasary pay several times in the crunching 4-1 encounter over the Turkish giants as Alexis Sanchez tortured the Turkish side, alongside Chamberlain on the wings. Though injury may seem to have shattered the Frenchman’s ultimate plan, he must look to Sanchez and ask him to afflict the opposition defenders with his powerful run, capable of dragging the Anderlecht defence with him.
Admirable Goalkeeping Performance: With Wojciech Szczesny suspended and David Ospina injured, Arsene Wenger may stay moist all through 90 minutes, for entrusting 22-year old Emiliano Martinez with goalkeeping responsibility against a Belgium side. First choice goalkeeper Szczesny has been known to make costly mistakes despite his excellent goalkeeping abilities, but with the number one out, third choice goalkeeper has been saddled with the responsibility of keeping the Belgian giants at bay. With Andy Najar to star for the Belgium side, Wenger must look for a way to arouse confidence in Martinez [who had been on loan to Oxford United and Sheffield United] and become the hero they seek in Szczesny and Ospina on a night when they seek a crucial win.
Dogged Defence: Arsene Wenger’s may have conceded a handful of goals of late due to injuries eating into the team but with the influence of Mertesacker and Chambers and new rookie Hector Bellerin as probable starters, Arsenal must strive to concede lesser goals if they desire to leave Belgium with their heads up high. Bellerin displayed a stellar performance, winning 100 per cent of his tackles against Hull City at the weekend, and the Frenchman will hope that his sudden-star will once again put up a fine display at right-back against a tricky Belgian side. Despite Arsenal’s erratic performances, a chance at leaving Belgium as eventual winners is achievable – the directive should be simple and clear on a crucial night, ‘don’t let the ball get past you easily without a fight’.
Goal Scoring Exploits: Having thrashed Galatasary in a comfortable 4-1 win, Wenger’s expectation would be that his players replicate the goal scoring form they displayed in their last Champions League match, and with the return of Mikel Arteta , Aaron Ramsey and Lukas Podolski in the squad, and the likely inclusion of Jack Wilshere in the game, the Gunners have a chance if Alexis Sanchez is allowed to dazzle opposition defenders with his powerful pace while others stay close to carry out the task just like Welbeck did three weeks ago. If there is one thing Wenger and his boys understand, it is the fact that they must make every moment count.