Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Giroud's fitness concerns puts Akpom on alert -Ozil's muscle pain -Mertsacker returns

Morning Gooners.

We're back on the roller coaster of games every three/four days and that continues tomorrow night with an away trip to Marseille

The good news is that Per Mertesacker will be back in the squad after recovering from illness and I'd expect him to return to the starting line up.

The not so good news is that despite Olivier Giroud saying his knee was ok, Arsene Wenger has ordered a full fitness test on the French striker. I would imagine that if there's a chance he'll be fit for tomorrow night's game, the manager will take him with the squad to France.

What do we do if Giroud is not fit to play? That is the $64,000 question. The manager has mentioned that Theo Walcott could play there. He's stood in previously and there does seem to be very little other options when it comes to a striker.

It is a huge ask to expect Chuba Akpom to step into Giroud's boots. He's only 17 and has only played minutes of first team football. However he did impress on the Asia tour and there are certainly big things expected of him in the future.

So if Giroud doesn't make it, I'd expect the manager to play Theo through the middle, Ozil on the right with Nacho Monreal coming into the team on the left. Or he could even play 4-4-1-1. With Ozil just behind Theo and a midfield of Wilshere, Ramsey, Flamini and Monreal.

It's important that we get off to a good start. We know that this year we have three other tough teams in our group and each win we pick up will be vital. We need to get points on the board and I would suggest that tomorrow night's game is one we should aim for a win.

At this stage of the season, after all the injuries we've suffered, I'd be happy with just the three points from a game which is dour and boring. That probably won't happen as we've been playing some excellent football so far this season. I notice the manager has mentioned Mesut Ozil in dispatches for having tight muscles. He expects our record signing to be ok to play in France.

Last time we played at the Stade Velodrom it was a late, late Aaron Ramsey goal which secured us the three points. Another gutsy performance like that one culminating with three points being smuggled back across the English Channel will be a perfect night's work.

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