This is a game I really want us to win and win in style.
The bubbly, happy feeling generated by our magnificent victory over the Southern Oilers will continue into the weekend with a handsome victory. A scrappy one-nil would do but a little bit of Ozil magic allied to some Sanchez dynamite and a dash of Theo virtuosity would do even better.
We are playing a Swiss team. I have no wish to belittle the mountainous paradise but quite frankly football is not their strong-point. Skiing, Yes. Clock-making, Yes. Cheese production, Yes. Football, No.
And yet they have a decent national team who did OK in the Euros, until a certain Granit Xhaka missed a penalty, and in FC Basle have a team with a record of wins against big clubs. I am sure you have read all about their giant-killing exploits so I will not google and regurgitate here.
Let’s be honest, you expect us to win, don’t you? Come on …. if we drew you would be disappointed, especially given our recent results. Win both tonight and the away game in Bulgaria (Ludo Radz) and TOTL is centred upon a home game against PSG.
So… who will play?
Bellerin Mustafi Koscielny Monreal
Xhaka Cazorla Iwobi
Walcott Sanchez Ozil
Why change a winning team (bar Le Coq)? We have 4 days to recover before the trip to Burnley where I expect AW to rest some players. Perhaps Ox or Perez may start tonight in place of Iwobi but I doubt it.
Should Elneney start against his former club? The partnership with Xhaka is highly promising but who gets dropped? Cazorla? Santi has been magnificent and to drop him in order to save him for Turf Moor is poor reward for his excellence.
Gibbs short appearance on Saturday was superb, possibly his best performance in many a month, though it would come as surprise to see AW change his back line.
Basle are no pushover, they have won their first 9 games in the Swiss League scoring almost 3 goals a game and won their league 7 times in a row but we are different gravy. It is one thing winning away at BellRingers Sion or Grasshopper Young Boys of Thun and quite another beating one of the best teams in the world. Having said that, Basle beat the Chavs home and away in 2014!
So, will we continue our fine run of form and take a huge step towards the next round of the CL or will we stutter against a team who will come to defend (parken den bus)?
We have the team, we have the experience, we have the 12th man in the stands (for now). Cheesemakers blessed? We shall see tonight.