A Fresh FA Cup campaign begins with a third round trip to Upton Park opening avenues for a title challenge on another front while increasing the selection complexities for Arsene and bringing to the fore the debate over the perceived importance of the oldest domestic football competition in the world. Depending on the team chosen by Arsene and the result of the game we are certain to see questions being raised about the need for playing most of the first team members. Zola is probably in the same boat.
Even in the Carling Cup, many were unhappy that we did not send out a first team to compete with the moneybags. How then, will people respond to a similar situation in the FA cup? A win, just as a positive result in any given context, is likely to subdue voices of dissent. In contrast, an unfortunate result will be met with vigorous derision.
I believe it is extremely unfair to criticize any manager who is trying to do his best for the club. I was really surprised when Wenger had questioned Mick McCarthy’s team selection at Old Trafford. Le Boss of all people would certainly understand the issues another manager faces. I guess AW had his reasons and it’s best left alone right now.
The reason I don’t like criticism of a manager is because no critic, unless part of the club, has any responsibility or accountability. In such a situation it is very easy to apply simplistic logic like “show respect – play first team”. Clearly, this approach does not take into account any impact of injuries on challenges on other fronts. Neither does it include the exact knowledge of the players’ fitness conditions. A manager cannot afford to take his decisions with such a superficial approach and anyone who has taken complex decisions in life would understand the difficulties involved.
I am not a big fan of Bolton or Gary Megson but he summed up the situation perfectly after the draw against Hull,
Everyone has an opinion but mine has consequences, therefore it become a decision.
I don’t think there is a better way to express the position of the manager. This applies to all managerial decisions including team selections, signing of players, risking injured players, etc. In any walk of life, a man of consequence cannot take complex decisions based on public opinion. It’s one of the main reasons I strongly believe in the Arsene Knows Best philosophy.
Anyway, to shift from a general discussion to the specific game on hand, Wenger doesn’t have much choice. We are already down to bare bones in the Attack and Midfield and have important league games coming up in a short space of time. The hosts have injury concerns of their own. Carlton Cole is injured and Franco is suspended. There are major doubts over Parker, Noble, and Ilunga. With premier league survival turning out to be far tougher than they would have expected at the start of the season, West Ham have some tough decisions of their own.
In such a context, can we really question Wenger’s team selection, whatever it may be. I am convinced we can afford to rest players and still get a result. Who will be rested is anybody’s guess. Our central defenders have not had any respite and they might be prime candidates for a breather. Sagna is another one who could use an off day, especially because we will be without Eboue for the next few weeks.
In the middle we could see Diaby being rested or we might see Ramsey being left behind. It would depend on whether or not young Rambo is strong enough to play every three days in Arsene’s opinion. Song will certainly get a game as there is no real advantage in saving his energies. The more important question might about the replacement. I feel Ramsey and Song can do the defensive roles while Merida could come in a more creative role.
Upfront, Arshavin could certainly use a day off and so can Nasri. Right now it is difficult to imagine replacements for both of them and that highlights the need for resting the key men. Vela can come in alongside Eduardo and we could use Wilshere in the front three. Otherwise, what’s the use of stalling the English prodigy’s loan move.
The big question Arsene must be asking himself is whether he should start with a couple of key players and rest them once we get a lead or should he hold them back and unleash them later if need arises. I am in favor of holding the key players back as West Ham have enough troubles of their own and we should win this game with our reserves.
I would love to see this team,
Fabianski; Gilbert, Senderos, Silvestre, Traore; Song, Ramsey, Merida; Wilshere Rosicky, Eduardo, Vela.
Some might consider this a weak team for such a game. Indeed, Arsene might think the same. In any case Le Boss can’t possibly put out a team weaker than this one. I, for one, am looking forward to a comfortable win and the Gunners can rest assured.
Update: I just realized I’d forgotten Rosicky completely! He’s been out for so long, lol.