I can’t think of a bigger contrast in footballing terms. We just played a team that was happy to keep the ball and made us run all day. Perhaps, the best team at that and the only one that could do so to us. Now we are playing a team that will let us keep the ball and will be happy to run around all day long.
It’s a 180 degree swing and will come a full circle once we vist the Nou Camp. How do the players adapt to this mentally? Well, I don’t know how the players will adapt but all of us know there is no choice. We just have to win this home game.
- I was looking at their goalscorers and here is how it looks – Doyle (7), Craddock (5), Jarvis (3), Milijas (2), seven players (1).
- They are joint lowest scorers in the league with 28 goals.
- Surprisingly, Wolves are a team with as good an away record as their home one! Won 4, Drawn 4, Lost 8. And they have scored more away goals (18) than home (10).
In business/management circles we use a term “core competency.” In general terms, I would say it describes your biggest strength. For Wolves, it’s their hard work. With due respect to their players, manager, and fans, the Wanderers are not a team that will make you fall in love with football. But they can certainly teach everyone the value of diligence.
Do we need any specific tactics against them? I doubt it. We do need to minimize the number of set pieces they get. We also need to block as many crosses as possible. That’s their biggest strength and our biggest weakness. Most importantly, we need to match their work rate. Given the fact that they had a week’s rest and don’t have a challenging mid-week game coming up, this is easier said than done.
Arsene has a challenge on his hands. Our long term casualties have been joined by Arshavin and Fabregas. Gallas was already on that list. What does Le Boss do now? Should he pick his best team and risk further injuries and fatigue? Or does he play some players who’ve had a decent break like Eduardo, Traore and Vela?
Another question is that of continuity. If Campbell can’t play two games in three days, does it make sense to play Song at centre back and give him time to develop an understanding with Vermaelen? Or do we play big Sol against a physical Wolves side?
Do we risk guys like Clichy and Denilson? I know Wenger has declared them fit but we’ve seen enough recurrences this season and we can never be sure.
Can Rosicky play two games in three days? Ever since his return to fitness, I’ve not seen Little Mozart start and complete a string of games in a row. So do we rest him for Barcelona or play him in both games?
A small positive is that we don’t have any game at the weekend after the trip to Spain and our players will get a week to recover before the North London Derby.
I think we need to pick a strong side and go for a win from the kick-off. We can then rest a couple of players if we get a good lead. The team i’d pick is,
Almunia; Sagna, Campbell, Vermaelen, Clichy; Song, Diaby, Nasri; Walcott, Bendtner, Rosicky.
We can bring on Denilson, Vela and Eduardo at a later stage and rest the likes of Nasri, Rosicky and Bendtner.
If we don’t win this game we could easily get sucked into a negative spiral. It could lead to a fight for 3rd and 4th instead of the trophy. We’ve stretched our mental reserves in the last few weeks and it’s time to give them a booster dose of a good win.