Our title hopes might be unrealistic now but there is still a lot to play for. Finishing as close to the top as possible is important from a psychological point of view. It would give the players and supporters further belief that we can do it next year.
Automatic qualification for the Champions League hasn’t been secured and it’s a luxury we can certainly benefit from. If we lose focus at this stage and with more than half the team out injured, it would be easy to get dragged into the fight for fourth place. The players will have to get over their disappointments and turn in a professional performance at the DW stadium.
Even though this is an away game, I believe this is our easiest fixture from the ones that remain. That makes it all the more imperative for us to get a good result here.
One big positive and the reason I feel this is our easiest game from the remaining fixtures is that the hosts will play football. At least they will try to.
If it were up to me, I’d change the formation because we just don’t have the personnel to carry on with the 4-3-3. It would be a huge risk to play that formation with most of our centre backs and DM’s missing. I’d prefer a 4-4-1-1 for this game with Walcott just in behind Bendtner. Having said that, I’m quite certain Arsene will stick to his preferred formation and throw some youngsters into the deep end.
This game will be a tight affair till the first goal is scored. The longer the game goes on without a goal the harder it will be for us. It’s difficult to imagine that our players will have the same mental strength with the title now seemingly out of sight.
The hosts have a fragile defence and if our movement and coordination are good enough there is no reason we can’t score a few goals. We just need to do in the first fifteen minutes what we’ve been doing in the last quarter hour of games in recent weeks.
Wigan, for their part, will fancy their chances simply because we have more than half our first team out injured. They need a result to stay clear of the relegation battle and that’s motivation enough.
We will need to be well organized and close knit to keep a clean sheet.
Will Robin van Persie start? That’s the question many of us want an answer to. Against Spuds we saw the difference the Dutchman can make. Despite that I’ll be surprised if RvP starts because he’s had absolutely no match practice. Most players play a game or two in reserves and then make a few substitute appearances when they are returning from such a long injury break. Arsene could start him out of pure spite for the Dutch national federation but I can’t imagine such a petty thought even entering Le Boss’ mind.
We can also looking forward to a couple of youngsters in the starting line-up. Eastmond is likely to be one and Merida might get a game as well.
On the face of it the idea of Silvestre in defence and Eastmond as a DM is really scary no matter who we are playing. Sol and Silvestre will have to use all their experience to keep the midfield organized and close to them. Of course, the question whether Sol can play two games in a week is yet to be answered.
The team I’d like to see is,
Almunia; Sagna, Sol, Silvestre, Clichy; Eboue, Nasri, Diaby, Rosicky; Walcott; Bendtner.
That would be a 4-4-1-1 with Eboue and Rosicky on the wings and Walcott in behind Bendtner.
Arsene will probably start with Eastmond in the middle instead of Walcott up front with Bendtner, although he might use the winger in place of Eboue. I definitely believe that Walcott deserves a start.
The disappointment of the loss against the Tinies was huge, but their win over a full strength Chelsea side does throw some perspective on it. The season is not over and we need to maintain focus on each game as it comes.