Right now Arsene Wenger has too many players who need a game. That’s not been a case in most of the recent seasons and touchwood lest I jinx it. Le Boss has no choice but to take Carling Cup seriously! Of course, that’s not the only reason but you get the drift.
Wigan will visit the Emirates tomorrow for the quarter-final that seems like an easy win. Well, I’m sort of on a jinxing spree here but I promise I won’t mention anything about winning in pre-match posts for the rest of the season if we botch up the game tomorrow.
On a more serious note, I think a great deal will depend on the starting eleven. We’ve seen in Europe and even at the end of last season, when we have 7-8 first choice players missing we can find a way of losing almost any game. And I have no doubt we will have more than half our first choice players either on the bench or not in the squad.
Wigan on the other hand, have a relatively smaller squad. Like Chelsea, they submitted a list with only 19 senior players in their Premier League squad. Obviously, that is all they have because I don’t see any reason for them to keep some players out of that list. The Latics do have some youngsters like Moses, Di Santo, McCarthy, and others but overall they don’t have a big enough squad to make wholesale changes and compete.
I’m not sure if Roberto Martinez will risk his best players in this game given the relegation battle he has on his hands. If that turns out to be the case Arsenal will cruise through and I don’t even have to be superstitious about it.
Nevertheless, Arsenal must go out with full focus and start the game like they’d done against Villa and Tottenham. And we need to finish it better than we did in those games. Sounds pretty simple, eh!
As I mentioned at the start, many Gunners need games. Walcott, Bendtner, Vela, RvP, Denilson, Djourou, Gibbs, and Eboue are some of the senior players who deserve a start. Szczesny, Nordtveit, Eastmond, and JET will also feel they should get a game. Somewhere in the dressing room even Almunia must be wondering if he will get another chance.
Leaving the Spaniard out, that’s twelve players. In effect, Arsene could change the whole starting line-up if wanted to. Just for the sake of discussion we could put out a team that looks like this,
Szczesny – Eboue, Nordtveit, Djourou, Gibbs – Denilson, Eastmond, RvP – Walcott, Bendtner, Vela.
Even then JET would be hard to fit in. While this list is just for the sake of discussion, I do feel we will have at least 7-8 of those players in the starting line-up tomorrow.
I’m not sure how fit Eboue is. So we might see Nordtveit on the right with Koscielny coming in his usual central defender role. I also expect a stronger midfield as RvP can do the creative part of that advanced midfield role but I can’t see him do the defensive bit. Rosicky should continue in his role as Captain and advanced midfielder.
That will mean either RvP goes to the bench or one of the front three sits out. Vela might be the most likely to miss out if Van Persie is fit to start.
To be perfectly honest, I’d also like to see Wilshere or Song play instead of Eastmond. The youngster makes me nervous with his body language and he was part of that capitulation against the same opponents towards the end of last season. Not pleasant memories and I’m not sure if the Latics won’t get a confidence boost on seeing him in the starting eleven.
Having said that, I’ll be surprised if Arsene doesn’t play him. There are some decisions Le Boss makes that I can never understand and his faith in Eastmond falls in that category. If the youngster does play I hope he puts in a performance to banish the ghosts of that disaster.
Ideally, I’d like to see the following line-up,
Szczesny – Nordtveit, Koscielny, Djourou, Gibbs – Denilson, Wilshere, Rosicky – Walcott, RvP, Bendtner.
This team would be a little weak on the right defensively but should make up for it with a relatively strong midfield. It should also be strong enough for any Wigan side and not only the changed one that we’re likely to see.
I hope Szczesny has to make a couple of good saves but is able to keep a clean sheet. On the other end a goal each for the front three should do, although the man I’d most like to see on the score-sheet is Rosicky.
Here’s to a momentum building win and a morale boosting performance, especially defensively.