It will not surprise many Arsenal fans to know that Arsene Wenger is facing a big selection headache going into a crucial game, because that has been pretty much the story of the last two years. The names of Jack Wilshere, Wojciech Szczesny and Olivier Giroud have been added to the list for the visit of Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League, so how will the manager line up his Gunners?
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Despite all the talk in the media about the Premier League clash between Arsenal and Manchester United having lost a lot of it’s glamour and importance in the last 10 years, the match at the Emirates stadium today is massive, there is no doubt about it, especially for both clubs.
To be honest, with Liverpool, Everton and Tottenham all struggling as well, there is a good chance that both clubs will finish in the top four, but whoever wins today will take a big step towards it and lay a big blow on their rivals. Arsenal could finish as high as fourth place if we win, while a loss could see us drop to as low as 12th place, so it is clear how important it is to win.
It is probably just as big a relief for Danny Welbeck as it is for Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal fans, to be fair. Because the slight hamstring strain that the 230year old striker picked up while on international duty could not have come at a worse time for Welbeck, as it looked like it might stop our new centre forward from facing his former club.
It is not as if Welbeck feels any particular resentment towards them, as he is a Manchester lad and clearly has a lot of respect for the club. But it is always a special occasion for any player to face his old club, especially when you have something to prove.
Because of the injury through absence of the Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta and the well reported problems that the Gunners have had in the centre of midfield, including a slating from the TV pundits about our collapse on Tuesday night, Arsene Wenger knows that this is a key area for today’s Premier League away game against Swansea City.
And with the Welsh club being well known for their hard work and good possession of the ball, I expect the Arsenal boss to try to deal with this by playing both Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere in the centre. I also think he will play our most defensive midfielder Mathieu Flamini in front of the back four in a 4-1-4-1 formation.
Arsene Wenger has been talking about his Arsenal side ahead of tonight’s crucial Champions League clash with the Belgian champions Anderlecht. And the manager’s words make me think that he will start with the same line-up for the third game in a row tonight.
As a report by Arsenal.com shows, Wenger feels that the reason the Gunners were struggling until a couple of games ago was a lack of patience and then a lack of confidence on the defensive side of things. But the same 11 players have now started against Sunderland and Burnley and Arsenal have two important clean sheets and two wins from them.
Aaron Ramsey has not started a game for Arsenal since he returned to fitness after his latest injury problem. It looked like Arsene Wenger was trying to be every cautious in re-introducing the star player of last season back into the Gunners’ line up, but events this week have forced his hand.
With the manager having toild Arsenal.com that our England international midfielder Jack Wilshere is very unlikely to be able to start after he picked up a minor problem in training this week, the young Welshman is the natural choice to start instead.
The Arsenal team that Arsene Wenger has picked to start today’s game against the out of form, low on confidence and eminently beatable Sunderland has two glaring omissions in my opinion. And the 65-year old could face a lot of questions from the Arsenal fans and football media if the Gunners do not play well and win the game.
One player that I think should be starting is the best finisher at the club Lukas Podolski. The German has been crying out to play more and has just won us an unlikely three Champions League points, so I do no really understand why Wenger has put him on the bench again.
Arsenal need to build on the fortunate Champions League win over Anderlecht in midweek. And we need to take advantage of the heavy beating that today’s opponents Sunderland got on their trip to Southampton last weekend. So with the Gunners not doing very well at the back anyway so far this season, Arsene Wenger must surely go on the attack.
So that means, in my opinion, that his team selection for this vital game needs to be fairly adventurous and attack minded. Mikel Arteta should start instead of Mathieu Flamini. Lukas Podolski should start ahead of Alex Oxclade-Chamberlain and our best fit attacking midfielder Santi Cazorla must play in the central, number 10 position.
A lot of the Arsenal fans out there, despite being armchair managers, accept that Arsene Wenger may have the edge on us when it comes to matters relating to the game we all love, football. But the Frenchman has not exactly enhanced his reputation with the latest piece of insight, reported by Arsenal.com.
I am not saying that the boss is wrong, far from it, just that him saying that the Gunners need to play a bit better than we have been doing so far this season is not really news to many people. How to achieve this and why we have been so poor up to now would be useful information.
Arsenal travel to the Stadium of Light later today, as the Gunners look to pile the misery on Sunderland who were battered 0-8 by a spirited Southampton side last weekend. However, this game, on the pitch, is going to be a lot more competitive than anticipated, as the visitors aren’t in the best of form either, and lack options when tested.
The Black Cats, under Gus Poyet, are (were?) a very good side, and this home game against Arsenal gives them a chance to rectify their 8-0 reverse, thereby reminding other clubs in the English top flight that they are no punch bags. Having said that, what kind of a game does Arsenal have in store against the Black Cats?