The match against wolves is upon us as we face them tomorrow. A mere two days have passed since the uncharacteristic defeat at home on Sunday. We have to bounce back and simply win this. There is no other option for us.
It has been reported that Koscielny’s red card appeal has been dismissed and he is going to serve a two-match ban starting from tomorrow’s game. As for Vermaelen, he has suffered an injury setback and he is going to be out for an indefinite time. That leaves us with just two centre backs and I hope none of them get injured or suspended in tomorrow’s game. Fabregas is still having some problems with his hamstring but I guess he will be ok to play. Seeing his last two appearances, he hasn’t performed well due to the problem and I hope this isn’t the case tomorrow. Nasri is also ok and fit to play. Other than that Diaby has a test in coming days that will decide if he is ready to return to the squad. No news on Gibbs and Almunia but I guess they are not yet ready to return to the squad.
This is what Wenger said to TV online:
“From Sunday against Newcastle, we don’t lose anyone. Samir Nasri is OK and available.
Robin Van Persie had only one training session before Sunday. He gets sharper everyday. Yesterday he had some pain because it was the first time he had played. But today he was better already. In a few days he will be alright.
We don’t have good news about Thomas Vermaelen. He had a little set-back yesterday in training and he has to see specialists again. I don’t know where we go with Thomas time-wise but at the moment he cannot play. I can’t give you any time scale at all. On the scan his Achilles is completely clear but as soon as he stays out for a while it tightens up and he has pain. We don’t know the source of his pain.
Diaby is the same. He has a test Wednesday or Thursday. If he gets through that it will be very quick, if he still has pain he will have to see a specialist.”
We still have plenty of options and it’s how we utilize them is going to make the difference. The team that I would like to see is
Probable staring XI: Fabianski, Sagna, Djourou, Squillaci, Clichy, Song, Fabregas, Wilshere, Nasri, RVP, Arshavin.
At the back I am going with Fabianski. Although many will want Szczesny in goal after Fabianski’s mistake but I believe that we should stick with him till at least January. The back line picks it up itself.
Wilshere, Song and Fabregas to return in midfield. Although Denilson helps us to have more stability in midfield, I don’t think any of the three can be dropped. Wilshere has been superb since his return and Fabregas is an integral part of team even if not performing well. And even if Fabregas is dropped I would like to see Nasri or Rosicky in his place. Denilson can come in for Song and that may give more leverage to Wilshere to go forward but we would need some physical presence tomorrow and for that Song fits more.
Upfront I am going with Van Persie as it’s time we play a proper centre forward. Chamakh has been good for us and most probably Wenger will pick him to start but I feel he should be brought on as a substitute if things are not going our way. I haven’t chosen Walcott to start because he can be an impact player late on along with Rosicky. Arshavin on the left will leave us a bit exposed defensively but we need his directness early on to unsettle wolves.
Coming to the game which is going to be very difficult because Wolves will know what they have to do. They will remain compact at the back and try to score on set pieces, corners and counters. They were very good against Man Utd and unlucky not to get anything from the match. They are at home and that will increase their confidence. They are pretty good and disciplined in defending and can frustrate any team at home. Upfront players like Doyle, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Fletcher can score goals. They can also be very physical with players like Henry and Hunt in midfield.
So we would have to be in top gear from the start. We would have to open them up and create good scoring opportunities because we failed in doing this against Newcastle and lost. Quick and direct passing would be the key tomorrow in opening up their backline.
If we can control the midfield effectively we will have no problems and for that we would need to keep possession. There will be lots of physical battles and we would have to show some steel to have authority in the middle. Our players will be at the end of few fouls and hopefully we won’t have new injuries. Our passing was very poor against Newcastle and we would have to sort it out against wolves.
The utilization of flanks will also be important as we would need to open up their compactness at the back. Clichy and Sagna would have to be at their best tomorrow if the flanks are to be dominated.
This brings me to the point that we have to stick to our style of play tomorrow i.e. keeping the ball down. Lately we have been trying to use the aerial route but we haven’t been effective. I am not saying we don’t have to do it but it should be kept to a minimum. The reason being the moment we go aerial we fail to keep possession due to our poor crosses which the opposing team easily deals with it. We have to balance it out with our style of play and not just kick every ball into the danger area as we were doing against Newcastle.
Our defence would have to be vigilant at all times. We don’t want any mistakes. Song will have to remain close to them to help cover the spaces. Wolves will be using the long balls from the flanks and down the centre and we would have to deal with them.
That I guess is all. The final word is that we have to remain focused tomorrow if we are to get the maximum points. Most of the players have spoken positively after the loss but they have to show the positivity on the field and come up with a good performance. Let’s hope they can turn words to action. Fingers crossed.