As the weekend draws closer, naturally the focus is more on those who would feature in the FA Cup game against Stoke. Looking around the squad, you would expect Wenger to field those fringe players and perhaps even some from the reserves side. That being said, Wenger do have a good record in the FA Cup and have already won it a couple of times. It won’t be the first time he puts out a side which is not the first team and still thinks that the team is good enough to be competitive on that day.
One of those who was looking forward to get some playing time this Sunday would be Sol Campbell. Even if you signed a contract with the club, it doesn’t mean that you’re an Arsenal player. Once the ink has dried on the dotted line, you still need to stay a certain period of time with Colin Lewin to confirmed that. Now that Campbell is rumoured to have been injured, he is well and truly an Arsenal player. How someone who has not played any competitive football game in the last 6 months can be injured, I don’t quite know. If it turns out to be true, then Silvestre can reclaim the title of the oldest player in the squad. This will also mean that either Gallas or Vermaelen will be rested for the weekend in view of the taxing run of matches coming after that.
It could really make or break Arsenal’s season. Villa away followed by United at home, then just a short distance to Chelsea and finally Liverpool at home again. No wins there and we could very well kiss our hopes of landing the Premiership trophy goodbye. It is imperative we do not lose in those games. Not only would it increase the gap between us and the top, but it would also provide the other team the impetus to drive their season forward. No reason why we should want to give those kind of confidence to the likes of Ferguson and Ancelotti.
I hope I did not jinx it by saying that Tomas Rosicky has really returned this time. He has already played a total of 18 games this season, with 9 starts. With 3 goals to his name, he has not really returned with balls of fire but with 2 of those coming in the last 3 games, it looks like he is beginning to get stronger with each passing game. Goals are not necessary what we require from him. While it is nice to have, it will not be something that Rosicky will be judged on. What he brings to the team is the experience and knowledge of knowing when to speed up or slow down the game. It may not be well documented but he is also a fantastic tackler and always willing to track back. His propensity to score from distance is also a welcomed deviation from the normal route that Arsenal likes to score. The one at Anfield in the Carling Cup and the one against Hamburg in the Champions League are just a few that springs to mind.
The bonus for Wenger and Arsenal in general is the continuous supply of creativity. Nasri was injured at the start of the season and Fabregas carried the burden all by himself. When the Spaniard himself was injured, Ramsey was able to carry the torch. Now with Rosicky back, it eases the problems that may occur with Nasri again out injured. It’s hard enough to mark one creator, now there’s two on Arsenal’s side. The Czech maestro is going to be 30 years old this year but having missed out in the last one and a half year, he will be raring to make up for lost time.