Losing one of your first choice centreback is already bad enough, but you lose both, it is the worst thing that could happen. That is exactly what will happen to Arsenal, at least for the next immediate fixture away at Birmingham. With William Gallas on a long term calf injury with no end in sight, Vermaelen’s dismissal on Saturday will hurt Arsenal at the back. The Belgian has come in at the start of the season and adjusted seamlessly in the Premier League life. Missing out at St. Andrews will also cause him to lose the 100% appearance record he holds in the league thus far.
What option does that leave Wenger? Obviously Sol Campbell cannot keep playing every 3 days. Should Wenger play Campbell against Birmingham and risk losing him for Barcelona? Can Silvestre cope with the attack of Birmingham? In a case where I take into account the lesser of two evils, I would be inclined to lean towards the second one. Whatever the case, we should save Campbell to save Barcelona on Wednesday next week. His presence in the face of arguably the most in-form player in the planet, Lionel Messi, is a must.
Alex McLeish has assembled a solid looking side in Birmingham who were doing well in the league up until recently. They have not lost at home since September of last year but sign of cracks are beginning to appear as can be seen in their last 2 matches. Holding out Everton and stumbling against Sunderland. They do not have speed in their attack, an attribute which might suit Silvestre. McLeish relies heavily on Cameron Jerome’s presence up front to lead his attack with Christian Benitez and James McFadden supporting from the flanks.
Also if Wenger to select one from Campbell or Silvestre, it also means that Alex Song will remain at centreback, at least for one more game. With the choices available in midfield now, it is a move that is wise to take. Diaby could easily come into midfield and allow Denilson to take up the role he did so well on Saturday. Gone are the days when one would shudder at the thought of depending on Diaby to come in and do a job in midfield. There’s not much I can say about Alex Song that I haven’t already mentioned before. His transformation from the timid, clumsy player of early last season to the polished and calm player that he is now is just amazing. Centreback position is not something that is alien to him having been used there in the league last season as well as the Carling Cup ties this season.
Tough as it may be, we just have to live without our first choice centreback pairing this Saturday. Technically there is still another option that Wenger can use. Phillipe Senderos is currently on loan at Everton, if need be, we can still recall him back for the league games. However, it is clear that he has fallen out of favour with the boss and have only played 1 full match for Everton since his move in January. It’s a long shot but I’ve seen stranger things in football.
Till tomorrow. Thanks for reading.