Another top versus bottom game for Arsenal in the Premier League. After West Ham last week, it’s Wigan’s turn this week. Wigan is only 2 points better than West Ham and sits also 2 places above them in 18th place in the standings. We’ve only got a point off them in the away games just before the turn of the year and traditionally, this has always been a home win for us.
Not that I’m trying to say this is a walk in the park. However, this would probably be the first time that Wigan will come up against our first eleven this season, even though we’ve already place them twice this season. The first was a Carling Cup game and the second was smacked right between the Chelsea and Birmingham games. On both occasions, Arsene Wenger went for a mixed team. Both controlled their respective games but only one yielded a win.
There’s not much to tell about Wigan that I haven’t already mentioned this season. Manager, Roberto Martinez has got them playing the type of football that is reminiscent of Arsenal, but arguably with less quality. Charles N’Zogbia should feature after his red card for a stupid mild head-butt on Jack Wilshere. They’ve got Hugo Rodallega up front who have pace and power that could trouble us. But beyond these 2 names, it is hard to see anyone else who could make an impact on this game.
Of course this game comes before the return leg of the Carling Cup semifinal against Ipswich next week. Will Wenger try for another mix team with the intentions of unleashing his most preferred starters for next week? Or will Wenger use the same line-up as the one against Chelsea and West Ham while keeping faith with those that played the cup games for next week. Whoever they are, Wenger will definitely be without the services of Lukasz Fabianski and Sebastien Squillaci. While there are fitness doubts surrounding Denilson and Marouane Chamakh. We will also not have the pleasure of seeing Aaron Ramsey for at least another month as he has placed on loan at Cardiff.
I do think we’ll start as we did last week. That means the following line-up;
That being said, Samir Nasri and Johan Djourou played on Wednesday and I’ll be inclined to give them a breather if required. Nasri who has been lauded by experts, not least his own manager, is important in the way we play and thus might play again tonight. Without disrespecting Ipswich, Wigan should on paper provide harder resistance than the former. Having Nasri on the field until we have the game sewn up and risk being without him for the semifinal is an outcome that is more than acceptable.
Meanwhile for our Swiss centreback, there’s always the worry that he could go back to the treatment room if we continue to use him without giving his body a chance to recover. Alex Song could fit there but I’d rather we don’t use that option for this game. Song can pay there against Ipswich. I think we need his defensive abilities in midfield more in tonight’s game.
Robin Van Persie is obviously our striker of the moment. He has scored 4 in the last 4 games that he has played for us. That is a very good sign for us. Naturally I was worried when he came back initially and looked very much of the pace. Luckily for us, that he has come out of that period with renewed confidence and goals. He leads the line in a different sort of way compared to Chamakh. With RvP, he doesn’t just stay up front, his movement off the ball is fantastic. Always looking to link the play and get involve in the game.
Tonight also sees Birmingham visiting Old Trafford. If before it is hard to see how they can come out of there with any result, the expectation is even lower now that they’ve lost Scott Dann. Chelsea have a much tougher task as they visit Reebok Stadium while Stratford Hotspur could also slip up at St James Park. Therefore, a win tonight for us is important as there’s every chance that other challengers could drop points.
Hopefully we’ll seal the tie early and rest some tired limbs for the upcoming matches. Come on you Gunners!!