It's very sunny this side of the pond, and tomorrow we take on Wigan at the JJB. Wigan, post January, are without their two best players in Heskey and Palacios respectively, who have moved on to Villa and Sp*rs respectively. However, Wigan are the type of team that can turn it on at home and it's going to be a tough game, similar to that of the trips to Stoke (loss) and Middlesborough (draw) earlier this season.
We've been hit with a few injuries after the game against Villareal and it's not ideal at this time of the season, with 3 of the recently quite solid back 5 out for a while. Gallas has been confirmed as out for the season, whilst Clichy and Almunia will both be out for the next two weeks.
Cesc spoke of the team performance showed against Villareal:
“I feel really proud of this team. When you see team-mates playing like that it is really good to be next to them. They are proud as well. We showed great character at Villarreal and we showed how determined we are to win something this season. I think we could have done a bit better but we can’t complain after losing Manuel (Almunia) and William (Gallas). To do that and still come back and get a 1-1 is not a bad result.
We have the return leg at home this week, and we may just have a few players back in the form of Van Persie and Eduardo. Team news coming later, no doubt. Cesc has been getting better with every game and the team captain thinks he will only get better:
“I don’t feel 100 per cent yet. This was only my second game. I played 90 minutes on Saturday I played 80 minutes on Tuesday. That is not easy after over three months out. I feel I need three more games to be at my best. But definitely when you are like that you can finish the season better than the players who have played the whole time.”
I’m sure it was the other way round, playing 80 minutes against Man City and the whole game against Villareal… anywho… it will be very important to have a fit and creative
Let’s take a look at the Wigan game. With Gallas out, we’ve got Djourou who will come in for him. Fabianski will come in for Almunia and although Gibbs has been very good deputising for Clichy, I wouldn’t be surprised if Arsene opted for the more experience Silvestre at left back.
Having played 4-3-3 for the last two games and with VP and Eduardo not back for tomorrow’s game, we could see a similar formation in tomorrow’s game… okay, here’s my prediction:
Sagna – Toure – Djourou – Silvestre
Denilson – Cesc – Song
Eboue – Bendtner – Arshavin
I think with the midweek game, and the fact that Ade was playing the lone striker role on Tuesday, he may rest the Togan International as well as Walcott, both who will be very important in the return leg in the Champions League – I’d expect Mannone, Gibbs, Ramsey, Nasri, Walcott, Vela and Adebayor on the bench.
With the games coming thick and fast, I would expect some sort of rotation as mentioned above. I’m sure we’ll hear more on this at Arsene’s Friday press conference, and probably completely invalidate this early guess at the team lineup… let’s hope VP and Eddie are back…!
Finally today, Arsene has spoken about William Gallas and quashed rumours that he is looking to offload the former captain in Summer, saying:
“That’s a big question. He has one year of his contract to go and I envisage him to be here next year. He had a challenging season and he has certainly had to cope with a major disappointment. But we have to give him a lot of credit, because he came back with great performances, so he dealt well with the situation. He’s played very well. And he’s turned up in the big games with goals when it matters so that is very important.”
And I have to say, in January, I wouldn’t have minded if the Frenchman left us – but since he’s lost the captaincy, he’s had time to focus on his game and has really come back to some decent and team inspiring form. Gallas does have a knack of scoring goals when it matters, and I’d be very happy to see him in the Arsenal colours next season too.
Okay, I’m sure there will be more official news soon on the game, but until then… have a Good Friday!]]>