Time to focus on the Champions League…

As Cesc has come through the last few games unscathed and hitting some good form, it's now time to revert to a 4-4-2 with Cesc in a slightly more defensive role along side either Song or Denilson. It will mean a return to having two strikers up front, and for the first time in a while, we could have Adebayor and Van Persie up front with Nasri and Walcott on the wings.

Arsene spoke on Cesc's positioning:

“We dropped Cesc deeper into midfield and pushed Theo Walcott upfront. I felt that we needed a bit more creativity. At some stage when a guy is man-to-man marked you either push him completely upfront to create space for other players or you push him completely deep. When he’s in the mid-zone and the ball comes out it becomes very difficult. It is a very difficult question to answer about whether that is Cesc’s best position or not. He certainly likes to be at the start of things but then he can also give the final ball. I would still say the deeper role suits him more because he likes to get the ball from the centre back and he has a good long pass. That’s more him than a guy who plays behind the strikers who might have more pace to penetrate. He is very good in the hole too but I believe that is because of the quality of his passing and less for his individual game.”

Cesc was out of action for 3 and a half months, and since he’s been back he’s been involved in four goals, setting up Adebayor for three goals and of course Silvestre for his tap in against Wigan. Cesc was in dire need of a break at the beginning of the season. With Spain winning the Euros and our season starting so early, he was thrown straight into action and found it hard to find the form that saw him control games last season.

“He was fantastic. He looks to get stronger and stronger from game to game. Today I found him physically much strong from Wednesday at Villarreal. I did think he needed a breather [earlier in the campaign]. Maybe it was too long for my taste but it will help him to finish the season strongly.”

Cesc has also been in the press and been talking about our achievements so far. He’s also been quite insistent that although we’ve been on a good run – we’ve achieved nothing yet. We’re in pole position for fourth place now, but finishing third would mean we wouldn’t have to go through qualifying, so there is a real target there. We’ve got the Champions League quarter final second leg and the semi final of the FA Cup. If we could win all our remaining games, we would finish having had an excellent season, and that’s what Cesc is targeting.

“It is a good 10 days we have coming up now. We will play three very important matches for the players and the club that will decide our season and where we can go. I’m very confident that if we keep going and playing like we are doing, we can do well. We have been playing quite well throughout the whole season, yet for some reason some people decided to go a little bit against us. Some people tried to create a little bit of a bad atmosphere. We can answer them by winning things and that’s what we are aiming to do over the remainder of the season. That’s why these next few days are key for us. We have Villarreal in the Champions League, then Chelsea, an amazing team, in the FA Cup semi-final. We still have a big say in the season.”

With our aforementioned defensive problems, the line up on Wednesday could be:

Fabianski

Sagna – Toure – Silvestre – Gibbs

Walcott – Denilson – Cesc – Nasri

Adebayor – Van Persie

With a bench of Szczesny, Song, Eboue, Ramsey, Merida, Eduardo and Vela.

It’s very exciting looking forward to Wednesday. Adebayor has played well since he has come back after injury and we all know what Van Persie can do. With Walcott’s pace, Nasri’s invention and Cesc’s vision, we’ve got a good game going forward. Denilson, I feel, is a completely different player now than he was at the start of the season and Song too has come on leaps and bounds.

More news on Villareal tomorrow… it’s going to be an exciting week, that’s for sure…]]>

  • http://kierandelaney.net kierandelaney.net

    Senna is injured!! That’s excellent news.

  • debs

    They’re missing practically all of their first choice midfield! Hopefully we’ll capitalise on that and dominate the match, including the first half!

  • Fabrez

    Yeah…they r missing like 3 or 4 key men. Maybe Pires would start then? Hmm…. But yeah…we need 2 capitilize on them missing so many players…especially Mr. Senna who is lethal from 18-30 yards with his screamers out and is so solid defensively!

  • Fabrez

    And i hope Gibbs settles down and plays good football…i think when he’s not thinking too much of the big occassion, his focus is better. A young lad like him playing in the Champions League quarters is crazy! Only at The Arsenal! But behind the lads 100%!

  • unspoken

    somehow i think song will play cb and silvestre will be playing lb?

  • Pissed off

    < ![CDATA[Compromising our defence in this game will do us no good. We have to retain the Saturday back line up. But my insistence is in attacking; we should play a 4-4-2 formation regardless of what we normally play in CL.

    We should attack relentlessly and make it our form of defence, then hope come Saturday that Djourou and possibly Clichy will be back fit again.]]>

  • Fabrez

    Not a bad shout unspoken…if we go 4-4-2, i’d say that would be very stable. More experience at the back is important. I’d like to see 4-4-2.

  • zohaib

    < ![CDATA[They have their midfield missing. We have our defence missing. Levels it out, I'd say.

    We can't afford to be relieved. They have other players that can be dangerous, as they were in the first leg (Ibagaza etc) and we have a very brittle defence anyways.

    We don't have an advantage by any means. It isn't very hard to score a goal against us. We have to be solid at the back. Make no silly mistakes. Be concentrating at 110%. At 1 - 0 to them, they go through. So we need to be aiming at :

    a) keeping a clean sheet
    b) scoring 2 goals - (which means we shouldn't switch off after scoring 1 goal !]]>

  • zohaib

    < ![CDATA[)*

    lol]]>

  • Pete

    < ![CDATA[Totally agree with you mate :)

    It's games like these, when you have key player missing, that you really have to fight for. This is the type of game that we could really get hurt if we're not at our best.

    It was around this time last year where we played in the FA Cup and Champions League in the same week and got knocked out of both competitions. That memory alone should be a warning to us as to what can happen if we're complacent in any way. But the ability to get trhough is there, so good luck to the lads tonight!]]>