So, after a good back to back set of wins against Bolton, and a rise to the summit, we have a momentary break from the league in the form of the FA cup and we find a few players injured and maybe a few more rested. Diaby is out of the game on the weekend and out of the midweek game too against Villa, as he has a calf strain and Bacary Sagna will be rested. I don’t think he will be the only one rested and I’d expect to see a little rotation – although we don’t have too many options due to the very vast injury list!
As expected, Cameroon have advanced to the next round of the African Cup of Nations, although they did give us hope as they twice went behind to Tunisia, although the end result of a draw means they come second in the group by virtue of winning their opening game… Zambia, Cameroon and Gabon all ended up on 4 points with Tunisia on 3 – that is probably the tightest and silliest end result – but it means we will be without Alex Song for a while longer. Egypt take on Cameroon on Monday and I hate to say it, but I will be supporting Egypt.
Anyway, back to the FA cup and Stoke it is on Sunday – it’s a tough one – it will be a physical one too – and without Diaby, we’ll have an average height of 5′ 8″… I’m away in Paris from Friday to Sunday, so you may be graced with JAT’s pre-match preview. I’ll try not to speak too much about the game, as I’ll leave that for JAT.
Evaluating the game on Wednesday, Denilson returned to the starting line up. He did look a little rusty, but that could be due to the injury. He will most likely feature again on Sunday at Stoke and again at Villa and we can judge his fitness and progression. Earlier this season he was pretty awesome, and scored some good goals. He was delighted at the come back saying:
“It was very difficult for us in the first half. [At half time] the boss said we had to show how much we care to win. In the second half we put in a brilliant performance. Now we have to continue to focus in training and in the games and the results will come.”
The return of Denilson got me and Bob thinking about who our best first team was. Who are our best XI and it was a tough one, but it made us realise the strength in depth we have. We did this on the premise of no players being injured. Let me take you through the teams first and then after this, I will explain my decisions.
Sagna – Gallas – Vermaelen – Clichy
Diaby – Song
Rosicky – Cesc – Arshavin
Eboue – Djourou – Campbell – Gibbs
Denilson – Ramsey
Walcott – Nasri – Eduardo
Gilbert – Senderos – Silvestre – Traore
Eastmond – Merida
Watt – Wilshere – Vela
Now, that’s three teams of players who have all played in the first team and when you look at the squad like that, you can kind of see why Arsene doesn’t want to buy – I really don’t think any other team in the league can do what we can do – think about it? Can Liverpool, Chelsea or Man United do what we have done above. The first two teams look very good, don’t they? The only area is potentially the defence in the second and third teams, but look at the strength in depth we have. Poor Tom Cruise who has featured in the first team hasn’t made it in the three teams above, neither have players like Coquelin and JET – both on the bench against Bolton on Sunday.
Another controversial decision is that Carlos Vela doesn’t make the first or second team! Am I wrong? Who would you replace to have him in either team?
I think we’d all agree on current form that the first team chosen is the best, the right side midfield position probably the only debatable one, we have three players in Nasri, Walcott and Rosicky who could all play there. I’ve chosen Rosicky because he has probably had the best rating of those three throughout their rare cameos.
Food for thought hey!?!
Anyway, I’ll leave you with that and they’ll be a Stoke preview coming to you tomorrow somehow!