Two weeks, we beat Shaktar a whopping 5-1 at the Emirates, with an excellent display of attacking football and an equally intelligent defensive display – but the return trip today will be a completely different kettle of fish. The 5-1 scoreline was quite emphatic and reality was a little harsh on the visitors, who were quite stubborn up until the goals were scored. They will be looking to get some sort of revenge and it will be a test of our resolve. A point out in Shaktar will be enough in terms of progression for our progression – but a win will virtually put us through to the next round.
After our slight win, but dedicated performance against West Ham, there may be a few changes. There were fitness questions around Denilson after three games in a row and a slightly subdued performance against West Ham – with Jack Wilshere returning from suspension, I’d expect him to take his place. News broke earlier this week from the club that Wilshere has signed a new contract to see him tied down to the club for the next 5 years, and Arsene took time out to talk about the future of Jack and the contribution to the team so far… and with Cesc absent from the squad too, how he can play a more advanced role:
“When Fabregas is not there you have to share a little bit the decisive passing, the building up of the game between Nasri, Wilshere or Rosicky for example, so that is the task we have. We have many creative players who can create good passes and that’s what I count on. Wilshere is not scared to take the ball so he will have a part of it to do. It depends what I do. If I play with two more defensive midfield players behind him he can play that role but if I use Jack deeper and for example Nasri or Rosicky in front of them he remains in the same position. I am very much surprised [by Wilshere’s development]. I didn’t expect that to happen so quickly. You have to be open-minded in our job and most of the time when it happens like that you are happy.”
Despite the noise from Arsene regarding Jack playing in more attacking role, I am pretty sure he’ll start against Shaktar alongside Alex Song, but may move higher up the pitch in the latter stages of the game if we need to be a little more defensive. With three wins out of three, we can rotate a little, and I’d expect Sagna and Koscielny to be rested. I’d also think Chamakh will be rested too, letting Bendtner have another run out. I’d expect the following line-up:
Eboue – Squillaci – Djourou – Clichy
Wilshere – Song
Walcott – Nasri – Arshavin
With a bench of Szcznesy,