Arsenal vs Aston Villa – The Big FA Cup Preview

Happy weekend to all… It’s been a funny old week, with a lot of realisation. Realisation that things have changed, realisation that we’re quite far off fourth, realisation that we’ve just not been good enough – and realisation that we, as fans, aren’t being very good fans at the moment. Calling for Wenger’s head is not what we should be doing really… after all the man has done. I have to presume that we don’t know the full facts concerning our ability to purchase players and yes, I know every team has them, but the amount of key personnel out through injury in the last five years has been absolutely crazy.

The news that Jack Wilshere could be out for the rest of the season is very worrying. He is our engine – and since last season, to lose Cesc, Nasri, Jack & Diaby from a squad would not be easy for any manager to deal with. With Jack in the “red zone” from last season, you have to wonder why he played in the Emirates cup in the first place… We have to hope we get Arteta back soon, as without him, our midfield is very unbalanced. Arsene spoke about Jack and told us that there is no return date…

He has had a little setback that is under investigation at the moment so I cannot give you how long he will be out for. At the moment he is seeing a specialist and as soon as we know more we will communicate. It sets him back a little bit but for how long I don’t know.  It is the same foot but a different problem to the injury he had surgery on back in September. But is it an inflammation? We have to wait a little bit.

The good news is that we do have a lot of players returning – news is that Sagna, Gibbs, Arteta and Henry will all be back after the Villa game, and Oxlade and Coquelin are already back. Much better news. Although, it makes it very confusing to know who will play tomorrow, but let’s give it a go:

Szcznesy

Coquelin – Mertersacker – Koscielny – Miquel

Song – Ramsey

Walcott – Rosicky – Arshavin

Van Persie

After last week, I think Arsene will not start Oxlade, but perhaps give him 30 minutes or so. The fans do want to see him, he is one of the form players at the moment. However, Arshavin is a player that Arsene is keen on getting back to some sort of form. I think the trick for Arshavin is to move him just behind the striker, and allow him a little bit of central action – he has played here before and looked much better than when he is out wide. It’s a little baffling why he’s playing on the left. Perhaps it is his work rate, or perhaps it’s his lack of defensive discipline, but whether he plays on the left or in the centre, he still won’t offer the defensive cover, so what’s worse? No defensive cover for a full back or none in the middle of the park when you have two midfielders covering you?

It’s a tough set of decisions for Arsene, as we do have a mid-week game – this week it’s Bolton away on Wednesday – so do you risk Van Persie in a cup game? Well, with no real alternatives – Chamakh gone, Henry missing, it may not be a choice that Arsene has – Park did start the Leeds game. But that was more down Van Persie’s holiday than anything else. I wouldn’t mind trying Park out again against Villa and if it’s not working at half time, then put Van Persie on. After Bolton on Wednesday, we have an early kick off against Blackburn on Saturday. Let’s take a look at our next series of fixtures quickly…

  • Aston Villa (home), Sunday 29th Jan
  • Bolton (away), Wednesday 1st Feb
  • Blackburn (home), Saturday 4th Feb
  • Sunderland (away), Saturday 11th Feb
  • AC Milan (away), Wednesday 15th Feb
  • Sp*rs (home), Sunday 26th Feb
  • Liverpool (away), Saturday 3rd March
  • AC Milan (home), Tuesday 6th March

If you ask me, that’s a pretty tough series of games; and that’s the conundrum for Arsene – he has three priorities – finishing in the top four, wining the FA cup and winning the Champions League. So perhaps tomorrow’s line up may include a few more reserve players, perhaps we will see a start for Benayoun and / or Park? We will have to wait until tomorrow to see how Arsene handles it… I just hope for a good game of football. We desperately need a win, and the best way to win a game is to play your best side – a win tomorrow and it could spark the confidence we need for the next series of games.

The love fest for Oxlade Chamberlain has continued, and this time it’s the gaffer who’s been praising him:

“He looks to have [the same fearlessness as Rooney]. Now he has to show that he can play all the time but I believe he can. We have produced more players in the last 15 years than all of the top clubs in Europe put together and we are not scared to play players when they are of the level. I believe he has [that level]. Oxlade-Chamberlain operated in a wide position for much of last Sunday’s game but he was equally adept when drifting in off the flank. Wenger thinks he can play in a number of roles.  He can play centrally as well but he has grown up as a winger. And now I think as well he can play central midfield because he can produce a long pass, he can dribble. At that age, you know, you start first on the wing.”

He is the one talent who you have a certain interest in, the one who you think could really make a difference, the one who could win a game…

We’ll leave it at that for now – all eyes on tomorrow and the big game… til then, ciao for now.

  • CON-MAN

    id say Park will probably start but to be honest Arsene let him in! hes a striker, he plays for Arsenal, the time of babying is over, let him play and lets see what he can do.

    As for Arshavin i’d like to see him a bit more central opposed to rosicky

  • shard

    Hey let’s talk about the most important thing we discovered to tonight?! How piss poor Walcott is and being upstaged by oxlede! walcotts celebration was embarrassing after he scored a embarrassing goal. Even arsene looked embarrassed by his table tennis celebration.. I apologise to neutral fans as I don’t support theo as he’s just a sprinter with zero football ability, if he and arshavin had a pair of b#llocks it might make up for it but there just bring the club down with them. If only arsene drank coffee, as he clearly doesn’t wake up and smell it!!