Partizan Preview: A Return To Winning Ways Needed
Against a backdrop of criticism, Arsenal has travelled to Belgrade with Lukasz Fabianski the main target although the tabloids are not letting Wenger off the hook so easily following the weekend’s defeat.
Desperation may have taken hold in the blogosphere but the manager is relatively calm over the loss to West Brom:
It is our first loss this season so it is not a catastrophe
That rather depends upon whom you ask, Arsene. For those with agendas or column inches to sell, it most certainly is a disaster, all the while conveniently forgetting that in the previous nine home games, two goals had been conceded as well as notching up seven clean sheets. Not bad for a team which apparently is filled with useless goalkeepers and defenders who cannot tackle.
Whilst this evening has come quickly and allows the players to shake the disappointment of losing from their system, Arsene might have preferred an extra day to prepare. The squad he has travelled with is remarkably similar to that which took part at the weekend, Diaby and Almunia absentees through injury. Both were criticised at the weekend although the Spaniard has found himself the unlikeliest of champions for his cause, Ian Wright. Despite some errors – with Casillas in goal, very few others have been awarded caps by Spain – it is difficult to disagree with a lot of what he says. I know, I found myself feeling weird writing that. Agreeing with Ian Wright? Yea Gods, it is going to be an odd day indeed.
Fabianksi needs a good match this evening. Not just to silence some of his critics but in case he is needed at the weekend. Going into the Chelsea match with the media and the Arsenal public on his back will intensify the pressure he puts himself under. He knows that his performances last season won him few friends, the mistakes he made were costly in terms of goals conceded and points dropped. Wenger needs the performance to allow his players to concentrate on matters in hand, rather than being mired in a deluge of castigation.
Partizan won’t make things easy. They were unbeaten in their domestic league last season and have continued the run into the current campaign. There is a difference between the standards of any domestic league and the Champions League but remaining undefeated that long breeds confidence. That said, it is a fixture in which Arsenal must look to triumph and indeed has the personnel in the eighteen man squad to do so.
Sebastien Squillaci was dutifully respectful of tonight’s hosts:
It’ll be difficult. Partizan are a good team, very strong technically, and it’s away from home of course, so we have to be ready to battle for the right to play our own game. We know we have to be good to go there and win.
Wenger has promised changes but I suspect there will not be too many of them. Wilshere and Rosicky must surely return to give the team more attacking bite in midfield, probably at the expense of Eboue in midfield, the young England international the natural replacement for Diaby. It seems that Arsene is brave enough to blood youngsters if they are good enough despite what certain Polish goalkeepers might believe.
Defensively, it would be a curious decision to replace Clichy with Gibbs, especially given the initial concern over his injury. He would need to be fully recovered, surely, for a starting place tonight. It is not hard to believe that Sagna will be rested for Eboue though. The French defender did not enjoy the best of afternoon’s against Albion but is there a risk in making too many changes to the team, rather than letting them play themselves back into form?
I would expect a starting line-up tonight of:
Fabianski; Eboue, Koscielny, Djourou, Clichy; Song, Wilshere, Rosicky; Nasri, Chamakh, Arshavin
Within that, there is room for change. Squillaci could drop back into the starting line-up to give Koscielny a rest, the younger of the French duo not out of the side save for suspension this season. Equally, Wenger may decide that the axis of Wilshere and Lansbury performed so well that Nasri or Arshavin can be considered expendable for kick-off, substitutes if needed.
Having demolished Braga in the opening fixture, a win tonight brings qualification to win four or six points. Two remaining home games gives a certain comfort in those numbers and allows for genuine rotation for the trips to Ukraine and Portugal. A win tonight with an outstanding performance wipes the memory of the weekend ahead of Chelsea. Incentives all round.
Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it. ’til Tomorrow.
Posted on September 28, 2010, in Arsenal, Champions League, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer and tagged Arsenal, Champions League, Football, Premier League, Soccer. Bookmark the permalink. 497 Comments.