Shaktar Preview: Return Of The Ed Should Not Stop Arsenal Win
Champions League football returns this evening with the first of the double-header against Shaktar Donetsk. Eduardo dominates the proceedings as far as the media are concerned about the Ukranians, the fickle fates of the fixture list ensured even more attention than normal with the preceding match being a Premier League encounter with Birmingham City.
Wenger sounded the cautionary note and is aware that the immutable law of the -ex carries more threat tonight than Alexander Hleb’s return to The Emirates on Saturday did. According to Wenger,
He just had the class of an Arsenal player
The manager thought it difficult to quantify how good the player would have been for Arsenal had he not been injured. The answer lies in 12 goals in 22 games. At that rate, he would have become the club’s top scorer in another 300 matches, only about 50 more than Henry took to reach that point. That’s how good he could have been.
Shaktar are one of only two teams in the group phase who has yet to concede a goal; Arsenal are top scorers. Something has to give tonight. The win over Birmingham was much needed – the continued pathetic ramblings of their players bring discredit to their club and a disservice to the game as a whole – and that side is bolstered by the return of Cesc Fabregas. Personally, I would not risk starting him and I suspect, neither will Wenger, especially as Jack Wilshere is in good form and not available for three matches following this evening.
Half an eye must be cast towards Eastlands this weekend and having the captain fit for that match is as imperative as a win tonight (every match has the imperative of a win as far as I’m concerned before anyone asks). The mystery surrounding Robin van Persie deepened to the extent that Ivan Gazidis was seen leaving 221b Baker Street, Wenger noting that the Dutchman will not be playing for his country in November but available for his club in three weeks time. Which is 10th November, a week before the internationals. Not sure if Arsene has inside information – and he probably has – but I understood the rules to be that if he is fit and the Dutch want him, he can be called up.
Otherwise, there will be little scope for change from Saturday, a little tinkering around the edges if you like. The first ‘casualty’ is likely to be Andrey Arshavin. Wenger noted that he is often tired following international weeks. That being the case, the best he should hope for tonight is a place on the bench, lethargy evident in the Premier League encounter. Rosicky is a more than capable substitute and his performances have generally been sparkling this season.
The real bonus for Wenger has been the ease with which Marouane Chamakh has settled into the side, useful given the injury situations of Robin van Persie and Nicklas Bendtner. It might be another hour long performance by the Moroccan as Wenger gently brings the Dane back to full match fitness. With his injury having been muscular, better to be slow and sure rather than hurried and see him disappear for weeks on end.
Otherwise, the likeliest change is in midfield with Diaby or Song making way for Denilson. I suspect the former although understand why some want the latter to make way and be ready for the weekend. Song though is using the ball better than ever whilst Diaby added a dynamic to the attack last weekend that if he could reproduce on a consistent basis, would see him take strides to occupying a place in the pantheon of great midfielders in Arsenal’s history.
The line-up I would expect to see is:
Fabianski; Eboue, Squillaci, Djourou, Clichy; Denilson, Song, Wilshere; Rosicky, Chamakh, Nasri
Injuries permitting, it would be no surprise to see Song, Nasri and Chamakh replaced during the course of the game to give Fabregas, Walcott and Bendtner match time ahead of Manchester City.
The parochial nature of the media was highlighted in Arsene’s press conference yesterday. Unusurprisingly he offered no opinion on the reported decline in Wayne Rooney’s relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson – if Real Madrid want a sunburned English yob, it would be cheaper for them to go to Benidorm and sign someone off the street – but did anyone ask him about The Sunday Times allegations of corruption in the World Cup bidding process? Or corruption in football on a wider-scale? Alas no and another chance for some interesting copy was lost.
Anyway, enjoy the match wherever you are watching it. ’til Tomorrow.
Posted on October 19, 2010, in Arsenal, Champions League, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer and tagged Arsenal, Champions League, Football, Premier League, Soccer. Bookmark the permalink. 234 Comments.