Shaktar Preview: Qualify And Give The Squad A Chance
A return to the scene of the crime, a chance to right a horrible wrong from the club’s European history, a chance to avenge their heaviest defeat on their travels, a three goal margin the last time Arsenal set foot in Donetsk. And they do so with a number of individuals missing. Diaby, Song, Fabregas and Arshavin have all missed the flight, presumably as precautions as opposed to having left their passports at home.
Diaby and Fabregas are of no surprise, which if we are honest applies to Arshavin bearing in mind Arsene’s recent comments about his slow recovery times following international duties. Song not making the flight though will give the midfield more of a ‘Carling Cup’ flavour.
Fabregas’ absence gives Wilshere the chance to take centre stage once more. The youngster’s progress is such that his insertion into the team in place of the captain brings feelings of calm as opposed to the concern which might have been aired last season. Arsene clearly has faith in the youngster,
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.
Content indeed. From the opening day of the season, Wilshere has shown he is not fazed by the level of opposition or the ‘occasion’. The impetuosity of youth needs to be curbed slightly with regard to handling his own frustration when he makes a mistake but this must not be dampened too much for fear of stifling the natural flair of his game.
Wenger dropped hints about the formation he plans to employ tonight,
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.
Playing Wilshere deeper is probably the path he will follow. Eboue could ‘beef up’ the midfield defensively but I am not sure Arsene will go down that route with the choices available. Denilson will probably slot into Song’s position, alongside Wilshere with Rosicky on the left, Nasri centrally and Walcott on the right. Whilst Eastmond and Lansbury could come into the team, I would be surprised if that happened. Arsenal does not have to win tonight. Avoiding defeat, depending on the outcome of the other group match, might see them through if Partizan beat SC Braga, neither would then be able to match Arsenal’s ten points.
The backdrop to the fixture is not that different to a couple of years ago when a Walcott-inspired Arsenal destroyed Sparta at The Emirates only to be frustrated in the return. Expectations of a cruise to victory have been dampened by Arsene who believes there will be much improvement from Shaktar tonight.
The pace of Walcott could be a useful outlet this evening. Certainly if he is as clinical with his finishes as he was at St James Park last week then the outcome could be straightforward. Like that fixture, Arsenal will be mostly counter-attacking in this fixture and this suits the England international’s pace. Whether he is as far down the line towards a central striking role, as the manager believes remains to be seen. We have not seen Walcott take that position with the massed ranks in front of him.
One thing is certain that Chris Waddle’s face is covered by a considerable number of eggs. In itself, that is a problem for parents – it is harder to warn children of pulling faces when the wind changes if something so hideous cannot be seen.
One further change I think we will see is leading the line. Chamakh has played in most fixtures this season and might be due a rest. Wenger has to weigh this up in conjunction with the desire to have Bendtner return to full fitness and match sharpness. Both are good in the air and offer the opportunity to hold the ball up in the event that such agricultural tactics are needed. The Dane is not shy of talking up his abilities and in fairness has produced the goods in his short time on the pitch this season.
The team I would expect Wenger to start with is:
Fabianski; Sagna, Koscielny, Squillaci, Clichy; Wilshere, Denilson; Walcott, Nasri, Rosicky; Bendtner
Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it and let’s hope for the required result to qualify. That will allow Wenger to play the squad players in the remaining games, giving them the necessary experience in this competition. ’til Tomorrow.
Posted on November 3, 2010, in Arsenal, Champions League, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer, Transfer Gossip and tagged Arsenal, Champions League, Football, Shaktar Donetsk, Soccer. Bookmark the permalink. 240 Comments.