Monday, 5 April 2010

Three big decision Arsene Wenger has prior to Barcelona clash

Never has an Arsenal side in recent history been heading into such a huge game depleted by injuries.

Barcelona will to be our most challenging match this season.

For the record we will be without: Alex Song, Cesc Fabregas, William Gallas, Andrey Arshavin, Aaron Ramsey, Robin Van Persie, Kieran Gibbs and Johan Djourou.

Of those players, five would expect to start when Arsene picks his strongest 11.

With the 72nd hour withdrawal of Alex Song, it leaves Arsene Wenger a huge decision as to which player will play alongside Thomas Vermaelen in the centre of defence.

I would have expected Song to have filed that position but without him the options come down to Sol Campbell, Mikael Silvestre or perhaps Bacray Sanga.

Campbell would be the first choice and played 90 minutes against Wolves at the weekend, but their forward line hardly tested our defence.

It is whether Arsene decides to play the 35-year-old within the space of three days or hands the mantel to someone else.

Campbell does have experience at this level for sure, but his paced will be questioned if he does play.

My gut feeling is Campbell will start alongside Vermaelen as he will then have eight days rest prior to the north London derby at White Hart Lane.

The midfield then picks itself. Nasri, Denilson and Diaby.

Then there are huge question marks as who will play alongside Nicklas Bendtner in attack.

The options on the right are either Emmanuel Eboue or Theo Walcott.

Eboue has been the more consistent of the two in recent weeks. He retains the ball well, can dribble effectively at defences, a few tricks and an eye for goal.

Walcott impressed last week with his cameo against the Catalans. He has directness, a decent cross and shooting ability.

If I were picking the side, I would opt for Eboue. He will be more solid within the opening exchanges when we need to make sure we’re still in the game.

Walcott can make an impact from the bench when we need to change things.

There is also a dilemma as to who will start on the left. The obvious candidates are Tomas Rosicky or Eduardo.

Both haven’t been fully involved this season so haven’t had the run of games you’d want them to have coming into such a massive game as this.

They both started at the weekend, Rosicky on the left and Eduardo through the centre.

I have a hunch that Rosicky will start.

It’s going to be an interesting game. If we can keep ourselves in the tie for the opening hour we certainly have a chance.

I expect the team to be:
Almunia, Sanga, Campbell, Vermaelen, Clichy, Nasri, Denilson, Diaby, Eboue, Bendtner and Rosicky.

This is going to be a tough test. But we’ve been to European champions before and beaten them on their own turf. Milan, Juventus, Real Madrid all spring to mind.

It’s hard but it’s not impossible. Whatever you think, get behind the boys.

Come on you Gooners!

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