Saturday, 1 January 2011

Fabregas and Djourou should start at Birmingham - Forward line dilemma

With his suspension out of the way, it is unthinkable that Cesc Fabregas won't be the first name on Arsene Wenger's team sheet.

The captain has started ten Premier League games and Arsenal have been victorious on eight of those occasions.

Fabregas has also chipped in with three league goals and a good number of assists so far this term and seemed to spark to life in the second half of the Chelsea match.

I expect the game at St Andrews to be tight. None of the other top four have gone there and won: the games with Tottenham,Liverpool and Manchester United ended in draws. Whilst Chelsea were defeated.

To go into this game expecting three points would be fool hardy. However we know this Arsenal team can beat anyone on its day and if we put in the required performance there is no reason we can't turn over Alex McLeish's men.

The other major recall I would expect to see later is Johan Djourou coming in for Laurent Koscielny. The Swiss defender offers us more height in the centre of defence compared to the Frenchman. 

I expect a recall for the home side for Nikola Zigic. He scored against us at the Grove in October and as Orbinho points out, Arsenal have the worst record in the Premier League from conceding goals from set pieces. If Birmingham didn't target us with high balls I would  be very surprised.

That's why I believe Djourou as apposed to Koscielny is the choice Arsene Wenger has to make. He showed on Monday up against Dider Drogba that he can win balls in the air up against a tall and imposing centre forward.

Other changes I imagine the boss will make. Gael Clichy to return in place of Emmanuel Eboue at right back. Jack Wilshere to start the match alongside Alex Song in midfield with Denilson and Abou Diaby dropping out.

Up front there is a major dilemma with the options we have. Robin Van Persie did well against Chelsea but with Arsene Wenger being extra cautious with players who have bad injury records, I imagine the Dutchman will have to settle for a place on the bench.

The other option is Nicklas Bendtner, who will come up against a club he enjoyed a loan spell with in the 2006-07 season scoring 11 times in 42 appearances. We know how former players like scoring against their old clubs and I'm sure Bendtner needs no extra incentive this afternoon.

But I imagine the boss will go with Marouane Chamakh, because his work rate will be important. He also has already scored against Ben Foster this season at the Grove. 

That leaves only the outside attacking positions to fill and I imagine Samir Nasri and Theo Walcott will both be recalled from their period of rest on the bench on Wednesday to start.

One thing which Arsenal have to ensure they do later is play until the final whistle. Birmingham have a never say die attitude and score an amazing amount of goals at the death. We have to make sure we're switched on to that threat and defend to the last.  

My predicted line up is:


Sagna - Djourou - Squillaci - Clichy

Song - Wilshere

Walcott - Fabregas - Nasri


Subs: Szczesny, Koscielny, Denilson, Rosicky, Arshavin, Van Persie, Bendtner

I'll post the full line up once it's announced later.

Come on you Gooners!!!

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