Monday, 7 March 2011

Injury updates on Song, Wilshere and Fabregas - Bendtner or Chamakh to start?

Morning Gooners.

Well it feels like we've got out of jail again after the weekend's results. Manchester United dropping points yesterday was slightly unexpected but not totally given their form away from home. It makes looking at the Premier League table all the more easier, given we could be six points behind. And yet, after our disappointing result on Saturday we are a point closer.

Who knows what that might mean at the end of the season.... It's been so topsy-turvy I'm not sure anyone could predict what the out come might be.

One thing I do know is that the major concern looking forward is who might be fit for the Barcelona match tomorrow night.

Arsene Wenger has all but said he's ruling out Alex Song. At this late stage he's very unlikely to be fit given he's not even trained yet.

Obviously that's a blow given we'd all like to see our best players on the pitch. It obviously raises questions about who will replace him and the two main contenders are Abou Diaby and Denilson. It will be very interesting to see who the boss picks. My immediate thought is he'll go with Diaby.

Another of our midfielders has laughed off talk he won't make it. Wenger said Jack Wilshere wouldn't train with the squad yesterday morning, so the quite rightly some people assumed he could miss out on playing against Barca. Not true said the Englishman who tweeted:
"I am not injured and if selected will be fit to face Barca! Few kicks but nothing too bad!"
Which is obviously excellent news. Wilshere has been talking a good game too. He believes we should follow our natural instincts and go for Barcelona.

He said:
"We know we can beat Barcelona. We did that at the Emirates. Beat them again and we know we have a good chance of winning the tournament.
"We will go there with confidence but realise we have to defend well and hit them on the counter-attack.
"If we get a goal, they will have to come at us. We can win there."
This game is going to be fascinating to watch. Both teams love attacking, so I expect we'll see us both going for it. It could be a goal fest.

I don't think we've got any reason to believe that Wilshere will be caught up in the emotion and atmosphere of the game. Like when Fabregas came of age on a global stage at the Bernabeu, perhaps Wilshere will do the same at the Camp Nou.

It seems there are more fit players charging out of the medical treatment room at London Colney, who will be next? Perhaps Cesc...

The captain said in his programme notes on Saturday he had talked with Wenger about his inclusion in the squad for Saturday but they both decided it would be better not to risk him.

Fabregas will have a final fitness test at London Colney later prior to Arsenal flying to Bacelona this afternoon. He's already said he's optimistic he'll be on the flight and fit to play.

But we'll definitely be without Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott.

The manager has said he will change things around regarding the team and has some encouraging words about the form of Marouane Chamakh.

He said:
"Marouane's getting back to his best, and getting sharper. We'll make some changes for Tuesday, that's for sure. We need some fresh legs for the Nou Camp because we'll have to run a lot there.
"We've not got enough security just to sit back and defend; you can't go to Barcelona and play for a 0-0. Anyway, it's not the personality of my team. This game has been hanging a bit over the heads of my players but our focus is on it now."
Thinking back to the start of the season, it's interesting how many of us were raving about the work rate of Chamakh. He gave his all and certainly made himself the first line of defence. Many commentators were saying that Nicklas Bendtner - who was watching most games from the substitute's bench - could learn a lot from just copying what Chamakh was doing. Chamakh's work rate was so much more in tune with what our game needed.

Since van Persie's return from injury, we've seen less of the Moroccan and in recent weeks Bendtner has risen above him in the pecking order.

Van Persie's injury has seen Bendtner elevated to first choice and before the Sunderland game would have expected him to start tomorrow night.

But on Saturday Chamakh looked sharp and before that against Orient and Birmingham he looked more in tune with the game than he did in January.

I know many believed that Bendtner was a shoe in to start tomorrow, but I've just got this sneaky suspicion Chamakh might get the nod. Chamakh is certainly a better player holding the line, whilst Bendtner at the moment seems more effective when played on the right.

In the Daily Telegraph, Henry Winter looks in detail at the Denmark international and believes he should spearhead the Arsenal attack tomorrow night.

Arsene Wenger will confirm who is in and out of his squad when he sits down in front of the media later. I'll be crossing everything hoping for nothing but good news about our players all being fit.

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