Sunday, 28 August 2011

Sagna out of Old Trafford clash as Wenger decides on defensive options

Bacary Sagna is out of Arsenal's team to face Manchester United this afternoon after failing to recover from illness.

It leaves Arsene Wenger desperately short of options in defence and midfield as the Gunners look to kick start their Premier League campaign.

Already without first choice left back Kieran Gibbs, Wenger had opted to play Sagna out of position on the left of his defence instead of Armand Traore against Udinese on Wednesday.

However the Frenchman must now ponder his defensive options with Thomas Vermaelen due to have a fitness test this morning to decide whether he can participate against the Champions.

Johan Djourou has returned to fitness and provides Wenger with an option. He could ask the Swiss international to partner Laurent Koscielny in the heart of the Arsenal defence and switch Vermaelen to left back.

Or Djourou could drop into the holding role in midfield if the manager opts to start with Traore on the left of his defence.

There is also talk that Francis Coquelin may be preferred in the holding role due to the suspensions of Alex Song and Emmanuel Frimpong. However I believe the manager will go for as much experience possible in his side and pick Djourou to play alongside Tomas Rosicky in the deep lying midfield role.

The front four picks itself. Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey and Andrey Arshavin playing behind captain Robin van Perie in the lone striking role.

I expect Wenger to line his team up:


Jenkinson - Koscielny - Vermaelen - Traore

Djourou - Rosicky

Walcott - Ramsey - Arshavin

van Persie

Subs: Fabianski, Miquel, Coquelin, Ozyakup, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sunu, Chamakh

I'll post the official team line up once it's announced.

Taking A Punt
I get the impression having watched Manchester United's goal keeper in action on a couple of occasions and from OPTA stats that  taking a shot from distance against him could be our best option of getting a goal.
Therefore I'm going for Andrey Arshavin to score at 9/1 with Betfair.

Live Blog
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