Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Debutant and "new signing" to start in defence -Wenger reveals his nightmares

Morning Gooners.

The team head back into Carling Cup action tonight with Arsene Wenger's men determined to get into quarter final of the competition which last season we were runners up.

The defeat last February knocked the confidence of the team so much so that we never fully recovered our league form as a result and Arsene Wenger has admitted that he will be haunted by the result forever.

Whilst the competition is has the lowest priority of the four competitions we aim to win each season, performances and results does spill over. It's something the manager has recognised.

Wenger said:

"People forget that we did fight very hard to get there and overall we produced great performances in the Carling Cup last year. That's very important as well.  
"There is hunger in this team no matter what competition it is. We want to do well in the Carling Cup, the championship, the Champions League - in every single competition.  
"I don't question the hunger of my team, they have an exceptional attitude. You can see now at the Emirates that our fans are behind the team because the attitude of the players is right."

I don't think the fans at the stadium have been anywhere other than behind their team yet this season they recognise that their support is needed more than ever. On Sunday at time it was so, so quiet. You would have been able to hear a pin drop. But that's not what it's been like all this season. The Gooners have been behind their team 100 per cent with good  vocal backing and this season I really notice the difference in the change of atmosphere at the ground in a positive way.

One of the issues the fans are dealing with this term is the lack of quality in our football. Yes, we do keep the ball and knock it around nicely, but we're yet to find the fluid movement and deadliness in the final third of the pitch which we've come to expect from Arsene Wenger teams. Without Robin van Persie we looked blunt and you wondered who would step up and take a meaningful shot.

Whilst Marouane Chamakh offers us something different to van Persie, he doesn't appear to have found the confidence he had from his spell in the team at the start of last season. But by giving him more of an opportunity, the manager might help him rediscover that form which made him a potent threat in front of goal.

A player who has started to moved through the gears since joining is Gervinho and hopefully last weekend's performance was the start of a new dawn for the Ivorian. As Joss Bennett pointed out in his latest Inside The Formation post last night, Gervinho was the only player to reach double figures for goals and assists in the French league last season. If we could have some of that from him, we'd certainly be moving in the right direction.

The only worry I have is that he'll be hitting his best form for Arsenal when he heads off for the African Cup of Nations and then disappear for up to six weeks. But that is something we'll have to cope with.

Neither van Persie or Gervinho will be in the squad for tonight's game. However it appears Thomas Vermaelen will make his long awaited return since the Udinese game on August 24. The Belgium international and Gunners vice captain was training with the squad yesterday ahead of tonight's game and looks set to start in the heart of the Arsenal defence.

No doubt Arsene will bring out his favourite phase that Vermaelen is "like a new signing" coming back into the team. We'll no doubt see him partner Sebastien Squillaci in the centre with Nico Yennaris set to be handed his Arsenal debut at right back. Ignasi Miquel is set to continue in this Carling Cup team but in the left back berth and Lukasz Fabianski will start in goal.

In midfield we're likely to see Yossi Benayoun handed a role on the left as he needs to get some minutes, alongside Emmanuel Frimpong and Francis Coquelin and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Up front we know Ju Young Park needs some minutes as does Marouane Chamakh. So I would expect Wenger to switch formation to a 4-4-2.

So we're looking at:

Fabianski

Yennaris - Squillaci - Vermaelen - Miquel

Oxlade Chamberlain - Frimpong - Coquelin - Benayoun

Chamakh - Park

At this point in time it appears there will be lots of youngsters on the bench. No doubt it will be an excellent atmosphere at the ground as it always is when Dads can take their children to experience their first Arsenal match in the Carling Cup. Let's hope we don't have any misgevrious talk of Arsenal not being able to fill their ground for league cup matches, especially when we will have one of the highest percentages of  seats filled anywhere in the county.

Personally I'm looking forward to the game. I really want to see Oxlade Chamberlain and Coquelin again in action and also see what Park has to offer. It should be a good game.  Until tomorrow.



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