Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Arteta replaced by Ramsey, Diaby or The Ox? -Jack's pledge -RVP's nightcall

Morning Gooners.

Looking back on the Wigan game in the cold light of day, I have no sense of injustice over the result. We yet again failed to turn up against a side, while on a good run of form, we should be beating.

The loss of Mikel Arteta was huge. It immediately disrupted our game, firstly because we were down to ten men when Wigan scored both their goals, then when we were unable to dictate play from the midfield in the Spaniard's absence.

It is no coincidence that without Arteta, we've struggled in games this season. Of our ten Premier League defeats, the midfielder has been missing from five defeats where he's not played 90 minutes - Swansea (a), Manchester United (h), QPR* (a), Wigan* (h) [* = substituted].

The games where he's played 90 minutes and we've lost were Blackburn (a), Spurs (a), Manchester City (a), Fulham (a) and he wasn't even an Arsenal player for the defeats to Manchester United (a) and Liverpool (h).

It looks like we'll be without him on Saturday against Chelsea. Leaving the stadium on crutches and wearing a protective boot are not a good sign. How we line up without him is the next problem the manager faces.

Aaron Ramsey is the man who has the shirt, but I'm not sure he's firing on all cylinders after a long campaign in which he's probably played more games than expected. Would it be better to play someone who has more in his tank than the Welshman?

Abou Diaby could be a candidate. The manager could bring in the French international and play him in his favoured position behind Robin van Persie and drop Tomas Rosicky back to play alongside Alex Song.
But with Diaby only having played just 54 minutes of competitive football all season, I don't think the manager will want to risk starting him in a game of such importance.

I think the manager will opt to play Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the centre of midfield. He's played there against AC Milan in the Champions League in the absence of Arteta and that is where the manager sees him playing in the future.

The other important positive for Saturday's game is that Laurent Koscienly will be able to return to the side after completing his two game suspension. It's clear that the partnership he's built with Thomas Vermaelen has been vital in our winning run. Having those two back to shackle Drogba at the weekend will be vital to the chances of getting any sort of result.

I just hope that Barcelona get a good result at Stamford Bridge tonight. We need Chelsea to be knocked off their winning run. If they come to our place on the back of a defeat, they'll feel more tired than they would on the back of a win. Remember they've played five games in the last 14 days. Anything Cesc and his mates can do to help us will be appreciated!

Elsewhere it's good to read that Jack Wilshere has no plans to play in the Olympic games. And I have no problem with Robin van Persie to visit the Barcelona team hotel after the Wigan game. So what he went to meet Ibrahim Afellay? They're friends aren't they...

Let's hope for positive news on Mikel Arteta later today, however I'm fearing the worst.

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