Sunday, 13 January 2013

Walcott or Giroud? -Wenger wants £12m wonderkid -Capoue a snip at £10m

Morning Gooners.

Game day at last. And it's our first big test of the new year at the Grove. Everyone knows we've got an important run of fixtures this month and it would be good to get ourselves off to a great start with a win this afternoon.

How the manager will set up his team in terms of players and formation is pretty obvious. The one main issue he has is over Olivier Giroud. Does he play the French international from the start? Or will the only other option open to us - Theo Walcott - play through the middle?

It's a tough one to call but I expect if Giroud is fit he will start. He offers us the physical presence we lack when Walcott is played there and we need someone who is good with his back to goal and can hold the ball up to play in the pacey attackers we have on our flanks.

I'd expect the line up to be:
Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Arteta, Wilshere, Walcott, Cazorla, Podolski, Giroud.

If Giroud isn't fit enough to start, then I'd expect Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to be drafted into the team with either Walcott or Lucas Podolski played through the middle.

Arsene Wenger expect it to be an open game.

He said:

"I think they are in a situation where a draw will not be good enough, and we are in the same situation. 
"The fact that both teams have to absolutely go for a win promises a more open game. 
"When you are in that (title) situation, you don't want to drop more points because it can be damaging for your chances."

Manchester City's form at the Grove is poor. But that shouldn't mean we'll be expected to turn up and win. We have to work for the result. Last season the team had to put a shift in to get us in a position where Mikel Arteta's goal was decisive.

This time round every player needs to show the hunger, commitment and desire to beat the champions. With Everton and Tottenham dropping points yesterday, we have to get ourselves back in the box seat for the top four.

A quick look around the Sunday newspapers for you.

Most are running the belief Arsene Wenger has that Cesc Fabregas will one day return to the Grove as a player. I don't think that's the maddest suggestion ever made by a football manager and one of the reasons why Wenger stipulated that a cause was written into the transfer agreement with Barcelona that Arsenal would have first refusal if Fabregas was ever sold by the Spaniards.

The Sunday Mirror report Theo Walcott's new deal will last for just three-and-a-half years, meaning we'll have to open negotiations again in 18-months time.

Wojciech Szczesny has spoken to the Polish edition of Playboy and says that Arsene Wenger is like a God..

The Daily Star Sunday report we're back in the race for Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha. A deal at £12m looks enough to capture the 20-year-olds signature.

Meanwhile another player on our radar according to the the Daily Star Sunday is Toulouse midfielder Etienne Capoue. The 24-year-old would set us back £10m.

And finally in the Sunday Mirror, Jack Wilshere speaks of his excitement at playing for Arsenal with a group of British young players around him.

That's it for today. See those of you at the game there, otherwise I'll see you all back here tomorrow with more.

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