Friday, 1 March 2013

Sagna's out but who will replace him? Duo linked with move

Morning Gooners.

The build up to Sunday's game has started and we have some early team news to chew over with the manager revealing that Bacary Sagna has failed to recover from a knee injury in time to take part in the game.

Additional team news is that Abou Diaby faces a fitness test on his calf to check whether he has any involvement in Sunday's game. As expected, Kieran Gibbs is out.

The manager has a decision to make about who starts at right back. You would assume the manager will stick with Carl Jenkinson but I'm not sure he will in such an important game. Jenkinson has come on this season after being given a baptism of fire last term. However he has shown there is still a lot for him to learn after getting sent off at Sunderland three weeks ago.

The added issue is that whoever plays at right back will primarily be dealing with the attacking threat of Gareth Bale. The Welshman has been in fine form this term and has been carrying our neighbours with his goals. We saw at the Grove last season what a handful he can be and he's just become a better player this term. Stop him playing and we'll have a better chance of imposing our own game on the home team.

Who else might the manager play at right back on Sunday? Well he could move one of our central defenders out there. Laurent Koscielny has played in that position before on an emergency basis or maybe the manager might play a midfielder in that role. Francis Coquelin played there against Blackburn in the FA Cup. Aaron Ramsey is the other option, having shown his versatility when asked to play there once Jenkinson had been given his marching orders at the Stadium of Light.

One thing the manager will also consider when choosing who steps into the right back role is our attacking threat. When Coquelin played there in the FA Cup match, he didn't provide the width we needed to cause Blackburn a threat, instead preferring to come in off the flank, thus making us very narrow in our attack. One of the positives in Jenkinson's game is his ability to cross the ball from wide areas. He also won't come inside as a midfielder might.

I think with this in mind the manager will stick with Jenkinson and ask his midfielders to provide the 21-year-old with the cover he'll need to reduce the influence Bale has on the game. Theo Walcott will not be able to shirk his defensive responsibilies this weekend.

Another important area for us will be in midfield. Abou Diaby might still have some involvement in the battle in the middle of the park, but I'd imagine even if he is fit the manager will play Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey there.

Diaby however knows the importance of this game. He told the official site:

"We all look forward to these big games because they are not only important to us, but to the club and the fans. It is more than a game. 
"The atmosphere around the game means we all want to win, so that makes it very exciting. That is why I think there are so many goals."
I really wouldn't mind if we won 1-0. I don't mind us scoring a ton of goals if we don't concede any. As I said in yesterday's post, I want the team to come back along the Seven Sisters Road with at least a point and in an ideal situation three. We cannot afford to drop points this weekend.

The manager has paid tribute to Dennis Bergkamp following the announcement that the club is having a statue built of our favourite Dutchman.

Wenger told the official site:
"He deserves that statue. I’m very happy for Dennis that he gets it. He has what we want to have at the Club: dedication, huge desire to win, and a touch of class as well."
And finally, the Daily Mail has linked us with a move for 21-year-old French right back Sebastien Corchia as  we seem to be preparing for life without Bacary Sagna next season. Also linked with us is Feyenoord's Daryl Janmaat. Personally I hope the club do all they can to resolve the situation with Sagna. Although he's not been as consistent this season as his previously has been, he's still one of the best defenders in the Premier League.

That's it for today. I'll be back with more tomorrow.

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