Thursday, 3 April 2014

Will Wenger drop Podolski for one of two youngsters on Sunday?

Morning Gooners.

The build up to this weekend's game with Everton has begun and to my mind it is a must not lose fixture. Our form at Goodison Park in the last four seasons has been good. We've won three of those matches and last season's result was a draw.

Clearly we cannot afford to slip up. It wouldn't be disastrous but we don't want to leave our destiny in anyone else's hands but our own. We've got six league games to go and you would hope this team would have one thing on their mind: winning them all.

Of course it's not going to be easy. Everton are having a good season and the handbrake is well and truly off. So we know we're in for a test. I think little was expected of us in last Saturday's draw with Manchester City but we really showed up with a good performance in the second half and hopefully we can take that momentum with us to Merseyside on Sunday.

There appears to be little chance of any of our injured players being back in the squad and available for selection. Aaron Ramsey will return to full training today and he, along with Laurent Koscielny, will be the first back from the treatment room.

However there appears to be little hope that the pair will be available for this weekend's match. It's probably too much of a risk in any case. The FA Cup semi final against Wigan in nine days time appears to be more realistic.

It means we'll go into this weekend's clash with Everton with pretty much the same squad which has been used in the last four league games. Rotation has been at a minimal and it's been a obvious case of experience over youth. When it's been suggested we lack pace, as it was against Manchester City, Tomas Rosicky, Santi Cazorla and Lucas Podolski find that extra something in their arsenal. But how long can we go on relying on the same 11 players to produce.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was taken out of the firing line last Saturday after two rather inconsistent performances against Chelsea and Swansea. But he has got to be in the manager's thoughts for Sunday. As has Serge Gnabry who - I worked out yesterday - has been involved 26 of Arsene Wenger's 32 league squads so far this season. He's started five matches, been brought on as a substitute in four others and remained on the bench for the other 17.

While I'd like to see one or the other given a chance on Sunday, I think the only player who's place could be at risk is Lucas Podolski. And I'd be surprised to see him dropped after his excellent cameo against Swansea and good performance against Manchester City.

The German international has been speaking about his time at Arsenal and it's clear he really enjoys life at the club.

Today's training session is the hardest of the week for the players as they put the final preparation together for Sunday. The manager speaks to the media tomorrow and I'm sure we'll get more team news as the week concludes.

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