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Untold’s pre-match expert takes wild guesses, and gets reprimanded by editor

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By Phil Gregory

Carling Cup action is the order of the day for Tuesday evening, with Wigan coming to the Emirates. Wigan at home fits the bill of what I’d call an “ideal” Carling Cup tie: a lower Premier League/decent Championship side, good enough to pose a challenge for the kids but not an insurmountable obstacle to progression. Naturally, that changes a little bit when you consider that we’re playing stronger sides that previous seasons this year, but you can see what I mean.

Squillaci has picked up a knee problem which keeps him out of Tuesday’s tie. Let’s hope such an injury is only short term, as with Vermaelen out for an unknown amount of time we’d be down to two centre-backs (also known as “doing a Chelsea”), which isn’t ideal.

With Almunia back from injury, there’s a dilemma to be had between the sticks. It seems likely we’ll rotate the keeper to keep our backup options match fit, but it’s up in the air who it might be. Between Almunia and Szcznesy, it’s the Spaniard who is the better keeper at this moment in time, and you could argue that if he is to be our number 2 this season, he should get these games so that he’s ready if he is ever needed to come in. However, many are unconvinced he’ll settle for battling it out with Fabianksi, and if he’s expected to be off in January/the summer, it’d make sense to get Szcznesy all the experience he can. It’s sometimes easy for us to read much into the manager’s decisions, but I imagine Wojciech starting for us against Wigan would mark the end of Almunia’s time at Arsenal.

Eboue’s swift recovery was a pleasant surprise and assuming there’s no doubts as to his fitness, I’m expecting him to slot into the first eleven to give Sagna a breather. Gibbs is likely to come in for Clichy, with Koscielny and Djourou the centre-backs. Given our lack of real competition for the “Alex Song” role, I’d imagine the Cameroonian will be rested for this one as well, though I’m less sure on this than I am on the defensive rotation. At home, I’d back Eastmond to do enough, but there’s no denying the youngster is much more of a step down than the backups Wenger has in other positions. Perhaps Denilson will fill the role, and somebody else will come into midfield… who knows?  (You are supposed to know, Phil, that’s what we pay you for – Ed)

Moving further forward in midfield in midfield Rosicky is a sure starter. Whether Wilshere partners him remains to be seen: Wenger is wary of burning out the young prodigy, but in light of his comments about fielding a strong squad I expect him to feature. If he doesn’t, Eastmond to start at DM and Denilson to replace Jack.

It’s no clearer who’ll play up front, given our array of options. Surely Chamakh will get a rest, given we have both Van Persie and Bendtner who need games? Even if he does rest Chamakh, one of Van Persie and Bendtner will be omitted; testament to the quality of our squad. I’m convinced Nasri will get a rest, the number of minutes he’s played so far this season is phenomenal. It doesn’t surprise me that he features so much, given both his form and stamina (Gibbs said in a recent interview that Nasri has the best stamina in the squad, which is certainly doing him some good). Theo will most likely fill in and look to get back into his early-season goal scoring form. After a brilliant performance at the weekend off the back of a midweek breather, Wenger may be tempted to rest Arshavin, but Vela hasn’t done much on the pitch to earn the start, so I’d expect the Russian to keep his place.

Szcznesy/Almunia

Eboue Djourou Koscielny Clichy

Eastmond/Denilson

Rosicky Wilshere

Walcott Van Persie Arshavin

In terms of the opposition, striker Rodallega is a big miss with summer import Boselli yet to make his mark. Apart from that the Wigan team will be largely as you’d expect. Will they be tempted to rotate? I don’t think so. They’ve got Stoke at home after this one, but with a good few days between the games I can’t imagine a rest will make too much difference for Wigan. The pressure is already on Martinez with the team lurking in the relegation zone, and a second string getting hit for six at the Emirates would do nothing for team moral, either.

I’m expecting a fairly solid home win.  With us ranked third in terms of league performances at home (average points won that is , thanks Tony!) I’m not going to worry too much about supposed “poor home form”. Arsenal to win 4-0, with a clean sheet to boot.

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Want to argue against Wenger and his philosophy? Then you must read this first, or your comment may not be published

39 comments to Untold’s pre-match expert takes wild guesses, and gets reprimanded by editor

  • In my morning’s Guardian Wenger is quoted as saying

    “Robin will certainly play, yes, but I haven’t decided my starting line-up yet,” Wenger said. “Theo Walcott and Nicklas Bendtner will be involved but I don’t want to give the team out. The only thing I can promise is that we will take the game seriously.”

    (But I should explain Phil wrote his piece last night but I went out to a dance club and got back late so didn’t put it up, Just thought you would like to know the details of the internal workings on the Untold Estates in the Snow.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Hope the lads are up for it today and wrap up things early .
    A 2-0 scoreline should suffice.And hopefully no injuries.

  • swikrath

    Good line up Phil, but i think the little russian will make way for bendtner,but what about Vela?will he ever make it?:( i am a vela fan and i’d be rather disappointed if he doesn’t start

  • tahsein

    real madhouse motto,

    buy,buy,buy
    sack,sell,cry.

    It was good to see that real madhouse was getting raped last night with the ‘Dark Lord’ in charge.

    No madhouse,No farca.THE ARSENAL FC IS THE BEST.

  • Dark Prince

    I think arshavin and wilshere should rest for this game…bendtner to start in arshavin’s position, denilson in defensive midfield, gibbs replacing clichy, szczesny to be our gk. Nasri can start in right midfield. Rosicky on d left midfield. Vela shud be used as a sub for walcott, eastmond as a sub for nasri once we have a good lead, and JET to be used as sub for Van Persie. I think thats a good plan for now.

  • Fruss

    Great line up ,apart from clichy and arshavin whom i think would be rested to bring in gibbs and bednther.Am not sure about Eastmond either, i prefer rosicky given Eastmond’s lack of confidence.The lad has a tendency of giving away balls at crucial moments in the game.

  • sim nsi

    good piece, though feel arshavin nasri chamakh wil be on the bench just in case.. Vela will be given chance to make or break his arsenal career, so he shd start from the left. I had bags of hope in him but am increasingly getting worried he may soon leave,he shd have been shipped out on loan then kept Eduardo.

  • swikrath

    @D.P
    I think Nasri merits a rest specially with key games shaping up next month,him and Chamakh should be not be named in the squad at all

  • Yes, it was to obvious last 20 minutes on Villa park that Nasri and Chamakh are too tired, and I believe they should/will be rested. But with width we have in our team, I don’t even have doubts about strength who ever get in starting 11.

    Wenger also said he will a bit modify tactic so it suits best for RvP, what is that supposed to mean? We play 4-2-3-1, and he played that already, and by the way showed his best playing that role 2 years ago, when he kept our dreams alive.

  • Ronnie Brown

    I hope the game doesn’t get cancelled cause of the snow.

  • Dark Prince

    @swikrath- at the moment, if we rest nasri, then we’ll be light in attacking options in midfield. Denilson is certain to start as defensive midfielder. Its d rest midfield options that are lackin bcoz nasri, rosicky, wilshere, song have all played in the last game few days back. To start with, i wont put wilshere here bcoz, he’s very young to start playin 2 games a week. I really dont want him to end up being injury prone all his career like Cesc. Then, putting Song, when Denilson is there, will not be tactically right. The only midfield options left are Rosicky and Nasri. Thats why i prefer them over others. I actually wished we had Lansbury now. That way we could have had a fresh midfield.

  • gooner_g

    we should’ve kept lansbury and sent eastmond out on loan … Would’ve been nice to see him get some more first team opportunities … If he came good it would help reduce song’s workload … Plus we’d have more options … Eastmond has looked quite shaky whenever I’ve seen him play …

  • Phil

    Not sure how I managed to say I expected Gibbs to come in for Clichy, and then put Clichy in the predicted lineup, but there you go. Bit of a slip there. We’ll certainly see a strong bench.

  • I am quite sure Jack is going to be rested, but Deni can take his place. And I think Phil made mistake making DM combination Eeastmond and Deni. I believe Deni will replace Jack while Eastmond will fill Song shoes. Gibbs and Ebue as full backs, and RvP and TheO swaping positions on right flank and central attacker. Also in my opinion, Arshavin will be again rested (at last he wont start) and Vela will get once more opportunity to deserve his place in team for PL.

  • Fem Dee

    Ed, I suggest you add 10,000pound to Phil’s weekly pay and then triple it so that he can respond to you with greater fear and trembling anytime he dares to tell us he doesn’t know something that he is paid to know. I had wanted to suggest just tripling his current pay then, it occurred to me that he is on that kind of salary that is impervious to the multiplication sign.

  • mshmapton

    I hope our young guns show the class to outclass wigan. Cmon my beloved gunners you can do it. Saw that wenger has stated he wont buy in jan unless there are injuries and wants us fans to get behind the team. well anyone who saw the villa game will wonder how can you possibly have faith with the central defenders they are not good enough and your faith in them will result in us having no chance in the pl or cl. injurires well vp as not played a full game this season and will probably breakdown again and tv as not played since the 28/8/10,how long is he out for.cesc seems to have more injuries now than ever and as for diaby his record is playing one in every ten .a managers job is to look to improve and get rid of inferior players,surely you have seen enough of this squad wont win anything and therefore mr w you are failing in your duties to improve the quality to give us every opportunity to win something. i am sure redknapp will buy as he believes that additional investment will give him more chance of success. we have already conceded 17 gls in the pl and most fans can see why. i am sorry aw but you make me despair,do some of these players have something on you becos the weaknesses are there for everybody to see.it seems that after a win everythings ok and you forget the frailities that we have.

  • Phil

    Certainly a few talking points from the team and bench tonight, not the least of which is where is Almunia?

  • walter

    So here is some EXCLUSIVE news about the injury from TV: according to a very close source to Vermaelen here in Belgium and I can tell you it cant get much closer he will not play before new year.

  • ArsenalDuabi

    Dark Prince was right! We should have started Nasri and Rosicky. We should have kept Lansbury. He knows it so well, that’s why we lost 4-0 tonight. All our youngsters are sh!t, we lost to a semi-pro team from North Korea. It’s all Wenger fault, he should be sacked before the morning. Why isn’t he like Sir Alex, ManU won 4-0 tonight. We should kick every player out. Dark Peevee will play in all positions, and coach himself, it’s better than this!
    Loops, we won! ManU were laughing stock! How? Dark Negative Princess is wrong?! No!!!

  • Yes but you have to admit Arsenal Dubai, that bunch of North Koreans gave us a run for our money – especially when they were 8-0 up with 3 seconds to go. I thought we might not make it.

  • sack Wenger yesterday, urgently.

  • Dark Prince

    @ArsenalDuabi- lol…U remind me how everyone gets overjoyed after winning a match against weak teams and then thinking that we can beat the whole world. Stop Dreamin ArsenalDuabi!! We are fortunate that we are not facing the likes of Chelsea and United in this competition.

    And maybe u didn’t watch ystrday’s match…how many midfielders did we hav in our team?? Only 2-Wilshere and Denilson!!!!

  • Dark Prince

    @mshamapton- Completly agree with wat you have written. Its something what almost all Arsenal supporters have in their mind. Yet some supporters do think we dont hav a problem and continue to take this team down. I guess we have a good name for them- AAA

  • swikrath

    @ Dark Prince: Considering the incredible depth the chelsea has and given their superb form,they are more than happy that are out of carling cup and manu?ha, they got hammered 4nil!You are a funny man D.P

  • Dark Prince

    @swikrath- do you remember when was the last time we beat United and Chelsea??

  • swikrath

    @ Dark Prince : I really think you got the definition of the AAA wrong, for starters can you name one team that does not have a problem?But would you solve all problems by buying or sacking Wenger?NO..Nobody is saying we don’t have problems at the club but when you come and say sack Mr. X or Mr. Y and buy Z etc etc you definitely break into the reserve squad of the AAA and if you persevere and blow the trumpet loud and distorted enough then you’d go into the upper echelons of the AAA

  • swikrath

    It has been a long time i agree but whats the point you are trying to put across?

  • Dark Prince

    @swikrath- maybe you never got wat i wanted to say in the 1st place. Can u tell me where did i say that i wanted to sack Wenger or any of the players??

    I’ll say it again. Our defence is weak. Period. I didn’t say we need to remove xyz. I said we need one more defender of the Vermaelen class. Period.

    Also i said, our players need show more leadership skills. Even in that department we have only Vermaelen and Cesc who has leadership skills.

    Also i said that we need to stop being complacent every time we face a weaker team. We lost against 2 promoted teams at home!! Can u believe that?? We lost against Chelsea. We still have to face United who are still unbeaten in epl. Then we have to face Chelsea again this month and till that time they’ll be havin a fully fit squad.

  • Dark Prince

    And for me any supporter is ignorant to either the positives or negatives comes in the same category of AAA. Half of them in the class of sacking everyone who doesn’t perform and half of them who think we dont have a problem or need to redress a problem.

  • swikrath

    LOL.i never said you did ,did i?i was just telling you what according to me constitutes the AAA! Chill man

  • Dark Prince

    Also as i’ve said earlier in the season, our team should compared to the likes of Chelsea and United. And not the midtable teams. Squillaci and Djourou might be good enough to face a mid table team but not against the likes of Chelsea and United. Even our full backs can be lucky when they make mistakes against mid table teams but United or Chelsea will punish for every mistake we make. Thats why we still harbour at 3rd or 4th positions.

  • swikrath

    I diasgree,chelsea wont have a fully fit squad alex goes in for surgery as soon as terry returns and they look more vulnerable at the back then us. I think we more than cope with them and Sagne by a long shot is the best full back in the league and when you say ” but United or Chelsea will punish for every mistake we make” i don’t know how closely you have been following them both this season in terms of chances created and converted. If you make galringly obvious mistakes any team ll milk it

  • swikrath

    Sagna* my bad, off all my typo errors i really hate when i get the spelling wrong for a player, alas TONY wont listen 😉 he continues to enjoy my self mockery 🙂

  • Dark Prince

    I think Terry is more important to Chelsea like Vermaelen is to Arsenal. Plus they have Ivanovich, who too is a superb centre back. Also by that time even Essien and Lampard will return in the midfield which i think is d problem part. Sagna probably is the best right back in epl but can you say the same about Clichy?? I dont think so. Also both Clichy and Sagna are probably the most inconsistent crossers in the world.

  • ArsenalDubai

    I quote: “both Clichy and Sagna are probably the most inconsistent crossers in the world.”

    There’s this blind crazy man in our neighborhood that may, just might, be a worse crosser than Clichy & Sagna!

    What a drama queen. You’re ready to say anything stupid just to get attention.

  • Dark Prince

    @Arsenaldubai- yea i forgot, according to you, we got the best defence in the world!! Not even the likes of Drogba or Alex can score against us. Not to mention the likes of Newcastle or West brom who, by your standards, can never beat a team like us. Or perhaps we should say not even 45 minutes of bad defence can make spurs score even a single goal!! According to you, Our defence is so tight that we have probably conceded the lowest amount of goals in the top 4. And yes, accordin to you, our defence is so tight that we can blindly accept that we’ll always have a clean sheet.

    Lol.

  • Dark Prince

    Some supporters just like to have a blindeye for the problems that face arsenal today.

  • Micheal

    Dark Prince, I admire your passion but your approach of recommendation is too aggressive… Not much different from criticizing and complaining… Its just the beginning of December and all you commenting is to buy players… Its the article about Arsenal vs Wigan in League Cup… Dont you think Arsene would have thought of strengthening the squad if he thinks it needed to…? Your talk about weak defense is really boring and becoming primitive… Even a football-idiot knows Arsenal play very attacking style of football and this is a direct consequences of them conceding more goals than a top-four team… Its a risk but that very style makes Arsenal FC as one of the most attrative sides in the world… Untold had covered this many times as well as our Untold faithfuls… Even the Invincibles were conceding a lot of unnecessary goals but in football the team which scores more wins… Time and hard work will testify my opinions… Now, shut the hell up and go get laid…!

  • Dark Prince

    @Michael- Lol, even that same football-idiot knows that Arsenal needs to strengthen its defence. Maybe you just didn’t see how we got thrashed by West brom or Spurs in the second half of the games. Oh yea, how could u, u were tryin hard to get laid by that time i guess!! Lol!! And hopefully u know why the Invincibles were called as Invincibles…bcoz they had a solid defence and didn’t lose a game. And if you comparing our present defence with the invincibles defence then u r just plain idiot. And you said it yourselves, its just december and we have lost 4 matches already!! Can u believe that?? How many would hav accepted a defeat to West Brom or Spurs or Newcastle at home at the begining of the season?? If you’re ok wit it, then i guess you’re not an arsenal supporter. Maybe a Spuds in disguise!!