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Phil predicted at 2-0 win against Chelsea. Here’s what he says about the mighty Wigan.

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By Phil Gregory

With renewed confidence for our title tilt after a comfortable win over Chelsea, it’s off to Wigan after a mere day’s rest for the Arsenal. The Christmas fixture list is crazy at the best of times, but a single day between games is just plain daft.  It is clear as day that we will be forced to rotate our squad just to avoid inevitable muscle injuries: it is simply not possible for a top sportsman to perform and remain fit with such a short amount of rest.

No doubt Wenger will be annoyed at how the fixtures have fallen, by playing a day earlier than us Wigan have had twice as much time to rest between  the games than we have had. The same unfortunately applies to Birmingham for the following match too, though after last night we’ll forgive them the misdeed.

There’s nothing we can do about such things, and while it’s not ideal, there are other things going in our favour during this crush of fixtures. With both Wigan and Birmingham being smaller sides than us, with correspondingly smaller squads, we have the ability to rotate a lot more than they do. Even if they’ve had longer out resting, we can bring entirely fresh legs into the team and not suffer too much of a drop in quality.

As for the Chelsea game, not much more can be said. It was an outstanding team performance, with the only real concern being the brief wobble we had when Chelsea pulled one back. We dominated the midfield and were shown to be unperturbed by a few hard challenges from Chelsea. Once their traditional physical approach had proven to be futile, Chelsea didn’t seem to have much else to offer, looking flat in midfield and lacking potency up front.

It has to be top marks for  Wenger for that game, really. There were a couple of surprises in the team selection, with Djourou and Theo coming in and doing superbly. Walcott was a big part of the second-half goals, but also did a great job defending from the front and pinning Cole back. When you compared the bench we had to Chelsea’s, you sensed that if we could deal with the eleven they had out on the pitch, they wouldn’t have much ability to change things up, and so it proved.

Big wins such as those count the same as any other win, so it is vital we follow it up with three points from the DW Stadium. Wigan are one of five sides that are in with a real chance of getting relegated in my eyes (the bottom five, bar Villa instead of Birmingham), so we’ll be in for a battle. There are ghosts to exorcise after the capitulation at the DW last season; the less said about that game the better.

Given the expected rotation of the side, predicting the line-up will likely prove to be a bit of a wild goose chase. However:

Fabianski

Sagna Djourou Koscielny Clichy

Song Denilson

Rosicky

Nasri Chamakh Arshavin

I’m expecting the back five to remain the same as the Chelsea game. Eboue in for Sagna is our usual defensive rotation, but given the changes further forward I imagine Wenger will want to keep the defensive unit constant if at all possible. Similarly, I don’t  see both Wilshere and Song being rested, with Denilson coming in for the former.
Rosicky replaces the suspended Fabregas, who looked back to his best on Monday night.

I’ve also gone for Arshavin in for Walcott here, which mightn’t be the most popular of decisions given how he played against Chelsea. However, Theo came in and performed well in a specific set-up, looking to  pin back Cole and/or exploit the space behind him. Wigan will surely play a deep line against us, and lacking space to run in behind, Theo might under-perform. Arshavin’s ability to produce searching passes, as well as his general link-up play will be much more important for us.

Van Persie, on the other hand, is exactly the sort of player that in a perfect world I’d want starting this game, given his creativity. Chamakh would work well coming off the bench to get on the end of crosses if we needed a plan B. Given the lack of a rest between these two fixtures,I simply don’t want any gambles with Van Persie’s fitness to be taken.

Nasri stays in despite covering a lot of ground on Monday. The Frenchman can be indefatigable and given how he’s been playing I think Wenger will want him on the pitch.

Wigan aren’t a side that should be troubling us, but given the turnaround last season we have to be cautious. There’s always a risk that you can be surprised during the Christmas fixtures, with the lack of time between games causing some players to turn in sub-par performances. With the Mancs dropping points last night, a scrappy 1-0 to the Arsenal will do me fine for tonight.

There was no injury news on Arsenal.com at the time of writing, so I’m hoping no news is good news and the squad is more or less the same that beat Chelsea.

Untold untold’s, untold tolds, told untolds, and of course told told’s. We have it all

And what’s been done in the dim and distant

Making the Arsenal

41 comments to Phil predicted at 2-0 win against Chelsea. Here’s what he says about the mighty Wigan.

  • Dark Prince

    Scrappy 1-0 looks a little underestimating for a team which is high on confidence going against a team against whom they want revenge for last years loss. I’d rather say a 6-0 win!! 🙂 lets finish top!!

  • Rhys Jaggar

    I think he’ll play Squillaci at Wigan and at Birmingham, rotating Djourou and Koscielny and maybe using those two again against City.

    I fancy he’ll start Diaby tonight after his 20 mins against Chelsea, bringing on Denilson for him after an hour.

    And I think he’ll bring Theo on after an hour if Arsenal are winning to hit Wigan on the counter and help the goal difference. Five behind the Mancs at the moment, so 3-0 would be a good result. 1-0 will do.

    So my guesstimate for a team would be:

    Fabianski;
    Sagna, Squillaci, Djourou, Clichy;
    Song, Diaby;
    Rosicky, Nasri, Arshavin;
    Chamakh.

    Bench:
    Szeceszny;
    Koscielny, Eboue;
    Denilson, Wilshere;
    Walcott, Bendtner.

  • gooner80

    Hey phil do you think barring TV5 that the line up against chelsea was our best lineup?

    Im inclined to think so, Arshavin doesnt bring enough to the team in my book and doesnt track back and theo as you mentioned did so perfectly but we do need to rotate. I think he arshavin can be a game winner when a game is stretched ala liverpool 4-4.

    Aw has so many options and with only a few injuries our squad strength might see us go far,I personally would be happy with a second place finish cos I know we can kick on next year we have had some silly losses at home which might have cost us not drawn many games though. I think a carling cup would give us an excellent chance in the title run in

  • Superfly gunner

    rhys I would go with your team we need rotation in order to avoid injury.

  • Superfly gunner

    oh yeah i would keep sagna on the bench and put eboue in as well

  • Bongo

    I’d actually prefer Bendtner over Nasri in that position if he’s fit. He did a great job in the role for us last season. Nasri is in the form of his life. We can’t let him get injured.

    Squillaci will play instead of Djourou. Wenger already stated he would rotate him a lot because of his long term injury. I also think Diaby will replace Song. He needs game time.

    Djourou won’t play, we need him for Birmingham. Birmingham are lacking in a goal threat at the moment but when they brought Zigic and Hleb on last night you could see that they had power and height in the box. Djourou is our power/height defender.

    I actually disagree and think Wigan will play an attacking game. That’s what they’ve done all season and they’re dangerous at it too. I’ve watched a lot of their games and as seems to be the overall theme this season for every team. They very often dominate and lose or draw.

    It would be a huge mistake to underestimate Wigan, they have some very skilled attacking players. If we go in to this game tired or over confident they will tear us apart. That’s what happened last season and we have that habit still as you saw against tottenham and west brom.

  • ArsenalDubai

    Let’s hope lightning doesn’t srike twice, and we can come back with 3 valuable points from DW. Go Arsenal!

  • Hm, this game should be treated with all seriousness it deserve especially if you consider who we are meeting next weekend: Man Citeh at Emirates. That should tell you what we are in coz its all about getting maximum possible from this holiday fixtures. Citeh being as close to us in the table we have to choose the lineup with weekend in mind.

    They rested Tevez and Barry among others with a game against us in mind. It turned out they licked Aston Vanilla and we have to give Wigan a serious consideration to be able to beat them thoroughly in revenge for ending our our hopes last season and in so doing stengthen out title credentials this season.

  • IndianGooner

    Goonerbeall,

    We play Man$iteh next weekend.. this weekend, we’re playing Birmingham away..

  • Bongo

    I hope Arshavin steps up in this match. He can’t be too pleased that he didn’t get to play the big one against Chelsea. He needs to show the desire and form he did against Villa.

    I actually think competition would get the best out of him. And rest will help him too. I think he’s very prone to being tired and when he is he just ponders around the pitch.

    A lot of people say he doesn’t track back and i a lot of games he doesn’t but when he’s on his A game, he does. I’ve seen him bail Clichy out of some very tight spots lots of times.

  • DogFace

    This match will be tougher than most people expect… the main reason being that we’ll be playing on a cabbage patch – no doubt they’ll also take a leaf out of SAF’s book and also turn the hoses on it before kick off.

    We’ll need get fugly and resort to lumping it at the big man for this one I fear!

  • Wrenny

    @DogFace

    I don’t know about the condition of the pitch at DW, but Wigan usually like to get the ball down and play. I don’t see Martinez changing that philosophy tonight myself.

    But if they were to decide to turn a bit ‘Stoke’ on us I say bring it on! We’ve gone oop norf to physical sides like Blackburn, Everton and Wolves and got all the points.

  • Phil

    Gooner80: I like Walcott as a player in some situations, but if there isn’t much space he might struggle to contribute. Better to have him on the bench and start with Arshavin in my eyes.

  • samuel

    Hopefully Nasri will be left behind to rest for the home game vs Man.City and Diaby and Arshavin make the trip up to Wigan but what about Bentnder as he also needs game time with CL matches next year and his fitness not up tp to the required standard just yet,he should make the trip ,we shall see ?

  • samuel

    Before the kickoff i predicted a 3-1 scoreline ,to the Gunners ,it,s there on the blog ,sorry for you Phil but tonight,s match vs Wigan, how about 4-1 to the Gunners ?

  • critic

    i hope we break carling cup curse(we have lost to teams that were beaten by us in cup eg. Tots and nufc)(information courtesy desigunner) tonight.

  • IndianGooner

    8 changes!!!! Only Sagna, Koscielny and Fabianksi survive from Monday…

    Team in full: Fabianski, Eboue, Squillaci, Koscielny, Sagna, Diaby, Rosicky, Denilson, Bendtner, Chamakh, Arshavin.

    Subs: Szczesny, Nasri, Vela, Walcott, Wilshere, Djourou, Clichy.

  • RedGooner

    I think we might win 2-0 all the silly predictions of higher must be thinking we play in division 2 or something.

    Off topic I know but …..did anyone notice how little has been made of Pullis refusing to shake that tosser MarkHughes hand after the game ?

    When it was Wenger he was bloody Vouyer a savage with no principles and all over the papers now its 2 english men its frikken alright NOT to shake hands all of a sudden.

    Personaly I wouldnt shake hands with either BUT thats not the point.

  • Stuart

    maybe Arsenal to win 2-1 then

  • IndianGooner

    2-1 at half-time.. and with the way the game is going I expect atleast couple more in the 2nd..

  • A Casual Observer

    I think the Ref Review might be entertaining for this one.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Another cardinal defensive error, shooting ourselves in the foot. This team really has to find a way to consistantly defend leads to win anything major. Letting that goal in against a team just reduced to 10 men is not good enough. Bring back Martin Keown

  • The Blaze

    That’s it. I have the feeling that there are certain people with too much power who don’t want Arsenal to be champions. Abysmal performance again by the ref.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Ref was a joke and yes, I do not doubt there are some who do not want us to win the league – events over recent years reinforce this – BUT we still need to hold leads and cut out basic mistakes. I know the stats boys on here may prove me wrong but we seem to be severely punished for any defensive mistakes we make.

  • DC

    The conspiracy theorists can now rightly go into overdrive. A non-penalty and a “blatant” penalty not given! If we win the league, we’re going to have to beat English footballing corruption in order to do it! Or we can just win every match by at least 3 goals just to be sure! Unbelievable refereeing performance!

  • Rhys Jaggar

    Don’t think can complain about being 2-1 at half-time, 2-1 against 10 men with 12 to go and not close it out.

    1st 35 minutes Arsenal were poor. Nothing to do with the ref that. To do with the Arsenal team.

    Can’t say the side was too young: it had Sagna, Squillaci, Eboue, Rosicky, Arshavin and Chamakh in it.

    There’s only one reason Arsenal didn’t win and it’s that they didn’t deserve to.

    They didn’t lose, though.

    Onward to St Andrews……..

  • DC

    @ Rhys,
    You’re right and it’s unfortunate that Arsene didn’t bring on Samir and Theo mid-way through the second half as our attacking threat dwindled with fatigue and lack of pace and cutting edge. Hopefully the Lord Wenger will fix this next time. A win at St Andrews will make up for it.
    Incidentally, was it just me or did Squillaci look very uncomfortable and cumbersome throughout the whole match? He worries me and i thought his strength was supposedly experience, organisation and communication at the back?

  • RedGooner

    I agree the changes should have been made long before that.
    I think everyone could see we werent keeping up the pressure and kicking on for the win.
    Wigan werent good and didnt deserve anything from the match.
    Yes the ref was crap but AW may also look in the mirror when it comes to tonights results for not changing things sooner.

    Still 3 points against Birmingham would be a nice way to end the week. I think Utd and Chelsea cant rotate as much and will drop points the weekend.

  • DC

    Its’s also a very big disappointment that Arsene didn’t appear to respect Wigan as much as he should have done. They play some good football and Martinez is a very good young manager and honourable man! Arsene should have shown far more deserved respect to them, especially at the DW, before and during the game by his line-up and substitutions. It’s such a shame that he didn’t and sadly it’s made him and us look highly arrogant!

  • C4

    Goodness, we were robbed blind… That handball was worse than Cesc’s when we played the tiny totts. How the ref failed to give that is beyond me… And all this after a synthesized penalty that he gave to wigan early in the game…
    Final score should have been 3-1 to Arsenal, possibly 2-1 if Samir missed our penalty that never was.
    Pathetic, to say the least, this game reeked of corruption. There was a piece on here once about match fixing and spot fixing, and I think we just experienced the latter.

  • walter

    I will leave my comments on the ref for the ref review. But I can tell you that cannot remember anything like that for a while.
    But I will try to analyse it when feeling calm and relaxed. Like I always try to do.
    And then give you my final conclusions. But this had a 2007-2008 feeling all over. You know from the moment we look threathening to win something the refs suddenly started to blow against us? Clattenburg once we went 3-0 up against Chelsea who suddenly changed. This one looked up to the “task” from the start…

    But I will try to analyse it as neutral as possible.

  • C4

    @ Rhys:
    “There’s only one reason Arsenal didn’t win and it’s that they didn’t deserve to.”
    You’re kidding, right? I know it wasn’t an amazing performance, but it should have been just enough to see us through, 2-1 or even 3-1.
    2 massively wrong, game defining decisions cost us 2 points today. Those 2 decisions DIRECTLY affected the result. When a ref gets 2 penalty decisions wrong on opposite ends of the pitch, both times in favour of 1 team, it can mean the difference between winning, losing or drawing. Consider the timing of each of those decisions as well. It’s evident some officials share the general sentiments of the media and are quite willing to try and help the teams and managers that are the “darlings of English football.” I seriously doubt those were just errors on the ref’s part. A top flight ref can’t be that blind or sleepy.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Since when does winning has something to do with deserving to win?

    If a ref constantly only calls the fouls from one team and let the other team do what they want (with the exceptional foul that you really have to give) you give a very serious handicap to that team.
    When you give a penalty for a dive that does give a team a serious handicap.
    If you give every dubious decision to one team this gives a serious handicap ot the other team. This is what we were facing today.
    But I will give you more about that in the official ref review.

  • walter

    Lee Probert was voted Wigan player of the match.

  • walter

    Rhys, you said: “1st 35 minutes Arsenal were poor. Nothing to do with the ref that. To do with the Arsenal team.”

    When you are not allowed to play to your best this can have a reason.
    If a ref constantly only calls the fouls from one team and let the other team do what they want (with the exceptional foul that you really have to give) you give a very serious handicap to that team.
    When you give a penalty for a dive that does give a team a serious handicap.
    If you give every dubious decision to one team this gives a serious handicap ot the other team. This is what we were facing today.

  • Terence McGovern

    That ref was hard to take.
    The more I watch English football, the more I believe that certain refs are for sale.
    I can understand that the ref may have been taken in by a dive at the start but there is no way he missed that handball.
    He saw it and chose not to give it.
    I feel that far too often the club are way too mild mannered in this regard.
    There should be an official(and public) complaint to the FA and head of the referees association highlighting the ineptitute of that ref and we should be making public statements about how we “hope” that it is only incompetence and not corruption.

    I guarantee you that whilst hating us (which most do anyway) they would still have to play us fair under the media spotlight.

    If they threaten charges against us bring civil action in return. We are rich and they are broke. Fuck em.

    If we continue to simply accept it in dignified silence we will only continue to receive more of the same.

  • aaron

    I haven’t seen the game properly as i had to go to a dinner. But as much as you are attacking Rhy and his “We didn’t deserve to win” i think there is a little truth to it. Though from what i have been told from my friends, the ref was a complete joke.

    The Squad that was sent out, is good enough to Beat Wigan. they have all rotated in the past due to Injury and lets be honest they have the quality to beat them. We even played a team with 10 men for just over 10 mins (don’t know the added time on). How we didn’t pull back another goal with our attackive changes are beyond me (For now). Nasri has shown he has close control so even if all 9 men were in the box something should have happened.

    Now the Pen seems to be the talking point of the hour and personally i think we got completely robbed as i’ve been told it is exactly like Cesc’s Spurs incident. That i think is the defining point and nothing the squad or AW can do about that. But i think we should have done better with the squad out there. They were fit and fresh. I had my Stoke game Cancelled, ffs.

  • Dark Prince

    Somewhat disappointing end to 2010…we lacked creativity, and thats obvious if we dont hav nasri or cesc in the team. Arshavin too cudn’t break them down. Hmmmm….on to our next match then. If we cant end 2010 on a winning note, atleast we shud start 2011 on a winning note.

  • Terence McGovern

    Dark Prince, for all his shortcomings Arshavin scored one and set up another so I don’t know where you get the last comment from.

  • Dark Prince

    Terence McGovern- yea he did well for both…but in d second half he looked ineffective….infact in the 2nd half, the whole team looked ineffective and lookin to contain rather than finish of the game…