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Victory Through Harmony
Having established that all is not equal when it comes to referees we now start our regular build up and down over another game. It was Dogface’s preview of the referee for the Everton game that started all the excitement and got the media going. He’ll be along in a short while, but lest we forget, there are also a number of players involved as well.
Arsenal v Wolverhampton
By Phil Gregory
Excluding this sentence, the following match preview will not include the name “Phil Dowd”. I wouldn’t after all, want to take pleasure in the fact the FA has pulled him from the rota this week with Untold at the forefront of highlighting the ineptness of his performance (including the appearance of this blog on the BBC.
The good news is that the injury Djourou picked up wasn’t that severe and he’ll be fine for Barcelona. Wenger could be in two minds over the Swiss international, but if he’s passed fit his aerial prowess could come in useful against Wolves. The main cost for Arsenal of the international break was an injury to Tomas Rosicky, who is ruled out with a groin injury.
Van Persie and Cesc Fabregas are back fit after missing midweek internationals with illness, while Denilson has been passed fit. It’s great to have Song back, particularly in light of Diaby’s red card, while Wilshere only playing 45 minutes was no bad thing either.
Sagna Djourou Koscielny Clichy
Walcott Van Persie Arshavin
Szcznesy continues in net, with the usual back four in front of him thanks to Djourou’s return from injury. Song and Wilshere shield the back four with Fabregas playing further in front. Arshavin continues in the place of Nasri, with Van Persie central and Walcott on the right of the attack.
Wolves don’t travel well, with a solitary away win to their name all season. While they’re struggling in the league at the moment,there won’t be many Arsenal fans who need reminding that Wolves come into this game on the back of a win against United. Like any game in this league the opponent must be respected but even with a few first team players out we should have no difficulties seeing off this Wolves side despite their record against the top sides.
Wolves are a side who like to use the wings, which should work in our favour creating space in the middle of the park. Saying that, we will still likely see our midfield three numerically matched by theirs. Against United O’Hara played off Doyle, but I can’t help but suspect away from home they might leave Doyle on his own and bring in a defensive midfielder, perhaps with one of the two central midfielders given licence to support Doyle. Their wing play will however result in plenty of crosses into the box, so the presence of Djourou is welcome in that regard.
Doyle isn’t the paciest of strikers, so won’t be able to exploit the space left behind our high line. Indeed, the high line will be quite effective at limiting the impact of their long balls forward, as even if Doyle is winning headers he isn’t much of a threat unless he has the ball nearer the box. McCarthy won’t want him to be isolated so may be tempted to play someone in behind, but again I suspect he’ll start off with a defensive midfielder sweeping up rather than an attacking midfielder supporting Doyle.
Wolves are an organised side, and that is what cost United. An excellent defensive shape and system requires offensive play of a higher level to break through it, and United simply didn’t have that. While they will be a threat at set pieces, we need to make sure we are on our game offensively.
While that may be a strange point to make given it is this Arsenal side’s forté (there’s your weekly french word, Tony!), it must be noted that our key attacking contributor this season has been Nasri and he won’t play any part. Apart from the goals, much of Nasri’s contribution is that he divides the priorities of the opposition: do they nullify Fabregas, Nasri or both? Leaving one relatively free is deadly, but so is doing a poor marking job on both and few teams have a pair of midfielders with the nous to keep players of the calibre of Nasri and Fabregas quiet all game. Some, however have one player and without Nasri that player will solely be focussing on keeping Fabregas’ contribution as little as possible.
It’s going to be up to the other attacking players to share the burden then. Arshavin is a man with bags of ability while Theo is another, creating options in his own way via off the ball runs. I suspect Van Persie’s performance will be crucial: with a defensive midfielder tied up dealing with Fabregas, Van Persie could come drag the opposition’s defence further forward in an attempt to track him, leaving space in behind for Walcott.
Certainly one to watch then. I’m going for a 3-0 to the Arsenal, with a return to normalcy for the home crowd. Prediction is of course subject to revision depending on the analysis that Dogface comes up with. Enjoy the game Gunners.
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