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By Phil Gregory
After the disappointing result in the Carling Cup, we have an opportunity to get back to winning ways in the form of our FA Cup replay. Held to a draw after Leyton Orient’s late equaliser, you’d hope that a tie versus lower league opposition will provide a chance to regain some confidence and get the season back on track.
There’s no need to dwell too long on the Carling Cup Final now. A combination of Birmingham’s great performance, Mike Dean and the Blues having twice as much rest as us culminated in a 2-1 defeat us . Let’s just hope that heads haven’t dropped after that result. If we perform as we know we can there’ll be bigger trophies in the cabinet come May and that thought should motivate the team onwards.
Anyway, Orient. On the injury front, there was some bad news in Wenger’s pre-match briefing when he announced Van Persie is out for a minimum of three weeks. That rules him out of the Barcelona, and our Premier League run-in for the next few weeks. Song is another casualty, ruled out of Wednesday’s game and rated as unlikely for the weekend. Thankfully however the Cameroonian international is back for the Barcelona tie in midweek.
Eboue Djourou Squillaci Gibbs
Nasri Bendtner Arshavin
This team is a tricky one to pick. Normally I would’ve expected a largely second string side, but after the Carling Cup final we can’t run the risk of any more negative headlines. Upon hearing that Koscielny and Szcznesy are “destroyed” I imagine they’ll get some time out of the limelight, so I’ve left both out of the line up. The pair of them have been amongst our top performers this season, so hopefully we’ll see them back to their best on Saturday. There’s a chance they could even be played in this game, if Arsène decides to give them a chance to banish their demons out on the field.
So given that, we’ll probably see our usual defensive rotation, with the fullbacks to getting a breather. Squillaci comes into the side and partners Djourou at centre back. As an aside, we need Vermaelen back soon,three central defenders for the season is crazy!
Further forward I hope we’ll see Wilshere in a more advanced playmaking role as I don’t feel we get enough cutting edge from Rosicky. That means Denilson plays with Diaby in front of the back four. That’s quite a bit of a shake-up for the key central midfield area but we should still have enough to overcome Orient as long as Diaby isn’t too rusty on his return.
The injury to Van Persie means Bendtner will lead the line, flanked by Nasri and Arshavin. The Russian in particular has looked good ever since that goal against Barcelona so we’ll be looking to him for a great performance in a side shorn of a few key players.
I tried to find out who the ref is for this game but couldn’t find it on the PGMOL website and didn’t dig much deeper than that. Hopefully we don’t have one of our many wardens of doom officiating and we should be all right. Even though the injuries are stacking up it shouldn’t be an issue here. What matters most is we do a professional job, a clean sheet and a couple of goals would do me absolutely fine., 2-0 from me.
Title watch: Well, well, well. Karma finally caught up with Manchester United last night. I was losing all hope in football when Manchester United were dominant and 1-0 thanks to a goal from Wayne Rooney (who shouldn’t have been on the pitch). But Luiz and Lampard made it a 2-1 victory to Chelsea by the end, with Vidic picking up a red card. That card will rule him out of their crucial away clash at Anfield, though Ferdinand is expected to be passed fit by then.
Apparently there was some dodginess around Chelsea’s penalty -Walter’s opinion would be fantastic if he can see the video at some point – but I haven’t seen the incident so wont comment. Either way, Rooney shouldn’t be on the pitch, so the first goal wouldn’t have happened.
The FA claimed they couldn’t do anything as they were hamstrung by FIFA’s rules. This is a lie: check FIFA’s Disciplinary Code here if you don’t believe me (Article 77B, they can correct erroneous refereeing decisions after the game if they so decide): http://www.fifa.com/mm/document/affederation/administration/50/02/75/disco_2009_en.pdf
Wigan’s owner Dave Whelan was fuming in the media about Rooney getting away with it, so I dropped Wigan FC an email with the above information. They were kind enough to write back and say thanks. How lovely would it be if they called the FA out on their lie? I say lie as I’m assuming the FA are competent enough to actually know what FIFA’s rules are when they talk about them but perhaps not…
Anyway, Arsenal. A win at the weekend moves us to within a point of United ahead of their game at Anfield. We really need to get our noses in front soon, because for my money we have a tougher last five or six games when compared to United. Three points against Sunderland is vital, we cannot afford to miss any more opportunities : the title race is drawing to a close.
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