Arsenal / Wigan: team news, tactics, prognosis

Arsenal vs Wigan: team news, injuries, tactics, prognosis

By Phil Gregory

Wigan Athletic, Arsenal’s opponents on Saturday, arrive at the Emirates Stadium on the back of  their first home win of the season against West Ham.

Roberto Martinez, Wigan’s manager since the departure of Steve Bruce to Sunderland, has undertaken wholesale changes at the club. Valencia and Cattermole departed, along with hardworking central midfielder Michael Brown. P

layers such as Gomez (a product of the Barcelona academy) and Jason Scotland, both of whom spent time with Martinez when he was Swansea manager last season, arrived to replace them. Other summer arrivals included Scott Sinclair (on loan from Chelsea) and highly-rated James McCarthy.

Recent form:

Since an impressive 2-0 opening day win at Aston Villa,  Wigan have fallen to away defeats against Blackpool in the League Cup and a struggling Everton side.

Arsenal, weakened by the ever-present spate of injuries, nonetheless have their confidence restored after an impressive comeback away to Standard Liege. Arsenal’s free-scoring home form has been impressive, with wins recorded in all games, though we have to go back to Rangers in the Emirates Cup for a clean sheet at home this season.


Arsenal are without long-term absentees Nasri, Fabianksi, Djourou and Vela, while Almunia is expected to miss the game too.  Report emerged after the Liege game that Denilson will be out for “a few weeks” with a back problem and Andrei Arshavin is rated as being unlikely to be fit.

Realistically Arshavin’s unlikely to be risked for what should be a comfortable home win, but he will be a welcome face on the bench.  As of yet, it isn’t known whether Walcott is fit to be involved, but Wenger has said that Van Persie could well recover in time.

Wigan are at the other end of the spectrum, with only Olivier Kapo ruled out with a knee ligament injury.

Key men:

Arsenal will be looking to Cesc Fabregas and Tomas Rosicky to shoulder the creative burden in the absence of Arshavin and Nasri.

William Gallas will be looking to atone for the (albeit soft) penalty given against him at Liege and help the team to a clean sheet.

Niklas Bendtner will be hoping to continue his recent good form, and I’m tipping him to score at the Emirates on Saturday after an excellent performance in Liege was deservedly capped with a tidy finish.

For Wigan, ex Newcastle winger N’Zogbia and former Welsh international Koumas have both looked lively during the season’s opening games but haven’t had much in the way of goals to show for it. Hugo Rodallega has two Premier League strikes to his name this season and can be expected to provide most of the threat from an otherwise goal-shy Wigan Athletic side.

Arsenal expected lineup:


Sagna Vermaelen Gallas Clichy


Fabregas Diaby

Bendtner Eduardo Rosicky

Subs: Szczseny, Silvestre, Eboue, Van Persie, Ramsey, Watt, Wilshere

Defence and goalkeeper pick themselves. Its unlikely Wenger will want to play Rosicky as frequently as he has, but injuries are forcing his hand.

Rosicky could play at CM, with Diaby wide, though personally I think this system is the better use of the players.

Eduardo can play as the centre forward if Van Persie isn’t risked: I really can’t see the need in rushing Robin back for what should be a fairly comfortable home win, being an option to come on should suffice for him.

The bench is weak, but with nine first team players injured it is to be expected.  I think we’re all hoping Jack will get some minutes, I’d imagine he’s in with an outside chance of a start if Wenger decides to be cautious with Rosicky. Given the paucity of bench options, I’m wondering why Traore isn’t included.


I was pleased to be almost on target with my prediction for the Liege game (narrow away win it most certainly was!) and this time . I’m going to go for a comfortable 3-0 home win.  Given our injuries, I’d take 1-0, but Wigan just aren’t gelling as a team yet, and their form has been unimpressive.  They’re struggling to score goals,  but Arsenal have looked unsteady at the back too.

It’s a great opportunity for the Gooners to celebrate a clean sheet at home, and a decent performance from the back four should see us through. Even with the spate of injuries, that team is more than enough to beat a Wigan side still very much a work in progress.

See you all on Monday for the Carling Cup Preview!

The preview of this match from Alternative Universe No 7 will appear Saturday morning.

14 Replies to “Arsenal / Wigan: team news, tactics, prognosis”

  1. I really hope we can score soon and give us a smooth game but I guess Tony will tell us that.
    The team looks like it’s the best we can choose for the moment and I shure wouldn’t risk RVP if not needed.
    Just wondering if Rosicky playing 4 times in some 10 days will be a wise thing ? He didn’t play whole games but my God it would be a very big dissapointment if we would lose him again. Maybe Ramsey in midfield and Diaby upfront and TR on the bench just for in case of emergency.
    I hope the back 4 is alive and kicking from kickoff this time and no backheals near our own box this time please.

  2. Speaking of Traore why doesnt he get moved to left wing and give Diaby a free role which he loves.

  3. given the usual injury disaster that we always had i think we’re short of option to play the stronger squad .. however i just dont this one will be the typical match to the one at Liege’s, at least we wont concede 2 goals in 5 mins. And i do hope for RvP and Eddie to score in this game. That’ll be a good booster for them, as i just think that our strikers have not been productive enough this season ..

    anyway, really like ur blog tony

  4. Very reliable preview mate. But I think Wenger would prefer Merida on the bench more than Watt. Should be easy for us,, 4-0.

    Btw are you getting a bit worried about our injured players ? Nasri’s 7 weeks time is up now and no sign from him to come back. Walcott was expected to be back against Celtic but he didn’t.

  5. Merida is off to the WYC in Egypt with the spanish squad while Armand Traore pulled his hamstring in the reserve game against Birmingham and I’m not sure if he is back yet.

  6. Rosicky’s there as more of a necessity than anything else. Ramsey slotting in to mdifield and Diaby moving forward is certainly an option. I hadn’t thought of this, but he did start in the Pompey game and has shown he can perform fine at home.

    I put Watt on the bench as it’s most likely to be a comfortable game, and if Van Persie’s the sole striker on the bench it doesn’t give Wenger much chance to rest players if we are coasting with twenty minutes to go.

    Injuries are a concern too. is stating Nasri as the 17th October which is very worrying – it was six weeks, not ten. We’re not crying out for him Nasri, but the extra body would certainly help, his ability to play wide or central would be perfect. Hopefully Arsene will clear this up soon.

  7. Re Nasri – it’s 6 weeks to heal then there is rehab before he starts training again, so 17th Oct doesn’t sound too bad.

    Merida is away with Spain I believe, so he would not be available for the bench.

  8. We have to think about next week also when we play for the Carling Cup. It will be the youngsters but hope that Merida plays in that game with Wilshere in midfield. Could be a look in the future in a couple years.
    That is in the case Merida is not in Spain ??

  9. Tony, am I the only one who is having troubles today with the loading of the site ? Could be my computer and my internet but whole afternoon when at home the site didn’t came trough or was very slow ?

  10. yh we wil concede a goal i jus hope its no two goals.its amazing past few seasons we lacked a good back two now tha we have peopl like Clichy and Almunia r starting to let us down if it aint one thing its the other with us hey!!!
    Cant see Rosicky starting especially since Van Persie is available so we should probably have him on the bench and start like this

    really want to see the front three interchange jus to see which system works for us i mean later in the game at Man City we had Van-P on the right so would like to see it tried out

  11. Site speed: I was away yesterday afternoon so didn’t look on the site – but it seems to be ok Saturday morning. The site is housed on my company’s server via OneandOne – which means if it does run into trouble then all the sites we own run into trouble, and we tend to notice it – as do our customers.

    But thanks for the warning. I’ll keep watching – although not on saturday where I think I will be somewhere… can’t quite remember where.

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