By Billy the dog McGraw
There was a time when predicting the Arsenal team was a complex affair, with multiple injuries and men swapping positions trying to fill the gaps.
Now that’s not the case, and the manager even helps us a bit by giving out clues. So here is the line-up
Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs;
Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott, Podolski
Newcastle don’t have our current fortune on the injury front. Ben Arfa, S Taylor, Cabaye, Gosling, Tiote, Gutiérrez, R Taylor, Vuckic, Anita are all injured. Williamson is suspended.
And not only do we have those XI guys on the pitch both Olivier Giroud and Tomas Rosicky are available, and will presumably be on the beach.
The Newcastle injury list explains a bit about their fall from grace, but basically they have also lost the momentum that the run of results last year gave them. They built success on success, and now build failure on failure. That’s how it goes.
Arsène Wenger has said that Theo will continue to play as a centre forward in the style of Henry (often out wide, then cutting in) and it was good to see the old boy saying that he is working with Theo and has every confidence in him.
And even Mr Wenger sounds positive. “I like the signs I have seen. If you look at my statements I always said that one day he would play through the middle and it grew in his brain. He is now 23. I decided to play Thierry Henry at 23 through the middle because you have to learn a lot before. The fact that you play in other positions as well helps your technique. From 19 to 23, Theo has learnt a lot. Now we will sometimes play him on the flanks, sometimes through the middle. I like what I have seen through the middle.”
“It’s a bit early to compare him to Thierry Henry. Let’s not put him under too much pressure. He has played two games and you have to be open-minded in our job and give people a chance. If they take it it’s good. If they don’t he will still be a fantastic winger, so it puts some more assets in his game. I am confident he will do well.
“Before we had more specialists in midfield. We had Vieira and Gilberto in midfield so you could play with more strikers. Now we have Wilshere, Arteta, Cazorla, Chamberlain and Podolski. It’s difficult to find the balance defensively.”
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