Thursday, November 22, 2007

Arsenal vs. Wigan: Match Preview

Match Review

This Saturday a depleted Arsenal side face off against second from bottom Wigan as the Gunners look to retain the top spot in the Premier League.

After three straight draws (against Liverpool, Manchester United, and Slavia Prague), the Gunners were just beginning to regain their form with an emphatic 3-1 victory over Reading before the international break.

However, the international games didn't do much good for the Gunners, as Mathieu Flamini, Abou Diaby, and Alex Hleb all picked up injuries.

There are no injuries in the defense, with Bacary Sagna, Kolo Toure, William Gallas, and Gael Clichy all fit and ready to play.

However, with Cesc Fabregas already suspended for the match, it seems that Arsenal are facing what seemed impossible - something of a midfield crisis.

Tomas Rosicky looks sure to start, although he may be pushed out onto the left with Emmanuel Eboue patrolling the right. Otherwise, Rosicky could start on the right with Eduardo or Theo Walcott used as a left winger.

It is more difficult, though, to choose players for the central midfield positions. Arsene Wenger has ruled Gilberto out since he doesn't get back from international duty with Brazil until Friday evening, and Fabregas, Flamini, and Diaby are all unavailable. Neves Denilson and Lassana Diarra are likely to start in a light midfield due to a very strange injury crisis.

Up front, Arsenal will not see the return of Robin van Persie. The Dutchman, who was expected to return against Wigan, will not be fit for the weekend nor for the midweek Champions League game against Sevilla. Emmanuel Adebayor will, of course, start up front, but he needs a partner, as the midfield crisis will eliminate the chance of playing a 4-5-1. Personally I would choose Nicklas Bendtner, but Theo Walcott or Eduardo could start as well.

Wenger has stated that he won't play Bendtner with Adebayor, but the young Dane scored two goals in two games for his country over the international break and will be brimming with confidence.

The team itself should be brimming with confidence as well, as a Wigan side that has lost its last seven games and not won in ten shouldn't trouble a light Arsenal team too much.

I say 2-0 to the Arsenal.