Arsene Wenger has some encouragement in picking his side for Saturday’s FA Cup clash with rivals Spurs, with the Gunners set for a nine day break after an intense but overall successful festive period.
He is however short of a full squad after revealing the latest team news. Giroud is 90% out after suffering from a sickness on Thursday evening, Bendnter is definitely out after sustaining an ankle injury while scoring against Cardiff, joining Ramsey and Gibbs on the injury list. Lastly Mesut Ozil could play a part however after partaking in training on Friday afternoon.
Wenger has limited options up front, but overall he can field a strong, strong side. The Frenchman has hinted of some minor tinkering though:
We have one or two who are at the limit because they played many, many games and there is a big danger they could be injured. They will be rested but, apart from that, you want to win the game and we have a big break after this match.
[on the striker role] It leaves my thoughts with the players that you know – that means it can be Podolski, Walcott or Ozil if he is available.
Thomas Vermaelen should really be afforded a start, however Per Mertesacker is perhaps the most in need of a rest rather than Koscielny, but a Koscmaelen partnership has failed to be fruitful. Although Wenger will be tempted to field his club captain, Kosacker will be the likely central defensive duo especially with a healthy nine day rest on the horizon.
Nacho Monreal will be expected to start again on the left in the absence of Gibbs, while Bacary Sagna remains an automatic selection at right back.
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In midfield Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini could be chosen to provide a double pivot once again, but personally I’d prefer one or the other, most likely the Spaniard, to partner Jack Wilshere with either Mesut Ozil or Santi Cazorla ahead in the number 10 role. Much will depend on whether Ozil is indeed fit which will also affect who plays on the wings and up-front.
We have the capability to field either Lukas Podolski or Theo Walcott in the centre forward role rather than Ozil as a false nine. The Germany midfielder is probably more capable at holding up the ball, but the other two offer more directness and speed in attack. Walcott is the better of the wingers to start up front purely because he has had more minutes under his belt recently, while Podolski will perhaps benefit more from the wing at this point in time. But the two can interchange quite merrily.
Serge Gnabry also should be afforded a start, the young German starlet has demonstrated his aptitude this season and should be rewarded with at least an appearance in the Cup match. But as the atmosphere will be even more intense for the Gunners second North London Derby, Wenger perhaps may choose not to field the winger from the get-go.
Here are two of my preferred lineups:
Sagna Merts Kosc Monreal
Arteta (c) Wilshere
Sagna Merts Verm (c) Monreal
What are your thoughts and ideas? Comment below..