A lot has been said about needing to focus just on the game in hand, rather than getting distracted by our Champions League first leg game against Bayern on Tuesday; without any doubt the biggest game of our season so far. But this is easier said than done.
Wenger will need to find a fine balance again: on the one hand he needs fresh legs on Tuesday and his strongest squad available, and on the other hand, he needs to put a team out with not only the right set of skills/qualities, but also with the right attitude and winning mentality (Bradford anyone?!).
Getting through to the next round of the FA-cup is of course very important. It would be a significant step forward for this ‘new’ Arsenal team if it could win a major price this year, and the FA-cup remains a good opportunity for us to do just that. But eliminating Bayern Munich in the Champions League would also be a major step forwards….
There is a real risk, however subconscious, of underestimating our encounter with Blackburn Rovers tomorrow. Yes we play at home and Blackburn are not a PL team, but they are on a good run, losing just one game of their last eight league games, and getting themselves back in promotion contention. And they have not got a bad team either.
The Blue and Whites will come with a nothing to lose attitude and try to enjoy themselves; they will also know that we are unlikely to play our strongest side, and even if we did, that our minds will, at least partly, be on Tuesday’s game (nobody wants to get injured for a start…).
I reckon, Wenger will rest once again about six players for Saturday’s FA-cup game; just as he did for our last FA-cup game against Brighton. There are four players he should not risk tomorrow: Wilshere, Vermaelen, Sagna and Theo.
Wilshere, because he is carrying a knock, and we have good replacements for him in Diaby and Rosicky; Vermaelen and Sagna, because we need our best possible options on the full back positions against Bayern, so we can counter the German threat on the wings; and Theo because he will be our special weapon against the Germans (I won’t say more as we will publish a brilliant maiden post by Nik on Monday, which covers, among other topics, the importance of starting Theo against Bayern on Tuesday).
In an ideal world, Arsenal would also not start with Arteta and Cazorla, but I reckon at least one of the two will need to play tomorrow.
My predicted line-up:
I reckon the team above will give us a good balance in terms of experience and hunger, but to be fair, it is really hard to predict the line-up for tomorrow’s game: who really knows what Arsene will do?
Does this line-up work for you? And if not, what would you change?
Written by: Total Arsenal.