Ten days without an injection of Gunners footie, whilst having to watch the rest in action, is not easy.
We know the results this weekend did not go our way, but we should not forget that the most important result was achieved a week ago, when the Spuds failed to beat the Chavs, and as a result, our destiny was left in our own hands, or should that be, twenty-two feet and eleven heads.
Wigan have sometimes been brilliant over the last few months: one of the very few shining lights in what has been relatively a dull PL season, especially in 2013. And it all reached an almost unthinkable crescendo last Saturday, when they claimed their first ever serious title in their history, and against all odds. An unbelievable achievement, and one of which the Wigan fans will live for a long time.
Despite Wigan’s considerable gap with those above them, and just two games left to play for them now, the Latics have also still their faith in their own hands. A win against us and then against Villa at home, and they will play PL footie again next season. Benteke moments of madness could yet cost the Villans dearly and see Wigan survive.
Of all the teams who are not entirely safe at the moment, there is no doubt I would prefer Wigan to survive. But faith has it that we need to beat them in order to have the best possible chance of securing CL footie next season, and we cannot afford to indulge ourselves in sentimentality.
We need to win, and ideally with a large margin – five goals would be nice! – in order to have a better chance to finish third (a win against NU and a Chelsea draw against Everton would then see us finish above the Chavs). Before the visiting Latics fans start biting my neck off, let me state that I do not expect us to win with such a margin, and that I am more hoping for, then simply expecting, a win tomorrow.
Both teams like to play football but the Latics like to absorb pressure and pounce on the counter: something they are very good at.
Wigan’s strengths are predominantly in midfield. In the away fixture they made life very hard for us in the middle of the pitch. They kept it narrow and stopped us from passing the ball around; as a result, we often lost the ball and found it hard to get it back again. During that game it became painfully obvious we were missing a beast of a DM to help us contain and regain the ball better in midfield. We won the game after being rewarded a softish penalty – which Arteta put away with great composure – and Wigan wasting a number of good chances which were mainly created through sharp counter-attacking football.
So the script for this game is straightforward: both teams need to win and it will simply be another cup-final tomorrow. Great for the neutral spectator, nerve-racking for Gooners and Latics!
How will we line-up:
I reckon it will be Szczesny, Sagna, BFG and Koz in defence. The only big question is: who will Arsene play at LB: Nacho or Gibbs?
This will depend on how much he wants to attack from the left wing. If he wants to attack a lot from there, I reckon he’ll combine Gibbs and Podolski: our best partnership if both are fully fit. However, if Arsene wants to remain less adventurous, and there is a very good reason for this against Wigan, he is likely to go with Nacho (and Cazorla on the left wing); and I believe that’s what he will do.
In midfield, I believe Arsene will stick with our Welsh-Spanish double DM-pivot and the big question is once again: who will play in the hole? Will it be Rosicky, Cazorla or Wilshere. I am going to choose Rosicky, as his experience, and Jack potentially still not being fully fit/ in form, would make him the safest bet.
In our attack, I am going to go for the usual suspects. I would love to see us play a bit of wing-football again, but I reckon that our most capable players for the wing, Ox and Gervinho, will start on the bench, and that Arsene will go for a ‘fluid-three’ of Cazorla, Podolski and Theo. All three have scored a lot of goals this season, and so it makes sense to have them start against Wigan tomorrow.
Let’s hope Podolski is fully fit, or at least fit enough for this crucial game, and that the team will have been practicing a lot over the last ten days to get the best value out of him in the central position. A lot will depend on it. Let’s also hope Theo will continue to get back to his best and Cazorla’s ambidextrous shooting boots will find the net tomorrow.
We all know what this game means and what needs to be done. Nobody can say they are not warned about Wigan’s ability to cause a major upset. Let’s hope the boys are focussed, fully fit, start strong and never look back.
We need a passionate and yet professional performance by our boys: time to play for the shirt and for the future once more. And let’s hope the crowd will reflect that passion with their levels of support tomorrow.
Let’s get the three points and move above the Spuds again: Let’s give them a sniff of the mighty red and white Arse!
Written by: TotalArsenal.