By 1970's Gooner
Arsenal’s line up for the first game of the season against Fulham is not yet that clear. Nor is Fulham’s.
Arsenal are giving a late fitness test to Eduardo who therefore looks likely to start if he passes it and partner Van Persie up front.
But if he doesn’t then Wenger is faced with a very interesting choice between rookie Bendtner and more experienced Hleb. Both have impressed during the pre season and both will to my mind do an excellent job.
If he chooses Bendtner then the likely formation will be a straight 4 4 2 with Bendtner the front man.
If however Hleb gets the nod then the formation is more likely to be 4 4 1 1 with Van Persie the front man and Hleb playing just off him as he did so well against good opposition in the pre season tournaments.
He showed that his skills in close ball control and dribbling can be very effective when playing off a front man.
More importantly however these are the skills that will come in very useful when trying to unlock defenses, as I suspect Arsenal will be trying to do against Fulham.
For a preview of the game see my posting “Preview of Arsenal Vs Fulham. Breaking up packed defenses is hard to do”
The other consideration is who to play on the left side of the midfield. The choice is between Rosicky and Hleb (if Eduardo passes the fitness test). Wenger may opt for Hleb as he has impressed lately and has shown that he is returning to form. He even scored a goal.
Rosicky on the other hand looked subdued during the pre season which may count against him.
In the absence of Silva this is a perfect opportunity for Wenger to pair Fabregas with the excellent Diaby. If Diaby is fit that is as he had a slight knock on the knee which kept him out for the Ajax game. If he is not available then Flamini will most probably get the nod.
For the rest of the positions it looks straight forward with the interest focusing on the Sagna Eboue combination on the right side. Will they repeat the very good performance they put in against Ajax under the pressure of a football league game?
Fulham will be missing their best player Jimmy Bullard, who has been out for nearly a year.
Antti Niemi who will play in goal has thwarted Arsenal before with excellent displays when he used to keep goals for Southampton.
New signing Aaron Hughes looks like he will be missing due to injury (ankle). Also centre-backs Philippe Christanval (knee) and Ian Pearce (ankle) are rated doubtful for the match.
In the center of defence Bocanegra could therefore be paired with Zat Knight.
Also new signings Chris Baird and Paul Konchesky look likely to make their debuts at right and left back.
It’s difficult to guess what Sanchez will choose for midfield as he has signed a few players. Lee Cook may play on the left, and American Dempsey on the right wing. Alexei Smertin and Steve Davies ex Aston Villa look to get the nod to start in the centre of midfield.
In attack, Brian McBride the new captain could be paired with new boy Diomansy Kamara but David Healy and Buazza who was only signed two days ago are in consideration.
“Preview of Arsenal Vs Fulham. Breaking up packed defenses is hard to do”