By 1970’s Gooner
According to reports Hleb has been passed fit for the third away game of the season against West Ham United. The squad to make the short trip to Upton Park does not include the other wide midfield player, Rosicky, who has been impressive this season but is out with a hamstring.
This means that his participation in the Champions League game away to Steaoua in Bucharest is very doubtful as these kind of injuries usually take a minimum of two weeks to heal.
The squad for tomorrow’s game is as follows:
Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Senderos, Clichy, Walcott, Fabregas, Flamini, Diaby, Eduardo, Adebayor, Fabianski, Van Persie, Gilberto, Eboue, Diarra, Denilson, Hleb, Hoyte, Bendtner.
It does not include goalkeeper Jens Lehmann (elbow), captain William Gallas (groin) and Alex Song (calf)
The other wide midfield position is likely to be contested by three players. Diaby who has been preferred in that position recently, Walcott who played in the Carling Cup and the recently returned to fitness Eboue.
Walcott has not convinced yet that he is ready to be a regular in the team. He needs to improve his concentration and final ball.
But it’s still a difficult decision to make for Wenger who will have to decide between Diaby who has been in terrific form recently scoring a spectacular goal against Derby; or Eboue who played very well against Newcastle in the Carling Cup last Tuesday and is the more “natural” winger of the two.
In my opinion the tactical arguments dictate that the more natural winger, Eboue, should be chosen as he is much more penetrative on the wing and able to go past his defender. In this way he can create scoring opportunities for the forwards with his cut backs and his crosses.
Diaby on the other hand is a central midfielder not a winger. This is obvious for everyone to see. He also does not posses acceleration and speed at the levels that would allow him to stretch defenders.
Wenger however may take into account the defensive capabilities of Diaby which may be more important in a tough away game. So he may decide for Diaby who is on form anyway.
The Hammers have won their last three matches against Arsenal and were the last team to beat us back in April.
Curbishly is likely to bring pace back into the attack with Bellamy now fit to partner Ashton.
In the midfield he may opt for Parker who played in the midweek game against Plymouth along with Bowyer, Noble and Etherington. Although there is not enough creativity there he may consider that this is the best way to combat Fabregas and co.
Arsenal ex boy Upson will feature in defence. Other ex Arsenal players Boa Morte and Ljumberg may be on the bench.
This is going to be a tough game for Arsenal as West Ham will play with strength and tenacity bolstered with the Knowledge that they have done it before against the Gunners by playing in this way.
One of the major factors in their impressive performances has been the leadership and energy that Nigel Reo Cocker usd to bring into the team. Now ploughing his trade at Aston Villa. Performances that had Wenger considering putting bids for the player in the past.
With all due respect, Bowyer is a very poor substitute for Reo Cocker and I do not see the West ham midfield succeeding where Fulham, Blackburn, Manchester City, Portsmouth and Derby failed.
The only area that West Ham may have some joy is in the pace of Etherington and Bellamy. The first however is up against an equally pacy Clichy and with Diaby doubling up on him I do not see serious problems arising.
Bellamy however up against the relatively slower and error prone Senderos may cause us problems. I hope that Toure is able to cover for him as he did for Gilberto against Spurs.
I do not foresee real problems for the Arsenal defenders against Ashton as he is not that quick and tends to rely more on his strength and aerial ability. An area that both Toure and Senderos can cope very well.
Prediction: Arsenal have too much for the Hammers. Away win 0-2
Arsenal have been awarded more penalties in the Premier League this season than any other club (four), but only converted three of them. Now that Hleb is likely to play I can see his intricate play and dribbling ability winning a penalty. Have a bet on Arsenal to win and convert a penalty 5/1 with Bet365.
Tottenham’s win against Cyprus minnows may be all down to a cheeky ball boy! (watch it on video)
Last night’s performance means that Arsenal will win trophies this year