By 1970's Gooner
I made the time to watch Derby’s last game against Newcastle at home which they won 1-0 with a wonderful long range effort from ex Wolves striker Kenny Miller. I did not see what I expected to see.
And that was Derby struggling to keep up with newly Allardyce invigorated Newcastle, even if they were playing at home.
They did after all suffer four Premier League defeats on the trot prior to this game (as well as the Carling Cup defeat on penalties to Blackpool) letting in 13 goals and scoring only one, against Birmingham at home.
Against Newcastle they were compact and solid and they passed the ball to feet more than they hoofed it up in the air. They played with a quick tempo and were not short of confidence.
They were aided and abated however by a dismal Newcastle performance which was indeed strange to observe. Not all is well in the Newcastle home at the moment and let’s hope they stay like that at least till we play our rearranged game.
So I am not one of those that are allowing the euphoria created from the wonderful home win against Sevilla to affect my judgment.
Derby, confident from their win against Newcastle, are going to play a cautious game packing their defence and midfield looking to snatch a goal when the opportunity arises. They have after all not too much to lose as no one expects them to get anything out of the game.
As the American Benny Feilhaber said “whether we get the points or not the most important thing is to go there and perform to the best of our abilities. If we can get a point out there then it’s a huge confidence boost for us”
Added to this, account has to be taken of the Arsenal injuries (Hleb and Rosicky are the casualties from the Sevilla game) and Wenger’s stated desire to rest players.
“I will rotate a little bit and try to get the right mixture between stability and some fresh legs as well, “he said on Arsenal.com
So keeping up the same level of beautiful football we saw the other night may be a bit more difficult to achieve for Arsenal. A lot will depend on which players are rested and which are selected.
There are indeed a lot of choices open to Wenger. When I suggested in one of my preseason postings that there was a lot of strength in depth in the squad there was a lot of negative reaction from some readers who wanted Wenger to buy big. Now no one is complaining.
So one can only speculate as to who Wenger will rest and who will play. My logic tells me that he will keep the same defence as that is the safe and sensible thing to do. Also keeping a clean sheet will improve confidence levels especially for Senderos who needs it and for Almunia.
Wenger’s biggest decision however is whether to rest the little maestro, Fabregas. If he does it will have to be Denilson coming in as he is a direct replacement like for like. But I think he may not want to as Fabregas’s distribution and command of the midfield is irreplaceable.
He will after all get a whole week’s rest after the game until we meet West Ham away Saturday week. I am assuming that a second and third string line up will be selected for the midweek carling Cup game against Newcastle.
The other decision is whether to rest any of the front two players while giving Eduardo a deserved start. I think he will and it may be Adebayor. Not because he is particularly tired but Wenger may see this as an opportunity for RVP to get on the score sheet again and carry on restoring some of his goal scoring confidence.
Based on pure footballing reasons however it’s better to pit a tall strong front player like Adebayor with a smaller forward like Eduardo. But Wenger does not always subscribe to convention.
My starting 11 are as follows:
Sagna Toure Senderos Clichy
Walcott Fabregas Gilberto Denilson
Van Persie Eduardo
But there are so many viable options available for Wenger it is indeed difficult to second guess him!
We managed to come out on top with our predictions so far this season but after all when the team is doing well and winning it’s more difficult to get it wrong than right!
However the predictions for a 1-1 draw at Blackburn, of a 1-3 away win at Tottenham and our forecast of a 3-1 win against Sevilla (it was 3-0 in the end) are the ones that we are particularly proud of.
So we are going to stick our neck out for this one. Arsenal carry on their winning way but rotation and a little bit of the inevitable complacency will probably result in a low score but a clean sheet. 1-0
Let’s not get carried away
Fabregas is a more effective player than Scholes. The statistical analysis backs it up