By 1970’s Gooner
There are only five players in the current Arsenal squad that can play in the two forward positions against Steaua in Romania. Four of them are carrying injuries which make their participation doubtful.
They are Robin Van Persie (ankle), Adebayor (thigh), Eduardo (groin), Hleb (knee) and Bendtner.
According to Wenger, Van Persie and Adebayor will face late fitness tests with only one of the two, more likely Adebayor, to get the nod. This means that there is another vacancy for the front position left to be filled.
Eduardo has already been ruled out due to a groin injury received during the Carling Cup victory against Newcastle.
Alexander Hleb could be selected to play off the front man in a position he played with distinction during the preseason but also against Sparta Prague in the Champions League qualifying game and a handful of games at the start of the Premier League.
Indeed he may also fit in tactically because Wenger may want to adopt a more conservative, 4 4 1 1, approach for this away fixture.
However Hleb is only rated as 50 /50 and it may be too risky to play him in such a difficult and probably physical encounter. Further aggravation of his problem may sideline him for weeks if not months.
This leaves the only available forward, Bendtner who is fit, ready and willing. It would be better if he played with Robin Van Persie as the two compliment each other well with Van Persie playing just behind Bendtner.
Indeed Bendtner has shown that he is not afraid to face any opposition, plays with a lot of confidence and will be a very useful outlet if and when Fabregas and Co decide to vary the game or relieve some pressure by playing the long ball.
The other injury worries concern Mathieu Flamini (knee), Abou Diaby (ankle) and Rosicky (hamstring). But there is a lot of strength in depth in this squad as I have repeatedly wrote on this site.
There are replacements available if needed in Gilberto Silva for the central midfield position and Eboue and Walcott for the wide midfield positions. As an alternative and if Flamini is fit he could play in the wide midfield position with Gilberto filling in central midfield.
Probable line up (with a high degree of uncertainty) :
Sagna Toure Senderos Clichy
Flamini Fabregas Gilberto Eboue
Adebayor/Van Persie Bendtner
Prediction: Arsenal start conservatively but grow in confidence as the game wears on. Away win 0-2.