Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Arsenal B side for Steaua
By 1970's Gooner
After the last two abject performances in the Champions League against Slavia Prague (draw) and Sevilla (defeat) Arsenal find themselves in second place in group H behind Seville.
Qualification is guaranteed but Arsenal can finish top of the group if they defeat Steaua and Sevilla fail to beat Slavia in Prague.
Finishing first in the group has certain important advantages of course. You get drawn against a second placed team from another group and get to play the first game in this two legged knock out phase, away.
However there are two major reasons why Arsene Wenger may consider fielding an Arsenal B side for the game against Steaua Bucharest at the Emirates.
The first concerns the current state of injuries in the club which have deprived the team of very important players like Van Persie, Fabregas, Hleb and Flamini. What you do not want is to risk further long term injuries to any “first team” player such as Van Persie.
Can you imagine if Toure or Gallas was in the starting eleven against Steaua and subsequently got injured? Or even if the same happened to Clichy?
Any more injuries will severely overstretch an already thin squad to the full. And you cannot risk having any more long term absentees with the crucial run of games during the Xmas period and beyond.
Arsene Wenger himself admitted that he rued playing Fabregas in Spain.
"I should not even have played Fabregas at Sevilla. I ended up losing him to injury.”
This is where Fabregas picked his hamstring injury which has kept him away from the recent run of away games where Arsenal dropped points. It will also keep him out of the Chelsea game.
The second reason of course is the forthcoming game against Chelsea on Sunday. The draw at Newcastle and defeat at Middlesbrough last Sunday has removed the buffer that Arsenal had over its immediate rivals.
A further slip up against Chelsea means that not only will the remaining point lead is likely to evaporate but more importantly the psychological impact will be so bad and morale will sink to such low levels that the whole campaign could be badly derailed.
So it is imperative that no more unnecessary risks are taken and that no more players are missing against Chelsea even if it means running the risk of not finishing top of the group.
So let’s give some deserved rest to as many players as we can and give the fringe players a chance to show what they can do. Arsene Wenger has said that it will be no Carling Cup side. Well it may be an Arsenal B side instead.
Hoyte Song Senderos Traore
Walcott Diaby Gilberto Denilson
Bench: Fabiansky, Van Persie, Eboue, Diarra, Sagna