Saturday, September 20, 2008
The Arsenal players are tired and Bolton are up for it…Vela can cope
By 1970’s Gooner
I was critical of the performance at Kiev last Wednesday and some of the Arsenal Analysis readers were hostile to my thoughts.
My objection was mainly due to the choice of tactics and formation for that game which meant that two of the most influential Arsenal players (Fabregas and Van Persie) were shifted to positions on the pitch which were not most suited for them.
Fair enough we are all entitled to our opinions but I think that sentiment should not be allowed to cloud our judgment. Yes a point in the end was a good result away from home in the Champions League but it could have been a lot different.
The players will be very tired due to the travelling to the Ukraine midweek, playing a tough game and then having to take the long journey back from Kiev in the early hours of Thursday morning.
As a comparison, last season Arsenal travelled much closer to home, to Spain and lost to Sevilla. We then proceeded to drop five very valuable points in the next three Premier League games which were all away.
This time the trip to Kiev was further away but more importantly we had to chase the game in the second half right up until the last minute.
So fatigue will be one of Arsenal’s main problems against Bolton at the Reebok despite Arsene Wenger’s attempt to play it down:
"Fatigue will not be an issue. When you are a competitor you want competition so you cannot complain, when you have competition, that you are tired."
Yea I believe you Arsene…
If it were so then why has he already hinted that he will rotate so as to rest some players?
The question that arises then is which changes are likely to be made and whether these players will be able to cope against Bolton.
A player that needs a rest is Fabregas but I doubt whether Wenger will deprive the creativity that the team obviously will need to counter Bolton’s style of play.
Look at what happened when Fabregas was shifted away from the central midfield areas in Kiev. Even Wenger himself admitted that the team lacked creativity in that game.
The obvious newcomer may be Song in place of Denilson. I have since last season been singing Song’s praises and I think he will a very good defensive midfielder along side Fabregas especially in a place like the Reebok.
His style, which is to sit back and provide a cover for the defence, will allow Fabregas to assume his more creative role with more ease.
As for the other changes I would think that Eboue will replace Walcott and I would like to see Vela given his first start on the left wing.
I made a point of watching his performances on the left for Osasuna last season and he is more than capable in my opinion to play that role very well and withstand any rough tactics the opposition may deploy.
In this way Van Persie can be restored to his natural position along side or just behind Adebayor. I don’t think that Arsene will risk resting either of these two players.
The next question to address is whether Arsenal will be able to cope with Bolton’s combative and physical style which is centered on first stopping the opposition from playing, adopting a very defensive formation in 4 5 1 and being very alert on set pieces so as to sneak a goal.
Bolton will certainly not be last week’s Blackburn. Paul Ince adopted a more attacking formation for that game which suited Arsenal very well as there were open spaces between Blackburn’s midfield and the defence which Fabregas, Van Persie and Walcott exploited.
Last season’s heroic 3-2 obviously will give Arsenal’s players encouragement and belief that they can win there again. And looking at Bolton’s unconvincing performance against Fulham last week they look decidedly weak at the back.
Gary Cahill completes the final game of his suspension so Danny Shittu and Andy O’Brien will again be tasked with shoring things up at the back. I think they will be in for a very tough time against Adebayor and Van Persie.
Sagna Toure Gallas Clichy
Eboue Fabregas Song Vela
Van Persie Adebayor
If it were not for the fatigue element I would have been predicting a 0-3 away win. But I do not expect us to concede.
Bolton 0 Arsenal 1
Abject performance against Kiev can be blamed on the choice of formation and Fabregas’s position
Song’s Olympics could prove Wenger wrong