With Manchester United overtaking Arsenal with a 4-0 thrashing of Wigan overnight, Arsene Wenger’s side will be hoping for a strong performance against Sunderland to reclaim top spot.
There has been no fresh news team selection since yesterday when Wenger revealed that Jens Lehmann, William Gallas, Alexandre Song and Tomas Rosicky are all free from injury but unavailable for Sunday’s game. Wenger has since spoken about the dilemma he now faces about who should start in the near future with his squad starting to near full-strength.
“At the end of the day you can only select 11 players to start a football game. It’s not because you don’t select a player that you don’t respect him. You feel sorry but you have as well to be realistic.”
If you read the full article you’ll see Wenger make specific reference to how sorry he feels for Gilberto Silva and you get the impression that he is as surprised as everyone with Mathieu Flamini’s performances this season. The team is doing well at the moment and for things to continue or even improve, the players who are not being selected need to remain motivated and continually remind the players who are being selected that if their performances dip, they won’t hold onto their spots for too long. That means doing well on the training ground and doing well on the pitch, and I’m happy to say that it really seems like this is the case at the moment.
Much as Wenger talks about this being a problem I am sure it is a problem he is absolutely thrilled have at the moment. As long as the players who are up against it remain mature and patient it will only benefit the club. What the club does not need are players on the bench being critical of the guys on the field, and I’m disappointed to say that Jens Lehmann has been at it again with some more inappropriate comments about Manuel Almunia.
“He hasn’t won anything for us yet. His performances have not made me have any serious concerns.”
Quite frankly, I am getting sick of Lehmann and his big mouth. The guy is a fantastic goalkeeper at his best and an interesting and enjoyable character most of the time, but with this being the second time he has publicly criticised Almunia since being replaced by the Spaniard, he is showing how much of a bad loser he can be. And while I don’t think Lehmann should be giving up on regaining the number one jersey the overall impression he gives is that he believes he is entitled to a starting position when fit.
Wenger does face a big decision about who should start when the two are fit and like I said yesterday, I will be hoping he sticks with Almunia. Statistics don’t lie and whilst Almunia has had some hairy moments between the sticks the fact is that he has only let in two goals in eight appearances, one of which was an absolute fluke of a goal from Portsmouth’s Nwanko Kanu and the other a free kick by Tottenham’s Gareth Bale. He’s been in great form and if Wenger replaces him with Lehmann I would be very, very disappointed. Stranger things have happened though, I guess.
Same team to continue?
Moving on to the possible team for Sunday’s game and I can’t see Wenger changing things much from the game against Steaua Bucharest. As mentioned previously, Almunia will definitely be starting and he should be protected by the usual back four of Bacary Sagna, Kolo Toure, Philippe Senderos and Gael Clichy. I’ve been a little bit critical of Senderos recently and I will stick by my previous statements, but one of the regular readers of this blog, Adam, pointed out yesterday that Arsenal have not conceded a goal while he has been on the pitch. Read into it as you will.
After Wenger’s recent comments about Gilberto, I’m expecting Mathieu Flamini to continue partnering Cesc Fabregas in the centre of the park. The two of them are doing so well at the moment and I’m expecting the two of them to run the show against Sunderland on Sunday. Out wide I’ll be expecting Alexander Hleb and Abou Diaby to start again and there’s no reason why Emmanuel Adebayor and Robin van Persie shouldn’t continue up front.
The pressure is definitely on again after Manchester United displaced Arsenal at top spot with their win over Wigan, but I am expecting the boys to do the job against a struggling Sunderland side. Roy Keane’s side have had a fairly decent start to the season and I am expecting them to give Arsenal a really tough time at the Emirates Stadium. However, I just feel that with Adebayor, Fabregas and van Persie in such good goalscoring form and Flamini playing so well that Wenger’s side have too many potential matchwinners for Sunderland to contend with. I’m going for a rough, tough, 2-0 win to put Arsenal back on top of the league and I’ll be putting a few dollars down on Adebayor to score first.
What do you think?
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