Arsenal will prepare for their big Premier League clash against fierce rivals Tottenham with the news that French defender Bacary Sagna is fit to play.
Arsenal will be without William Gallas, Emmanuel Eboue and Jens Lehmann who are all out through various injuries as well as Philippe Senderos, who will serve a one-match ban for his red card against Portsmouth. However, manager Arsene Wenger revealed that Sagna will be available for the game after recovering from a back injury suffered in the league match against Manchester City.
“Bacary Sagna is available again. He still has some pain but he should be OK if needed. However we won’t have William Gallas available because it is too early for him. Emmanuel Eboue is still out too. He has not recovered from his ankle injury. Jens Lehmann pulled out of the second German game. His elbow has blown up, it is bad bruising so we have to be patient with him.”
I don’t know about you but the words ‘he should be OK if needed’ suggest to me that Sagna will not be starting the match. As a result, I expect Mathieu Flamini to build on his fine performance against Portsmouth and slot in at right back. There is also the suggestion that Lassana Diarra or Justin Hoyte could start there, but I don’t think it would be wise to remove Flamini with the form he is at the moment. Wenger has also confirmed that Gilberto Silva will cover in the absence of Gallas and Senderos after returning from international duty with Brazil.
“The centre half position? Gilberto is available I hope because he has played in that position recently. Then we will see. After that I have Alex Song who has played in this position and Justin Hoyte too.”
I will be praying that Gilberto is available too because the prospect of Alex Song or Hoyte playing at centre back does not fill me with much confidence. In fact, I’d go as far to say as it fills me with no confidence.
Almunia still not number one?
I feel the injury to Lehmann is a positive for the side, as it gives Manuel Almunia another opportunity to display his credentials. Lehmann has acted like an absolute twit over the past week with his comments about Almuni and, much as I have liked him in the past, it would be great to see Almunia make him eat his words. Interestingly, Wenger is still unsure over who his number one keeper would be when they are both fit.
“At the moment I don’t know. I knew on Wednesday Jens couldn’t play, so, for me it’s continuity at the moment.”
For me, at the moment, it’s pretty obvious. Lehmann has shown that he is not in form both on and off the field whilst Almunia has not put a foot wrong. When you consider that the only goal the Spaniard has conceded was a fluke by Nwanko Kanu, I find Wenger’s comments a little disappointing. While the thought of Song or Hoyte playing at centre back quite frankly scares me, the thought of Almunia starting in goals gives me with a very nice sense of calm and as a result, he’s my current number one. Ahh.
Attack to get Arsenal over the line
In contrast to the defensive dilemmas the side currently faces, the midfield and attack are virtually at full strength. The midfield should remain largely unchanged from the previous match, with Abou Diaby, Denilson or Flamini slotting in as Gilberto shuffles to the defence. Cesc Fabregas, Tomas Rosicky and Alexander Hleb are certain starters in the form they’re in and I expect Robin van Persie and Emmanuel Adebayor to continue up front despite Eduardo da Silva’s impressive performances for Croatia midweek.
I have to say that I’m very optimistic about our chances against Tottenham. There’s really no reason not to be. The boys are in really good form at the moment, something that cannot be said of their opponents. And although this is a derby and an away match, which throws predictions up in the air a little bit, I’m expecting nothing short of another three points to keep the fantastic start to the season rolling on. Adebayor often does well against Tottenham and I think he’ll grab another goal in a satisfying 2-1 win.
What do you think?
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