Hello again. The weather here has been marvellous today but just as I sit down to write to you the wind has picked up, there’s some menacing clouds in the sky and I just heard some thunder. Now rain. Eek. Let’s just hope it’s not a bad sign for tonight’s game.
That game of course is the Champions League clash against Fenerbache. Arsenal currently sit top of the group on four points from two games with the Istanbul club bottom with just a solitary point, but those figures will make little difference once the ball is kicked off and firey atmosphere inthe Sukru Saracoglu stadium takes hold.
Both Robin van Persie as well as Arsene Wenger have had things to say about the type of reception Arsenal will receive in Turkey. However, both also make it very clear that our boys are ready for the challenge and will not be as affected by the crowd as many people are predicting. The manager in particular had this to say:
“I have been involved in many games in Turkey. What is important is that you always have on the pitch the potential to quieten the supporters. That is down to how well you play and how much personality you show, and this is down to us – so I do not think it will be a problem.”
They’re optimistic words and I do hope he is right but I for one will take a point tonight – especially considering the mini-injury crisis that the current squad is facing. Kolo Toure, Bacary Sagna and captain William Gallas will all be unavailable while Nicklas Bendtner, Samir Nasri and Johan Djourou have all been past fit.
However, despite the recovery of the Swiss centre-back from concussion Wenger has made it perfectly clear that that the back four which finished the game against Everton will start against Fenerbache. He has also hinted at the importance of the role that new signing Mikael Silvestre will play in the match in the absence of any other experienced colleagues. In his own words:
“He has experience. He is a very professional guy and I am confident he will be the guide of the back four tomorrow. We cannot afford to lose any more defenders, that is for sure. Johan Djourou has come back from injury but we will start with the defence that finished the game against Everton.”
For those that didn’t catch the Everton game that means that Silvestre will be supported by Alex Song in the middle, with Emmanuel Eboue and Gael Clichy taking up the right and left full-back positions. It’s a rag-tag line-up by anyone’s standards – especially given the lack of playing time afforded to Silvestre and Song this season – but for some reason I’m not overly worried and I get the feeling that the pair have the potential to work quite well together. Better than Gallas and Toure anyway, methinks.
Ahead of the defence I’d put money on Wenger playing a five-man midfield in support of lone wolf Emmanuel Adebayor up top. We should see Theo Walcott and Samir Nasri take up the wing positions, Denilson and Cesc Fabregas the central midfield slots and perhaps a first start this season for Abou Diaby in the holding role in front of the defence. Alternatively Denilson might play there with Diaby further forward or van Persie on the left with Nasri more central but if I was the manager I’d be going with the first option.
As I said earlier, I’d be happy with a point from this match. Three would be ideal of course, but Turkey is a notoriously difficult place to play football and if Arsenal can manage to get something out of this game then it will be a job well done. Let’s hope the boys can get out there and do the business.
A couple of quick tidbits before I go today.
Firstly I just want to remind everyone again about the Arsenal Shirt competition that is currently being run on the blog. You can read all the details in the original competition post here, but I will remind everyone that only subscribers of the blog are eligible to win the Arsenal home kit kindly donated to the blog by SoccerPro. So if you’re yet to subscribe to the blog’s mailing list go here to do so.
Secondly I want to turn your attention to a great article by Tim Vickery on Inter Milan’s Brazilian striker Adriano. It’s a great read about Adriano’s recent troubles as a player struggling with depression and gives a good insight into the struggles a modern-day footballer can face. As someone who works in Mental Health every day (me, by the way, not Adriano) I always enjoy good articles published on the topic and ones relating to football and depression are few and far between. It’s something that needs to be made more aware in our society and I sincerely hope you can get something out of Adriano’s story.
Anyway, that’s it. Have a lovely day and enjoy getting behind the Arsenal boys tonight. Woo!
Have your say on Arsenal v Fenerbache, team selections or Adriano by leaving a comment.