The first team has been fully rested, many of them have had a full week off having been left out of both the Fa Cup and Carling Cup ties. I had believed some of them would have made an appearance on the bench on Wednesday but it was not to be. One interesting fact is Wenger has said the players were a “bit jaded” from Sunday. It seems, if true, that Wenger under-estimated the toughenss of that tie and did not believe the players would come out of it tired. They were pushed hard for 90 minutes in one cup tie and it was always going to be the same against Spurs’ first team. Was it too much?
I, however, do not believe this is the case for one second. The simple fact is that we were well and truly outplayed by Spurs on Wednesday. Granted it was their first choice team right now against our second string, but we had beaten Blackburn beforehand with some scintilating Football, the football we saw barely an incling of at the Emirates the other night. I have displayed my views on Gilberto and Diaby elsewhere and it was really a lacklustre midfield that led to our lack of potency. We could not get on the ball and when we did, we could not pass it. I doubt any of that midfield will start tomorrow against Birmingham
Hleb, Rosicky, Fabregas and Flamini will all return and finally we will see what I believe to be our best midfield. Eboue has been on the right for most of the season, either due to injuries to the squad or Wenger’s choice of a 4-4-1-1 formation with Hleb in behind the striker. He has reverted back to 4-4-2 in recent weeks with Eduardo in such good form and I think that will mean Hleb takes up his position on the right. Eboue has been very poor for a lot of the season but now he has gone and the others are back. We know it is not a rigid set-up as Hleb and Rosicky like to roam and create chances for the strikers. With this threat all across the midfield I feel chances will come aplenty for a player like Eduardo who is so calm in front of goal.
Eduardo will start alongside Adebayor. There is not really any chance of it being any different with Van Persie coming down with flu and Bendtner having played in both games for 90 minutes. Van Persie played on Wednesday and it was clearly too early for him but I think he hoped he would show his best and he would not need Eduardo on a full game basis. He hoped to rest Eduardo for some of the game. So Eddy and Ade it is. They are both on form so hopefully goals will be the order of the day tomorrow.
At the back “Djourou is out” and Senderos is doubtful. Along with Toure and Song we have 4 defenders unavailable right now and we only have one choice really and that is Justin Hoyte partnering Gallas. He did very well there against Berbatov and I would like to see him given a shot here on Saturday. Wenger said he can use Sagna, Gilberto or Hoyte there so we will see but right now I do not trust Gilberto anywhere and Sagna is better at right back for me. Clichy will be back in and Sagna/Hoyte at right back depending on Wenger’s decision over his centre backs.
Lassana Diarra was left out of both cup ties and for me it might have led to our lack of fight in the midfield. He had provided that steel for our young side and dominated this area. He HAD offered protection for the back four and a springboard for the likes of Denilson. He was “ill” according to Wenger and he does not want to sell him which is exactly my opinion too. I assumed his abesnce was likely to mean he was off but hopefully I was wrong. The guy is a massive talent and we must try and keep him. Surely Wednesday showed he must be kept over Gilberto as our 2nd DM. There is still a risk Flamini can go until his contract is signed.
Regarding Lehmann, we still have varying reports. It is said that he wants the right deal to go there. He wants first team football but he is clearly unsure over leaving the club when we are in the hunt for medals. The Dortmund fans are not so keen on Jens after his years at Schalke and it seems it is being talked up by the Dortmund board rather than being anything concrete right now.
There is no news on the Bulgarian winger Nikolai Dimitrov. Some reports suggest the trial went well and we will take him on. Whether he can make an impact this season I do not know but maybe another for the future. The squad has been lacking a naturally left sided player. Since Reyes left we do not have someone who can go past a man on the left hand side. We dont have someone who will get to the byline and deliever a good cross. We do not have a player like Robben or C.Ronaldo and maybe Wenger hopes this guy can do a similar thing? We shall see.