First and foremost, some great news. Having lost so badly to Spurs on Tuesday, the last thing we needed was for the FA to slap a ban on Adebayor after his “misunderstanding” with Bendtner. Adebayor has looked our main threat in goal recently and showed this with a goal within 10 minutes of coming on. If the FA saw enough to ban him it is likely it would be three games he would be unavailable for. This could have been a major hindrance at the current time.
Now to that little bust-up with Bendtner. I have to be honest and say I have not seen exactly what happened. It is clearly not serious enough for the FA to intervene but Wenger must act. The main culprit must be hit with a fine, not so much to affect their bank balance, but to show them it is unacceptable. Both players will have played a part I think and both should be hit with a fine of some sort, a day with the reserves even but what must happen is the feud must be sorted.
It is natural for two players competing for one position to dislike each other at times; the bottom line is that the other is aiming to dislodge his competition from the team sheet. This for me is healthy competition but when it flows onto the pitch as it did the other night, it has gone too far. Adebayor and Bendtner must get together with the manager and talk it through, air their feelings and try and get along. As I said, competition is good and as long as it goes no further ever again, it should be okay.
We all know Bendtner is a confident lad and will not back away from a fight. He believes he is good enough to start games more regularly. I like this confidence and arrogant swagger, it is something young Theo could develop; confidence plays a major part in Football and Bendtner has it in abundance. and it is Adebayor’s job to show him why Wenger is not selecting him. However, as the more senior player, if Ade did provoke the squabble then he needs to have a real think. It was thoroughly unprofessional and to be frank, immature. He should know better and hopefully he shows the side of Adebayor we love this Saturday.
After losing 5-1 to Spurs (I know, it still sounds horrible) the lads need to get back to winning ways and put it behind us. The performance the other night was poor and although the team only contained 4 first teamers for the majority of the game, we are a united squad and as a whole we need to show that this defeat will not affect us. Newcastle will be up for this, FA Cup games can go any which way unless the better team is utterly professional. That is the exact performance we need this Saturday.
Considering that we are playing the Newcastle 3 days later in the League, the cup game could play a part for that game too. We need to keep the heat on United and anything less than a victory will give Newcastle a psychological advantage for that game. This game could show we can put a defeat behind us and play a part in the first part of our title run in.
Wenger will strengthen the team from Tuesday but I feel one or two of those who played will play again Saturday. Justin Hoyte may well play at right back to give Sagna a break after midweek. Lehmann will play in goal, Senderos at centre back and Clichy at left back. Wenger may go with Traore but with Milner the opponent he may fear a similar result as the one between Lennon and Traore.
Tomas Rosicky will play this Saturday having not featured in midweek. We missed someone with his drive and purpose against Tottenham and I am glad he will return. Flamini and Fabregas are likely to play in central midfield and Flamini will show drive and fight we also lacked on Tuesday. Fabregas did not have the effect Gooners hoped once he came on but to be fair he had little to work with until Adebayor and Eduardo came on.
Alex Hleb may well be rested which leaves a chance for Diaby should Wenger persist with him as a left sided midfield player. THIS DOES NOT WORK and must be scrapped. He is a central player and if Wenger wants to keep him, surely he must be given a chance inside at some point? I would much rather give Gibbs or Randall a game. Gibbs could play on the left with Rosicky right, or Randall can play on the right side of midfield, Rosicky on the left. I have mentioned these youngsters a lot but I feel it is about time Wenger bites the bullet and puts them in with a majority of the first choice line up.
Theo Walcott will not be going out on loan which disappoints me. He is nowhere near ready for first team football at Arsenal yet but some experience could do him a world of good. He would get playing time as a striker and get regular games in the Premiership. Reports suggested Wenger was looking for a club to provide this; Wigan and Derby come straight to mind yet it seems a no go. He will not play this Saturday after a few pretty shocking performances. His confidence is very low and his technical level needs to rise.
Adebayor and Eduardo will probably start up front; we looked so far more potent with them on. Actually, we only looked like scoring when they were finally on the pitch. Eduardo has that ability to score at any moment and he linked the play with clever movement. Adebayor showed exactly what he is about with his goal, he has done it all season long. It is currently our best partnership with Van Persie seemingly made of glass. Wenger may punish Adebayor with a place on the bench with Bendtner starting with a partner who he can work with in Eduardo rather than a struggling Walcott.
I would not be surprised to see a staged hug whoever starts. Wenger will look to sub off Adebayor/Bendtner should we be in a comfortable position, with the other coming off the bench as the replacement. Wenger will want to put the incident to bed, even if he can only sort the public’s view of the incident for now.
Before Tuesday’s defeat I would have said we might see a similar team for Saturday but now it will be different I think. Wenger will not risk putting out a shattered team and whatever the club says, that defeat will have affected the players. He is likely to re-think and bring back some of those absent from the other night but it is quite hard to predict exactly who will be selected come Saturday afternoon. I will try and guess and go with this: