The toughest fixture of Gilberto’s absence is today and coinciding with the absences of Rosicky and Hleb, leaves Arsene with a dilemna; does he stick with 4-5-1 and bring in two new faces to midfield or revert to 4-4-2, giving a Premiership debut to Eduardo or a first start to Bendtner? All three have their merits; all three have their drawbacks.
Blackburn are expected to give the team a physical encounter, that is true but also a simplistic way of looking at their tactics. The one thing is certain that they will press Arsenal when not in possession and look to move the ball swiftly to the wings when attacking. That aspect of their play does not worry me particularly because in Sagna and Clichy, the full back areas look to be more solid than they did last season. However, the key to those battles will be who plays in front of them because it may well be that defensively, the midfield areas are inhabited with players for whom that is not their natural game.
Opting for 4-4-2 offers a ‘safer’ choice for Arsene in some respects. The midfield suffers the least disruption with only one new face, probably Denilson on the left, Alex Hleb reverting to the right hand side, despite the observations on the official site that he is the player most likely to make way, meaning a line-up of,
Lehmann; Sagna, Toure, Gallas, Clichy; Hleb, Fabregas, Flamini, Denilson; RvP, Eduardo
with a bench of
Almunia, Senderos, Song, Walcott, Bendtner
If he decides to start with 4-5-1, Walcott seems the more obvious candidate with Hleb staying centrally. Much will depend on how Eduardo seems to Le Boss but if he thinks he will be up to the ninety minutes then he should go with 4-4-2. However, his press comments about Walcott lead me to believe that he will go with the starting line-up of,
Lehmann; Sagna, Toure, Gallas, Clichy; Walcott, Fabregas, Flamini, Denilson; Hleb; RvP
and a bench of,
Almunia, Senderos, Song, Eduardo, Bendtner
A win takes us into the pack of teams on six points, a three goal victory takes us top. I cannot see that happening. We are capable of winning this match although a point should not be considered a failure. For those who want omens, according to The Guardian yesterday, when films in the Jason Bourne series are released, we have good away wins: 3 – 0 at The Valley in September 2002 and 4 – 1 at Goodison in August 2004. Mind you, Blackburn have not lost their opening home Premiership fixture since 1996 and I’m not too sure at the veracity of the claims in The Guardian because they had Diaby listed as a starter and within a centimetre had him out until next weekend.
To the papers of today and The News Of The World has a big picture of Cesc with not many words, all of which seem to be him apologising for being rude to Mark Hughes last season, accompanied by a piece about Arsene’s contract talks. The theme is carried over all of the Red Tops and tabloids, with Arsene confirming that the rumoured escape clauses which could be activated at the end of the season or in the event of a takeover, will not be present,
I hate clauses
It is down to me if I want a longer contract or not and there is a takeover, because I know from the moment I sign that it can happen. I always refuse clauses, because if I sign, for example, a contract for three years, and in that I can move out after one year, for me that is not fair. If a player asks me that, I also refuse to sign this kind of clauses. You are either committed, or you are not committed. You cannot say ‘I want to a have long-term insurance, and also that I can move out when I can’ – that is not right
The People reckons that the contracts are with the Lawyers, ironing out the fine print which if true, indicates that the deal should be done by the internationals in September at the latest, unless there are major problems, which it seems there are not because the noises emanating from both sides are too positive.
Everywhere also carries his belief that the commitment from the players was not right last season and this time round, it is. The only bit of transfer gossip is in The Mail On Sunday which I have seen concerns Luka Modric. Apparently, the £10m ‘battle’ for his signature between Arsenal and Bayern Munich will go to the wire with Zagreb unwilling to sell him before their Champions League fate is sealed. Their First Leg was inconclusive, a 2 – 1 defeat in Bremen hardly means they are out but even if they do depart the competition at this stage, my money would be on the player already taking German lessons.
Enjoy the game wherever you are watching it. ’til Tomorrow.