Play fantasy Wenger: Which Arsenal starting 11 would you pick to face Newcastle?

Samir Nasri’s early withdrawal on Wednesday was thankfully a precautionary move by Arsene Wenger, as the summer signing was not among the list of injured players when the manager discussed tomorrow’s game against Newcastle.

Nasri has looked impressive in his first outings for the Gunners and it’ll be good to see him build his relationship with Cesc Fabregas as the season progresses – starting with the Magpies’ visit tomorrow evening.

Among those ruled out for the clash are Mikael Silvestre whose thigh complaint will keep him sidelined for another fortnight; Abou Diaby, who also has a thigh injury and will be out for a similar length of time; Tomas Rosicky’s hamstring is nearly healed and he will return at some time next month; and, of course, Eduardo, who is still eyeing November as a target to regain match fitness following his horrendous leg injury.

On a good note, both William Gallas and Theo Walcott picked up knee injuries in the game against FC Twente in midweek, but have been able to shake off the niggles and are in contention for a starting role.

Personally, I hope that Walcott starts the game from the bench so that Carlos Vela can get a start. That’s not a slight against Theo, but I really want to see more of Vela and having Theo come off the bench when defenders’ legs are getting weary is a real weapon.

I’m also hoping that Le Gaffer persists with Johan Djourou alongside William Gallas in the heart of defence, as I think the Swiss youngster has been consistently good for us thus far, while Kolo Toure hasn’t looked 100% match fit.

Midfield remains our problem area, but hopefully with Cesc now back in the reckoning, Arsenal will start to dominate teams in the centre of the park, hopefully with Alexandre Song in the defensive role, rather than Denilson, who has had a bit of a wobbly start to the campaign.

As I said before, I’d like to see Vela start rather than Walcott, but I reckon Wenger will opt for Emmanuel Eboue, as usual. I’m not one of the Eboue haters, but I do agree that he is a frustrating player to watch and I’d rather have him as a back up on the bench for any injuries in defence or midfield, rather than one of the starting 11.

Actually, as I write this, I’m now wondering whether our forward line is giving Arsene most headaches. Neither Robin van Persie, Emmanuel Adebayor nor Nicklas Bendtner have exactly been on fire in our first four games, but they must know that the first player to hit form can basically secure their long-term place in the team, so with any luck we’ll see some better performances tomorrow.

I don’t go along with my learned colleague Samuel Mowbray that Bendtner is one of the Gunners’ worst players, but I do think that RvP and Adebayor will be the best pairing long term, so the big Dane would be another player on the bench at kick-off if I had my way.

As usual, if you can be bothered, share your thoughts about the Arsenal line-up for tomorrow. For the record, here’s what I'd go for:


Sagna, Gallas, Djourou, Clichy

Vela, Fabregas, Song, Nasri

Adebayor, van Persie