Play Fantasy Wenger: Pick your starting Arsenal 11 for Blackpool game

By Graham McNorthbank

I'm going to start this by pointing out the players that cannot play tomorrow: Laurent Koscielny (suspended), Samir Nasri (knee), Aaron Ramsey (leg), Emmanuel Frimpong (knee) and Nicklas Bendtner (groin).

That's the bad news.

The good news is that Le Gaffer yesterday revealed that a quartet of stars are in contention for a call up tomorrow having recovered from various knocks, strains and fitness battles. So we could see the participation of Alex Song, Johan Djourou, Denilson and, most excitingly, Cesc Fabregas.

I'm a firm believer that in the Premier League we should always play our strongest available team and the fact that Blackpool will be massively motivated for tomorrow's game means our lot will have to improve on the performance against Liverpool to get this campaign up and running.

Blackpool boss Ian Holloway guided his team to an impressive 4-0 away win at Wigan last week and he's been cleverly talking about hoping to avoid an embarassing scoreline at Arsenal tomorrow.

Me too mate.

But thankfully it's our first home game of the season, so even though we're playing so-called weaker opposition, the Gunners players should also be hugely motivated for the game in the knowledge that if we play to anywhere near our capability, then the Tangerines could be cannon fodder.

So who to pick?

It's highly unlikely that we'll have a new goalkeeper, centre back or anyone else for that matter signed before 3pm tomorrow, so in goal it has to be Manuel “I can’t concentrate because the boss wants to sign someone better than me” Almunia.

The defence, if Djourou truly is fit, has to be Bacary Sagna, Djourou, Thomas Vermaelen and Gael Clichy. If not, there's always the option of playing Alex Song in there, or even playing Eboue at right back and using Bacary Sagna in the middle.

I'm predicting that Blackpool will pose us problems from corners and set pieces, but hopefully Djourou and TV5 will be able to snuff out the aerial threat of Marlon Harewood.

It's an absolute farce that the season has started and we have failed to strengthen our defence. We conceded 41 goals last season - the same number as Tottenham, FFS. Wenger said it was going to be his priority to strengthen the back line, but he's let four centre backs depart - for free - and brought in one. I'd hate to see how he handles non priority issues.

Anyway, if Fabregas is fit enough to make the squad, then I think our skipper should start the game - especially with Samir Nasri sidelined, so in the centre of the park I’d like to see Emmanuel Eboue, Cesc, Alex Song and Tomas Rosicky, with the likes of Jack Wilshere and Andrey Arshavin on the bench to replace Fab4 and Rosicky if needed.

And I know I'm opting for a 4-4-2 formation, but that's why this is called Fantasy Wenger. So in attack I'd love to see Robin van Persie playing off Marouane Chamakh, with the pace of Theo Walcott and/or Carlos Vela utilised later on in the game if the Blackpool legs get weary.

So to recap my starting 11 for tomorrow would be:


Sagna Djourou Vermaelen Clichy

Eboue Cesc Song Rosicky

RvP Chamakh

But who would you pick? Use our comments function below to share your team selection thoughts.