By Avenell Dave
If you look back at Arsenal’s problems over the past few seasons, a few themes emerge.
First of all, there are the injuries to key players that stretch the squad to the limits and leave us fielding players of insufficient quality to compete in the matches that matter.
Then there is the financial challenge that sees us sell far more than we buy even when the world and his wife can see that we need players in specific positions.
Linked to both the above problems, we have to balance which matches are important, which games we can afford to rest players in and which competitions we have the best chance of winning.
I remember in the Invincibles season that Arsene Wenger played something of a weakened side against M*nure and we ended up going out of the FA Cup and, if I recall correctly, the Champions League the following week or so.
Whether it is the need to put silverware in the trophy cabinet or just a realisation that, like Ch*vski or M*nure, we should be going for everything as well, Wenger seems to have revised his approach this season.
But the problem of who to play and who to rest becomes more stark when it comes to this part of the season when the trophies and big matches are coming thick and fast and we struggle to cope.
We all knew Wenger should have bought a centre-half in January and perhaps even a defensive midfielder (although he will probably argue that Emmanuel Frimpong and Francis Coquelin will be back next season and so buying someone now would be a waste and stifle their development when they return from injury/loan.)
The collapse against Newcastle was unforgiveable but it is gone now. The whys and wherefores, the frustration and anger has to be put to one side as we face a Wolves side who did us a favour by adding M*nure to the Ch*vski and Liverpool scalps they claimed at the turn of the year.
RvP and Cesc are fit and Alex Song is in with a chance of playing – and there are even rumours that Johann Djourou could be fit.
Can we take Wolves lightly? After all, they’re in the bottom three, have less than half the points we have won this season and haven’t beaten us in a league game since 1979.
But we could say the same about Hull a couple of seasons ago and while it’s easy to have one eye on the glamour tie against Barcelona, a game we will certainly struggle to win, getting three points on Saturday is vital if we’re to maintain the pressure on the leaders just as injuries and a run of tricky games comes their way.
We may be unbeaten in eight games, but you can be sure Wolves will be robust and that it will be a tricky affair.
The temptation will be to rest RvP and Cesc but the title could still be ours and we have to keep pushing for it.
For me, the only dilemma is at the back, with Sebastien Squallaci giving Mikael Silvestre a run as our worst central defender in recent years.
We can’t rely on Squillaci, who was at fault when Wigan grabbed a late draw with 10 men during the festive period and who will be exposed by the physical nature of the Wolves approach.
So, with Manu Eboue set to play against Barca, he needs a run there to be as match fit as possible, so I’d make Bacary Sagna play in the middle, where he has played in the past for Auxerre, and who, on current form, is likely to be more assertive than Squillaci will ever be.
Of course, Wenger will play Squillaci and probably Sagna at right back and I have no problem with that.
Let’s hope that the international break has cleared the Newcastle malaise from some players without making them realise that anything less than three points tomorrow is simply unacceptable.
Eboue Sagna Koscielny Clichy
Song Fabregas Wilshere
Walcott Chamakh Arshavin