Has Wenger been holding Walcott to unleash against City?

By Avenell Dave

The more Addicts I speak to, the clearer it becomes that there was a real sense of frustration following the Napoli defeat.

"We always let this happen...cruising the group and then slip up and face a giant in the knockout stages..." seemed to be the gist of it. And it's true.

But are we really going to win the Champions League?

Interestingly, speaking to others yesterday, they have the same lack of expectation in the Premier League as well despite our five point cushion.

In the cold light of day, there was a lack of focus in the team as the game wore on, and that trickled from the manager, who also seemed unsure how to address the match.

When we went a player down, we should have sent on Theo Walcott to stretch the home defence, even if it was in place of Olivier Giroud but instead we seemed confused and wanting to contain the Neopolitans.

Of course, the prospect of a lunchtime kick-off against Manchester City must have been in the back of everyone's minds.

Our last trip to Manchester ended in defeat and I just fear, based on recent performances that fatigue or lack of form or lack of form caused by fatigue is causing us problems just as the domestic programme becomes intense.

It is so galling that while in other countries, games are moved to a Friday to help teams compete in Europe the next week, we had to face Everton on Sunday afternoon and then had little respite before the City game on Saturday lunchtime.

Arsene Wenger has tried to rotate, of course, but has not had the personnel to allow hi to do so, particularly in forward positions.

Despite the clear evidence that he makes a difference and provides defensive cover, Serge Gnabry has not been considered for some time and he would certainly have helped ease the burden on the shoulders of the likes of Santi Cazorla, who has struggled for form all season.

Wenger isn't stupid - he can see that Santi is struggling as is Giroud, but while he has no option than to start with the Frenchman, he can rest Cazorla and perhaps bring in Walcott, particularly if Sagna passes a fitness test which would give us more steel on the right to cover Theo's forward forays.

Theo gives us many things. Yes he can be frustrating, he needs to work harder at times and his decision-making is sometimes off, but he has pace and a killer instinct when presented with chances that come so fast he has no time to think.

Just as with the United game, the key for me is that we do not lose and a smash and grab as we did in Dortmund would do nicely.

City have subs who would walk into our first team but their away form is indifferent given the quality of their players and the expectations that come with that.

But if we go trying to shut up shop, will that hamper our willingness to push City back, let alone score goals ourselves.

We saw with United how a well organised and robust team can upset our rhythm and yet while our record after that defeat was impressive, we need to win big games to give us the confidence to push on, as happened after the Bayern game last season.

Until we start winning these matches, the suspicion will always be that we are also rans, unable to go toe to toe with the best sides.

Wenger says we cannot use fatigue as an excuse and maybe he is right even though it feels as if the cards are weighed against us at present.



Sagna Mertesacker Koscielny Gibbs

Ramsey Flamini Wilshere

Walcott Giroud Ozil