Can Arsene Wenger afford to take any gambles this evening?

By Avenell Dave

There are no easy games in the Champions League.

As M*nure learned to thir cost last season, it's vital to finish top to avoid the strongest sides until the later stages of the competition.

But Arsenal are seven points behind the Premier League leaders right now and winning at Upton Park at the weekend is essential if we're to maintain our challenge for the title.

With Abou Diaby injured for almost a month now, the importance of Mikel Arteta grows significantly.

The Spaniard is carrying a knock, so shouldn't be risked despite the importance of winning Wednesday night's game.

With Francis Coquelin recovered from illness, I would start with him in midfield and give captain Thomas Vermaelen a rest, which would also help Laurent Koscielny get the games he is clearly lacking after Saturday's indifferent display. It's probably not a bad time to give Kieran Gibbs a rest as well.

Is this the game where Olivier Giroud takes centre stage? Lukas Podolski looked tired at the weekend - the pace and demands of the Premier League have been a shock to him, it seems.

So I would start with the Frenchman in attack and give Theo Walcott a run as well to dust off the substitute cobwebs with Gervinho moving back to the flank.

Speaking to a fellow Addict yesterday, he has already given up on Giroud as a potent striker, blaming him for costing us points after his succession of misses in the earlier games this season.

That is harsh, but a fair point. Sadly, football fans these days are impatient and expect instant results, something that rarely happens.

Giroud won everything in the air when he came on last Saturday and much of his link-up play has been impressive. He looks a totally different animal to Maroune Chamakh and yet the comparisons endure.

We need to give him time to get used to a new league. People were writing off Carl Jenkinson last season despite the fact he'd played non-league football a year before he arrived.

A year on and he's being talked about as the future England right back.

Of course, we cannot afford too much integration of players while competing for trophies, but there is a happy medium between impatience and realism.

I'm almost certain most of my suggested changes won't take place tonight, and I can fully understand why, given that six points will put us nicely in the driving seat and on our way to qualification.

But resting first choice players and giving their replacements a game that and get them ready should we suffer with more injuries would benefit everyone.

As long as we win. 

Addict XI


Jenkinson Koscielny Mertesacker Santos

Ramsey Coquelin Cazorla

Walcott Giroud Gervinho