Ah, early morning. How luveleh.
Arsene Wenger has given an enthused opinion on Tresor Mputu when questioned about the player during the lead-up to today’s Wigan match. With the Congolese striker on trial, Wenger had glowing remarks to make of the African Champions League’s top scorer:
“He is on trial and I have to go down to test him today. He is a creative player and wants a chance in Europe. He has impressed so far.“
A January move for the forward can be expected to be made, though you would think his appearances would be a mix of reserve, cup and lower league appearances for the rest of the season, for adjustment’s sake. Many of Third-Gen’s readers have been very interested in Mputu’s progress, and we will keep you all posted as and when news happens.
To more first-team issues, and Emmanuel Adebayor has said he misses the lethal partnership he shared with Robin van Persie. Adebayor says the team continues to shoulder the burden of injured players, particularly with Robin’s scoring-talent being missed. Adebayor says:
“I think he is proud about the way we are playing at the moment. And he will be more confident when he comes back. I know his character, I’m not afraid. I know when he will be back it will just take him one or two weeks and he will be back scoring.“
Another man we will be missing, at least for only a week or so, is Mathieu Flamini, who has earned praise from manager Arsene Wenger. Arsene believes the mental character required for Mathieu to consider his future with the club (which looked cloudy at best at one point), and then to step out onto the field to show your true worth was exceptional of the French midfielder. Arsene says:
“Since the begin of the season you judge Flamini on performances and you cannot fault him on that. He has done a job in every area of his game, defensively, tactically as a team player, and we know as well he can turn up and score a goal.“
One of our players of the season thus far, for sure. One of the iconic signings of our season, of course, was Croat striker Eduardo, who Wenger has backed to shine in the second half of the season. The manager had this to say:
“We have said we have to be patient, but it will come for Eduardo. “He has a good attitude and works hard, but he has to adapt physically. He is perhaps a quieter person, so perhaps it takes him longer… I am keeping my confidence for the second part of the season.“
In smaller bits and bobs of news, Nicolas Anelka has praised the club’s style of football, and doubts whether even he could get in (nice try, Nicolas…); Arsene Wenger insists the manager of England must be English; and Gilberto Silva is reportedly ‘thrilled’ by Juventus interest in him.
To the Match Preview, then, and the focus today centres around the likely central pairing of Denilson and Lassana Diarra. They have experience playing in the Carling Cup, which – in such a situation – proves its worth against an until-Monday managerless Wigan seriously struggling for form. Do not let this fool you into thinking Wigan will be quite the walkover their league position says it will be. Emile Heskey returns to the side that will be looking to score off set pieces, and probably that alone. Their team does not have the right structure to go on all out defence, ala Reading a week or so ago, but it will still be a high-caution game from them, with balls played into the box aerially, certainly.
The team essentially picks itself. Almunia stays in goal, despite Teutonic protests, and the backline continues to play get-to-know-you games. Rosicky should be fit enough to retain his place on the left wing, with Adebayor being a certain starter up front. Eboue also should find himself on the right wing with Hleb’s injury.
I’ve gone for Eduardo up front over Theo – with the injuries, the team needs to go in with as much assurity as possible; hence, as much seniority as is possible under the Arsenal banner. Eduardo is still looking for his first league goal for Arsenal, and with the pressure that should rightfully be put on the team today to produce a result, hopefully some impetus will carry on over to the Croat.
The bench should see Lehmann, Senderos, Walcott, Bendtner and Alex Song named, which provides a balanced, though not the most spectacular side put out this season.
Not much choice with the formation – Arsenal are at home and need to attack Wigan. With too many injuries to support a 4-5-1, Arsenal cannot show any hint of timidity or hesitation. The rhythm may not be there altogether following the team’s dispersal to international duties (curse them all), but there has to be signs of attacking intent.
If this happens, a 3-0 is not out of the question. Do not be surprised if we only scrape a modest victory, though. Three points, in the end, is all that matters at this stage.
Here’s hoping for three of those. Enjoy the game!