Difficult choices for Wenger

This weekend’s game against Manchester City is critical for Arsene Wenger. Injuries to key players and a suspension to Cesc Fabregas mean the lineup could either see most of the same faces or a dramatically new lineup for this key game.

The first question is the formation. Will Wenger return to the 4-5-1 formation he has used in previous away games or will he go for the more offensive 4-4-2? If he chooses the 4-5-1, Emmanuel Adebayor would be the best choice up front. Niklas Bendtner has failed to impress playing up front by himself. With Robin Van Persie back it would make sense to play him. Either he’ll play up front or in a more midfield role.

The big question is who will play Fabregas’s position? Denilson would be the most logical choice given that he has largely been playing this position all season. Most of the time he looks far more comfortable trying to run the attack than defend the midfield. If he is chosen then Song will assume the role of holding midfielder. If Wenger doesn’t choose Denilson then he could either play Diaby or Ramsey. Diaby is the most experienced, but Ramsey is coming off a series of strong performances.

The other big question is who’ll play on the right in place of the injured Theo Walcott. Eboue is doubtful which leaves Ramsey once again and possibly Diaby or Wilshere. Ramsey played on the right against Fenerbahce just recently, but was constantly drifting into the middle. Wilshere starting would be a long shot but he’ll probably be available on the bench.

Arsenal’s defence is likely to be the same as last week’s, minus Sagna. Toure will probaby play again at right back, being the best option available with Eboue unavailable. Djourou is likely to again be overlooked, although he has impressed every time he has started.

Saturday’s game is critical. The team’s confidence is low, their season tottering on the edge of an abyss. Theo Walcott has been the team’s best offensive threat so far and his injury means that the team will be without the spark that has provided most of the Arsenal fire this year. Other players need to step up now and play to their potential. The Gunners have yet to see the best from Robin Van Persie this season and now would be the time for him to perform. Emmanuel Adebayor has yet to play as well as he did last year and the Gunners need him to become as dominant as he was a year ago.

The Gunners need to avoid dropping points by the end of the year. After City they will face the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool, Middlesborough,  Aston Villa and Portsmouth, not to mention Wigan and a pair of Champions League games. What happens in the next month determines whether Arsenal stay near the lead pack or whether they’ll merely be fighting to stay within the top five. Arsene Wenger needs to step up as well. If he can steer Arsenal through the next six weeks without the team stumbling, it could be one of his best moments as the manager of Arsenal.


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