Posted on Thursday, 30th December 2010 by Alastair Bayliss
Arsenal missed out on the opportunity to join Manchester United at the top of the league last night, and whilst crucial refereeing decisions went against them throughout the match, one has to raise questions about the team selection employed on the evening.
Arsenal clearly did not arrive at the DW Stadium in the rudest of health. Playing against a fellow challenger for the title merely forty-eight hours previous to a tough away game against a side brimming with confidence is by no means ideal preparation. The extra day’s rest for Wigan Athletic essentially forced Arsene Wenger to address the situation by handing starts to players who had not ventured onto the pitch on Monday evening. But was this really necessary?
There is no doubt that some changes were essential – Robin Van Persie, for example, shall never play two games in three days for the rest of his career, for his susceptibility to injury is such that to pick him would be a decision bordering on insane. However, surely there is more resilience in the rest of the squad? The decision not to play Johan Djourou despite the fact that he has played very little football in the last month was a baffling one, especially given his highly impressive showing against Chelsea. The partnership he has built up with Laurent Koscielny is an extremely promising one, and there is absolutely no doubt that it shall be in place for the Saturday evening trip to Birmingham. Of course, it is easy to say in hindsight, but the own goal from Sebastian Squillaci really encapsulated all that was wrong about the decision to rest Djourou.
If one were to contrast the team selection of Arsene Wenger to the one of Sir Alex Ferguson, for example, the distinction is immediately apparent. For the former, only three of the back five retained their places, whilst for the latter, all five were trusted to perform again very soon after the victory against Sunderland. Obviously, the result in both games was identical in terms of points won, but one has to factor in that Manchester United were playing against a side who have only lost once at St. Andrews this season.
This will however form the crux to Wenger’s argument. Arsenal travel to Birmingham on New Year’s Day and there is no doubt that the players lining up then will resemble more closely those who destroyed Chelsea. There is little doubt that it requires a stronger team to overturn Birmingham than to conquer Wigan, but there is also marginal doubt that last night was a wasted opportunity. Making eight changes, including players who thrive on confidence such as Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott, proved to be an extremely misguided tactical decision on Wenger’s part. However, If Arsenal can snatch a victory at one of the Premier League’s toughest grounds on the weekend, then seven points from a possible nine over an extremely hectic Christmas period would be considered a success, and evidently, this latest result shall be allowed to fade into distant memory.
Be apart of the Chelsea v Aston Villa and Wigan v Newcastle games on 02/01/11 – try your luck at winning some real cash at PICKLIVE
Click on the image below to get involved.
Follow me on Twitter – http://twitter.com/Ali_Bayliss
Visit and Join our Facebook page, click HERE to do so
‘Fans wanted’ – If you would like to write for Gunnersphere.com and get your views and opinions across, simply message me on Twitter
Tags: Arsene Wenger, DW Stadium, Jack Wilshere, Johan Djourou, Laurent Koscielny, Robin Van Persie, Sebastien Squillaci, Sir Alex Ferguson, St. Andrews, Theo Walcott
Posted in View From The Sphere | Comments (2)