Arsène Wenger has given a full squad update ahead of Sunday’s Premier League game against Swansea.
Robin van Persie has returned from holiday in Dubai and (just a guess) will replace Maroune Chamakh, who has left for the African Cup of Nations in the starting XI.
The big question is whether or not RvP will partner Thierry Henry. Henry is probably not fit enough to last the full 90 minutes, so it will be interesting to see if Wenger chooses to start him or bring him on with about half an hour left.
On changes to the squad after Leeds:
“Djourou’s suspension is over so he is back. Apart from that, nobody is coming back from injury. We have the same squad available apart fromMarouane Chamakh, who has gone to the African Cup of Nations and Gervinho as well. Robin van Persie is back in the squad and so is Thierry Henry.”
On Francis Coquelin’s injury
“He is out of three weeks. He will miss Sunday and Manchester United. There is possibility he will be back for the game after.”
On Thomas Vermaelen’s injury
“We have a big hope that he will be back for Manchester United.”
On Thomas Rosicky/Per Mertesacker
“They were sick [and missed the match against Leeds]. They have still not joined the squad and I will make a decision on them tomorrow.”
On whether Henry will start against Swansea:
“Will Thierry start or not? I don’t know yet. I haven’t decided.
“He can play behind or in front of Robin or on the flank, Robin can play on the flank too, but I don’t know yet what I will do. They can play together, of course, and they did play together.”
The team for tonight’s game against Manchester City is extremely hard to predict. On the one hand, Wenger will want to rest some of our key players who he feels are “in the red” (RvP, Ramsey, Walcott). On the other hand, the Carling Cup represents a major trophy that Wenger cannot afford to ignore.
Manchester City are going to be tough opposition, regardless of whether they play their first-team or a “reserve” team. However, we normally go with a mixture of youth and experience in the Carling Cup, and I don’t expect that to change.
Lukasz Fabianski always gets a game in the League Cup, while I think that one of Djourou/Koscielny will continue to deputise at right-back in the absence of Carl Jenkinson. Ignasi Miquel struggles to make the squad for Premier League/Champions League games now that we have 4 strong centre-backs, so he will probably also be given a game. André Santos is not included in the squad, which is a problem given that Kieran Gibbs is injured and I don’t think that we have another decent left-back. The only possible solution would be to put Vermaelen as left-back.
I expect Song, Arteta and Ramsey all to be rested. Benayoun will add some experience to the midfield as Rosicky (I think) will miss this game with a small injury, possibly partnered with Niko Yennaris or Özyakup. Abou Diaby isn’t included in the squad, having not fully recovered from injury, so I expect Emmanuel Frimpong (or Coquelin) to play in defensive midfield.
Given his performances at the beginning of the season, I think that it is impossible to leave Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain out of the team. Park Ju Young normally features in the Carling Cup, while Maroune Chamakh should feature as our central striker if RvP is rested. There is also the possibility that Andrei Arshavin will be given a start.
Arsenal are apparently on a 28-match unbeaten streak at home to Manchester City in all competitions, stretching all the way back to 1975. However, the City team that we face today are a completely different ball game.
I think this game will be pretty close given the strength of the squad that Wenger has named, but I still think that City will win. Granted, City will shuffle their squad hugely following their draw with Liverpool on the weekend. And yes, they did lose to Napoli last week, but they are always going to be a threat. I would love to see us go through to the semi-finals, so hopefully the Gunners will prove me wrong!
Arsène Wenger has revealed the first team news ahead of our important Champions League match against Marseille at the Emirates tomorrow evening.
Maroune Chamakh appears to be the only player who has picked up an injury in the last few days.
Yossi Benayoun, who was ineligible to play against Chelsea on Sunday, returns to the squad, but is unlikely to start ahead of Arteta, Ramsey and Rosicky.
Thomas Vermaelen / Carl Jenkinson
“They will both be available and in the squad tomorrow. I haven’t picked the team yet so I don’t know [if they are fit enough to start]. Are they fit enough to play? Yes, of course.”
“He is injured. He has a knee problem. A slight effusion in the knee and therefore he is not even involved tomorrow.”
“Yossi Benayoun is back in the squad.”
Having Vermaelen back in the team is fantastic. We now have 4 very strong centre-backs who will no doubt be rotated regularly. Johan Djourou will no longer have to cover at right-back now that Jenkinson has returned from injury, and Benayoun always adds a bit more experience to the midfield when necessary.
In his pre-match press conference ahead of our match against Swansea this afternoon Arsène Wenger reported the following team news:
Kieran Gibbs & Theo Walcott
“They are available for Saturday.”
“He is not completely match fit, but is in the squad.”
“He has a chance to be available for Tuesday night, he has a knee injury. He got a kick during the internationals.”
“He will very quickly knock at the door. At the moment he is injured and is just coming back – he should join in again on Monday or Tuesday.”
“We have the players with long-term injuries out like Wilshere and Diaby of course; then we have players suspended like Gervinho, Song and Jenkinson as well; we have an injury from the internationals in Rosicky and finally Vermaelen, who had surgery on Monday and will be out for a month.”
It is also worth noting that Park Chu Young is still waiting for his work permit and is therefore unavailable. I am unsure whether he will be able to play against Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday.
Predicted team line-up:
For a full analysis ahead of the match against swansea click here to view our match preview.
Szczesny to start in goal as per usual.
Laurent Koscielny will most probably partner Per Mertesacker in the wake of Thomas Vermaelen’s injury. Sagna has recovered from his illness (he played the full 90 minute for France mid-week) and as Wenger said above Kieran Gibbs has recovered from his injury.
Alex Song is suspended, so Emmanuel Frimpong should start as our defensive midfielder. With Jack Wilshere and Thomas Rosicky both injured, I would imagine that Aaron Ramsey will partner Mikel Arteta in midfield with Benayoun on the bench.
Walcott has fully recovered from the injuries that he picked up on international duty and will be included in the usual front 3 (with Arshavin and RvP).