16:00, SkySports 1
Our ninth game in a row on TV. Only four more to go after this.
Disappointing result on Saturday considering our recent run of form, but I suspect the squad was a little jaded after a period of fixture congestion. Not including longer than normal international breaks, there’s only been three weeks all season where we haven’t had to play midweek. Although most of our squad will be involved in internationals so it doesn’t make any difference. With the injuries we’ve had to put up with since the start of the season it’s hardly surprising that it’s caught up with us at some point. However, it was the second away league game in a row that we went down to ten men and we showed the same resolve not to let it defeat us. That’s three red cards in our last seven away games. And two of them have been Big Phil in fairly identical circumstances.
We’ve played Wigan three times in the league under Arsene, taking nine points. There was also the rather painful Carling Cup semi final from last season.
Wigan are having a pretty shite time of it at the moment. Our victory at the JJB was the start of an eight game losing streak, nine including the FA Cup, but they managed to end that on Saturday with a win over Portsmouth. They currently sit five points outside the relegation zone with a game in hand. Their current poor form can be attributed to them losing their most important defender, midfielder and attacker to injury. But as if we could give a fuck about other teams injury problems when only Newcastle have it worse than us.
Away from home this season, Wigan have won three, drawn two and lost seven. They’re a side we should beat, but a succession of sides we should beat have taken points from the Grove this season.
Senderos is suspended for this, the Bolton FA Cup replay, and either the FA Cup fifth round if we beat Bolton or the Carling Cup Final if we don’t. Assuming any appeal we make gets pointed and laughed at by the FA.
Van Persie, Hleb and Gallas all definitely out for the time being.
Wenger said of Diaby’s knee injury: We have lost Diaby, but it will be for a short time - only a week, so he should be available for selection should Fabregas be rested.
Djourou and Eboue will be back in the squad, Baptista and Ljungberg may be fit by the weekend.
No doubt we’ll lose another thirteen players to injury this evening.
De Zeeuw and Scharner are definitely out for Wigan, Camara may be fit in time.
The team depends on who Wenger decides to rest after the internationals midweek. Brazil, Spain, Czech Rep, France, Germany and Switzerland may take players out of our squad. At least Fabregas doesn’t have to leave the country. Hopefully Switzerland will be merciful and not play Djourou. This should be the sort of game where Walcott can do well, although Leighton Baines might keep him quiet. At the moment Igor Stepanovs could keep him queit.
Almunia, Hoyte, Flamini, Denilson/Ljungberg, Baptista/Aliadiere.
I’d go for:
Almunia, Hoyte, Flamini, Denilson, Baptista.
Despite his insistence that he doesn’t need a rest, in the 38 games we’ve played in all competitions this season, Fabregas has been involved in 35 of them. Two of the three he didn’t play in were the first two Carling Cup rounds, and he was suspended for one league game. Considering he’ll probably play some part for Spain on Wednesday, I’d give him a rest for this game. It’s still a strong team, Diaby is a fantastic replacement, and aside from Gallas and Fabregas missing it’s a side that some people would pick as their first choice.
That’s a guess; their defensive line up changes every game so it’s impossible to know what their centre back pairing will be. I assume they’ll play five across midfield and probably score with their first shot on target.