We go into this weekend looking to continue our near perfect start to the season in all competitions. This time last season, we’d lost one, won one and drawn two in the league, and were yet to win at our new home. We were out of the title race by October, but the players seem driven and focussed to not let the same happen this year. Derby are the visitors, with their tails up after getting their first win of the season against a lacklustre Newcastle side on Monday night.
In the Premiership, we've faced Derby twelve times, winning eight, drawing three and losing one, 3-0 away in Wenger's first full season. The last time we met them was March 2002, a 1-0 home win with Pires scoring the winner.
Derby only had one point from six games, and had been knocked out of the Carling Cup at home by Blackpool, before their meeting with Newcastle on Monday night, but now they close in on Lily white cunts as they try to escape from the relegation zone.
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Gallas, Lehmann and Eboue still out. Rosicky, Hleb and Senderos join them on the sidelines. Five of last season’s first team players out injured. Nice.
"Of course Tomas Rosicky is now added to Lehmann, Eboue and Gallas. He is definitely out."
I like the crushing inevitability of that statement. Of course Rosicky is out. It was foretold.
"I will rotate a little bit to bring in some fresh players. Who, I don’t know yet because that depends on whether Hleb and Senderos will be available."
Goodness knows what Wenger means by that. If Rosicky, Hleb and Senderos are out, then that pretty much settles our team selection, apart from maybe upfront and alongside Cesc. With the Carling Cup game on Tuesday, surely it would make sense to play players like Bendtner, Eduardo, Traore, Denilson, Diarra, Hoyte etc then, and just play our strongest side against Derby? Not that Wenger will take Newcastle lightly, but we played second string against Chelsea in the final last year, so we’ll definitely do so in the third round at home. With Rosicky and Hleb out, it’ll have to be Walcott and Diaby on the wings, Gilberto at centre back, with one of Diarra, Denilson and Flamini alongside Cesc.
Subs: Fabianski, Hoyte, Diarra, Denilson, Eduardo.