Stuart Gent looks ahead to today’s game and explains why he would shake up our lackluster midfield…
This Saturday seems to be an impossible task not only on paper but on form as well. However it could be the game that changes our clubs` fortunes and instils some much needed belief into not only the fans but the players themselves.
Wenger will be guaranteed to put out his best possible line up. Not only is he aiming for that Champions League spot, he also won`t want us doing the double over him especially completing the job on his own turf.
His lineup is most likely going to be:
Fabianski, Sagna, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Monreal, Walcott, Arteta, Wilshere, Cazorla, Giroud, Gervinho
In my view our one weakest part is midfield and their strongest part is midfield, so this doesn`t sound too good for us.
For this game, I don`t expect Hughton to change formation, but personally I would go for a 4-1-4-1 formation. I know it breaks our managers` mould and it`s an odd formation stance but I`ll explain why I believe it could work by talking through my preferred line up.
Firstly with all the talk now saying Ruddy won`t be rushed back it looks like Camp will be in goal for this game which should pave the way for Ruddy`s very welcome return against Reading.
Our defence for me would stay the same as it now virtually picks itself, so Martin, Turner , Bassong , Garrido at the back.
Then we come to the one man in front of the defence behind the four man midfield. This role was made for Alex Tettey. His engine, tackling and general nuisance level in this position can be key.
His pass selection lately has been letting him down but that in this position is not what he`s there for. It`s the Makelele role, just to try and win the ball back, short passes and retain possession. He`s basically there to try and stop the likes of Cazorla breaking through the middle or anyone else in that hole behind the striker and in front of their midfield.
Then comes the midfield four. I don`t expect Hughton to go down this route but I would shake things up by going for Snodgrass Johnson Fox Whittaker.
I would bring Fox in for his passing ability and I`d reinforce the right hand side by bringing Whittaker in (a role he has played for Rangers). This would give us extra protection as Russell Martin will have his hands full keeping Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlin et al quiet. Defensive duties will come far more naturally to Whittaker than an out and out attacking winger such as Bennett.
Snodgrass in this formation for me needs to help Garrido out and work hard defensively. Lots of complaints I`ve seen about Garrido`s poor defending may be justified but on some occasions he has been isolated with two attackers down his side as Pilkington or (occasionally) Snodgrass in front of him haven`t tracked the overlapping runner back.
Garrido needs that help at times even if it is to just slow the threat down – the same applies to whoever plays on the opposite wing to help Martin out. Gone are the days when both full-backs could bomb on – the quality in the Premiership just exploits this.
Bradley Johnson is one of the first names on the team sheet, but alongside him I would drop Jonny Howson. Howson has blown hot and cold – we need the composure on the ball and the quality of passing David Fox brings, not only to maintain possession but to possibly in an attacking sense be able to quickly release the likes of Snodgrass and Whittaker going forward.
Fox is one of our natural passers of the ball, something the others have forgotten to do at times. We have seen so many simple errant passes go loose under no pressure at all – we need the calmness our own midfield maestro can bring.
That leaves the thankless task of the lone front man. For me,it`s a toss-up really between the quickness of Kamara and the force of Becchio. If Mertersacker had been playing ,it would have been Kamara nudging ahead for me but strikers are based on goals and maybe this is the time Becchio needs to start with using Kamara and Bennett for their raw pace later in the game.
I really wanted to try to look at a 4-4-2 formation for this game and firmly believe that the 4-4-2 formation is the way to go after this game, but with our goal difference being so bad compared to the likes of Stoke and Sunderland we can`t afford another Fulham result if it all goes wrong, and with the way Arsenal play they want you to attack them to exploit the space behind.
A point from this game would be a morale booster ready for the remaining run in.
Line up: Camp, Martin, Garrido, Turner, Bassong, Tettey, Fox, Johnson, Whittaker, Snodgrass, Becchio