Arsenal Survives For Now
A handful of first team regulars were uncharacteristically slotted into the FA Cup team by Arsene Wenger as Arsenal survived West Ham’s efforts to upset them. The Hammers looked to be in control and ready to apply yet another blow to Arsenal’s season after coming back from two goals down to draw earlier in the season. Diamanti, credit to him, was superb in attack. Behrami was another outstanding performer, constantly chasing down balls and launching tackles that would’ve made Patrick Viera proud. Robert Green was in fine form, at one point of time making an incredible save which prompted the commentators to ponder out loud if Arsene would consider buying him.
The match signalled Wenger’s intent to capture at least one trophy this season. The introduction of Diaby and Nasri was a smart move. Diaby provided the cover for Ramsey to get forward more, and Arsenal’s passing became noticeably slicker with Nasri’s influence. It may just be one of the more important victories for Arsenal this season. Coming from behind to win a game at Upton Park is no mean feat, especially with Gianfranco’s Hammer’s so intent on upsetting any team that approaches.
One big worry is the lack of manpower. Alex Song is already on the way to the African Nations Cup, which means changes have to be made for Wednesday’s trip to Bolton. Diaby would probably have to step into the holding role. Fabregas, Denilson, Eboue and Walcott are all unavailable, which means Arsene could go with Ramsey playing in Cesc’s role and Rosicky to complete the midfield threesome, while sticking with Eduardo, Arshavin and Nasri up front. Alternatively, Arsene could choose to unleash Wilshere, though I’m not sure how he’d fare against a team like Bolton.
Bolton, fresh off their victory against Lincoln City will be looking to frustrate. It is a torrid time for Gooners, one full of anxiety and uncertainty. It’s supposed to be a time where while Chelsea and Manchester United engage each other in a race for the title, Arsenal quietly go about their business and sneak up behind them. Now, with their top striker out, their holding midfielder away and a handful of regulars injured, it remains to be seen if Arsenal have what it takes to rough this period out.