It`s off to the excellent pie-makers of Wigan on Wednesday for the game in hand that a few short weeks ago was supposed to propel us into the fight for the Premiership title. Now the ambition is perhaps a third place finish but the result is none the less important for that.
Last season we enjoyed a rare Premiership triumph in the north-west, winning 3-2 in the corresponding fixture. Revenge was extracted in the Carling Cup semi-final.
The home side will only be half-baked. Wigan keeper Steak and Kidney Kirkland has been declared fit to play at the JJB Stadium, but Chicken and Mushroom Scharner is ruled out through suspension. Striker Cheese and Onion Heskey returns from a one-match ban but Meat and Potato de Zeeuw, Lamb Tikka Teale, Pork and Apple Todorov and Pastie Taylor are ruled out by injury.
Kolo Toure is back for Arsenal after sitting out the draw at Chelsea at the weekend through suspension, and although Gallas, Rosicky, and Henry are once again missing, our less than full-strength side will be expected to feast on their less than full-strength side.
I`ll be back after the game, hopefully with chef Wenger`s recipe for dealing with the savoury upstarts. Bon appetit!
Wigan boss Paul Jewell on Le Boss: ‘Arsene is an outstanding manager. At the moment he’s building a new team.
‘What we’ve seen this season, perhaps it is a sign of how driven he is. He is turned on by building a new team to challenge Chelsea and Man United.’
Le Boss on why Arsenal’s away form has improved since last season: ‘I feel we have matured and we are physically stronger.
‘You could see that at Chelsea on Sunday where with Emmanuel Adebayor we could fight in areas where last year we were dominated. This year we are not.
‘Now we have to show that we can do it at Wigan as well.’
Wigan Team News:
Stopper Chris Kirkland has been declared fit after he spent Saturday night in hospital with concussion.
Emile Heskey returns after his one-match ban, but midfielder Paul Scharner is suspended.
Player to watch: Henri Camera
The speedy striker has the ability to cause anyone problems when he is on form.
Arsenal Team News:
King Kolo is back after missing the Chelsea game through suspension.
Thierry Henry (hamstring), Tomas Rosicky (groin/hamstring) and William Gallas (thigh) are all close to making a return to the first team.
Lauren (knee) and Diaby (ankle) are both still some way from being fit to play.
Player to watch: Julio Baptista
The Beast could get the nod ahead of Flamini for the trip to Wigan and he will be looking to give Wenger a selection dilema ahead of Saturday’s visit of Portsmouth.
Match Facts & Stats
Rob Styles will be taking the reigns for this one. he has officated one Arsenal game this season (Boro). He booked Van Persie in the 1-1 draw.
He has dished out 40 yellow cards and one red in his 10 games this season.
Over on the Vital Arsenal Forum
I would like to thank Vital Arsenal member FatOldDave for providing me with the bulk of the preview.
The big man has a blog which is updated daily, provided he is soba (and sometimes when he’s not).
It’s a great read, just look for yourself… http://goonerholic.blogspot.com/