Archive for November 27th, 2009

Vermaelen against Drogba will be the key

Add comment November 27th, 2009

The news that William Gallas is only 50-50 to play tomorrow only underlines the importance of how well his centre-back partner, Thomas Vermaelen, copes in his first battle against Didier Drogba.  Drogba has already undone several previous centre-backs (Philippe Senderos and Mikael Silvestre) with such ferocity and finality that their Arsenal careers have never really recovered.

I expect Vermaelen to cope much better.  What he gives away to Drogba in terms of height and size he makes up for with spring and committment.  That said I don’t fancy our chances if Gallas doesn’t make it – that’ll mean a start for Silvestre, who really struggled against the Ivorian and Nicolas Anelka in the FA Cup Semi-Final.

At left-back the news of Kieran Gibbs’s three month absence means Arsene is left with a choice between Armand Traore and Emmanuel Eboue.  Whilst both players have their defensive defects, I might be tempted to plump for Eboue, who is in form and has superior experience of big games like this one.

It’s a massive match.  Lose and we’re eleven points behind and all but out of contention.  Win, and we’re five points back with a game in hand.  This, truly, is a six pointer.

Determined to fill his side with confidence after last week’s defeat at Sunderland, Arsene has been in boisterous form pre-game:

“It is a big test, yes – but that is what you want, to play these teams. I think there is a period for any team to come out and show its strengths. For my team, this moment has come.

We are not any more a team that has to be considered to be young. I think we have the strengths and we can show that on Sunday that we are strong enough to compete.”

Let’s hope he’s right.  More tomorrow.

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