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Match Preview: Wigan Athletic vs Arsenal

This one looks a bit daunting, a depleted squad, worried of relegation and we now face a team which is looking to push for a champions league spot after a bad bit of form. Arsenal romped to a 5-2 victory over fellow strugglers Reading on Monday night, the London club not looking to get much of a sweat on. Will we be next?

Alex Livesey

More injuries! Who on earth would have seen this coming! We already were struggling for a senior 11 on the pitch, and now we will go into playing one of the country’s finest teams, with our bare bones. In the past our small squad wouldn’t have been able to take the strain of so many injuries, yet with a vastly improved squad, we have the strength in depth to still field a respectable team.

What team will that be? Well there doesn’t look to be much choice for Roberto Martinez this weekend. Goalkeeper is the one choice he doesn’t have to worry about, Ali Al Habsi’s name is first on every week, and after a sterling performance last weekend his right to be there was shown.

The rest of the side, you have to feel a bit shaky about. The defence against Norwich was far from impressive and now with no Adrian Lopez it will be even weaker. David Jones will most likely join a back three consisting of Maynor Figueroa and Emmerson Boyce. Who will be the central defender? I would wager Boyce will lead the way with his experience.

The midfield is in an even worse affair. Just as James McArthur has started to get back up to speed we lose James McCarthy. Who will come in for him? Shaun Maloney I feel will slot into a deeper midfield role this weekend his experience will be important to stop Arsenal’s creative talent, it would be unfair to throw in one of the younger players of Daniel Redmond or Frazer Fyvie.

The wing-backs will stay the same; both Jean Beausejour and Ronnie Stamm have performed okay. Neither have hit top form, yet they have both been good enough to trouble defences and get back to help defend when needed.

Now to the attacking three, last weekend saw Mauro Boselli start the game; a decision which was met with some criticism. Rightly so after a poor display by the Argentinian, Franco Di Santo must be the preferred choice this weekend. He will return to partner Arouna Kone and Jordi Gomez both of whom will need to give a big performance on Saturday.

So that is how we shape up. The barebones and it doesn’t look like improving much. So what about Arsenal? Have I got some wonderful news that they will be short on players, or that they have forgotten how to pass the football? Sadly no I haven’t.

The one things on Wigan’s side is that we tend to have good performances against Arsenal. Will anyone forget the 3-2 come back, or last season 2-1 domination? I don’t think so and the players have to be reminded of that. They also have to be reminded of Bradford City’s exploits against them in the League Cup.

A very strong Arsenal side including the like of Vermaelen, Gervinho and Chamakh were beaten were held for 90 minutes by the league 3 side. Why can’t we do it? At home with the crowd behind us surely we can manage to muster up the energy to chase the ball and give our all to closing their players and hitting them quick on the counter.

We will have to watch their players though, Santi Cazorla is one such example, and the player I feel could most hurt Latics the most. In that role just between the midfield and defence and with neither of them at full strength, it is easy to see how he could find gaps to work with in.

Carzola has very much been this season surprise package. Very few knew much about the talent that Arsenal had signed, and many wondered if he would struggle with his lack of a physical presence. Yet he has come in and changed the way the Arsenal midfield attacks. With one touch of the ball he can open up a defence and score.

Vision and the talent to pass the ball anyway he chooses makes him a deadly player. Couple that with a low centre of gravity (hard to shift of the ball), a good work rate, and then the ability to curl the ball away from the keeper into the corner of the goal and you have a very good attacking midfield player. This is someone we are going to struggle playing against.

It is going to be tough, but every game is. Yet we need the points, and we can’t afford to lose any more ground, especially with QPR finding that winning feeling we have to up our own ante and get some more points on the board.