Bolton: Park and Oxlade-Chamberlain to play, Vermaelen to make surprise appearance?
Written by Jeff Patterson on October 25, 2011 9:00
I have to say, it’s wonderful to have a Tuesday cup night on the back of a Sunday’s league match. Sunday’s excellent performance has bare been digested, and already the next course has arrived! That’s where the comparison ends, because unlike food, Arsenal football is something of which I can never consume my fill.
The best news of the day has come through twitter, with Thomas Vermaelen confirming his return to full training. The latest buzz is that he will be in the squad tonight, though it has yet to be confirmed (at time of writing) if he will feature. So it seems that Vermaelen is on his way back, and that can only be good news for Arsenal.
Looking at the squad who will take on Bolton, it’s wonderful to see several of the names we have all been looking for. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Park Chu-Young top that list, but Coquelin, Benayoun and Miguel are all players who I will be excited to see.
All have had fleeting opportunities (with the exception of Park), and all have looked like they may have something to offer for the first team. Ryo Miyaichi, I am also excited for, but he seems to be a little further way off from the first team right now.
Regardless, I am allowing myself to be convinced by Arsene’s plan for incorporating some of these players chiefly, Ryo and Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Especially regarding Ox, Wenger has said that he does have a plan in place, and that when he see’s the necessary progression from the youngster, he will be given a chance. So, fair play there.
It’s very easy to lose patience with a player who is struggling, so it’s no coincidence that many of us are looking at Oxlade-Chamberlain and seeing an answer.
Which brings me to Theo Walcott, who, it has to be said, was the lone disappointment from the Stoke game. Watching such a perfect performance from Gervinho, it outlined and highlighted the glaring gaps in Theo’s game.
And what’s more, I also watched a great contest this weekend between Wolverhampton and Swansea City, where the Swan’s used the wing-play of Sinclair and Dyer to utterly dominate Wolves for 80+ minutes. Both of those performances served as reminders of just how critical wing-play can be for club.
The frustrating thing is that I’m not having a go at Theo. His pace is still unrivaled, and if I’m being honest, his finishing might be the most improved in the EPL over the last year or so. He’s truly dangerous, when he can get into dangerous areas.
The trouble for Theo is that he can’t get into those area’s on his own. Out on the wing, he struggles to impact the game. His dribbling, his crossing, Theo is just lacking in a lot of the area’s that a really successful winger need to be strong.
As he stands now, he’s only really an asset to Arsenal on the counterattack, but without that shrewd long-passing playmaker in the middle like Cesc, Walcott has even struggled on the break at times.
Putting Walcott in a central role may solve some things, but Arsene Wenger is clearly not prepared to deviate from his current formation and system, so that is out of the question. Even if it wasn’t, Theo is still lacking some of the qualities you’d look for in an attack of his size.
Anyways, this week is another big one for Arsenal. In just few short weeks, the top of the table has gone from a fool’s dream to someplace we can see ourselves.
The Stoke City performance was the first performance thus far that I would say Arsenal looked like a Top 4/Top 6 team. The mood in the camp seems to be turning around, and certain players are really establishing themselves as dependable options, and even *gasp* giving Arsene one or two decisions to make when the injured players return to fitness. Things are starting to be as they should be.
Team News by Arsene Wenger
The medical team did very well to get [Robin van Persie] on the bench [for the Stoke game]. They did so well that he got us two goals so I don’t know whether we should give the goals to Van Persie or the medical team!
It looks unlikely that [Kieran Gibbs, Gibbs Jenkinson and Abou Diaby] will be available for the Chelsea game. [Thomas Vermaelen] is back in full training again, he is alright now.