Brad Friedel: fire-breathing dragon of ancient lore. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Time to rip it up and start all over again. Arsenal travel to the Midlands and Villa Park, and it's time for a win. A response is necessary to keep the Arsenal discourse from tipping into Richard III-type madness, if it hasn't already.
Aston Villa are currently drowning in the quicksand of thirteen--thirteen!--injuries to first-team players, the thirteenth, to Gabriel Agbonglahor, being reported just this morning, as Kirsten at 7500 to Holte explains. Arsenal supporters can no doubt identify with missing two strikers (John Carew and Emile Heskey), promising young wing talent (Marc Albrighton), veteran midfield presence (Stilian Petrov and Nigel Reo-Coker), and solid defenders (Carlos Cuellar).
This, of course, does not mean that Arsenal can take their task lightly, and the Gunners have a couple injuries of their own. Cesc Fabregas is going to miss at least two weeks, if not more, due to his continuing hamstring problems. At this point, it probably makes sense to err on the side of caution, so if he's back for Manchester United, it will be surprising. He needs to get right. Thomas Vermaelen is still out, Abou Diaby is still out, Emmanuel Eboué is out for at least four weeks after hurting his MCL at Braga on Tuesday, and Gael Clichy's back makes him a doubt for tomorrow as well.
And then, of course, there's the matter of a certain Monsieur Robert Pires facing his old club again...
Given that our best creative midfielder is out, and that our defense as of late has not managed to prevent goals on the break, perhaps Wenger should tell the lads to be a bit more choosy about when to bomb forward. Maybe just for one game, to stabilize things, the club should try to keep five or six guys behind the ball as much as possible. Then again, a clean sheet doesn't mean a whole lot if the club struggles to find any goal threats as they did at Braga.
Possible lineup, then:
Sagna Squillaci Djourou Gibbs
Nasri Chamakh Arshavin