Nigel Winterburn: Fit-again strikers give Arsenal a selection poser
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I WAS at the Emirates on Tuesday and it was one of those nights I wished I was playing again because those 22 players were the only people who weren’t absolutely freezing!
Arsene Wenger must have been very glad to get all his strikers back in action. Robin van Persie and Nicklas Bendtner were the two main forwards at the club last season, and yet neither of them has barely played so far this season because of injury.
That has left a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of Marouane Chamakh, and while the Moroccan has done well and scored his fair share of goals, it’s getting to the stage of the season where a manager needs all his options to choose from.
Clearly, Van Persie still needs a few more games to get back to full fitness. But the hope must be that he can get that in the next week and be ready for the trip to Old Trafford in 10 days’ time.
With Manchester United getting so badly beaten at West Ham, many people will feel that the Carling Cup is there for the taking now, but football is rarely that simple.
All the sides left in will think they have a chance, and it almost feels like anybody can beat anybody at the moment. But I am delighted they have taken the competition seriously.
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While Arsene will be glad to see his strikers on the mend, I still feel the player he really needs to get back is Thomas Vermaelen. We saw again at Villa on Saturday just how fragile Arsenal are at the back, and Vermaelen has been a big miss, and looks like he is still going to be out for some time.
Despite that, if this side can work on their defensive concentration as a unit, then they are not far away from being a winning side.
The goalkeeper situation still worries me a bit� and while it looks like Lukasz Fabianski is the No1 now, I still feel he needs to have an error-free run of about 10 or 12 games before we can really say he deserves to stay in the side.
Last season neither of the keepers looked good enough for a top club and that is why Arsene tried to sign Mark Schwarzer from Fulham.
He will be back at the Emirates on Saturday – and will need to be back at his best because they are woeful away from home – but it looks like his chance of playing for Arsenal has gone. Arsene has said he is not going to sign anybody in January, and I think he is happy with the keepers he has got, if they maintain form over the next month. I actually think the lad Szczesny who played on Tuesday is going to be a top keeper and could be the No1 in a few years� time. But for now Fabianski has to play well and he will keep Almunia out of the side.