The Corporal is reporting for duty
As I said yesterday I'm not surprised that Bacary Sagna isn't in the squad this evening. His thigh was heavily bandaged during the game at Cardiff on Saturday and, with Everton, Man City and Chelsea to face in the next three weeks, it's important that he can get some kind of rest. Given that Lukas Podolski has been out since time began with a hamstring injury Arsenal really can't risk Sagna any further. Given that Everton have the likes of Deolefeu (don't know if I've spelt that correctly) and Nasri to dribble at our full-backs in the not too distant future I would be far more confident if Bac was on the pitch.
Sagna's absence gives an opportunity for Carl Jenkinson to further his own claims. I have to say that The Corporal's recent displays have not filled me with confidence. Last season he appeared more than ready to step up whenever he was needed. Of late he's looked a little out of sorts. Having Per Mertesacker alongside him will undoubtedly help as the BFG will be pulling and pushing him in to position whenever he needs to. Jenkinson is very capable when going forward and has regularly shown decent crossing ability when he gets in to those forward areas. Any injury to Sagna this season represents a massive chance for Jenkinson to push himself towards an England spot for Brazil 2014. The fact is that Glenn Johnson appears injury prone, while Kyle Walker spends more time out of position than any full-back I've ever seen. I can't believe that either Jenkinson or Nathaniel Clyne aren't capable to forcing their way in ahead of Walker before next summer.
Hull City come to our place tonight a little more humble than when last they visited under Phil Brown. I'm sure Fabregas will be sitting at home in Barcelona wearing his puffa jacket and jeans just to annoy Brown. Having been relegated they have done exceptionally well to come back to the Premier League so quickly. Steve Bruce is equally as execrable as Brown at times, but at least he has had moderate success as a Manager on more than one occasion. Their win over Liverpool was fantastic at the weekend but hopefully it's taken plenty of wind from their sails ahead of tonight.
Among the players at Hull are a couple of ex-Spurs men. Tom Huddlestone will fill a huge hole in midfield and Ozil will have to be careful that he doesn't get eaten by him. I hope Arsenal aren't having to provide the post-match buffet for Hull's players as feeding Huddlestone could actually bankrupt some clubs. In all seriousness Huddlestone can pass the ball very well on his day. Arsenal mustn't stand off him when he gets the ball as pressure put on him would see him all at sea in the centre of the park.
For Arsenal there is more and more talk of rotation. There is a possibility that Kieran Gibbs will again be rested but with Sagna out I think that's one change too many in "rotation" terms in the back four. In midfield there are options of course. Flamini could come in, though I'd rather save his energy for getting around the pitch against Everton on Sunday. Gnabry, Rosicky and Walcott are all pushing for a start in other areas of the midfield, and Theo may well be used up front instead of Olivier Giroud. The big Frenchman has started to look a little weary late on in some games of late which is hardly surprising given the work he has been getting through. What worries me is that, without Giroud, we lose the fulcrum to our attack. There is no doubt that the goals scored from midfield this season owe a lot to his domination of centre-backs. Theo is not that player, and Nicklas Bendtner simply isn't a genuine option. For me Giroud has to play. I would rather we went out at our strongest, as we used to, got the game wrapped up and then rested players. It is far better to win a game early than to find youselves desperately chasing a goal late on. The team selection will be the most interesting part of the build up to this one.