Patient Hoyte set to start against Birmingham?

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Arsenal will prepare for the encounter with Birmingham in the knowledge that centre-back Philippe Senderos will be available after recovering from the knee-ligament problem he picked up against Tottenham. The return of the big defender is a boost for the side with Kolo Toure and Alexandre Song away on international duty and Johan Djourou nursing a groin injury. Despite this Arsene Wenger has hinted that Senderos will not necessarily be starting the match and it may in fact be Justin Hoyte who starts alongside William Gallas in the centre of defence after a strong midweek performance.

“There is not much choice [in defence] but I think Justin Hoyte did well at centre back in the second half. He has not all the reflexes of a centre back yet but we will continue to work with him in this position. He has a good chance to play as well.”

Hoyte may start against Birmingham despite the return of SenderosI’ve never been a fan of Hoyte as a right-back but he looked quite a different prospect in the centre of defence against Tottenham and at 1.82m – the same height as Toure – is certainly tall enough to play in the position. It’s a very interesting opportunity for both Wenger and Hoyte and I personally hope the Englishman starts there. It could be the start of something big for a player who has been so patient and determined waiting in the wings. Good luck to him.

Other important team news is that Theo Walcott has pulled up fit from his ankle problem and is available while Robin van Persie and Johan Djourou are not. The former is suffering from the flu and as I mentioned earlier, the latter is out with a groin problem. I’m sure Djourou will be disappointed to miss out on the opportunity to play against the club that he was on loan tp for the first half of the season but that’s the way things go sometimes. Just ask van Persie.

The ins and outs shouldn’t prevent Wenger from putting out a strong team and I’d predict the following starting lineup in a 4-4-2: Manuel Almunia in goals; a back four of Bacary Sagna, Hoyte or Senderos, Gallas and Gael Clichy; a middle four of Alexander Hleb, Mathieu Flamini, Cesc Fabregas and Tomas Rosicky; and a front pairing of Emmanuel Adebayor and the finishing machine Eduardo da Silva. What’s more, after being allowed a little bit of a mental break by Wenger of late they should be fired and raring to go, something captain Gallas agrees is necessary for Arsenal to challenge for the title.

“I think that we will be really fresh, having missed the last couple of games. We still have a long way to go this season and I am sure everybody will be ready for it, because we have to be.”

The rest has come at the right time for the club and I’m sure it will do the side a world of good. Before the Christmas period players like Fabregas and Hleb were struggling a litle bit for form after returning from injuries. But their absences, as well as those of a number of other first-choice players, in the games against Burnley and Tottenham will have given them the time they need to mentally and physically prepare for the second half of the season.

Lehmann has turned DortmundLehmann stays, Diarra to leave?

Normally the bench is not a big talking point going into any sort of game but it is this week for a couple of reasons. The first is that Jens Lehmann will be there after turning down his move to Borussia Dortmund. The big German, who was looking to leave Arsenal to get the first-team football required for him to play for Germany at Euro 2008 confirmed that the move had broken down due to personal reasons.

“Although it would have been a very attractive challenge to play for Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga once again, I have decided against taking this step due to personal reasons.”

I have to say that even after all of the trouble he caused with his inability to keep his mouth shut in the early part of the season I feel quite sorry for Lehmann. He mentioned a little while ago that the personal issues he had to consider were directly involved with his family, who were now used to life in London and did not necessarily want to leave. I wonder whether Wenger would consider loaning him to a fellow London club like Fulham or even first-division Charlton in a bid to allow Lehmann to stay in London but get the playing time he desires.

The second bench issue is that of Lassana Diarra. After the news broke that Diarra had made himself unavailable for the game against Tottenham it will be very interesting to see whether Wenger puts him on the bench against Birmingham. I have to say that the ‘Will he? Won’t he?’ saga surrounding a potential move away from Arsenal is getting a little annoying, so much so that’s it got to the point where I’m not really bothered whether he stays at the club or moves on.

Either way, I’d encourage you to check out yesterday’s Arsecast over on Arseblog and listen right to the end. There’s a little message from Diarra (well, a part of him) and it’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard. Seriously. Full credit to Arseblogger for coming up with it because I laughed myself silly.

On that note I’m going to head off a friend’s birthday party and then (hopefully) to a pub to catch the game. It’s on at 1am over in Australia so hopefully I’m not too drunk by then and can report back to you guys tomorrow with a clear memory. It’s not likely, but I’ll give it a shot anyway. For the record I really feel the boys are going to give Birmingham a bit of a belting tonight and I’m predicting a 3-0 win.

What do you think?

Have your say on Arsenal v Birmingham by leaving a comment.


12 thoughts on “Patient Hoyte set to start against Birmingham?

  1. Arsenal 4 – Birmingham 0

  2. where are you in aus to watch it, it should start at 2am eastern summer time (NSW, VIC and TAS), 1;30am Central summer time (SA), 1am eastern standard time (QLD) or way over in the west at 12am (WA).
    Just want to say i love the podcast gives me a great laugh every week and the recent additions have been great, though my fav is arsene wenger-hawkins. Lets hope fat sam takes up his offer :-).

  3. As I said before Diarra is a fool. Maybe his advisers are I don’t know. Its either him or someone is telling him he is actually better than Fabregas and he believes it. he asked for a transfer after spending 5 minutes at Arsenal. Newcastle offered him a substantial amount of money more than what he is getting now and he turned it down. It just shows the guy’s priority is not football. For some reason he thinks he is a hot shot worth 100k a week what an idiot. Yes He is a good player but nothing special. So he can bugger off to some mediocre team like Spurs or Sunderland. I’m not concerned. Gilberto deserves a lot of respect, he hasn’t said one bad word about the manager or the club and never refused to play in the minor competitions the guy is a real pro. As for Hoyte I really hope he can grab his chance he is a good guy never moaned about not playing enough. Larsson the ex Arsenal Player he’ll be facing us this afternoon believes Arsenal will win the title this season as he has an insight of the talent available at Arsenal, he also admitted he wasn’t good enough to play for Arsenal. Good luck to the lad but not this afternoon. For some reason I’m expecting Birmingham to make it difficult for us but we will get the 3 points.I still rate Anelka very highly and I’m glad he didn’t go to M.utd.

  4. I think Larsson is good good enough to play for the Gunners and was very sad when he left. I was looking at the Arsenal Reserves and they won 5-1. All 5 goals scored by English men so that shows Wenger does hav english players coming up through the sqaud. Lansbury (CM) hit a hat-trick and Keiran Gibbs and Mark Randall hit 1 each although Randall was amazing and should have hit 4 goals. Gibbs was creative all match and never stopped running. Our Reserves are fantastic and i love seeing their results and the players they use.

  5. Horrible game for all the palyers, Fabragas looks like he’s lost the form he played with earlier this season. Everyone else, and alot of the time Theo were doing way do much dribbling. Again against a lower side they go out there and play like its gonna happen instead of making it happen. Still a good result tho, we didnt lose when in reality, that was a harsh decision to give the pen. To me that shows things are still going our way.

  6. Cunts didn’t show it on fox eh? I dl’d it this morning. Despite the results we didn’t play THAT badly.

    Senderos is still clumsy and awkward, however this time he looked a bit better at the back, hleb was the best on the pitch for us.

    The tactics at the end of the game were pretty frustrating, going down the middle constantly is retarded, and very easy to defend against.

  7. I was very disappointed with this result and that is not because we are not top its no crisis we are still level on points with the Mancs I’m disappointed because we dropped point against a lower side at home and that has a bad effect it gives hope to those lower teams they will start to think they stand a chance against Arsenal so they all start to fight hard when they play us but when they look at the way M.utd thrashed Newcastle they think we have no chance so they just lay down and die when they play the Mancs. It all psychology when the opponents fears us they are half beaten all you have to do is finishing them off on the pitch. We need to hammer a team very soon to restore fear in their heart. I thought we played well. Just signs of last season creeping up again created lots of chances with no end product. Our finishing let us down again. They closed us down there was no space through the middle I was expecting some clever long balls like we did against Everton but it didn’t happen. The wingers had no effect .Clichy was Brilliant .Theo Walcott is not a winger and he needs to start playing as striker .We need natural wingers to give us that option. I believe there is only one player in our squad who can give us something out of nothing and that is RVP unfortunately he is always injured or not fit enough. Frustrating but as I said no crisis we will bounce back.
    Sf- Are you a member of the Arsenalaustralia official supporters club?

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