By Richard Popple
The last time I wrote an article was before the international break when we put in the most abject performance and got beaten by Fulham. This early season defeat seems to have acted as a wake-up call to the squad who have since won three games and scored 11 goals. A pretty impressive response from this young team. With the merry-go-round transfer window firmly behind us, it’s a relief that we can all get on and enjoy the football without worrying about who’s coming and going. All the negative vibes surrounding Wenger’s lack of transfers this summer seem to have been temporarily washed away in light of the recent victories but two more away games the next five days represent a stiff challenge.
Tonights’s game in Kiev in my mind is not as important as the trip to Bolton on Saturday. Of course it would be wonderful to keep the winning streak going and I am confident that we will, but I would be happy with a draw. Anything less than a win on Saturday however would leave us trailing Liverpool and Chelsea by a possible four points and we don’t want to slip behind early on. The game in Kiev tonight I believe is an excellent opportunity to let some of the younger fringe players get involved. According to reports Nasri, Eboue and Clichy are all struggling to make the trip. I hope we will get to see Slivestre for the first time. He will provide excellent experience and champions league knowledge. I think Eboue should be replaced by Vela with Walcott moving back over to the right. I think Bendtner will start up-front giving one of Adebayor or Van Persie a breather before Saturday. It would also be good to see Ramsey given an opportunity to play with Fabregas in the centre of midfield. Jack Wilshere made Arsenal history on Saturday at Blackburn and I hope he will get a chance to impress on the European stage.
In terms of qualifying out of the group I don’t think Arsenal will have too many problems. It is a tough group but at the Emirates I fully expect three wins and we will do enough on our travels to progress. The league fixtures though should remain the priority. If Arsenal can stay in touch with leaders until Christmas then we will challenge again. Like last year we have been lucky with our early season fixture list and it gives us an opportunity to put a lot of early points on the board. Towards the end of the season we have some very tough games, so it is vital that we continue the good start we have made to the season.