Arsene Wenger and Arsenal have always faced a tough match when they have come up against any team managed by Sam Allardyce, and today is not expected to be any different. One piece of good business that Big Sam did in the summer was to get the giant Andy Carroll on loan from Liverpool and both Wenger and his captain Thomas Vermaelen expect the England striker to cause problems in the air today.
Vermaelen said: “I played against Andy Carroll when he played for Liverpool,”
“He suits their way of playing at the moment. At West Ham they play some long balls and with Carroll up front, he’s a tall guy. He’s good with his head so he will be a big challenge.
“But we always want to play our own game as Arsenal. First we have to match them in the fight. If there’s a long ball, we want to fight for that ball and bring the ball down as quickly as possible and play our own game.”
Wenger himself thinks that Carroll has now returned to his best now that he is faced with less pressure at West Ham, after losing confidence following his 35 million move to Liverpool.
“Carroll has the quality and that will come out with time. We expect Carroll to be at his best – it is down to us to deal with that. We can only focus on our own performance and be at our best,”
“He started very well, then he had to deal with a high level of expectation with a massive transfer on his shoulders going to an historic club where a lot was expected of him. Maybe it was a bit too early for him.
“Since I have seen him at West Ham, he looks back to the Carroll we have seen at Newcastle, that means with less pressure.”
I reckon that most Arsenal fans will be hoping that the Big F. German Per Mertesacker will have recovered enough from his virus to be able to charge off those high balls into the box, but his participation is not certain just yet.
Wenger said: “He is better. He came in on Thursday and had a little session. He’ll have a test. It is not certain that he will play.”
Wenger may also be worried about dropping Laurent Koscielny after he has taken some stick in the last couple of games. If Mertesacker is fit, Wenger will have a dilemma…..