EPL Preview: Predicting the Arsenal Starting XI vs. Wigan Athletic

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EPL Preview: Predicting the Arsenal Starting XI vs. Wigan Athletic
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Arsenal will aim for their eighth win of the 2011/2012 English Premier League campaign when they encounter Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium.

The Gunners have amassed seven games unbeaten, six of which victories, and will take full favouritism against a struggling Latics outfit who have scored the least amount of goals this season.

The North London giants suffered a 1-0 defeat mid-week in the Carling Cup quarterfinal against EPL leaders Manchester City, but were arguably the stronger side despite Arsene Wenger utilizing his reserves.

Furthermore, Arsenal were held to a one-all stalemate with Fulham last weekend but nevertheless still boast form and confidence.

Roberto Martinez's men, on the other hand, boast just two wins in 2011/2012 and despite securing a late-minute winner against Sunderland last weekend, the Latics do not look like a side capable of defeating a strong Arsenal outfit.

But so often is the case in the English Premier League, David prevails over Goliath and with such unpredictability occurring this season, anything could happen.

However, with Arsenal becoming more and more defensively secure and their attack, with the magnificent Robin van Persie—who now has 38 goals in 42 appearances for 2011—thriving particularly under pressure, an Arsenal win appears inevitable.

As always BleacherReport predicts the Arsenal Starting XI.

 

GoalkeeperPolish youngster Wojciech Szczesny will return to the starting XI after enjoying a mid-week break. This ensures deputy Lukasz Fabianski, who featured against Manchester City, is demoted back to the substitutes bench.

Italian youngtser Vito Mannone and veteran Manuel Almunia once again await for the arrival of the January transfer window to depart.

 

Defenders

Defensive leader Thomas Vermaelen is set to partner Per Mertesacker in the centre defence whilst Frenchman Laurent Koscielny will take on the right-back role. First-choice right-back Bacary Sagna continues to nurse his ankle injury whilst deputy Carl Jenkinson is not expected to return until late December.

Imposing Swiss Johan Djourou, who started against Manchester City, returns to the bench whilst Brazilian international Andre Santos will start as left-back. England international Kieran Gibbs is expected to return just before January after succumbing to a hernia.

Spanish teenager Igansi Miquel and veteran Sebastien Squillaci, who both impressed in the Carling Cup, are unlikely to feature.

 

Midfielders

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French youngster Francis Coquelin and Ghanain teenager Emmanuel Frimpong were outstanding against Manchester City mid-week, but will unfortunately be unlikely to feature against the Latics. However, Frimpong is likely to make the bench.

Nonetheless, the duo showed their capabilities and that they deserve extended playing time.

Wales captain Aaron Ramsey will return to the fray alongside the ever-reliable Alexandre Song, who will take on the defensive midfield duties. Spanish playmaker Mikel Arteta will also start as the playmaker beside Ramsey.

Imposing Frenchman Abou Diaby, who made his return to first-team football against Fulham after four months on the sidelines due to an ankle injury, is struggling with a hamstring injury and is unlikely to feature. There is also a slight concern with Ramsey, which could result in Czech playmaker Tomas Rosicky starting. Israeli captain

Yossi Benayoun, who captained Arsenal in the Carling Cup, is also set to make the bench.

England international Jack Wilshere is still absent until February following ankle surgery.

 

Forwards

English teenager Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was superb against City and with England international Theo Walcott currently with an injury concern, there is a chance the 18-year-old will start his first Premier League match against Wigan.

Nonetheless, captain Robin van Persie will lead the attack as the lone striker. Last time the Dutchman encountered Wigan, van Persie secured his first Arsenal hat tirck.

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Ivorian forward Gervinho is certain to start on the left wing with Russian dynamo Andrei Arshavin likely to impact from the bench. Imposing Moroccan Marouane Chamakh was disappointing once again against Manchester City and will battle with South Korean captain Chu Young-Park for a bench role.

Japanese teenager Ryo Miyaichi has an ankle injury.

 

Substitutes

With seven places on Wenger's bench, Lukasz Fabianski is likely to be the emergency keeper whilst Johan Djourou the emergency defender. Emmanuel Frimpong, Tomas Rosicky, Yossi Benayoun, Andrei Arshavin and Chu Young-Park are the favourites for the remaining places.

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