Thursday 22 March 2018

Denilson to hold the fort as Song departs for African Cup of Nations

Jeremy Wilson

Arsène Wenger will ask Denilson to take on the vital holding midfield role at Arsenal over the next month while Alex Song is with Cameroon at the African Cup of Nations.

Song has played more matches this season than any other Arsenal player and, while much attention has focused on the recent absence of Robin van Persie, Cesc Fabregas and Nicklas Bendtner, Wenger is acutely aware of the void that Song may leave.

“Denilson is an all rounder and will come into that position,” said Wenger.

“He’s very strong in reading the game, in winning the ball back. He has similar qualities. He can do the job without a problem. He has 150 games in the Premier League. People don’t notice how important this player is for us. He can play in every position in midfield.”

Arsenal face Bolton tonight at the Emirates when they can move to within just one point of Chelsea at the top of the Premier League table. With Andrei Arshavin continuing as the main central striker, Eduardo is again likely to be used to the left of a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Eduardo scored the winner on Sunday in the FA Cup against West Ham and, according to Wenger, is again approaching his best form following such a long absence with his broken leg.

“He has done much more than I expected from him at the beginning of the season,” he said. “He was quite sharp when he came back, then he had a dip. Now he’s coming back to his level. If we keep him injury free, he’ll have a big part to play in our season.”

Arsenal do expect tonight’s game to go ahead despite the snow and freezing weather conditions, but will post further updates on their website following consultation with the police and transport authorities.

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