Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

To the Valley of Sweat; after a Gruelling Trip to Newcastle on Wednesday Night, Aresnal Will Face Yet Another Endurance Test with a Visit to Charlton, Writes Steve Stammers

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

To the Valley of Sweat; after a Gruelling Trip to Newcastle on Wednesday Night, Aresnal Will Face Yet Another Endurance Test with a Visit to Charlton, Writes Steve Stammers

Article excerpt

Byline: STEVE STAMMERS

THE current fashion in the Premiership is to pack the midfield with five men behind a lone striker to stifle the opposition and produce a battle of attrition in a key area of the field.

Arsene Wenger, however, likes to think of himself as a trend-setter rather than a slavish follower of fashion.

"No," he said, "we won't play like that. Everywhere and against everybody, we play with two strikers. That means our midfielders have to battle hard.

But it also means that we can score goals."

That will be a massive consolation to Patrick Vieira and company at The Valley tomorrow when Arsenal take on an inform Charlton side who look a more solid, if less free-flowing, proposition when they pack the midfield than when they fielded a quartet. So Vieira may have to spill more sweat, but the likes of Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp should benefit enormously.

And sweat and endeavour will be the order of the day in the latest in the sequence of all-London affairs that Wenger feels are a distinct disadvantage to any team from the capital who have title aspirations. "I have said many times that in London it is difficult to be champions because you have the problem of so many derbies.

They are always big games. " Newcastle on Wednesday night, then, will have served as an ideal dress rehearsal for the kind of commitment Arsenal can expect in their first game of 2005. The energy expended at St James's Park was immense and Wenger admitted it could take its toll.

"My team gave a lot and when they came in the dressing room afterwards, they felt they had battled really hard," he said.

"So the first priority for me will be to decide who I rest and who I bring in, how will my players recover?

Charlton have also had one more day's rest than us and my concern for tomorrow is physical. …

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