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Robinho 'certain' to be dropped

"On occasions we have played too openly," said Hughes. "We play a very expansive game at home and away from home we've tried to play in a similar way and paid the penalty for it. You need to be nice and solid when you play away and give yourself a platform."
>>Mark Hughes.

Widely speculated of course this week, but looking at what has come out the past couple of days it would be a huge surprise if Robinho lined up against Arsenal this Saturday. Expect the midfield to be a very compact one, with Ireland and Wright-Phillips the only real creative outlets with Caicedo as a physical presence in attack.

However, far from leaving him out due to form (the common perception), Hughes is very much focusing on the physical side, believing Robinho to be suffering (as all foreign players do when they first come into the Premier League) from the effects of a long and tiring season - in addition to the UEFA Cup and international demands.

"He's never knocked on the door and said, 'I'm tired', but there have been times when you look at him and there has maybe been a bit of flatness in his play," Hughes admitted. "It's understandable because it's his first season in one of the strongest and most physical leagues in the world. He's playing week in week out and he hasn't done that for a long time.

"He's come into a new league, a new team, a new club, and initially had a great impact but he's not used to playing every week. There's been a reaction to that and he has not been able to have the impact he had in the first half of the season. He has great qualities but we have to find a way of getting the best out of him because it's patently obvious we're not doing that right now."

It is a fair point that Hughes makes, and one that should at least be factored in when discussing his struggles (although interestingly, Hughes stated that his Opta and Prozone stats were up there with rest of the sides away from home).

If he indeed is left out on Saturday, it will be interesting to see Robinho's reaction (we all know how the press will report it anyway), and whether this will be to freshen him up for the important game at Hamburg, or if we put together a tight, compact performance, whether Hughes opts for more of the same in Germany next week.