Match Preview: Stoke vs Arsenal

Maybe a bit of concentration will help a little.

Okay, maybe I've got to let Wednesday night's result go and be positive, but it's a strange one when it comes to suddenly being all positive and cheering the team on when they've performed like they have against the teams such as Hull, Fulham, Sunderland and of course Sp*rs. Arsene's called for more support and says we need to believe in this team. He says the team was close last season with 83 points, but we've lost Gilberto and Flamini from our side. Players that would have kept the score at 4-2 with a minute or two to go.

Anyway, it's time to re-focus on the next game, and whilst Stoke at the Brittania will be a hard game, it is a game we should definitely win.

Stoke City v Arsenal
Barclays Premier League, Britannia Stadium
Saturday, November 01, 2008, 15:00

We travel to Stoke without William Gallas and Emmanuel Eboue who have both picked up injuries. In one way, did Arsene think, “the defence isn’t working, so let’s try Silvestre and Gallas” and that backfired and now it’s the turn of Toure and Djourou? It’s plausible! It was strange to see Silvestre in ahead of Toure considering reports hag suggested he was awesome in training and the fittest central defender in the squad.

Anyway, back to tomorrow’s game and let’s take a look at the manager’s preview.

“It looks like Gallas will be out and maybe Eboue too. We’ll assess him tomorrow.

“It is a little recurrence of the hamstring for William and for Manu it is his knee. He is not running properly at the moment. He still has pain there.”

So, the line up could well be:

Almunia
Goalkeeper
 
Sagna
Right Back
Toure
Centre Back
Djourou
Centre Back
Clichy
Left Back
 
Walcott
Right Wing
Song
Midfielder
Cesc
Midfielder
Diaby
Left Wing
 
  Adebayor
Striker
 Van Persie
Support Striker

With Fabianski, Silvestre, Ramsey, Denilson, Nasri, Vela, Bendtner on the bench.

I think we’d line up a 4-4-2 which can turn itself into a 4-5-1 with Van Persie slotting in on the left and the Diaby playing more central. Nasri may be on the bench as Arsene opts for his away game strategy.

Whatever the formation, a win is paramount.]]>

Arsenal 4 – 4 Sp*rs: Self destruction at the Emirates, as calls for Toure increase…

What a pathetic result and what a bad defensive performance. It was almost comical. Silvestre was woeful and today Almunia seemed to be wearing the opposition colours. Some awful goalkeeping and some even worse defending where Silvestre was shocking saw us go from 4-2 up with 1 minute of normal time to go to 4-4 at full time.

Arsenal 4 – 4 Tottenham Hotspur

Goals: Bentley 13, Silvestre 37, Gallas 46, Adebayor 64, Bent D 67, Van Persie 68, Jenas 89, Lennon 94

It was a crazy game where it was “who could score more?” and the answer was both of us.

We started a little cagey, trying to contain the away side, only to go 1-0 to an awesome goal by Bentley. An outgrageous strike from 40 yards, with Almunia slightly off his line and couldn’t keep it out. We plied away at the Sp*rs defence and our pressure was outstanding. It seemed like only a matter of time until we scored the equaliser, and it came from a corner with 8 minutes to go before the break when a corner from Van Persie saw Silvestre nip in before the Sp*rs defence to head the ball into the back of the net. It remained 1-1 at half time and we came out in the second half determined to win the game.

A foul on Van Persie saw a free kick on the right and Gallas did well to tower above Woodgate to head it past the keeper, 2-1 to the Arsenal. We defended well after the goal and an excellent break saw Adebayor score from close range. Bent got one back soon after when some poor defending and even worse defending saw Almunia parry into Bent path. 3-2.

But literally a minute later, a bad bad pass from Hutton saw Adebayor capitlise on it and square to Van Persie who smashed it into the back of the net, 4-2 to the Arsenal. We did well to contain Sp*rs and Arsene took Van Persie and Nasri off and put Song and Diaby on. A defensive tactical switch that should have seen us play out the game and it remained 4-2 until the 89th minute. A slip from Clichy saw Jenas score a curling ball round Almunia, once again badly positioned. 4-3. And Sp*rs sensed an equaliser. We had chances to go to the corner flag, but we insisted on attacking and it was to prove to our deficit as Modric found himself out of the D and took a shot. It deflected, hit the post, Almunia couldn’t reach it and it cannoned off the bar. Lennon was first to it and suddenly it was 4-4.

You can’t take anything away from Sp*rs, but you can point the finger at our defending and goalkeeping today. In any sense of the phrase, this was two points thrown away.

Match Facts

Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Silvestre, Gallas, Clichy, Walcott (Eboue 75), Fabregas, Denilson, Nasri (Song Billong 88), Van Persie (Diaby 81), Adebayor.
Subs Not Used: Fabianski, Toure, Vela, Bendtner.

Booked: Diaby.

Tottenham: Gomes, Hutton (Gunter 79), Corluka, Woodgate, Assou-Ekotto, Bentley, Modric, Jenas, Huddlestone, Bale (Lennon 55), Pavlyuchenko (Bent 65).
Subs Not Used: Cesar, Zokora, Campbell, O’Hara.

Booked: Assou-Ekotto, Bentley, Huddlestone, Jenas.

Referee: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire)]]>

Arsenal vs Tottenham Team Line Up

Almunia

Sagna – Gallas – Silvestre – Clichy

Walcott – Cesc – Denilson – Nasri

Adebayor – Van Persie

Sp*rs:

Gomes

Hutton – Corluka – Woodgate – Assou Ekotto

Bentley – Huddlestone – Modric – Jenas- bale

Pavlyuchenko

 

]]>

Match Preview: Arsenal vs Sp*rs

The first big match of the season, Porto aside. We've not played the likes of Chelsea, United or Liverpool yet, so Sp*rs are the next one that we all love to play.

Arsenal v Sp*rs
Barclays Premier League, Emirates Stadium
Wednesday, October 29, 2008, 20:00

News over the weekend was that Harry Redknapp has taken over as manager. My good old mate JAT questioned the timely fashion. Knowing that we could have really muled the Ramos side 6-0 or 7-0, the appointment of Redknapp in time for this game was quite preventative to such a score-line, but nevertheless we WILL win this one, oh yes.

With the 5-1 of last year still fresh in our minds, it’s time to take revenge on a side who lie bottom of the table. If we could conceivably put a nail in the coffin of what is Sp*rs premiership existence, I would be a happy man.

Arsene has talked about the appointment of Redknapp and had this to say:

“I believe what is important tomorrow is how well Arsenal will play and not who sits on the bench at Tottenham. We have put a run together and that has strengthened our belief. We want now to go from strength to strength – we have come back to an interesting position in the league and we are highly convinced that it will be down to our strengths tomorrow more than anything else.”

I simply can’t wait for tonight’s game. And Arsene does agree… it’s a bit special.

“I believe if there is one game that is a bit special, it is Tottenham versus Arsenal so I don’t think that will change a lot. Certainly in the longer term future it will change things for Tottenham, the fact that Harry has taken over, but I believe in tomorrow’s specific game it is more about how well we will play and I believe that is more important than anything else. I am very confident because we have a very strong united spirit in the dressing room and we want to do well. We have shown that in recent games, we won at Fenerbahce, we won at West Ham, we have beaten Everton in a convincing way and we want to keep that going.”

We have to get the three points tonight, it’s a must win. We’re currently four points behind Liverpool and it’s essential that we claw some points back. Albeit, a home game is a always a must win. Robin Van Persie can’t wait for the game either and he’s been in the press too.

“I don’t know and I honestly don’t care. The game against Tottenham is one on its own and it’s a big one, irrespective of where they are in the table.”

That’s what I like to hear…

So on to team news. We’ve got Denilson back in the squad and Toure should be fit to start. With Silvestre, Diaby and Bendtner all returning, it’s going to be more difficult to predict the team and more difficult to contain all the players. I’d expect Toure to return along side Gallas and I also expect Song to maintain his place, with Denilson just recovered from an inf lammed back. With Silvestre starting both games, I’d expect him to be on the bench ahead of Djourou, although I really do think Djourou should be ahead of Silvestre in the pecking order. With Sagna back in the squad for the West Ham game, I’d expect him to take his place is the first XI with Eboue on the bench.

Okay, so this is what the line up could be tonight:

Almunia
Goalkeeper
 
Sagna
Right Back
Toure
Centre Back
Gallas
Centre Back
Clichy
Left Back
 
Walcott
Right Wing
Song
Midfielder
Cesc
Midfielder
Nasri
Left Wing
 
  Adebayor
Striker
 Van Persie
Support Striker

With Fabianski, Silvestre, Denilson, Diaby, Eboue, Vela, Bendtner on the bench.

Okay, brace yourselves… it’s going to be some game tonight.]]>

A Rant About Gallas and A Salute To Tony Adams…

Okay, where was I? Today I'd like to congratulate Mr Arsenal himself, Tony Adams, who was appointed permanent manager of Portsmouth. Tony's been like an apprentice working his way up the leagues starting with Wycombe Wanderers before becoming Dirty 'Arry's right hand man at Pompey. Of course, as 'Arry has deflected to the dark side, I will now have to start hating the [insert swear word here]. Whilst Tony Adams continues his apprenticeship at a Premier League club. And one of the main reasons I'm so chuffed is that I went to Uni with Tony a few years back when he did his sports science degree and it's a pretty amazing path he's taken

Arsene spoke about Tony's appointment and said:

“It makes me very happy. I believe it is a good opportunity for him and we wish him of course well. He is at the age now where you have to start in this job. For the rest I believe he has a good squad and he has worked a lot now in this job and I think he is ready. Tony has now much more experience because he has been abroad and has been at Portsmouth as an assistant. I believe he has the qualities and that is why I am very positive about it. I believe in life when you go wrong you can always, with intelligence and character, turn things right and that is what he did. He came out and said he had a drinking problem when he was a player and he showed enough strength and character to change that. I believed in him because everybody deserves a chance when he really wants to change his life. That basically didn’t come from me, it came from him.”

When you look back at Tony’s career with us, what he acheived when the sticks were down, you have to say that it’s commendable where he is today.

Anyway, congratulations Tony!

From one previous captain to our current captain, WIlliam De La Gallas. If you look at both of these players, then it’s clear to see that they’re at different ends of the passion and desire spectrum, actually different ends of many spectrums.

Hear me out on this one (I know many of you are Gallas fans!)

I’ve been thinking about our problems and in reality, I honestly feel that Gallas is a major part of our problems. His attitude is not what’s required from a player in such an influential position on the pitch. His mistakes are testimony to how vital it is to get it right when it counts. Gallas has always excelled when next to a bigger, stronger, more ball attacking defender. When Gallas played along side Terry in the Chelsea defence or even Djourou or Senderos, you could see that his best skill was probably his pace rather than he jumping ability. Playing along side Toure has proved difficult for both players as they’re similar. I personally think Toure is a better defender and when he played along side Sol Campbell and Philippe Senderos, he really excelled. Toure will always dive in front of the ball no matter what, he’ll away put Arsenal first, similar to Tony Adams.

Many believe that our best centre back pairing is Toure and Djourou and I would have to agree based alone on the attitude of the player. Gallas doesn’t play with the same level of intensity as he’s previously done and that’s because he’s guranteed his place in the team. Even if he wasn’t captain, he has always been guarenteed a place in our team, so mentally he is too relaxed. When he was at Chelsea he had to play well every game to stay or get into the team.

So where does it leave us? Well, it’s a tough one. Arsenal without Gallas, in my opinion, is a better Arsenal. But we’re in a tricky situation. If we drop him, he may threaten to score an own goal. If we drop him, as captain, we will have a problem. How can you drop your captain? So what do we do? Put up with it? Keep accepting the mistakes? “Rotate” him more often?

What do you think? I, for one, just don’t know…

Arsenal vs Sp*rs preview tomorrow…]]>

West Ham 0 – 2 Arsenal: Ade comes off the bench to win the game…

West Ham United 0 – 2 Arsenal
Faubert OG (75), Adebayor (90)

An interesting game at Upton Park yesterday saw us claim the win and of course the three points that we needed to keep in touch with the top of the table. It’s one part of the double whammy of London derbies, with Sp*rs coming up on Wednesday (with ‘Arry Redknapp an’ all).

It was a strange game yesterday with West Ham giving it ago and our new line up struggling to find the net; Robert Green was inspired and the woodwork was shaking.

Arsene opted to rest Adebayor. After a few calls for him to be dropped after some lacklustre performances, it was a good time to give Bendtner an opportunity. Denilson wasn’t in the squad at all and was believed to be fit but potentially looking jaded after a sucession of games in central midfield. Song started along side Cesc in the middle and Silvestre started ahead of a fit again Kolo Toure. The line up looked like this:

Almunia
Eboue – Gallas – Silvestre – Clichy
Walcott – Song – Cesc – Nasri
Bendtner – Van Persie

With a break from last Tuesday until this Sunday, we started a little slowly, “strolling” the ball around without any real pace or penetration. But it was only a matter of time until young Theo exploded down the right hand side of midfield. He’s been a bundle of energy recently and after he had a few little runs in the first 15 minutes, but had a real chance around about the 20th. He young England International went mazilypast 3 players, jinking and close control and had a shot on goal, with the cross bar saving West Ham.

A great little run, albeit Bendtner free at the far post if Theo squared – but you can’t take that away from Theo, the run itself was worthy of the shot. It could have been costly as missed chances in recent games have been very very costly – cite Sunderland… and we missed another when Cesc laid on Van Persie who set up Theo only for Robert Green to pull out an excellent save.

Robert Green, as the game went on, became increasingly important for West Ham and increasingly frustrating for us. Having said that, Almunia did keep us in it on a number of occasions, with an especially brilliant save from Bellamy as he raced clear.

The game continued into the second half in a similar vein, and with the quality on show and the end to end action, it was hard to believe it was still 0-0. With 25 minutes to go, Arsene opted to make a change and Ade and Diaby came on for our two wingers, Nasri and Walcott. I was a little surprised at the substitution, as I really though Walcott was having an awesome game.

It wasn’t long after than Ade’s presence became more obvious as the Togo international had a golden chance from a corner. But then with 15 minutes to go, some smart play saw Ade on the run, a tame shot, but in the right direction, which Faubert deflected into his own net. Once we had the goal, we were able to defend well and also break when needed. The second came on the stroke of 90 minutes, when Bendtner sent Ade through from his own half to round the keeper and score into an empty net, despite the on rushing defenders.

A deserved win, but a hard win. With a few players rested and Walcott and Nasri given a second half break, we should be able to have a real go at Sp*rs!

Before I’ve had a chance to post this, we’ve had a few comments on the preview post. Debs has pointed out an observation regarding the front players:

Just watching the highlights again and I’m actually impressed with the combination play between Ade and Bendtner, considering all the earlier skirmishes from last season! I think Ade Bentner is a better combination than Bendtner Van Persie… Let’s see how the rest of the season pans out!

And I’m quite agreeable, when Ade and Bendtner play there is a different sort of game played to VP and Bendtner, but in reality it’s good to have many positive options rather than just one.

Paresh also rated the players and gave his comments. Take a look here.

Let’s take a listen to what Arsene had to say:

“It is a big win for us because if we had come out of it with a frustrating 0-0 draw, we would have felt that we had wasted an opportunity to get closer to the top. For us it was important not to make a mistake and to take one of our own chances. We gambled a lot and fortunately we had some strikers on the bench and in the end that made the difference. We knew before the game that we couldn’t afford to drop points today but I must say that West Ham can feel frustrated because they defended very well and gave absolutely everything today. In the end we got a little opening, maybe they got a little bit fatigued in the last 20 minutes.”

I have to say, I was beginning to think it would be one of those days, especially as West Ham had a few chances and if it hadn’t been for Almunia, we may be been trying to claw a goal back!

On Adebayor, Arsene was very happy:

“What is fantastic is that he is a regular starter in my team and he fights very hard. Today he came on with 25 minutes to go and fought for every ball. That is more than any speech I can make. We have a great spirit in the side and we have great quality. We are of course very determined to come back to the top. If you look at the results against Fulham and Hull and you see where we are it is quite positive.”

So all in all, a decent weekend of results, where Liverpool became the first team to beat Chelski in a million years and saw United get held at Goodison. A bit more reaction to the game tomorrow and possibly a early Sp*rs preview.

Until then…]]>

Match Preview: West Ham vs Arsenal

This weekend was the wedding of one of my cousin's and the first out of our generation on my mum's side. I have to say, it was an amazing experience to see the people you love do something as big as get married and the time spent with family was absolutely amazing, considering how rare it becomes now adays.

Big news this weekend for Sp*rs sees their manager sacked and Harry Redknapp (someone I previously liked) taking over as their new manager. Another highlight out of the chapter of "how to mess up a football club and waste money" by Mr. D. Levy. It's amazing how they treat their managers, it's amazing how the want of sucess means they waste money, time, energy and managers to acheive something which ultimately they never achieve. Calm and consistency will give you the base to work with.

Thank God, things are different down at the 'Grove.

Onto today's game, it's the first of a double whammy of London derbies. Today we take a West Ham team desperate for the three points, but with our bad start to the season, we're also in desperate need of the three points.

Today we've got Toure and Gallas back in the squad and after the crazy performance of Fenerbahce, it would be a welcomed return to the central of defence. Arsene has been speaking about our defensive performance in Turkey...

“I do not deny we did not look very sound defensively in our last game.

“Ideally you want to be fantastic going forwards and fantastic defending. But sometimes you have a price to pay. When you incite your team to go forwards, like we did against Fenerbahce, then you will also be a bit vulnerable defensively as well. If you encourage your team to never get out of their position, it is easier to be sound defensively.”

So let’s take a look at the squad and first XI today:

Almunia
Goalkeeper
 
Eboue
Right Back
Toure
Centre Back
Gallas
Centre Back
Clichy
Left Back
 
Walcott
Right Wing
Denilson
Midfielder
Cesc
Midfielder
Nasri
Left Wing
 
  Adebayor
Striker
 Van Persie
Support Striker

With Fabianski, Song, Silvestre, Diaby, Vela, Ramsey, Bendtner on the bench.

Our squad is at one of it’s strongest with the return of Diaby and our central defenders, and looking at the bench, you can see that we have quality in all areas…

Arsene’s hoping we can kick on after the Hull defeat and we’ve shown glimpses of ability recently – Arsene said:

“It is always a good atmosphere when you play against West Ham. The supporters always get behind their team when you go there. It is always committed and interesting. But we have created a momentum after the Hull game. We beat Porto and Fenerbahce in a convincing way, had a draw with Sunderland then beat Everton. We just want to keep that going now.”

Come on you Gooners!!]]>

Arsene calls for more noise, AGM update…

Yesterday was the AGM where we had the fortune of having some of our very own World of Arsenal representatives attending. One of the major talking points has been Arsene's call for more support and noise from the crowd. Since I can remember, we've always been lambasted for our quietness on match days. Jibes from "The Highbury Library" to "Your Support is F**king S**t" are common place nowadays.

Arsene believes we need to raise up the game and sing and shout as loud as we can. Support the team. I'm a big fan of crowd support. I'm one of the noisiest in my block much to the discern of many around me.

Arsene said:

“I believe this team needs a strong guide to go through difficult periods, because at the moment I do not feel that, either from the media or our supporters, this team gets the support that it deserves.”

There have been a few different versions of what Arsene said, another version states he said we’ve been in recession mood, but in all honesty, we are much quieter than the average fan…

“You are all very quiet, a little bit like the game on Saturday. It is a recession mood, but it will not last, do not worry. Instead of showing resentment, we have to believe in our team, more than ever because this team will deliver.

But the younger you are, the more you need support and the belief in the quality of these young players. I ask you as well to be proud of them and to show your support. At the moment I do not feel that either from the media or our supporters that this team gets the support that it deserves.”

Is he wrong? Or does he have a point?]]>

Eduardo is a month away, Ade wants a trophy and Cesc still staying…

This weekend is the start of a double whammy of London derbies. We have of course lost the only London derby we've had so far (against Fulham) and we're usually the table toppers of the mini London only results league.

On Sunday, we travel to Upton Park to take on a West Ham side now under the guidance of Zola - and then on Wednesday we host Sp*rs at the Emirates, which should be nothing but an enthralling encounter.

We've had some good news on the injury front, with confirmation that Eduardo will be back at the end of November - roughly a month away. We all saw that Diaby's return is a welcomed one, it adds strength, guile and height to our midfield.

With Eduardo we have skill, desire and quality finishing. Whether or not the Croatian will be back to his best or not is debatable, but I think he's one of those players who couldn't accept a substandard level of performance.

Arsene said in the AGM this morning:

“Eduardo is three weeks away from playing competitive football.”

Short and sweet, but a welcomed bonus when it happens.

Ade’s been in the press too, again… and has reiterated the desire to win some silverware. It’s funny how Ade keeps on saying “I need to win something” rather than “we” and it’s also quite funny how Ade is the main disappointment this season. Offside 15 times against Hull and rarely threatening. Anyway, he’s a good thing that he’s got the belief.

“I need to win something with the club. We have been playing great football and we all know it’s the time to win something. Playing good football is good, but winning something is even better. Now all of our hope is to win something. We know it’s going to be tough but I believe in the squad that we can still do something.”

In response to this statement, I’d simply say to Ade. If you want it, then show it.

Young Theo’s been talking about the win against Fenerbahce and he’s quite happy with the performance.

“All the teams in Europe will look and see the 5-2 win by Arsenal, away and with a young team, and I think they will be scared to play us. That’s the impression we want to give out to all the other teams. We do that and we have always got them on the back foot and hopefully we can just keep performing like that. It was absolutely brilliant. The main thing was getting the three points and everyone got their jobs right today. We scored five goals and it was nice to see us taking our chances.

I’m not sure if we actually do want teams in Europe to “be scared”, as surely they’ll end up playing 10 behind the ball and hitting us on the counter – cite Hull, Sunderland… most teams who travel to the Emirates!

Finally, Cesc has reiterated that he’s staying with us for the forseable future. It’s a bit annoying to talk about Cesc’s future every single international break, but apparently Milan were in for him in the summer. From past sales, it’s clear that the big clubs still think they can prise anyone they want from us.

Cesc spoke to Sport.Es (which means this may not be true:

“Yes, it’s true. I did have offers from an Italian side which were interesting from an economical point of view. However, nothing really happened after that.”

And it’s a bit strange how Cesc can receive an offer without going through the club, but let’s not dwell on this right now.

The Arsenal AGM happened this morning, so more details will surely follow…

More later…]]>

Happy Birthday Arsene…

A massive “Happy Birthday” to our gaffer Arsene Wenger, 59 years young today! On behalf of myself and all the readers of the World of Arsenal, we wish you a great day!!!]]>