WBA vs Arsenal Match Preview

Today sees us take on the bottom of the table side, West Bromich Albion in a mouth watering tie at the Hawthorns. It's a tie that we simply have to win. No side in the history of the premier league has ever had five 0-0's in a row, and I really hope we're not the team to make the wrong sort of history!

Team news sees Gallas injured for today's clash, which Johan Djourou an able deputy. Diaby is back and fit and should start even though his game against Fulham wasn't his best. A player like Diaby does need a run of games in order to get proper match fitness. With Arshavin lasting longer than the first game, I won't expect him to be in the starting line up tonight - he did seem heavy legged by the end of the game, but I do expect him on the bench...

This is the line up I envisage Arsene choosing:

Almunia

Sagna – Toure – Djourou – Clichy

Eboue – Diaby – Denilson – Nasri

Van Persie – Bendtner

With a bench of Fabianski, Gibbs, Song, Ramsey, Merida, Vela and Arshavin.

Arsene has been talking about Arshavin and the impact he will make, he predicts another 2 weeks before he gets going:

“I believe that physically it will take him 10 more days. He says he felt much better than in the first game.  You could see that he is not completely there but I am convinced he will have a tremendous influence on the game. While Arshavin acclimatises to the pace of the Premier League, the rest of the Arsenal squad is adapting to the Russian’s style of play. The quick-thinking Russian makes his national side tick and Wenger accepts that it will take time before Arshavin and his new team-mates are on the same wavelength. We work on that to adjust our combinational level together. That is as well down to intelligence. Arshavin has a quick brain and he is many steps ahead of the game and even on Saturday he gave two great chances to Robin; one header and one that Robin tried to finish with his right foot – two great passes.  He had two great chances himself too. When you can have that kind of impact on a game it is very positive.”

Just to touch on our “goal drought”, I’ve been saying recently that if we can beat someone convincing, aka WBA, with a scoreline of something like 3-0, we will gain confidence in front of goal again, and then the goals will come. Arsene has compared the Fulham game to the Carling Cup final saying our game had more chances… I’m not too sure, but I can kind of see his point.

“Sometimes they think ‘why don’t we score?’ because in some games we have three or four clear-cut chances. That is why they have the same questions we have. What you do not want to lose is your defensive stability just because we want to score so much we throw everything in an unstructured way. It is important to keep our game structured and not to listen to the alarming signals too much. We lack spontaneity in front of goal and of course that is a confidence issue. When you want it too much, the first thing you lose is spontaneity. When you would normally place the ball you hit it hard and it’s not when you hit it hard that it usually goes in.  But I still believe it is important that we focus on playing well and we convince ourselves that goalscoring comes from the quality of our game so let’s focus on the quality of our game.   I believe that Fulham was more a 3-3 game than a 0-0 game because of the chances. On Sunday I watched the Carling Cup Final and it was a 0-0 game; Arsenal v Fulham was a 3-3 or a 2-2. I believe that when we get one goal they will start flowing again.”

Well, let’s hope the goals start flowing in tonight.

It is the most important game of our season.]]>

  • AJ

    I am feeling fairly confident about the game today, purely because the team and Wenger know they need to prove to everyone that they do know where the goal is, I agree, I don’t think Arshaving will start, but will be used more as a impact sub, particularly if things aren’t going too well. Lets just hope it’s the victory we all want.

  • Gooner Get Ya

    < ![CDATA[I disagree, I think Arshavin will start with the aim to get goals and ease the presure early so we can afford to bring on Vela after 50-60 mins. That way he can get his match fitness back before the FA Cup on Sunday :-).

    Almunia

    Sagna - Toure - Djourou - Clichy

    Eboue - Nasri- Denilson - Arshavin

    Van Persie - Bendtner

    SUBS: Fabianski, Gibbs, Song, Ramsey, Merida, Vela and Diaby

    That would be the positive attacking attitude we should take against the lower teams.]]>

  • Fabrez

    < ![CDATA["Today sees us take on the bottom of the table side, West Bromich Albion in a mouth watering tie at the Hawthorns." Dev, is it as "mouth-watering" as the AC game last year? :P lol

    AJ - on the last blog i sent my condolences...so if u didn't see it, i send it once again & hope all gets better for u with time! :D

    As for Arshavin...hmm...I don't think he'll start...that's my gut feeling! I think it all depends on how he feels b4 the game. If he's still feeling the effects of Saturday, he'll start on the bench...but if he's ok, sure he'll b ok 2 start... Time for goals gunners! Let's dismantle WBA & get our confidence back!]]>

  • AJ

    Yeah, if Arshavin is all fit, he will start, but if he is feeling a little tired I think he will be on the bench, I would prefer him to start, but who knows Wenger? I did see it and thanks again Fabrez :)

  • Pete

    < ![CDATA[Really hoping the lads do the business tonight, and that West Brom don't decide to have their game of the season against us lol. But I'm quietly confident.

    Few of my mates have travelled to the West Middlands. Anyone here besides Dev going?

    Come on Arsenal!!!! Bring it on!!! :D]]>

  • zohaib

    < ![CDATA[Considering the FA Cup on the weekend and the Champions League game in midweek, I'd expect some important players to be rested. Maybe some today, and some in the FA Cup game. Though I wouldn't be surprised to be proven wrong.

    For tonight's game, I'd go with a line-up of :

    ------------------------Almunia-----------------------
    Sagna--------Toure-------Djourou-------Clichy
    ----------------Diaby---------Song------------------
    Eboue--------------------Arshavin-----------Vela
    --------------Bendtner-------------------------------

    With Denilson, Nasri and VanPersie getting a rest. Nasri possibly replacing Arshavin in the second half.]]>

  • zohaib

    < ![CDATA[If I could overlook the element of resting players for the other upcoming games, I'd probably go with this line-up :

    -----------------------Almunia-----------------------
    Sagna-------Toure-------Djourou-------Clichy
    Eboue-------Diaby-------Denilson-------Nasri
    ------------VanPersie-----Arshavin--------------]]>

  • Debs

    Interesting line-up. But if we win, it’s all good! But we should win, though, even with this line-up right?

  • zohaib

    Oh well. At least I got Song right, when nobody else did. Although I think it’s correct to say that Gooner Get Ya had the closest line-up to what’s been fielded. Dev, you and I both got 2 players wrong. Meh !

  • Debs

    Bendtner! Tonight might just be that night! Get in!!! 1 nil!

  • Pete

    < ![CDATA[YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSS!!!!! :D

    First goal of, hopefully, many for the Arsenal!!!]]>

  • Pete

    < ![CDATA[Balls!!!!!

    1-1]]>

  • Debs

    now that’s interesting! 1-1!

  • zohaib

    < ![CDATA[I have yet to see a more pathetic team than us.
    We absolutely can't, for the love of God, keep a lead. Absolutely incapable, incompetent c*unts.]]>

  • zohaib

    Arshavin looks tired already !

  • zohaib

    Oh no its the same linesman that failed to spot the Bosingwa karate kick on Benayoun. This is turning out to be a pretty pathetic night.

  • Debs

    come on Zohaib, deep breaths, deep breaths! Not yet 15mins played :)

  • Richiebacardi

    Toure!!!

  • Debs

    2-1 to Arsenal!

  • Debs

    3-1! Woo!

  • Richiebacardi

    1-3 now! Gawd I hope we show no mercy!!

  • Pete

    When was the last time we scored 3 goals in the first half? :D :D :D Go on Bendtner!!!! Get your hat trick mate!!!!! :D

  • zohaib

    < ![CDATA[LOL deep breaths. hahahahaahahha.

    Debs, I don't know how you do it. But you do it to me every time.]]>

  • Debs

    < ![CDATA[And it worked didn't it Zohaib? :P

    But knowing us though, it's still early days. But I guess we can watch the 2nd half with a bit more ease now!]]>

  • zohaib

    < ![CDATA[It's been pretty poor football. But where we had pretty rotten luck over the past month, now at least we're getting some luck.

    But I've been disappointed with the performances of most of the players. They always seem slower than the opponents players, when running to the ball, or closing people down, or moving to provide for attacking options, or standing clear to receive passes. It's pretty poor stuff really. They look very jaded.

    And it looks like Nasri's picked up a knock. Denilson took one as well. Wonder if they'll need to be replaced. Eboue as usual was being wasteful. I'd replace him with Vela on the right flank rather than the left. If Nasri can't continue, I'd think about replacing him with Ramsey or Wilshere, now that we're 3 - 1 up (If Wilshere is a substitute, that is.)

    Oh wait, looks like there's been a change. Diaby on for ?]]>

  • zohaib

    < ![CDATA[For Toure ?!

    Song and Djourou in defence. Now I'm starting to get worried again ! :(]]>

  • Debs

    Wish I was watching the match :( Can’t really tell if we’re playing well or not as such.

  • Debs

    Song in defence? Or maybe Eboue’s moved to defence?

  • Debs

    Wow. Song at the back? hmm…

  • Richiebacardi

    < ![CDATA[I've just heard the half time changes...WTF?

    I really dunno....]]>

  • Debs

    apparently Toure’s got a calf injury…

  • zohaib

    < ![CDATA[AAAAAAAAAAARGH.

    Bendtner should've passed it as soon as he got the ball. That way Arshavin would've been off.

    OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Arshavin misses another.]]>

  • zohaib

    < ![CDATA[Woah !

    Diaby with stepovers. What a run. Great drive in him. Deflected wide.]]>

  • zohaib

    Post denies Bendtner for his hattrick. Strikes with his left. Made a run from the right flank and took it towards the left side.

  • Debs

    Match of the day definitely not to be missed tomorrow! Hopefully the highlights on ATVO should be up 2moro also…

  • Pissed off

    wow!!!!

  • Gooner Get Ya

    < ![CDATA[Debs you can watch games online on sopcast etc.

    Have a look here http://www.myp2p.eu/index.php?part=sports]]>

  • Debs

    I guess the game sort of petered out in the 2nd half. But it’s 3 important points thoughand 3 goals . Hopefully man city will do the job 2moro… Good thing they are at the City of Manchester stadium!

  • Debs

    On a side note though, does it mean that we either keep clean sheets and score no goals, and score goals yet concede the odd one? I definitely prefer the latter, as long as we score more goals than we concede. But we should be able to do both fairly consistently- score goals yet still manage to keep a clean sheet. But I guess you can’t always eat your cake and have it (except if you are Man u of course!) lol

  • Fabrez

    Lovely! Just got back home & i’m very pleased! Sounds like we got a few injuries tho…not good…also sounds like we didn’t dominate WBA in the 2nd half…which we should have. I’m very very greatful for 3 pts! I just hope that we can up our game bcuz Burnley will prove 2 b a bigger challenge and of course Roma will not b easy!

  • Fabrez

    Hmm debs…i’d prefer the latter myself! But i’m a bit worried about our defense if Gallas & Toure are out…we are fragile @ the back!! And i really hope we start to do the biz offensively from now till the end of the season…goals have never been more important!

  • Debs

    Apparently Gallas should be back on sunday, so i guess Gallas and Djourou will have to do for a bit, although I’m hoping Toure’s not out for too long. But if we take our chances up front, maybe it’ll cover up our defensive frailties until the players are fit? But yeah, even though we’ve had an impressive defensive record of late, it’s still a fragile defence, in the centre, that is.

  • Debs

    < ![CDATA[And good to see (or rather in my case, hear!) Merida being given a run in the side, and also Ramsey. But yeah, Carling cup on sunday, and like Fabrez said, they'll be a tougher challenge, but I think Eduardo should be back then also, and possibly Walcott, so maybe that'll inject a bit of extra confidence into the team.
    But lets enjoy today's win though. Definitely a few holes to be picked at, but we've not had a PL win in a while, so enjoy it guys. And hopefully the next one doesn't take as long!]]>

  • Yemi

    < ![CDATA[Good game, important 3 points (even if that was not the best of arsenal). WBA looked dangerous in the last part of the game and had a couple of chances. I was just praying hat hey didn't score a goal because it would have raised their tempo.
    Did you see the WBA goal ? what was eboue thinking ? just looked as if he side-stepped so the ball can go through. aluminia saw the ball late. bendtner looked sharper than he has looked in a while, probably because he wasn't playing in Ade or VP's shadow. If you notice, he had a free role upfront. moving from right tp left.
    Arshavin was twice denied his first premiership goal.
    All in all, i think the game was like that cos WBA played open football with some awful defending to go with it. it should have been 5 or more goals.]]>

  • zohaib

    Bendtner !!!

  • zohaib

    < ![CDATA[On the performance of his frontline...
    "The two strikers did very well. Nicklas Bendtner looks like he is improving from month to month. Andrey Arshavin is improving from game to game as well - in his class and composure although he has been a bit unlucky in his finishing and maybe he thought he had scored before the ball had gone in. Overall you can see the class is there."

    On Bendtner answering his critics...
    "It is difficult when you’re a fan of Arsenal you are always comparing the players with people from five, six or 10 years ago. But you have to accept that a guy who is 19 or 20 years old will get better every three months. He has shown tonight he has the talent to be an Arsenal player and he’s on the right path to mature. I liked his presence, his determined attitude and I thought the way he took people on showed he has improved a lot."

    I have to agree. Bendtner looked to be in a different class tonight. He just upped a gear or something. He was taking people on with confidence. And mostly beating his man too ! I am very pleasantly surprised !]]>

  • zohaib

    < ![CDATA[On the superb reception from the Arsenal fans at the Hawthorns...
    "That’s very nice but less important because I cannot dribble on the pitch. The away fans have always been great to me.

    I can't understand what he's trying to say here. Does anybody else ?]]>

  • Fabrez

    lol…nobody says the things Wenger does! Guess he meant he appreciates the reception he got but plays it down. Guess he indirectly means that support for the players are more important since they are the ones who have to actually play the game & win it, not him. That’s Wenger trying to be humble, smart & abstract with his comments i suppose!

  • Pete

    < ![CDATA[Didn't see the game, so will have to wait for the highlights tonight. I know it was only WBA, that we conceded a goal that we probably shouldn't have allowed in, and probably scored one or two more, but I'm so pleased with a win :)

    By the sounds of it, Bendtner upped his game to man-of-the-match levels, and it's games like this that players like him become useful. Also, Arhavin completed another 90 mins.

    I think Wenger is just deflecting praise/credit/attention away from himself and onto the players, as well as giving a shout out to away fans.

    The FA Cup game this weekend could see the return of Theo and Eduardo. If not Sunday, then maybe next Wednesday's game at Roma. Will be intersting to see how Wenger will accomodate everyone. By the loks of it, if Theo plays, Arshavin will either play central replacing Denilson/Song or on the left, giving Nasri a well deserved rest.]]>

  • Pete

    < ![CDATA[Liked Wengers' final comments from last nights post-match interview.

    "I don’t have a problem with the fans being disappointed, that is normal and I never complain about that. It is down to us to make people happy not down to the people outside the pitch to make us happy. We need to get our priorities right and when you don’t manage that I understand when people aren’t happy."

    Top man :)]]>

  • Gooner Get Ya

    < ![CDATA[Looking at the run in of fixtures we seriously need to win at least 7 of these (beat everyone outside the big 3). To pile the pressure on Villa and Everton.

    In my opinion we have the toughest run in to the end of the season as we have Liverpool, Chelsea and Man U.

    Arsenal:

    Arsenal v Blackburn
    Newcastle v Arsenal
    Arsenal v Man City
    Wigan v Arsenal
    Liverpool v Arsenal
    Arsenal v Middlesbrough
    Portsmouth v Arsenal
    Arsenal v Chelsea
    Man Utd v Arsenal
    Arsenal v Stoke

    Aston Villa:

    Man City v Aston Villa
    Aston Villa v Tottenham
    Liverpool v Aston Villa
    Man Utd v Aston Villa
    Aston Villa v Everton
    Aston Villa v West Ham
    Bolton v Aston Villa
    Aston Villa v Hull
    Fulham v Aston Villa
    Middlesbrough v Aston Villa
    Aston Villa v Newcastle

    Everton:

    Blackburn v Everton
    Everton v Stoke
    Portsmouth v Everton
    Everton v Wigan
    Aston Villa v Everton
    Chelsea v Everton
    Everton v Man City
    Sunderland v Everton
    Everton v Tottenham
    Everton v West Ham
    Fulham v Everton]]>

  • http://kierandelaney.net/blog kierandelaney.net/blog

    Gooner, chances are by then Man U will have title sewn up and Liverpool and Chelsea will likely be sure of a top 4 spot. At least 2 of the three will probably have a lot less to play for!

  • fereria

    Very good performance by the team last night, and before anyone says “we were onlt playing West Brom”, the teams turn up and have to be beaten. They’re not there just for the sake of it. Nic Bendtner had a storming match. I was surprised to see Arshavin paired with him up top but they had a real spark about them. ANy time they got the ball in forward positions they looked dangerous, exchanging passes, with one-two touch football, beating defenders and getting their shots off. Arshavin had a very good game and but for a couple of great saves by Carson could have had a brace himself, i cant wait til he’s actually fully match fit. But Bendtner definately deserves the plaudits for his performance, I must be one of the few Arsenal supporters i know who actually like Nic. It annoys me that fellow Gooners have so little patience. Yes, everybody has off days and i get frustrated with him at times but i think he’s been a much better player for us this season than Ade. He’s only 21 and it seems some fans believe that if your not already as good as Messi or Rooney or Fabregas at that age then your deemed not good enough, thats totally unrealistic. Players like Messi are the exceptional ones as they buck the trend for the development of a player. Also i think its clear that Song doesn’t belong in DM position. Diaby looked brilliant when he came on and i’d like to see him cement a place in the first XI. He has real drive about him unlike some of our other midfielders. Song has 2 gears, slow and stop. He just never seems to up his pace at any part of the game, plus he offers nothing offensively and cant pass forward. Watch him try to run forward to give a pass, he bricks it and ends up passing sideways or back, this is the main reason Arsenal have lost one of their biggest weapons, the ability to counter attack quickly

  • Fabrez

    Yup…and surely we’ll have the world to play for against them. Still gonna b tough fixtures but if we deserve to be in europe nxt yr, we have to show it by winning most if not all of our games, particularly against Chelsea & Man U!

  • Steve W

    < ![CDATA[If only all sides were as accommodating as West Bromwich Albion.
    West Brom are so charitable. No confidence, no tackling, no danger, no points. Manchester United would have won the game 10-0 straight, so 3-1 will do us thanks. We needed goals and a win and the Baggies were pleasantly compliant with both, so all donations gratefully received.

    There has been a lot of attention given to how West Brom are trying to play ‘football’. Is everyone else playing basketball? By ‘playing football’ it is meant that they are passing the ball on the ground, rather than lumping it around and ‘playing percentages’. (Are footballers intelligent enough to understand percentages, or to know what that phrase is supposed to mean)?

    As my uncle Ed says, there is nothing in the rule book that says football has to be played on the ground, you can do what you like with it. The common consensus has been accepted that football isn’t football unless it is played on the ground. Brian Clough may have said “if God wanted football to be played in the air he’d have put grass in the sky”, but he wasn’t fighting a relegation battle at the time. West Brom will get relegated because they are too pleasant for the Premier League. They are the football equivalent of the band on the Titanic, gleefully playing ‘football’ while the ship goes down.

    It was great for us that West Brom have chosen to ‘play football’ because they aren’t very good at it and that enabled us to get the ball off them a lot. We don’t have many midfielders that are terribly good at passing the ball to their own teammates either but we are, thankfully, marginally better at it than West Brom.

    We needed something to kickstart scoring goals again and a match against the Baggies is just the prescription that any ill club needs. It is just a shame that we can’t play them a few more times this season because we could do with racking up the points.

    Still, it will be interesting to see how Villa cope with waiting 24 hours before visiting Manchester City, which is just enough time for Arsenal closing to within three points of them to play on their mind. In a nice twist for Villa, City will be without both Craig Baloney and Robinho. That should work in Villa’s favour and my prediction of a 2-1 City win is now less likely. Villa might think that a good result is now in the bag though with City having to field less damaging players, but that is a risky mindset if the likes of Bojinov et al start better than Villa expect and City manage to go 1-0 up. I still fancy that City can get at least a point.

    Like I’ve been saying all along, I don’t believe that Villa can handle a 38-game season and I retain my belief that Arsenal can and hence will overcome Villa for fourth place by the end of that 38th game. As George Graham used to say, it’s a marathon not a sprint. The reward comes when you pass the finishing line, let’s see if Villa can handle the home straight.]]>

  • unspoken

    < ![CDATA[this is the time where we really need to show the fighting spirit.
    finally we're scoring!
    the goal we conceded was abit unlucky and the wall failed that time. just hope they learned from that.

    i hope we maintain a winning streak. time to score and time to stay in the champs league!

    this is like one of the more exciting ending period of the season! cmon u gunners!! let's go all out!!
    most of the time we are usually more or less confirmed of a top 4 place. but this time, i think it kinda shook that belief. let's hope they fight hard.

    and let's hope villa slip up more.]]>

  • zohaib

    Pete – If you play Arshavin in the center in place of Denilson/Song, then who are you playing next to him for the second CM position. And who are you playing at LM ?

  • Yemi

    I think that midfield is not for Arshavin. His petite figure will be a disadvantage. Wings is good for him only. or attack. you saw how he was easily pushed off the ball yesterday

  • devday

    < ![CDATA[1st choice - Cesc & Denilson
    2nd choice - Nasri & Denilson
    3rd choice - Diaby & Denilson

    With Rosicky / Vela / Arshavin on the left
    And Walcott / Arshavin / Eboue on the right

    2 of VP, Eduardo, Bendtner, Adebayor up front...]]>

  • Pete

    < ![CDATA[Zohaib: The options for midfield that I was thinking of for next week were -

    Theo(RW) Arshavin(CM) then either Song or Denilson(CM) Nasri (LW)

    or Nasri in the middle and Arshavin on the left.

    Theo Nasri Song or Denilson Arshavin

    But out of the two, I think Wenger would go for the former midfield lineup, with Arshavins creativity in the centre and Theo's pace on the right wing. Once Cesc is fit and playing I think he'll rotate Theo and Arshavin on the RW, as well as playing Arshavin in a forward position like last night.]]>