Arsenal vs Sp*rs, Match Day Live

Courtesy of ESPN, I can watch the game in my hotel, and manage to get Match Day Live to you…

The line up today is:

Almunia

Sagna – Gallas – Vermaelen – Clichy

Song Billong – Diaby

Bendtner – Cesc – Arshavin

Van Persie

Subs: Mannone, Senderos, Nasri, Eduardo, Ramsey, Eboue, Gibbs.

And Sp*rs fielding:

Gomes, Corluka, King, Bassong, Assou-Ekotto, Bentley, Huddlestone, Palacios, Jenas, Keane, Crouch.

Subs: Button, Hutton, Bale, Pavlyuchenko, Dawson, Kranjcar, Woodgate.

Arsenal vs Sp*rs Preview

Today I sit in the room of the groom as we prepare him for the big day US style. It’s about midnight here which means that it’s about 4am back home. In 8 hours everyone will either be at the game or watching /listening to the game and I’ll be attempting to find an Irish pub somewhere in the vicinity of Long Island.

Tomorrow’s game will be a very exciting  game indeed – it always is when Sp*rs come to town. Team news sees a host of players injured with Tomas Rosicky and Theo Walcott both out as well Carlos Vela and Jack Wilshere. Fabianksi got injured in the last game and he will be out for about 3 weeks. The team will most probably be:

Almunia

Sagna – Gallas – Vermaelen – Clichy

Song – Diaby

Eboue – Cesc – Arshavin

Van Persie

The boss spoke before the game and said:

“I always look forward to big games,” he said. “But we are in a strong position in the League and, above the derby, what is more important for me is to win the game because we want to win the title.

“I do not consider too much that we play Tottenham. I consider we can take three points to be in a stronger position in the League. That’s much more important.”

Talking about the 4-4 draw at the Emirates last season, the boss continued:

“It’s difficult to know what the impact was,” said the Frenchman on Friday with a little more circumspection. “It was a big disappointment but overall I think we played well.

“At that time they had just changed the manager. Harry Redknapp was in one of his first games and Tottenham were like one of those teams who had a new manager, they kept going and kept going and they did well to come back.

“It took us some time to recover from that and you suffer more when you think you have won the game and the team comes back.

“It was like at West Ham last week I suppose. But at the end of the day we can say we didn’t deserve to win at Fulham [earlier this season] and we won. We got a draw at West Ham when we should have won. That’s part of the game. What is important is that we win the game tomorrow.”

And the boss also took time out to speak about whether Tottenham are a big club and whether they are bigger than Arsenal…

“How do you measure the dimension of a club?” Wenger asked himself. “Success, exactly.

“So if you look at success historically they have a lot of work to do. We have been 12 consecutive years in the Champions League so once they have done that they can say, of course, that they are similar.

“You can never say they’ll never bridge the gap. They have the potential, and the supporters. They are a big club. But what comes next is the consistency of achievement. At the moment nobody would deny that Arsenal is in front of them.”

It’s a very diplomatic answer from the boss. He really doesn’t want Sp*rs to have any success and tomorrow he will hope to put one nail in their coffin… Come on you Gooners!

Arsenal 2 – 1 Liverpool – Updated!

Morning all – I write this as I sit in my hotel room in Long Island, New York, with about 7 minutes to write my entire thoughts about yesterday’s game. Luckily for me Arsenal.com made both halves downloadable in full last night, and I managed to watch the first half of the first half – up to the point when Merida scored his goal. And what a goal it was!

Arsene kept his policy of fielding the younger players and Gilbert, Gibbs, Ramsey, Merida and a kid called Craig Eastmond (another shining light out of the academy) who was deployed in the holding role. The line up was:

Fabianski

Gilbert – Senderos – Silvestre – Gibbs

Eastmond – Ramsey

Bendtner – Nasri – Merida

Eduardo

I have officially run out of time now, but I’ll be back in approximately 4 hours to review the entire game!

Update:

Okay, I’m back and have just watched the game – now that was one hell of a Carling Cup tie – and I have to say, our midfield double duo of Ramsey and Eastmond was sensational. I was really impressed. Watching another player – Eastmond – come through and look so assured was amazing – I really thought that Coquelin or Randall would have got the nod ahead of Eastmond – but the under 18 youth player did very well.

The opening goal came through some good work from Eastmond, who won a loose ball and slid Merida, who with one look up, unleashed an unstoppable left footed strike, straight past the keeper, top right of the goal. It was not more than we deserved. Our game so far had been very good, having the majority of the possession, with Nasri really impressing with his intelligence on the ball. We could definitely have been one or two up by that point, with some earlier chances missed – one involving Gibbs, Nasri and Bendtner, who was through on goal with Ramsey next to him, behind the defence, but unable to square or shoot.

But Liverpool always looked dangerous on the break – both NGog and Babel had pace to burn and first teamer Kuyt was decent in the air – but it was left back Insua who levelled with another amazing left footed strike – again unstoppable, flying over the head of Fabianski.

We took the lead again 5 minutes into the second half when good play all round put Bendtner in, who dragged the ball round the right sided defender to gain a yard and then dispatched a left foot strike into the back of the net – awesome finish – and the game ended 2-1. We’re through to the quarter finals!

Arsene spoke post match and said:

“I believe overall it was a game of top quality with two teams who really went for it. You had the quality of the passing, sometimes the ball was played through a very short space but at a high pace and overall you can say tonight we gave the people what they paid for and I’m very happy to say that and we had top quality in every position I must say.

“The experienced players played well, the young players played well. We had Craig Eastmond make his debut tonight in a holding role and everybody did well in every position. Liverpool came back to 1-1 and we still managed to win the game. That shows as well we have mental resources. It was more of a European Cup night than a Carling Cup night, quality wise. We have seen two very, very good teams who play at the top level.”

Well, Arsene showed once again, that the kids do have something about them…

Til tomorrow…

Arsenal vs Liverpool, Carling Cup 2009

Arsenal vs Liverpool
Match Preview
Wednesday 28th October 2009
The Emirates Stadium

Tomorrow sees our Carling Cup kids take on the mighty Liverpool – I say mighty because they’ve just beaten Man United and by and large, they are probably going to field the same team against us as they look to put out a strong team in a competition that they hope they will win.

Tomorrow will be a stronger team than the team that played against West Brom, as Arsene looks to play some of the players who have just returned from injury and some of the fringe players too. News coming out of the Emirates is that we will see the likes of Nasri, Bendtner and Eduardo all get a run out and those three players may be our three attacking players in the absence of young Jack Wilshere, who’s out with an ankle injury.

Arsene spoke briefly about the team news and revealed:

“Nasri comes back but Traore, who played in the last round is out. He has a groin problem. Fabianski will get a game too, he will start. But Jack had a knock on his ankle and will be out unfortunately. It is a question of days but we made a trial with him on Sunday and we are resigned to the fact he will be just too short to play. Eduardo and Bendtner will be back. But we still have Rosicky, Denilson and Walcott out.”

Based on that, you’d expect the following line up:

Fabianski

Eboue – Senderos – Silvestre – Gibbs

Coquelin – Randall

Nasri – Ramsey – Vela

Bendtner

With a bench made up of Wojas Schnezy (no idea if I spelt that right), Gilbert, Song, Watt and Eduardo (you can only have five on the bench in the Carling Cup).

I’ve heard a rumour that Francis Coquelin will start at right back with Ramsey and Randall in the two defensive midfield positions, Nasri central, and a front three of Eduardo, Vela and Nikky B – that would be some front three.

Coquelin is a player who has impressed me and although he’s only 18, I think he’s definitely one of the closest players to the first team out of this crop of youngsters – equally good as a right back or defensive midfield, he’s hoping he starts tomorrow:

“I’m really excited, I’m waiting for it. We’ve got a chance. It’s one game, anything can happen. I felt a little bit nervous but I really enjoyed the [West Brom] game and I hope to play against Liverpool. I think everyone will give 100 per cent in training and after that it’s the choice of the manager. I think Wenger will keep the young team; I hope so. But I think it’s better if we go with a bit more experience in the team as well.”

One player who I’m dying to see is the Mexican starlet. Personally, Carlos Vela is one of my favourite players and I can’t wait for him to get into and stay in the first team. I watched him in action during the summer and he was sensational for his country – for Mexico, he has the same effect as Wayne Rooney has for England, as Ribery is currently having for France – he is the creative hub that the forward play goes around. Vela has the ability to create something out of nothing and his shot range is fantastic – power, placement and lob – in equal measure.

The Mexican was on Arsenal TV today and had this to say:

“It’s going to be important to play against this team [Liverpool] in this game. I believe that every match I play for my team Arsenal is special for me and I don’t really care that much who we play, I just want to win. It could be a second division team, whoever, I just really want to win. This one is clearly special, because of the team we play against so it is important. This competition is very important for all the young players. It is not a reserves or lower league competition, so we have the opportunity to prove ourselves at a high level and that is always the test for a player. It also means that the younger players can use this competition to show the boss what they have learned and what they can do if the get an opportunity in the first team.

One of the great thing about playing at home is that our young team has 60,000+ fans vying them on, and it all plays a part.

“Yes! Absolutely. Playing at home is something that always motivates you more when you’ve got all the support of the fans. You have in your mind that you just can’t lose. When you play at home it is just a matter of win or win. Those are the only options.”

So, it’s time to get ready for one of the biggest games of the season in one of the smallest competitions in our list – but in all honesty, Arsenal versus Liverpool is always a big game isn’t it?

And finally, some news about me – I’m off for a mini American tour tomorrow – I fly off to New York and then head on to Vegas, San Francisco and Toronto, to name a few others… I’ll have internet access throughout my journeies for work, so that’ll mean I should be able to post around this time too. I’m on the underground as I type this up, but hopefully when I’m overground, I can rope good old JAT into some mid-season blogging…

I will be back tomorrow before I leave no doubt, so, til then…

West Ham 2 – 2 Arsenal, same old Arsenal?

West Ham 2 – 2 Arsenal

What on earth happened there? To be honest, I am still in shock in our 2008/2009 style of defending a lead in the last two games and that’s 2 points dropped in the Champions League (which works out at £350,000 of prize money) and 2 points dropped in the league against a club 2nd bottom in the league whom even Liverpool have beaten. It was a disaster of a result and despite going 2-0 up, we didn’t really deserve it at that point – don’t get me wrong – I was very happy to be 2-0 up at half time, but West Ham looked like they were more up for it than us… reminiscent of Fulham last year… okay maybe that’s a bit harsh.

Two players who I don’t think played well enough were Diaby and Eboue – they both did well overall, getting into good positions, but their final ball and general decision making was very poor and it’s no wonder that both were substituted for Bendtner and Eduardo eventually – the only question being why so late on in the game.

I’m a big fan of playing 3 attacking players in the front 3 and I really think it’s important to our system to do this. We have enough defensive players when we play 4-3-3, with the middle three being a defensive shield – so when we play with two in Arshavin, Van Persie and have Eboue on the right, we don’t do justice to our system and this has been true in all the games where we have drop points.

Against Man United, we played Eboue, Song, Denilson and Diaby – against Man City, we played Song, Denilson, Diaby and Cesc, and against West Ham, we played Eboue, Song, Diaby and Cesc. Please please play a third offensive player in the forward roles instead of playing a defensive player – we’re much better going forward and attacking than we are at defending. With all three of these games, having an extra attacking player would really have put West Ham on the back foot.

The line up yesterday was:

Mannone

Sagna – Gallas – Vermaelen – Clichy

Song – Diaby

Eboue – Cesc – Arshavin

Van Persie

The good news was that we had a fit again Nasri, Eduardo and Bendtner on the bench along side Silvestre, Gibbs, Ramsey and a fit again keeper in Almunia. I’d expect Almunia to start on Wednesday as it’s quite unfair that he’s on the bench. Mannone’s last couple of games have seen him make 21 year old mistakes and I’ll touch on that later.

We did go ahead when a great cross by Sagna was palmed into Van Persie’s path who finished first time on the volley – that’s the sixth goal from the Dutchman this season and he’s starting to play better now. We were 2-0 up by half time when a great corner from Van Persie was nodded in by Gallas – and our centre backs have 9 between them – that’s impressive.

The second half was atrocious by us – I don’t think I’ve seen a worse 45 minutes by us this season – albeit West Ham really came out in the second forty five. The goal that made it 2-1 was terrible from a goal keeping point of view. Mannone really should have caught the ball, knocked it out for a corner or punched it away. He did none of them and basically pushed the ball in front of Carlton Cole.

The penalty which ended up making the result 2-2, was a terrible decision. We were admiring how strong Carlton Cole had been throughout the game, hold us off and keeping possession – and it was very interesting to see how he tumbled in the box so easily, considering his play outside of the box. Not great from Alex Song, who was very good generally through out the game and even worse from Cole and even worse from the referee, who really did make some shocking decisions.

On the game Arsene said:

“We complicated the game a little bit. We had five or six chances in the second half where we missed the final ball. That’s where we have to learn. “It is very frustrating. West Ham did fight until the final second of the game and I never had the feeling that the game was won, even if we were completely in control because I saw the attitude of West Ham, they were not giving up. You know that if you make a mistake you will be under pressure and the crowd got behind the referee’s decision and then it’s always difficult away from home.”

On the refereeing decisions, he continued:

“I believe that if you start to consider the decision the referee makes in 80 minutes is influenced by the 60th minute, the 61st, 62nd, then you don’t need a rulebook. Just make your own rulebook; the next decision is influenced by the decision the minute before. We have to keep the positives today. We played well and we are a strong team, and we want to learn of course to finish these games off. That is basically the most important lesson of the day.”

And Arsene really did feel like it was points dropped yesterday:

“It is a major missed opportunity of course. In our job you have no luxury to miss opportunities. It is our job to get points when you deserve them and sometimes to get points when you don’t deserve them.  Today we didn’t get the points when we deserved them and that means we have not made the maximum of what we should have done. We have a great chance [in the Premier League] this year but you cannot repeat this kind of performance and not come out with the three points. It is not complacency. We just have to continue to play in a rigorous way, respect the game we love and the pass. That is what we forgot sometimes and we have paid for it. We play at top quality and at the moment we do not get rewarded for what we produce. In the Champions League it can happen that you are 1-0 up and are caught on a free-kick in the last minute. Today it has not to happen.  At 2-0 we lost the way we want to play the game. And when a team comeback to 2-1 and you are away from home you are always under threat to go to 2-2.””

Arsene says we need to learn from this – but we really should have learned from this last season. With Chelsea and United playing next weekend, surely we really really really have to beat Sp*rs at home next Saturday to ensure we’re still up there.

I am confident we can do it this season, but the real question is – are the team?

West Ham vs Arsenal: Match Day Live

Afternoon guys – after Liverpool’s win against Man United, a win against West Ham would see us go second with a game in hand. Brilliant…. but that’s if we win…

The line up, as predicted is…

Almunia

Sagna – Gallas – Vermalen – Clichy

Song – Diaby

Eboue – Cesc – Arshavin

Van Persie

Good news is that we’ve got a very strong bench of… Almunia, Nasri, Eduardo, Ramsey, Silvestre, Gibbs, Bendtner.

Over to the comments now for the live commentary…

West Ham’s line up is…

West Ham: Green, Spector, Tomkins, Upson, Ilunga, Behrami, Parker, Noble, Collison, Cole, Franco.

Subs: Kurucz, Kovac, Faubert, Da Costa, Diamanti, Hines, Stanislas.

West Ham vs Arsenal… Preview

West Ham vs Arsenal, The Pre-Match Preview
Sunday 25th October, 4.15pm

It’s a classic London derby and it definitely won’t be an easy game. West Ham aren’t doing that well in terms of points on the board. It’s a bit unfortunate – they have played decent football and Zola has installed a certain style of football into their game. I’ve watched a few of their games and they always look like they carry a threat, but they’re just not getting the points at the moment.

One player who has really impressed me – simply because I didn’t think he had it in his game, is Carlton Cole… I really didn’t think he would become the player he has been this season. Some of the goals he has scored have been sensational. He isn’t the finished article, but he is definitely thriving under Giofranco Zola.

Another player who is always someone who I keep an eye is Matthew Upson. Since joining us from Luton as one of Arsene Wenger’s first and few English signings, he couldn’t break into our team. He was later sold to Birmingham and then went on to West Ham, and he’s also won a few caps for England – finally becoming the player that Arsene Wenger thought he would be. Arsene spoke about Matthew Upson in the pre-match conference on Friday and talked about the player’s progress since he left Highbury…

“I knew when he left that he will make a big career. But at that moment when Matthew was here, he was impatient.  That I could understand as well because I bought him at Luton and after a few years he didn’t play here.  I didn’t stop him [going] because I knew he had qualities to play in the Premier League but he had players in front of him that stopped him. I knew he would [make it]. He had Premier League quality and had the potential to be international quality . He is there now because he is at the right age for a central defender and for a few years now he has not been stopped by injuries which was his problem for a while.”

Arsene also talked about whether he had ever thought of re-signing the former Gunner. But think about it, would he have made it into the team ahead of Gallas, Vermaelen or a fit again Djourou?

“It was always in my mind. He has good quality, good attitude, good spirit but of course this is not the best moment to talk about that. He is a player at West Ham. Three, four, five years ago yes, but now he is settled and has a good career where he is. You have two job [choices] as a football player. Your job is to be in the top level of the Premier League. Between the age of 18 to 21 is a very sensitive step for a player. You have to make the step. If you don’t make it you become impatient and you lose the players.”

Some interesting stuff there, and any fan could see why Upson had to move on. He wasn’t getting the games and by moving, he’s managed to establish himself in the Premier League as well as getting into the England squad.

Anyway, time to look at our squad and a few injury worries ahead of the game – Tomas Rosicky is out again and his groin injury is not yet recovered, but Niklas Bendtner is back in the squad and will surely be on the bench. Eduardo is also back, but Theo Walcott misses out.

There is an interesting sub-plot developing at the moment in regards to our keepers – Almunia was fit in the last game against AZ, but Mannone was preferred to the Spaniard, and it looks like Italian may get the nod ahead this Sunday.

Arsene said this about the goal keeping department:

“I wouldn’t say Manuel is no longer our automatic first choice,” he said. “But Vito has come in and done well. It is always difficult with these kinds of decisions. You could say our job is to be unfair sometimes to players. You don’t want to be but some time you have to, no matter what decisions you make sometimes you are unfair to one or two players.”

Okay, so team news… with Arsene being unfair with Mannone….

Almunia

Sagna – Gallas – Vermalen – Clichy

Song – Diaby

Eboue – Cesc – Arshavin

Van Persie

With a bench of Mannone, Gibbs, Silvestre, Ramsey, Vela, Eduardo and Bendtner.

So, over to the comments, what are your thoughts of the game tomorrow… Predictions? Will we keep our winning run?

“This year I am convinced we will win a trophy,” Arsene Wenger

Today is Arsene’s Wenger birthday and today it’s all about saluting the boss… (or yesterday if you’re reading this on Friday)… and in a timely manner, the AGM was held today, and was much more positive AGM than the last… although was the last one wasn’t 12 months ago was it?

Well, it was certainly was an interesting discussion and very positive words from Arsene Wenger.

“This year I am convinced we will win a trophy,” Wenger said. “It will come down to how resilient, consistent, intelligent and united we are until the end because there will be tough times. There will be periods when it will be difficult, but we have to show our strengths that have always made this club special.

“This team is now ready to go for it and I am convinced we will perform throughout the season.”

Now that’s a statement and a half. Normally Arsene isn’t so forth coming with statements such as “I am convinced we will a trophy”. It’s very positive and sends out a very strong messages to the fans and the players too that our time has arrived and that the team is ready to kick on and win a trophy. The last four years has seen us unable to get our hands on any trophies, but that fact deludes the truth behind our progress. In the last four years, we’ve competed with the top teams.

We’ve got to the final of the Champions League and defeated teams like Real Madrid and Juventus who have arguably spent a lot more than us and have greater resources. In order to do that, it’s no easy task, it requires careful understanding of the bigger picture and a level of patience that has seen us prosper. The “kids” have grown up. How much is Cesc Fabregas worth now? £40m, £50m? We’ve trained him from his school boy days and been able to compete with the Liverpool’s, Chelsea’s and now the Man City’s of this world whom have all had heavy investment. And we’ve done this whilst also buying a stadium.

“When we moved from Highbury to the Emirates I knew it would be a sensitive period,” said Wenger at the Annual General Meeting on Thursday. But I know as well that the most important [thing] is to stay at the top on a consistent way and that’s where you see really the quality of the Club. Can you maintain through ten years, 15 years to play at the top of the game in Europe? That’s where you see if the Club is managed well or not and I believe that we will achieve that together.”

Looking at the squad and attacking talents we have as well as the defensive talents, that’s an accolade to the policy the club has taken and the rewards we’re starting to see.

“We are in the middle today of two different ways to see the development of the game. One is people with unlimited resources who do not care about balancing the budget and one, an attempt from the European Union to regulate that, control it, and get that out of the game. I believe that will happen and fortunately we are on line with the modern development of the European game and that is why I believe to keep a club strong is essential.”

Looking at our squad, the players such as Arshavin, Rosicky, Cesc, Eduardo, Van Persie, Carlos Vela, Theo Walcott and Samir Nasri, which other team can boast such a vast array of attacking talent? And if you look at the last 3 years, we’ve made a profit on our player sales every year.

“When I arrived here 13 years ago I could sense that this Club had values, tradition, and strength in their belief and in their values. When I travelled at that time to Derby or to Coventry when they were in the Premier League, they always told me it is the ‘Arsenal way’ to do things.  They do it their way and it was always respect and admiration in their statements and I believe it is essential and important that we keep that inside the Club.”

I have a lot of admiration for Arsene Wenger, 60 yesterday… for what he’s brought to the club. I have a lot of admiration for the board of directors for their work behind the scenes, the contribution of David Dein, Keith Edelman and Peter Hill Wood, but to name a few.

If we do go on to win a trophy this season, then it’s be Arsene’s greatest trophy yet, and we will only build from it. Arsene is always confident going into a season, but this season I have seen on the pitch that there is something different, and have seen in Arsene that there is a genuine sense of coming of age.

Arsene, I am also convinced this season we’ll win a trophy.

Til tomorrow…

I’ve got my stone… have you?

Yes it’s official… the exclusive Armoury stones are available… I’ve just placed my order for my stone… which in fairness to my bank manager, I had no intention of buying until about 30 minutes ago… £350 later I wonder if I’ve made the right decision… but at the same time, a few Christmas presents have now been sorted as well as a replica or two will be sent my way.

I’ll definitely be back tomorrow with a run down of all things Arsenal, my views of the game on Tuesday and a look ahead to the weekend…

Once again apologies for the very short article today, the BBC Electric Proms are calling me… and I’m severely late…

AZ Alkmaar 1 – 1 Arsenal

Evening all, I’ve just got back from the annual awards dinner for the work work I do – yes, I don’t just write this site!! And in my absence, I have heard reports that the team played well, and were unlucky to concede an injury time goal…

So the score was 1-1 and the best thing you can do is read the comments… http://worldofarsenal.co.uk/2009/10/19/post-birmingham-pre-az-alkmaar/#comments

It’s late so that’s a wrap for now… I’ll be back tomorrow after I’ve watched the game… til then…

Post Birmingham, Pre AZ Alkmaar

Evening all… and it’s time for a good old fashioned Monday Round Up… it’s been a busy busy day in the wonderful world of Arsenal. So, where do we start… well, let’s start with yesterday’s game… and if you were there you would have heard the awful chanting coming from the Birmingham end.

There’s only one Martin Taylor, one Martin Taylor…

Obviously aiming the chant at Eduardo. In my opinion, it was bang out of order and really sad to see that type of chant sang – and in order to be heard, it must have been sang my the majority of the visiting fans and if you ask me, it’s a clear sign of disrespect, a clear sign of immaturity and an insult to a player who has spent the best part of the last 18 months recovering from such a horrific injury.

Arsene took time out to comment on the chant and said:

“That was frankly atrocious. They [the Birmingham fans] will not be remembered for the quality of their taste with that kind of remark. I didn’t say a word [when I heard the chant], I just thought ‘that’s low’.  Eduardo was here for the game. I  don’t know how he felt about the chants. I just put that in the ranks of stupidity, you want to forget about it and not talk too much about it because there’s not a lot to say. With people like that, one starts to say something stupid, everybody follows, even intelligent people. People lose their identity together, and their sense of responsibility.”

And he’s hit the nail on the spot. The timing of the chant was when Liam Ridgewell went through Theo Walcott. Ouch. Very distasteful and surprise surprise, Birmingham have k’od one of our players.

On Theo’s return to the side after being injured for the whole of this season, that challenge from Liam Ridgewell has seen him sidelined again – with a medial knee ligament, and normally that’s a month out plus a bit of recovery time. You’ve got to feel sorry for the boy, it’s hard to recover from an injury only to be injured again.

“The news is not good. We are without Theo Walcott for longer than expected. We thought it would be just 48 hours but it is a medial knee ligament, which is what I feared after the game. He will be out for three to four weeks.”

On Saturday we had Walcott and Rosicky start the game, but for tomorrow’s game, they’re now both injured! How quickly a squad can change – only a few days ago, we were analysing the problems we’ll have when we have a fit squad. Eduardo and Bendtner as also both out, so it looks like it’s going to be a thin squad. Actually the squad was announced today, take a look:

Vito Mannone, Manuel Almunia, Carlos Vela, Robin van Persie, William Gallas, Bacary Sagna, Kieran Gibbs, Thomas Vermaelen, Mikael Silvestre, Gael Clichy, Andrey Arshavin, Fran Merida, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Cesc Fabregas, Emmanuel Eboue, Abou Diaby and Alex Song.

Actually not that weak.

We’ll probably see Clichy and Sagna come back into the first XI – I’d like to see Vela, Van Persie and Arshavin make up the front three, but I have a sneaky suspicion that Eboue will play and Vela will be on the bench. More team news tomorrow…

In other news, the good news is that Nasri is set to play in the reserves against Wolves on Wednesday and so will Fabianksi, so it’s like 2 in 2 out at the moment… hmmm very annoying.

And finally, I’ll leave you with an Arsene Wenger prediction…

“What is interesting in the League is it is much tighter than everybody predicted before the season,” said Wenger. “There are six or seven teams that have a chance at the moment.  ”So we have all to be happy, take that potential in an intelligent way and think that when we are cruising we have to keep focussed and not lose it. Chelsea have lost against difficult but not unbeatable teams. For a while everybody thought Chelsea would be out of reach but that was certainly not the case this weekend and that gives everybody a possibility. Sometimes the fixtures [make a difference] as well. We were lucky to play at home this weekend but Liverpool played away. It’s difficult away from home. After the last international break we lost at Manchester City. If you look the two teams that lost at the weekend, Chelsea and Liverpool, played away.”

Interesting from Arsene… I wish there was only one team that could win the league and that was us… but hey… it’s going to be a challenging season!