Birmingham vs Arsenal – The Preview

Yes, it’s here a day earlier than usual… the big weekend preview… as you all know this week has been one where thoughts have been shared between the midweek fixtures, the game this Saturday and the big game next Wednesday… we saw Chelsea slip back into second position, with the table now looking like this:

Man United – played 31, 69 points

Chelsea – played 31, 68 points

Arsenal – played 31, 67 points

And Sp*rs of course, beating Fulham was a blessing in disguise, as we had to play them just days after the Barcelona away game and now we have roughly a week before we play them… good for us and also a good sidetrack for them, if they do beat Portsmouth, or even if they don’t, playing them straight away is more likely to be a good thing, as they wouldn’t have rested players, leaving us the fresher of the two teams (for once…) and if Gallas doesn’t make it back before then, it gives us more time to get him ready.

Yesterday’s post was designed to look at the other side – how Barcelona will cope with our midfield and our attack, if they can at all… as yes, they have a good squad, with one stand out player in Messi, but they must look at us and having seen our game against Porto, be thinking, how do we stop Arshavin, Walcott, Nasri and Cesc? Let alone the mercurial skills of Emmanuel Eboue…

But before all of that, and as we have done for the last 6 games (6 games that we have all won – 6 in a row)… we need to concentrate on the next game, and that is against Birmingham at St. Andrews on Saturday. The Midlands team having played last night, and having lost to Blackburn means that they will be tired – naturally – more tired than us, considering we’ve had no midweek game. The interesting thing with Birmingham is that at one point, they were in some really good form, winning 6 in a row and when I saw this fixture, I thought it would be a really hard one – but on recent form, they shouldn’t pose as much a threat as they did earlier this season – but throw form out of the window – we saw with Blackburn vs Chelsea, there are no easy games in this league.

Arsene believes we need to have a perfect finish, which means extending out 6 games to 13…

“There are three teams in the race and it is down to the team who are the most consistent. We can only focus on our own performances. We know our route has to be perfect. To be perfect it is important we focus on our performances. We need some help from the other teams, but we know that will only work if we are consistent and keep our momentum. We have created a fantastic momentum and we have created a great belief within our squad. The consistency of our run is the most important.”

Looking at the team news ahead of the game and we’re without 3 of our first three defenders (Vermaelen suspended, Gallas short term injury, Djourou long term injury), so we’re down to the backup players in Campbell, Silvestre and makeshift centre half Alex Song. With next week’s game in mind, and the knowledge that Campbell can’t play more than one game a week, we may see Silvestre and Song playing this weekend, with Campbell and Vermaelen coming in for the midweek game against Barcelona. If we didn’t have Barcelona mid-week, we’d probably see Campbell and Song, so it’s interesting to see if Arsene prioritises the league or the Champions League.

Earlier this week, there was a doubt over Niklas Bendtner’s involvement in the game this weekend, but Arsene revealed that he should be back in contention this weekend.

“He should be OK. He is not back in training yet because he has an ankle problem, but he will have a late test tomorrow morning and should be available. I have not picked the team yet, but I expect him to be available. The team news for the weekend is that of course we lost Thomas Vermaelen because he is suspended and everybody else should be available who played last week.”

Good news regarding William Gallas – he may return to the club tomorrow, to start training again after an extended period out.

“He is back today from his rehabilitation and is back in full training I believe tomorrow, Saturday or Sunday. But he is too short to be available for the weekend of course and certainly as well for the midweek game. We have to assess him, it is too early to say [whether he is available for Wolves next Saturday].”

From Wolves onwards, he may be fit, so the return leg – the away leg – at Barcelona may have him and Vermaelen line up together for the first time in ages… I have a suspicion that Sol will play against Birmingham as Arsene clearly rates him higher than Silvestre –  he has played two games in a row before this season, so only the boss will make that decision…

Okay, let’s have a look at the team news ahead on Saturday’s game:

Almunia

Sagna- Campbell – Song – Clichy

Denilson – Diaby

Rosicky – Cesc – Arshavin

Eduardo

With a bench of Fabianski, Eboue, Silvestre, Eastmond, Nasri, Walcott, Bendtner

Having written that team out, it’s noticable that I’ve rested Nasri and Bendtner. With Rosicky back in the squad and raring to go, it may be wise to give Nasri a rest – even if we didn’t have Barcelona next week, I would have probably suggested the same thing and with Bendtner still recovering, it may be apt for Eduardo to start ahead of him…

Arsene is keen on focusing on the Birmingham game, naturally, he has talked about only considering the next game – against Birmingham in his team selection:

“I will pick him for the next game because for me the next game is an important one. I don’t consider Barcelona for the next game. At the back we need to be solid to win this game [at Birmingham]. We fight the whole season to be in there and this is a priority. I believe my players are very intelligent and if we were distracted it would mean we were not [intelligent]. The best way to prepare for Barcelona is to win the game before.  We have fought like mad until now to be in the position we are in. It’s ten months preparation, fight and work to be where we are in the championship so we want to take advantage of that and win the Birmingham game.”

Well, on that case, we may see Nasri and Bendtner start the game… it’s going to be an interesting weekend – for the first time in ages, we really don’t know who will line up!

Til tomorrow…

  • dampatti

    Give yourself a 10 if you strongly agree, a zero if you strongly disagree or any integer in between.

    1. I would not replace RvP with Torres, Drogba or Rooney

    2. I would not replace Cesc with Gerrard or Lampard

    3. I would not replace Song with Essien

    4. I would not replace Almunia with Cech, Reina or van der Sar

    5. I would not replace Clichy with Cole or Evra

    6. I would not replace Gallas or Vermaelen with Terry, Alex, Ferdinand or Vidic

    7. I think that both Eboue and Sagna are better than any other RB in the EPL

    8. I would not invite two of Fletcher, Anderson, Deco, Ballack, or Lucas to replace two of our group of Diaby, Denilson and Ramsey (and Nasri & Rosicky)

    9. I would not invite two of Rodriguez, Kuyt, Benayoun, Nani, Valencia, Cole, Malouda to replace two of our group of Walcott, Arshavin, Nasri and Rosicky (and Eboue & Bendtner)

    .

    Some of the questions are not so easy. I think that Essien is better than Song, but not enough better to go through the disruption of the exchange. And can Essien fit in (twice) to the one touch football that opened up WH Porno and almost put Cesc in on goal.

    I score 90, but anything over 60 would indicate that you are very pleased with our team.

  • Yemi

    rsene wenger has said he is sticking with sol for next match (B’ham). B52 is also likely to be available.
    So who pairs sol ? Silvestre or song ? Both are not that mobile so i guess we’ll play a sol silvestre combo with song in front of them and ebuoe or diaby in midfield to assist in both attack and defense. I am also resting nasri.

    I guess we’ll go with a 4-5-1

    ———–Alumina———
    sagna—sol—silvestre—clichy

    eboue-diaby-cesc-song-arshavin

    ———–Bendtnar———

    or a 4-4-2

    ———Alumina——-———
    sagna—sol—silvestre—clichy

    eboue/theo—diaby—song—arshavin

    ——––cesc——Bendtnar–———

  • Yemi

    1. I would not replace RvP with Torres, Drogba or Rooney (5)

    2. I would not replace Cesc with Gerrard or Lampard (10)

    3. I would not replace Song with Essien (5)

    4. I would not replace Almunia with Cech, Reina or van der Sar (5)

    5. I would not replace Clichy with Cole or Evra (7)

    6. I would not replace Gallas or Vermaelen with Terry, Alex, Ferdinand or Vidic (5)

    7. I think that both Eboue and Sagna are better than any other RB in the EPL (10)

    8. I would not invite two of Fletcher, Anderson, Deco, Ballack, or Lucas to replace two of our group of Diaby, Denilson and Ramsey (and Nasri & Rosicky) (10)

    9. I would not invite two of Rodriguez, Kuyt, Benayoun, Nani, Valencia, Cole, Malouda to replace two of our group of Walcott, Arshavin, Nasri and Rosicky (and Eboue & Bendtner) (7)

  • Pissed off

    1. I would not replace RvP with Torres, Drogba or Rooney (5)

    2. I would not replace Cesc with Gerrard or Lampard (10)

    3. I would not replace Song with Essien (5)

    4. I would not replace Almunia with Cech, Reina or van der Sar (0)

    5. I would not replace Clichy with Cole or Evra (5)

    6. I would not replace Gallas or Vermaelen with Terry, Alex, Ferdinand or Vidic (5)

    7. I think that both Eboue and Sagna are better than any other RB in the EPL (10)

    8. I would not invite two of Fletcher, Anderson, Deco, Ballack, or Lucas to replace two of our group of Diaby, Denilson and Ramsey (and Nasri & Rosicky) (10)

    9. I would not invite two of Rodriguez, Kuyt, Benayoun, Nani, Valencia, Cole, Malouda to replace two of our group of Walcott, Arshavin, Nasri and Rosicky (and Eboue & Bendtner) (8)

    58 – not bad

  • devday

    Pretty much agree – Almunia is probably the worst out of the four – Vidic is probably better than Gallas. On form, Torres is the best striker around, but in reality – our squad is pretty awesome – the likes of Song, Diaby, Cesc, Clichy, Nasri, Arshavin are irreplaceable…

  • devday

    News filtering in is that we may start Silvestre and Campbell this Saturday…

  • Nick

    1. I would not replace RvP with Torres, Drogba or Rooney (2)

    2. I would not replace Cesc with Gerrard or Lampard (10)

    3. I would not replace Song with Essien (5)

    4. I would not replace Almunia with Cech, Reina or van der Sar (0)

    5. I would not replace Clichy with Cole or Evra (5)

    6. I would not replace Gallas or Vermaelen with Terry, Alex, Ferdinand or Vidic (7)

    7. I think that both Eboue and Sagna are better than any other RB in the EPL (10)

    8. I would not invite two of Fletcher, Anderson, Deco, Ballack, or Lucas to replace two of our group of Diaby, Denilson and Ramsey (and Nasri & Rosicky) (7)

    9. I would not invite two of Rodriguez, Kuyt, Benayoun, Nani, Valencia, Cole, Malouda to replace two of our group of Walcott, Arshavin, Nasri and Rosicky (and Eboue & Bendtner) (7)

  • AmriGooner

    1. I would not replace RvP with Torres, Drogba or Rooney (8)

    2. I would not replace Cesc with Gerrard or Lampard (10)

    3. I would not replace Song with Essien (10)

    4. I would not replace Almunia with Cech, Reina or van der Sar (6)

    5. I would not replace Clichy with Cole or Evra (10)

    6. I would not replace Gallas or Vermaelen with Terry, Alex, Ferdinand or Vidic (10)

    7. I think that both Eboue and Sagna are better than any other RB in the EPL (10)

    8. I would not invite two of Fletcher, Anderson, Deco, Ballack, or Lucas to replace two of our group of Diaby, Denilson and Ramsey (and Nasri & Rosicky) (10)

    9. I would not invite two of Rodriguez, Kuyt, Benayoun, Nani, Valencia, Cole, Malouda to replace two of our group of Walcott, Arshavin, Nasri and Rosicky (and Eboue & Bendtner) (10)

  • JDD

    1. I would not replace RvP with Torres, Drogba or Rooney (10)

    2. I would not replace Cesc with Gerrard or Lampard (10)

    3. I would not replace Song with Essien (10)

    4. I would not replace Almunia with Cech, Reina or van der Sar (5)

    5. I would not replace Clichy with Cole or Evra (10)

    6. I would not replace Gallas or Vermaelen with Terry, Alex, Ferdinand or Vidic (10)

    7. I think that both Eboue and Sagna are better than any other RB in the EPL (10)

    8. I would not invite two of Fletcher, Anderson, Deco, Ballack, or Lucas to replace two of our group of Diaby, Denilson and Ramsey (and Nasri & Rosicky) (10)

    9. I would not invite two of Rodriguez, Kuyt, Benayoun, Nani, Valencia, Cole, Malouda to replace two of our group of Walcott, Arshavin, Nasri and Rosicky (and Eboue & Bendtner) (10)

  • Jeffo

    1. I would not replace RvP with Torres, Drogba or Rooney 5

    2. I would not replace Cesc with Gerrard or Lampard 10

    3. I would not replace Song with Essien 5

    4. I would not replace Almunia with Cech, Reina or van der Sar 0

    5. I would not replace Clichy with Cole or Evra 5

    6. I would not replace Gallas or Vermaelen with Terry, Alex, Ferdinand or Vidic 5

    7. I think that both Eboue and Sagna are better than any other RB in the EPL 10

    8. I would not invite two of Fletcher, Anderson, Deco, Ballack, or Lucas to replace two of our group of Diaby, Denilson and Ramsey (and Nasri & Rosicky)10

    9. I would not invite two of Rodriguez, Kuyt, Benayoun, Nani, Valencia, Cole, Malouda to replace two of our group of Walcott, Arshavin, Nasri and Rosicky (and Eboue & Bendtner)
    10

    60 for me.

    Did anyone here that sp*rs supporting yorkshireman Darren Gough stating that only Cesc and Sagna would get into the sp*rs team on talk shite tonight??? Stick to polishing your googlies Gough you muppet.

  • Josiah

    wenger has made the right choice to play sol i reccon

    one game at a time is a good policy

  • ny

    Bendtner may not start on Saturday.Walcott may play for 60 minutes as he will be the main weapon for counter attack against Barca.

    My team predictions

    —–———–Alumina———
    Sagna—Song—Silvestre—Clichy

    Walcott-diaby-cesc-Denilson-arshavin

    ———–——Eduardo———

  • yemi

    @ ny:
    i think ebuoe will start ahead of theo

  • ny

    yes…. but Walcott did not start in last 2 games.He will not be happy if he is overlooked in this game also.However I would like Eboue to start the game .

  • Yemi

    Dev, Great job u guys are doing on this website, this is the best gooner site i have ever visited and i hardly ever visit any other since i discovered WOA (apart from the officeial website)

  • Pissed off

    —–———–Alumina———
    Ebuoe—Sagna—Sol—Clichy

    diaby-cesc-Song

    Walcott-bendtner——arshavin

    I would go with this.

  • Sam

    Dev – As always, appreciate the site. But you’ve got to stop this place becoming a copy of other sites (namely Untold, in this instance the Gunner ranking 9 questions). You’ve got to keep this place fresh with regular updates. Gooners need their daily fix of Gunner article.

  • devday

    @ Sam:
    I’m not responsible for who write the comments on here!!
    My material is always written by me for you, the posts are always fresh!!!

  • Kuka

    @Devday: I guess what Sam is saying is that, we WOA members ought to be original with our posts / comments. Alternatively, we should give proper citation when we pluck info from other sites, pages etc. As the moderator you could probably assist in quality control. In my professional work, I detaste cut and paste work that is not well acknowledged. I am a die-hard WOA member, but am getting tired of reading the same comments on here and which appeared in other blogs already, some of which are not even Arsenal blogs.

  • goonerman
  • Yemi

    @ goonerman:
    You don’t need to worry about such articles. The writer has also forgotten that the likes of wigan, everton, aston villa etc that beat chelsea and man u were beaten by arsenal so it doesn’t bother me

  • Sam

    Kuka – thanks for completing my thought. You said it better than me! I’m proud of WOA, and I’d like to it to remain original. it’s always good to see other opinions, but with proper credit to the author.

    Dev – As the creator of WOA, I’m hoping you can set rules or boundaries.
    Some blogs opt for quantity instead of quality (number of hits vs readable material). I don’t want WOA involved in this. As we’re reaching the peak of a season with Arsenal having a real chance, we are all hungry for anything to read about our beloved team and I don’t think WOA should lose out. Am I making sense or am I losing the plot?

  • Yemi

    @ Sam:
    true talk

  • Sam

    “Carlo Ancelotti thinks Chelsea’s Champions League exit could be an advantage.”

    Oh yeh! Keep telling yourself that!

  • JDD

    bernabeu bernabue we’re the famous ARSENAL and we’re going to the bernabeu-bernabeu bernabue we’re the famous ARSENAL and we’re going to the bernabeu