Liverpool vs Arsenal Preview

Sunday 2nd September and both Arsenal and Liverpool have yet to register a win in the Premier League. After today’s game, for one team or perhaps both, that will remain the same – in the media, it’s “whoever loses this game is in crisis”. We finished above Liverpool last season and although we’ve lost two players, we’ve added the missing link between midfield and the striking berth in Santi Cazorla. Liverpool have been doing some business in the transfer window, have a new team and a new manager. From a betting perspective, they are favourites, but in reality, with the squad we have, shouldn’t we be?

The team news ahead of the game is status quo from last game – although Koscielny is fit, he’s lacking match practice and I don’t think Arsene will disrupt a defence that hasn’t conceded a goal this season. The news is that both Szcznesy and Fabianski will miss out and we’ll see Mannone in goal again, but no confirmation of that…

The team line up may well be:

Mannone

Jenkinson – Mertersacker – Vermaelen (c) – Gibbs

Arteta – Diaby

Walcott – Cazorla – Podolski

Giroud

Despite the form of Gervinho and Oxlade, I think Arsene will be keen to bed in Podolski and Giroud and give them both a start to try and get them working and scoring. Theo loves playing at Anfield and after what’s been going on, and the potential bad reception from home fans at the Emirates, it makes a lot of sense for Arsene to play him today.

If we do play the team above, then the bench could be: Martinez, Koscielny, Djourou, Santos, Coquelin, Oxlade, Gervinho

It’s an interesting time at Anfield too and a period of transition for them too – their team has changed a little from last season, with the likes of Kuyt out and the likes of Borini in… let’s see how they could line up today:

Reina

Johnson – Agger – Skrtel – Enrique

Allen – Sahin

Sterling – Gerrard – Suarez

Borini

Liverpool will play in a similar formation to us and I hope we see a slightly more attacking game. The problem we’ve had is that we’ve not had the space in the opposition defence to exploit – Stoke and Sunderland both defending in numbers – today will be a big test. Our defensive record has been sound, but similarly it will be a good test of the defence up against the quality in Livepool.

Arsene spoke about the game and had this to say:

“We have worked on our defending and I think we are doing a good job. Last year that we had the lowest number of shots against us in the league. But we have worked on it again with Steve Bould. So far this season, we have played against two teams who defended more than they attacked against us. But the real tests will come when we go to places like Liverpool and see how strong we are as a team defensively. I am confident we will be strong back there but, of course, as well as that we want to score goals because that is our mark, our brand. I am confident we can do that too.”

No matter the transfers, no matter the players, no matter the first two games, today is a big game, we are the Arsenal and we need to get behind our team… Team news around 1pm today…

Come on you Gooners!

Arsenal vs Sunderland: Match Preview

It’s finally here – the start of the Premiership season. We face Sunderland at home and it’s a new Arsenal squad for us this season. It’s an interesting upheaval of the squad and we’ll see where the new Arsenal takes us. It’s unusual to see so much activity and change to the first XI, but it seems that Arsene is not letting anything in the way of our success any more – if a player doesn’t want to be here, move him on – sign players of quality that want to be here.

Before we talk about Van Persie and Song, let’s take a look at my predicted team line up…

Szcznesy

Coquelin – Mertersacker – Vermaelen (c) - Gibbs 

Arteta - Diaby

Walcott - Cazorla –  Gervinho

Podolski

With a bench of… Fabianski, Santos, Djourou, Jenkinson, Ramsey, Oxlade, Giroud

With Song so heavily linked away from the club, even if he is still with us come the game, he won’t feature. Arshavin, Bendtner and Park will also be missing from the match squad, I presume, all those three looking for new clubs.

The first XI looks very interesting to me – I’ve taken out Giroud and put in Gervinho because the Ivorian looks much more fit & raring to go than this time last season – he has been very impressible in pre-season and I’m just drooling over seeing him play with Cazorla and Podolski. Giroud has been good too, and we’ve got a good 14 / 15 players who could all be considered first team and it’s anyone’s guess who will start and who will be better than someone else. I’m basing the line up above and opinions purely on the Cologne friendly!

The key thing for us is not the issues off the field, but the performances on the field. A good start will put us into good stead, and it’s really important to win tomorrow. We had a very bad start last season and despite a good patch of form, we never quite made it. This season has to be different. Of course, we have a new leader in TV5… and here’s a snippet from his programme notes tomorrow:

“It makes me really happy and proud to be Arsenal captain – it’s a real honour. I won’t change the way I am, though. The boss makes you captain because of the way you are, so I won’t change how I am in the dressing room or outside. I want to lead by example, and do as well as I can on the pitch. Maybe I am not much of a talker away from the pitch, but I want to lead the team through the way I play. Every captain is different, everyone has his own personality and does it in his own way. Robin did it really well last year, and of course what he did on the pitch was great as well. But away from that he did a lot of team building, making sure the team was a real team, and I want to do things like that as well.”

I think TV5 will be an excellent leader – he has a little bit of a tendency to go forward, which may be good to cut out… but overall, he leads by example and that’s what we need.

Til tomorrow…

Arsenal vs Swansea – The Comeback Game…

On Saturday we face newly promoted Swansea and it’s our first competitive game since the 8-2 defeat to Man United – hopefully that’s the last time I’m going to have to mention that this season, well, until we play them again – and the team need to bounce back. We’ve got 1 point from our first 9 available this season, we sit in 17th position, have seen a lot of players go out the door… BUT… have seen quite a few come through too…

Our five new recruits, Mertersacker, Santos, Arteta, Benayoun and Park may all be included in the squad for Saturday’s game – with suspensions to Gervinho and Song and injuries to Wilshere & Vermaelen. So without further ado, here’s my predicted line up for the weekend’s game:

Szcznesy

Sagna – Mertersacker – Koscielny – Gibbs

Frimpong – Arteta

Walcott – Ramsey – Arshavin

Van Persie

With a bench of Fabianski, Jenkinson, Coquelin, Djourou, Benayoun, Oxlade, Park, Chamakh

In yesterday’s blog, we took a look at where Arteta would play and based on his role at Everton and the players available, I think he will be deployed in the Jack Wilshere role – a role which is a little deeper than many think he will play in – as it’s his first game, he may rotate a little with Ramsey, who can play a little deeper too. Gervinho looks like he will be our first choice for the left of midfield and perhaps even the likes of Park and Benayoun will provide more adequate cover than Arshavin, but for the  moment, I think he’ll get the nod. Walcott was rested for England’s second game mid-week, but rumours are that he is fine to play on Saturday.

At the back, we’ve got another two newbies in Mertersacker and Santos – although Santos could be a very good signing – most of our attention is falling on our new centre back. International centre back. With 76 caps. We all thought he’d feature alongside Vermaelen for an ideal back two – but for the moment, whilst our vice-captain is out of action – he will surely be deployed next to Koscielny. Mertersacker has been saying all the right things and more recently, gave his account about Tony Adams…

“We didn’t get many pictures of him on the television but Adams was a legend here. He is a special one for me. 
 When I was looking at English football I always looked to Arsenal and he was one of the great defenders when I was ten or 12 years old. I knew he was the centre-half for Arsenal.
 I like the players [like Adams] very much – I have enjoyed seeing them over the years. I hope I can improve my performances here and get better and better – I want to be useful for the team.”

Sounds like our new centre back is a bit of a footballer – and I mean that in the sense as a real footballer, someone who loves the game, someone who prefers to read, watch and play than club, drink or party…

Our number one goalkeeper was in scintillating form for Poland when they played and beat Germany mid-week, I know quite a few people who were simply amazed at his performance, a performance which won him man of the match. If you’ve not seen it yet, take a look at these highlights:

The key thing for the weekend is to break down the Swansea defence – their 5-1 defeat by Man City means that they’ll be looking to shut up shop and play us on the counter attack. We have Arteta joining the ranks and the very attacking left side of our team with Santos & Arshavin, so let’s hope we have enough to break down their defence….

Come on you reds!!!

[Update]

Arsene has given us some further team info this morning, this is what he said:

We have Diaby and Wilshere (both ankle) out. Vermaelen has had his surgery, which went well. So there are three players out there. The other one who may not be available is Rosicky, who came back with a kick on his knee. We’ll see how he is tomorrow morning. Kieran is back. Theo has been working hard and is fit. All the others players came back from international duty in good shape. Everyone else is available. Emmanuel Frimpong is back too. Santos is a bit short because he has not had competition since the Copa America. He is practicing well though. We also have Gervinho and Song suspended but it is their last game out from the Newcastle match. Jenkinson is suspended as well after two yellow cards at Manchester United. Squillaci (calf) is not back yet.

And that should clarify everything… (I’ve updated the team news above too!)

Game On!

Morning All…

It’s game on in the Premiership now, with all those International games over. It was a decent International break this time round – a break that was very much needed – our form going into the Internationals wasn’t great and of course, we had a spate of injuries. Now that the Premiership is back, we’ve got 9 games to win the league… despite our draw against WBA, it’s not over yet – we need to start by winning against Blackburn at home on Saturday and see where that takes us!

The good news is – I believe at the time of writing – that we will be able to select Cesc Fabregas, Alex Song and Theo Walcott for the game… it’s been a while since we’ve seen those three players, that’s for sure… and just to scare you… we also have Abou Diaby back… * gulp * but with Jack having played two Internationals and looking tired, he may slot back into the team…

And the Dutch coach says Robin is fine after his injury scare:

“Robin got a knee to his thigh – with luck he could play for Arsenal this weekend.”

With luck? I don’t know what that means… I mean, how painful is a bruised thigh be?

So, a little earlier than usual… but we could field this team…

Almunia, Sagna, Squillaci, Koscielny, Clichy, Wilshere, Song, Walcott, Cesc, Nasri and Van Persie…

Did I just hear someone say TheoVanNasregas?

It could well happen, the golden four players who seem to have a scoring and winning mentality (in the league anyway!)…!!

There will be lots more team news tomorrow for sure, but for now, I just want to talk about the David Rocastle tribute this weekend. The Arsenal legend passed away 10 years ago today and in memory of the great man, @SheWore, who runs the She Wore A Yellow Ribbon blog, is part of a group of people organising an evening at the Rocket, this Saturday.

And to quote:

The night will also have some of Rocky’s family in attendance along with ex-players, famous Arsenal fans, an auction of Arsenal memorabilia and much more to be announced. Tickets are priced at a minimum donation of £10 and all profits will be going to Great Ormond Street Hospital at the request of Rocky’s family.

Read more here.

The event is this Saturday at the Rocket (April 2nd), from 8pm – 10pm… There will be an auction, and so far it includes a signed shirt of Cesc Fabregas as well as several other amazing items!

Well, that’s a wrap for today, but I expect to hear a little from Arsene later on, and will give you my thoughts this time tomorrow!!