Schalke vs Arsenal – It ain’t going to be easy….

Howdie Folks…

Firstly a massive thank you to Jat85 and Debs for some excellent blogging in my absence, whilst I was relaxing in the sun in Thailand. Some excellent blogs, and some great comments. Awesome stuff.

I’ll speak in more detail after the game, but pre-game injury news is as follows:

Ramsey (groin), Gibbs (thigh), Rosicky (tendon), Oxlade-Chamberlain (hip), Gervinho (ankle), Fabianski (ankle), Diaby (thigh), Walcott (flu)

What does that mean for us? Well, it means that we’re actually down to our bare bones… There is news coming in that Vermaelen may be moved to left back, which may see the following formation:

Mannone

Sagna – Metersacker – Koscielny – Vermaelen (c)

Arteta – Coquelin

Cazorla – Wilshere – Podolski

Giroud

I don’t think we have any other options, although Walcott may have a last check to see if he can play. Personally, I think the above team is actually more balanced with Vermaelen left back and Coquelin in the middle than the team we played against Man United.

The bench would be Shea, Santos, Frimpong, Jenkinson, Gnarby, Arshavin, Chamakh.

Let’s see if I’m right… I’ll be back post match.

Reading v Arsenal, Capital One Cup 4th Round Preview

Tonight we take on Reading at the Madejski Stadium in a game that was rumoured to be the return of Jack Wilshere. We were all grateful for his early return against QPR at the weekend. After the game the manager confirmed he would be resting Jack in the week, to see how he responds after a long absence, and to (we hope) allow him to recover in time for the game at Old Trafford on Saturday.

It had been a difficult week with defeats against Norwich and Schalke in quick succession. So much so that I was really looking forward to the League Cup match. A game which will feature some fringe and reserve players, and a game in which you expect the commitment and urgency to be miles better than what we saw in those two defeats just mentioned. The QPR victory was, of course, welcomed with open arms, and the hope is that it represents the end of a two-game blip, and the beginning of an unbeaten run in what is looking like a very, very testing November. And November always seems to be a troublesome period for The Arsenal.

The performance against QPR was nowhere near what we were producing before the international break, but it was noticeably better than the utter rubbish we saw last week. When you’re down, the only way is up. Looking ahead to the game tonight, you would expect to see a completely different first XI to the game at the weekend. Here is my guess on what the lineup will be:

Martinez

Jenkinson Koscielny Djourou Miquel

Walcott Gnabry Frimpong Coquelin Arshavin

Giroud

On the official website, Szczesny is seen training with the squad for this game and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him start ahead of Martinez, to get him back in the swing of things as quickly as possible.  Walcott played only 10 minutes on Saturday and with The Ox seemingly still injured I reckon Theo will start this one. A team along those lines would certainly cause problems, but our defence is by no means watertight at the moment so it could be a close one.

In the past we have seen some fantastic performances from our League Cup teams and I expect this to be an entertaining game with a few goals. Reading scored, but also shipped, three goals at the weekend and with our pacy youngsters I’m predicting more of the same. The game is the featured match on Sky Sports so it will be available to watch live to viewers in the UK. No need to find a dodgy stream for this one thankfully.

Reading will field their strongest team, but we are more than capable of overcoming them. Last week at the AGM Arsene quite rightly labelled this competition as our lowest priority. Realistically speaking, however, this and the FA Cup appear yet again to be our most likely chances of silverware, so here’s hoping we can progress to the Quarter Finals.

I will be at the game tonight and will be tweeting live from the match with photos and comments. I hope to provide a positive review tomorrow! Until then.

jat85

Twitter: @j1mm7t

 

 

Arsenal vs QPR: A must win game!

After a positive period cultimating in the win away at West Ham, we’ve had a bit of a horrid time with a loss to newly promoted Norwich and then a home defeat to Schalke in the Champions League. Arsene and the board met with fans yesterday at the annual AGM and it was much of the sameness. The AGM has been covered a lot, so I won’t delve into that right now.

We play QPR tomorrow, in what is literally a must win game. Anything but a win and we’ll have much greater problems with the league and the fans than we have now. The team hasn’t been playing well, and we’re looking for something different tomorrow – inspiration… and cue the return of Jack Wilshere. The English midfielder has had two reserve games and is looking fine now, and with all sorts of problems happening, I think his return could be the impoteous we need.

I don’t know what’s in Arsene’s mind, but if it were me, I’d play the following team:

Mannone (no choice)

Jenkinson – Mertersacker – Vermaelen – Sagna

Arteta – Coquelin

Cazorla – Wilshere – Oxlade

Giroud

I think Sagna and Oxlade could do a lot of damage on the left, as they had done on the right previously… I’d take Podolski out of the team – he looks knackered and he needs to know his place isn’t guaranteed. Giroud must be super hungry and Wilshere, Oxlade and Cazorla just look an amazing three behind him.

For me, Coquelin has definitely earnt a place in the side, far more effective than Aaron Ramsey…. however, what will Arsene play? I think he’ll play:

Mannone (no choice)

Jenkinson – Mertersacker – Vermaelen – Santos

Arteta – Ramsey

Oxlade – Cazorla – Podolski

Gervinho

Why? Because I don’t think he wants to play Sagna or Wilshere just yet. With the Capital One Cup coming up on Tuesday, I think he wants to ease them in gently. Personally, I’d say play Santos in the 5th priority cup and play the best team you can.

I’m boarding a flight to Thailand right now, and with Totti in Vietnam, Debs and JAT85 will be taking over the blog for the next week… We’ve had some interesting comments recently, keep them coming…

I’ll leaving you with some inspirational words from the captain…

“I should stress that the last two results have not been about our mentality. Everyone here works hard, and I can honestly say that the attitude in this group is fantastic. A few weeks ago we played a good game at West Ham and won 3-1, and you don’t lose that in the space of seven days. Two negative results can put you down very quickly in football, but a couple of good games will do exactly the opposite. Of course it’s been a disappointing and frustrating week, but we know we have the quality to get back on track.”

Adios for now…

CL: Arsenal vs Schalke 04 – Arsene’s learning…

Back in the good old days, when Arsenal were slightly better than they were now, we had a different formation for Europe and away games compared to home games. Home and away in Europe, you’d see the classic 4-5-1 formation, whereas at home against the likes of a newly promoted team, you’d see 4-4-2.

Personally, I think the same applies to the current squad. At home against a lower league team, I think we’re more balanced with Giroud up front, 3 forwards behind and any one of the midfielders to hold (such as Arteta and Ramsey)… but against harder teams or even in away games, when we’re not quite getting a foot in the ground, we’ve got to look at putting in a holding midfielder.

In the previous post, in the comments, suggestions that we should have moved Ramsey outside of the deep two and installed Coquelin are very much merited, and from what I’m hearing today, it sounds like Arsene’s learnt a valuable lesson about balance since the Norwich game. Reports coming in are suggesting the following line up:

Mannone

Jenkinson – Koscielny – Vermaelen – Santos

Arteta – Coquelin

Ramsey – Cazorla – Podolski

Gervinho

With the injury list of Oxlade-Chamberlain (hip), Fabianski (back), Walcott (lung), Rosicky (tendon), Gibbs (thigh), Diaby (thigh), Szczesny (ankle), Sagna, Wilshere (match practice), it means our bench has issues. Martinez has been on the bench for the last few games, but he is not eligible for tonight’s game, so I think James Shea will get the nod… meaning the bench will be:

Shea, Djourou, Mertersacker, Frimpong, Gnarby, Arshavin, Giroud

On James Shea, the boss spoke during our previous CL game and said:

“He was on the list as goalkeeper No 5 at the beginning of the season and now he is No 2! That shows you how quickly football can change. Martinez is ineligible for the B list and Wojciech [Szczesny] and Fabianski are injured.”

And more recently, i.e. today:

“I’ve spoken to Mannone – we both know mistakes can happen to every big ‘keeper. But I am not tempted to play Martinez. The biggest quality of a ‘keeper is experience. Putting an even less experienced player in now wouldn’t be the right thing.”

As Martinez is injured, I don’t think Arsene was referring to playing him today, more a general comment.

Tonight’s game is very important, we are not in good form at the moment, we have an ever increasing injury list and Schalke are a good team. But, look at that starting XI. It’s pretty good. It can win… At home we’re supposed to have the home advantage, so I emplore anyone going to the game to get behind the team as much as possible…

Let’s create the 12th man tonight and give some confidence back to the team…

Norwich City v Arsenal: The Preview

The Premiership is back, it’s been gone for so long, I can’t really remember what happened last time out… but for us, October will be a vital month. I’ll start today’s blog with a quote for Sir Arsene Wenger III:

“In October the moment of truth starts for the team. The league establishes itself a little bit and the Champions League goes to decisive moments. Therefore of course, it’s important to be decisive and convincing.”

We play Norwich tomorrow at Carrow Road… we have a CL home game against Schalke – being German, they will be tough opposition, then it’s QPR and then Reading. We need 9 points from the next three Premier league games to get back into the title race. Being 7 points behind Chelsea already means against the likes of Norwich, QPR and Reading, we must absolutely without a shadow of a doubt win those games.

Team News

Team news ahead of the game sees the return of Jack Wilshere to the squad – or so we all think – Bacary Sagna could also be included in the squad. I doubt either will start, but we’ll see what the manager does. Gibbs is a player who is definitely out along with his English compatriot in Theo Walcott, who is still recovering from the attack during England duty! Diaby and Rosicky look to be out of action for the next month or so, so it’s basically as we were. In the goalkeeping department, both Szcznesy and Fabianski are out injured, so Mannone and Martinez will be our keepers in the squad.

My predicted XI is:

Mannone

Jenkinson – Mertersacker – Vermaelen – Santos

Arteta – Ramsey

Gervinho – Cazorla – Podolski

Giroud

And for the bench, I think we’ll see:

 Martinez, Koscielny, Sagna, Coquelin, Wilshere, Oxlade, Arshavin

The manager has been in the press and has been talking about our style and how we’re more suited to away games. I’d have to agree. At home, it sometimes quite frustrating and breaking down teams becomes laborious. The good thing about away games is that the onus is on the home team to come out and attack. This means that they will always look to move forward and this leaves gaps.

“The games are a bit more open and because we have a positive attitude away from home. Sometimes we take more advantage of our chances [on the road]. I’m very happy with the behaviour of the team, [be it] away from home or at home. Maybe [we’ve] played with less freedom at home – with a bit more pressure. Let’s do well at Norwich, and I think that will put the team in a better position at home as well.”

There is absolutely no reason why we can’t beat this Norwich side. Individually, we have a great collection of players and they are all in form – Giroud scoring for France mid-week, Cazorla playing for Spain and looking good. Arteta’s had a rest, Gervinho’s got 5 goals this season and Podolski’s free kick was goal of the month.

Here are some interesting facts too!

  • Arsenal have not lost at Carrow Road in 11 visits since a 1-0 defeat on Boxing Day 1984 (W4, D7). They have also won a League Cup tie in Norfolk during that time.
  • Arsene Wenger’s side have scored 18 goals scored in their last five Premier League meetings against Norwich, who have also scored in each of those matches.
  • Norwich are winless in their last nine matches against Arsenal home and away since a 4-2 victory at Highbury on the first day of the Premier League in August 1992.

We’ve got the late kick off tomorrow, 5.30pm, so we’ll see where that takes us and where we start off in the table. A win tomorrow is very much required….

Come on you Gooners!!

Arsenal vs Chelsea: The Preview (And Coventry Comments)

Happy weekend to all… I started writing this blog on Thursday, tried to continue on Friday, but life pressures meant I got nowhere with it… I’ll start today with a few comments about the Coventry game – first of all, I know that this is just the Coventry game and therefore not something that we should focus on too much, but how good was Coquelin? That boy is going to be something special. I really hope he gets sufficient game time and stays this season. He’s got everything in his locker, and most importantly, he has the desire and will to win.

Okay, so I won’t blog now, as it’s game time… but I’ll be back post game to tell you how we beat Chelsea 6-1… I’ll leave you with the likely team news…

Mannone

Jenkinson – Koscielny – Vermaelen – Gibbs

Arteta – Diaby

Ramsey – Cazorla – Podolski

Gervinho

Let’s see what we’re made of…

Man City 1 – 1 Arsenal…

Wow, what a game, and what a super duper Sunday that was. The Premier League has been very exciting this season and today just added to what has been a very interesting start to the season. The news that Vermaelen was out only hit me around game time… and I was a little bemused to see Ramsey start on the right of midfield.

The team that started the game was:

Mannone

Jenkinson – Mertersacker  Koscielny – Gibbs

Arteta – Diaby

Ramsey – Cazorla – Podolski

Gervinho

Gervinho has been preferred to Giroud in recent games, and I think that’s more to do with his pace than anything else. He has the ability to dribble past and get into dangerous areas and after a fine game against Southampton, he was again preferred. He didn’t quite have the game you need from a striker as he failed to make a striking impact on the game, and it’s a bit worrying that Gervinho doesn’t quite fit the bill and Giroud hasn’t got his scoring boots on.

We dominated the early stages and brought the game to City. They counter attacked and did it well and the first half was pretty even, with Arsenal edging it through some excellent play in midfield but City always looking dangerous. However, despite the early exchanges, it was City that went ahead through a Lescott corner when Mannone lost the flight of the ball from a corner. He’d played well all game, so it was a shame that he made the mistake, but take nothing away from Lescott either, it was a good delivery and header. The goal came on the 40th minute and it was a little bit of a sucker blow.

We had been playing well in midfield and defence but without the finisher at the moment, we spurned a lot of chances. In the second half, we again brought the game to City and were finally rewarded when Koscielny poked in from rebound from a corner, emphatic and too fast for Hart to stop it. There were a few moment of heart in mouth, but we rode any late storms and the introduction of Coquelin was a sign we were settling for the draw.

A draw away at City is something that we can be proud of – the way we played was also very pleasing. Arsene spoke after the game…

I am pleased because [a point] was the minimum we deserved today. I am pleased also with the quality of our performance and our spirit. Also a bit frustrated because I feel there was room to do more. We had early chances and very late chances, especially Gervinho at the edge of the box where he missed the target. But overall I hope this will reinforce our belief and confidence and reassure us about our potential in this league.

As I write this, it’s time to board my flight, Nairobi to London after a wedding in Mombasa… next up is the Capital One Cup and I’m sure it’ll be a very different team mid-week.

Until tomorrow…

Man City vs Arsenal Preview – The BIG Game!

We travel to Man City tomorrow in what becomes one of our biggest games of the season. I don’t deny it, playing Man City always seems like a bit of a grudge match – with two clubs playing each other with completely different philosophies. It’s a battle of the self-sustaining model of Arsenal vs the splash the cash model of Man City.

The fact that we’re close to them in terms of playing staff is testimony to our scouting network, training and player development despite our financial constraints. All this talk is fine and dandy, but the real talking is on the pitch. For us, tomorrow marks the first real test of the season. We’ve deployed Arteta as a defensive pivot this season and without Alex Song, don’t really play with a defensive midfielder in our ranks – yes, this worked against the teams we’ve played so far, but will it work against Man City. We’ll find out tomorrow…

Vice-captain Mikel Arteta was in the press discussing the game and talked about the impact a win would make:

“It’s still too early, whatever happens on Sunday, and I don’t think it’s going to change anything. But if you get points there, and you win then you make a bit of a statement. It grows the confidence of the team and everyone around it who believes we are as good as anyone in this league. These are good places to show that. It’s a huge test for us. We’ve been playing well. We played really good when we went to Liverpool – that’s a tough place to get three points but we did it.  [This is] another test. Man City haven’t lost at home for a while.  We know it’s going to be difficult but I’m sure they will be thinking the same thing.”

Of course, a win would be magnificent, and would make an excellent impact and statement to the league and league table. But it is early, and our team is relatively new and we do have some inexperience dotted around – sometimes, inexperience can be a positive thing, as it spurns hunger, desire and innovation on pitch, but sometimes, it can be negative if it relates to mistakes – Jenkinson & Metersacker are two players who’ve shone for some parts of the season, but also shown that they can make errors. I believe Koscielny is back and ready to start tomorrow. We’ll have to see what Le Boss does… the potential line up could be…

Mannone

Jenkinson – Koscielny – Vermaelen (c) – Gibbs

Arteta – Diaby

Oxlade – Cazorla – Gervinho

Podolski

Mannone has played well this season and the Szcz has been marred with injuries and bad form, so I don’t think Arsene will make the switch. Similarly with Giroud, he’s not been firing on all cylinders and tomorrow’s game is no time to experiment with integrating a new striker into the team, it’s more important to play a team that can win, and I think that’s why Le Boss will chose the team above.

Arsene spoke about the hunger in the squad:

“I have no doubt about the desire and hunger of my squad. It will just tell you how strong we are at the moment. I believe we are quite strong but we have some room for improvement. All is not perfect but the signs we are giving are very good and very strong. The hunger is massive in this squad. They want to do well. They are focused. They want to win. We want to continue to improve because we have many new players. It is a big test to see how strong we are.”

For me, player for player, there isn’t too much difference between to the two sides, and a lot of the game will come down to who wants it more. Let’s hope we do and let’s hope we come away with a result of some time. It’s time to beat City and time to show the league what we’re made of…

Here are some random facts about us and City (courtesy of the Guardian):

  • There have been just six goals scored in the past six matches between these sides in all competitions, with all three meetings last season ending 1-0
  • If Arsenal do not concede, they will have kept three clean sheets in a row away from home in the league for the first time since May 2005
  • City are unbeaten in 10 league games since Arsenal beat them 1-0 at the Emirates in April, which was also the last time they failed to score
  • Arsenal have won just one of the past 14 league games they have played with Mike Dean as the referee
  • City have allowed opposing teams just 11 shots on target against them so far this season – only Arsenal (10) have a better record

Til tomorrow…

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’s Best XI + Cologne vs Arsenal – The Preview!

Today marks the start of the football season and for every football fan out there, we can all rejoice… later on today we’ll see Chelsea vs Man City in the Community Shield Charity Shield Shieldy thing. And even though we’re not involved, it will be a great game to get our mouth watering ahead of next week. As an outsider, despite what the Spanish say, the Premiership has to be best league to watch – there are so many competitive teams. United, City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool will definitely be at the top of the tree come the end of the season and with so many “big teams” and the likes of Newcastle and Sp*rs means that we have a whole host of great games to watch. Every weekend is Super Sunday…

But the biggest game of the day is Cologne vs Arsenal.

There haven’t that many friendlies this Summer. Of course we had the Malaysian tour, but none of the signings have had an outing yet. Today is the day that they all go on show. All of the three new signings, Podolski, Giroud and Cazorla should have a half each and with them, ex-captain, top goalscorer, Robin Van Persie should also get a run out. Ahead of next week’s friendlies, Louis Van Gaal spoke about Robin:

“Robin will play his first game this Sunday. He has told me he is at least going to play 45 minutes this weekend. It is a good job, because I almost had not selected him. This is the only time I’ll pick Van Persie and Tottenham’s Rafael van der Vaart while they are not fit. They have not played a single game yet for their clubs and normally I don’t pick players then. In future I will only pick fit players. But van Persie is so important for the Dutch team.”

There is some debate about whether or not he’ll be at Arsenal next season and it would be difficult to see how he could be after “that statement”. But from a pure footballing view, our team will be better with him than without him. Despite the signings, there has been no u-turn from the Dutchman, so the liklihood is that he will not be here come September the first.

Even though we have a large number of strikers at the moment but I don’t think we’ll change formation. I’d expect us to play 4-3-3 today and I’d expect us to play two different teams:

Giroud / Van Persie

Gervinho / Podolski – Cazorla / Diaby – Walcott / Oxlade

I’d expect to see both main strikers play today, although not at the same time. It’d expect Podolski and Gervinho to look after the left wing for 45 minutes each with Walcott and Oxlade on the opposite flank. The newly energized Diaby splitting the time with our new signing Cazorla who has really impressed his new team mates.

Today’s captain, Thomas Vermaelen said:

“Cazorla has trained two or three times and he fits in really well with the Arsenal philosophy and how we want to play. He is a great signing.

And he also commented on the whole squad.

“The squad looks strong. There are not a lot of injuries at the moment, apart from Bacary [Sagna] and Jack [Wilshere] – for the rest it looks good. Everyone looks fit and sharp and it is good that we have so many new players as well. At the beginning of last season I was injured with the same problem I had before. For the rest of the season I played quite a lot of games so I was quite pleased with that, but of course I want to do better this year. I want to perform better as well.”

With the existing players, and the new signings, the question is… who is our best eleven? Gervinho, Podolski, Walcott, Oxlade, Giroud, Cazorla… it’s interesting isn’t it? It’s not often we have this dilemma, but this season we have signed 3 players all destined for the first team. Food for thought… and I suppose after today’s game we’ll have a little more insight into our better players and who we’ll like to seeing starting for us.

All that is left to say (for the first time this season)… is…

Come on you Gooners!