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

 

 

‘One nil down, Two one up…’

Morning all,

I’m at the game so another match day blog from moi.

Bolton were the visitors to The Emirates in the Carling Cup. As always Arsenal rang out the changes giving a few reserves and youth players a chance plus a certain Belgian defender a chance to gain further fitness after his Achilles injury.

Bolton have been struggling horribly in the league but this was still an all premiership tie we had to be wary of.

On the way to the Tollington pub and talk in the press and between fans had been about the recent race allegations from John Terry, Suarez and even Cesc, following Kanoute’s sending off over the weekend. The fact is racism and xenaphobia has NO place in modern football but with the internet/twitter a dangerous vehicle for rumours and opinions, a small accusation or apparent lip read can quickly escalate into a major story. The Terry story is being esculated by the minute with The FA set to launch an enquiry, it could be an interesting few weeks for all the clubs involved.

The team for last night was;

v Bolton: Fabianski, Yennaris, Squillaci, Vermaelen, Miquel, Frimpong, Coquelin, Benayoun, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Arshavin, Park.

TV5 is back! A debut for Yennaris and another chance to see the Ox in action.

Game time;

Not bad for a tenner eh?

 

We’re off and running… Come on The Arsenal!

5mins gone; Good atmosphere, Bolton have fielded a strong team.

10min ; Arsenal controlling the game, Ox has a pop shot that deflects for a corner.

13mins: A great crossfield ball from Frimpong, Ox breaks wide into the box but one touch too many and cross is over hit.

25mins: As Bolton grow into the game, Park picks the ball up and fires in a great shot saved by the keeper.

26mins; Bolton’s Kakuta breaks free, swivels in the box and has a shot saved low by Fabianski.

28mins; Squillaci booked for another silly foul. Games a bit flat now, Bolton happy for us to present them with their chances, I’m sure we will too.

35min, Shava touches a free kick to TV who stings the keeps gloves with a beauty of a shot.

Ps; the raining is falling but the winter hip flask is out. (Drink responsibly kids)

40min, Shava feeds a sideways pass to Park who tries to pass it into the net from the edge of the box but saved again by the keeper. Park is warming up and he’s not afraid to shoot…

Half time, Arsenal ahead on points but goals win games.

47min: FFS! Wakey wakey Arsenal…. 1-0 Bolton. They walk straight through after Frimpong gives it away and ex-gooner Muamba fires it into the roof of the net from a short pass in the box. Sloppy

55mins … They’re awake!… Arsenal 1-1 Bolton.. Yossi knocks it to shava on the right of the box. Shava jinks right left and then arrows it into the opposite bottom corner, keeper static. A great shot from Shava, that’s more like it

58mins – I can’t keep up! Arsenal 2-1 Bolton.. Shava again breaks through the middle and feeds Park on the left who curls a beauty into the top corner… Henry is that you???! A top goal, I told you earlier he was warming up.

60mins… The ref floors Shava! Seriously, he needs treatment!

65mins: Arsenal doing well now, Bolton bit shocked at being at 2-1 down so quickly. Confidence is on Arsenal’s side.

70mins: Ox who’s not been subdued, battles through but shot is blocked twice.

73mins – Fabianski keeps out a free kick at the near post. Pressure from Bolton is still there. Arsenal need to hold strong here.

76mins – Ryo on for Ox.

78 – Fabianski makes a couples of good saves. The first one on one and the other from a scramble after a corner. Big ten mins ahead.

85mins – TV5 makes way for Daniel Boatang. A good 85mins for TV5, won some aerial duals, one fantastic 50 50 he had no right to win and was organising the inexperienced players around him.

86min – Bolton player skies it high high over the goal from 6 yards out, a lucky escape.

90mins – Fantastic! Ryo jumps in to tackle a goal bound shot for a corner. Cahil rises high but puts it over the goal.

Game over. Arsenal into the 5th round of the Carling Cup.

A great win for Arsenal, a vastly inexperienced team played pretty much a Bolton first team tonight.  A prime example of the spirit on display was Miquel, who played out of position at left back but was determined not to let the team down. Coquelin, Frimpong and the Ox didn’t star as maybe the fans wanted them too but again they were playing experienced players compared to those at Shrewsbury.

In the end the more experienced players stepped up in the 2nd half when we were a goal down. Shava was fantastic for 30mins, a constant menace resulting in a goal and an assist. Not even the referee couldn’t keep him down! Yossi battled away and has the fantastic knack of holding onto the ball until the right moment, he is also a calming influence on the players around him.

The one who stood out for me was Park. Only his 2nd start but a drastic improvement from when I saw him against Shrewsbury. Wenger talked about him almost being ready before the game and that was apparent last night. He seemed a lot fitter and sharper with a real eye for goal. He ghost’s into spaces and isn’t afraid to shoot. I’ve described his goal as Henry-esque and it truly was, running on the ball with a right foot curler into the top corner. I’d reward him with a start against Marseille.

 
Last word is for the over 50k strong crowd in attendance. They provided a great atmosphere and really got behind the team. Given it’s half term this week, it was fantastic to see so many young excited Gooners in attendance, I’m glad you all got the result you wanted and a couple of cracking goals.

Up the Arsenal!!

Till next time.

Feel free to comment & follow on twitter – @Tottz82

Carling Cup Preview: Arsenal vs Bolton…

The BIG news of the day is the return of Thomas Vermaelen to the squad. When Arsene said he was coming back soon, we all just thought “yeah right, of course he’ll be back”, and in reality none of us expected him to come back in time for when scheduled. But he is back and will start tonight – and perhaps at left back…

“We want to win so there is no perfect game [to bring a player back] but Thomas has worked very hard physically so he should be ready. I have not decided who will start yet but we will try to find a good mixture. Vermaelen might play, Squillaci might play and of course Fabianski too. We will have an experienced team out there but of course some young players.”

My predicted line up is…

Fabianski

Yennaris - Squillaci – Miquel – Vermaelen

Frimpong – Coquelin

Oxlade – Benayoun – Arshavin

Park

The captain for the night will be Vermaelen if he starts, or Arshavin if Vermaelen doesn’t start. I think the inclusion of Arshavin is a good idea – the player isn’t starting much for the first team and could do with some game time. Also, some experience is needed in the squad. I am also keen to see Miyaichi in action but in reality, patience is a virtue – he must be out of form in the reserves or something for him not to feature this season.

The bench should be Mannone, Boateng, Ozyakup, Meade, Miyaichi, Watt, Aneke.

I am surprised not to see Rosicky or Chamakh on the bench – in fact, I am surprised that Chamakh hasn’t started this game. If the player is number two to Robin Van Persie in the striking order, then surely he should have some game time. Game time = goals = confidence = can do a job when Van Persie is injured.

I think Arsene Wenger was in a super-jinxing mode when he last spoke, as all the stories on the site are stories which basically jinx each one of our players!

  • Coquelin is making a name for himself
  • Vermaelen is back
  • Ramsey will score double figures
  • Frimpong will be a top player
  • Van Persie is in good shape
  • We’re looking much more stable at the back

When I read all of those, all I think is…. JINX!

Having said that though, Francis Coquelin has actually been very impressive in his various games so far this season, and it will be good to see him in action. The quality of youngsters coming through at the moment is top top, and the playerm, who has been with us for 3 years now, spoke to Arsenal Player yesterday:

“I didn’t expect to play that much at the beginning of the season. I came back from the [Under-20] World Cup and then played straight away at Manchester United, which was a really hard game. He [Arsène Wenger] gave me another chance in the Carling Cup and I grabbed it. I think I have done quite well.  Against Tottenham again it was a really tough game. I am a bit disappointed because we came out of those two games with two defeats – I think we could have done better at White Hart Lane.  But overall I was pleased to play and hopefully I can get more games. I just try to do my job – tackle, keep the ball and play things easy. Obviously you are always happy to receive a man of the match award but it is about the team.”

Personally, I am looking forward to the performance of Park & Oxlade – these two players have potential for sure – Oxlade having started a few and scored a few for club & country and Park having scored a bucket load for country. Arsene has been keen to protect Oxlade and also mentioned several times that Park needs time to adapt.

Tickets are still available if you want to go, they are just £20 a ticket.

It’s going to be an exciting night at the Emirates… come on you reds!!

The Ox and Le Coq win it for The Arsenal

Here we are again, another blog by yours truly and another match to review… This time around its The Arsenal are at home to League two Shrewsbury in the 3rd round of the Carling Cup. Arsenal are not on a good run from any angle we lookat it. We’re shipping goals, showing no backbone and lacking the cutting edge up front to finish teams off. The sad fact is I could have written that line at anytime during the past 2 seasons and it would have rung true. So when are we going to see a change?

Gazidis was interviewed by the press yesterday and comforted many on the financial state of the club but warned that we could not compete against the Manchester clubs when it comes to their transfer dealings. But didn’t we move into a new stadium to compete financially against Man Utd at least? I agree we can’t compete against the billions City have at their disposal but we’re not asking the club to do this. The transfer aims for the majority of the fans I’ve spoken to over the summer was to buy suitable replacements for players about to depart and enhance the squad in area’s we’ve struggled in. The fact is we left it until the last minute and this has had a direct impact on our start to the season. I’m not here to argue if the 7 players signed this summer were right or wrong, time will answer that, but I am very confident having those players on the plane to China would have allowed them to settle in quicker and set the team up for the season start.

Gazidis also talking about Wenger.

“He is not broken. He did not suddenly become a bad manager or out of touch with the game. It is complete nonsense. “[Sacking him] is a route we are not going to go down.”

It seems the board are fully aware of the unrest out there and are directly responding to this by backing the manager. In my opinion, rightly so. Wenger has been more than just a first team coach for Arsenal Football Club over the last 14years; he has taken this into a new era and set the bar extremely high. This is a debate for other time, but for me, Wenger has earned the right to implement corrective action and turn things around. The pressure is truly on and it’s now down to him not to spoil his own legacy.

Back to the game… I’m actually at the game so instead of writing a retrospective blog at 1130pm at night half asleep, I’m going to give you a blow by blow feed as the action unfolds from the game. It’s something new but who knows it could work… Here we go;

Team for the night is;

Fabianski – Jennikson – Djourou – Miquel – Gibbs – Frimpong – Coquelin – Benayoun – AOC – Park – Chamakh

 

6min – double oooh! Chamakh goes close twice but great saves by the keeper!

13min – My word, they’re through on goal, player shoots, fabianski let’s it run through like he knows its going wide and it hits the post. Poor (or very good!) judgement.

14min  Arsenal aren’t doing well, Shrews fans are oleing their passes. Embarassing.

17min – Goal 1-0 Shrewsbury. A cross from our right and a simple unmarked header. Oh dear. Looks like Djourou left his man unmarked

29mins – They almost score again, this time directly from a corner. Arsenal are all over the place at the back. I fancy them to score again. When we get into their box no one wants to shoot. Sound familiar?

34min – Goal Arsenal 1-1. Cross comes into the box from Jenkinson and Gibbs, yes Gibbs header sneaks into the bottom corner. Keeper should have saved but it’s his first goal for the club. Phew!

Half time – Arsenal at it again. Defensively sloppy, hanging on but somehow level. When you play Arsenal you know you’ll have chances to score and Shrewsbury should have had 3. Not impressed.

49min – AOC goes close twice. One run beats 3 players in close proximity and the next is a shot which doesn’t quite make it. He’s not shy to attack, good stuff and encouraging.

60mins -GOAL! 2-1 Arsenal.  Shooooot! He does and scores! AOC picks it up and pops one in from 25yards under the keeper. He’s deserved that, top player.

68mins – AOC running the show, another run and a shot well saved by the keeper. I like him already.

79th min – GOAL! 3-1 Arsenal.  Ozyakup wins the tussle with the defender on the byline and pulls it back for Yossi who eventually tucks it away. Game over now surely?

90th min – AOC is replaced by Aneke and get a deserved standing ovation for a fantastic 2nd half and a great goal.

Final whistle , 3-1 to the Arsenal.

Ok that wasn’t a vintage Carling Cup performance but it’s a win that will give a lot of these players much needed confidence.

Stand out players for me were Oxlade Chamberlain and Coquelain, who also look quite alike from row 27. Le Coq works tirelessly, breaking up play, winning tackles and takes the ball forward with confidence.

A new star is born? Maybe. AOC is a real prospect and tonight was evidence to why Wenger agreed to shell out 12m upfront for him. He takes players on, beats them with ease and can pick out the final ball and when the crowd wanted him to ‘shooooot’ he was more than happy to. His goal was an opportunist effort which completely shocked the keeper. Theo better watch out. Seriously.

At the back the problems still remain. Fabianski did not command his box and Djourou seems to have forgotten how to play football let alone defend. He is a man very low on confidence and relied on Miquel to bail him out of some tight spots.

At the end of the day it’s a win. We next invite Bolton to the Arsenal then Olympiacos. 2 more similar results will allow us to build.

I hope you enjoyed today’s blog, different format but hopefully as informative!

Enjoy your day.

 

Feel free to follow me on twitter @ Tottz82, feedback welcome.

Arsenal vs Shrewsbury Town – Carling Cup Preview

We’ve managed our way in Europe, choked our way around the league, but today it’s time for something very different – it’s time for our new batch of young hopeful’s to take on their Carling Cup destinies. The way I look at the beginning is not to look at it – after 8 players out and 8 players in, it will take some time for us to gel. I’m not a Wenger out neither am I a AKB (Arsene Knows Best)… I’m somewhere in between. Yes, we have lost 3 out of our first 5 games, but things will change and we will get better. Simple as. How long it will take us to get better is another question.

For now, we have a rest from the league and we have a chance to see our latest batch of youngsters and fringe players and I for one am very keen to see Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ryo Miyachi and Park Chu-Young. All of whom I hope will start. Although AOC will most likely play right midfield, Arsene Wenger has been very keen to distance AOC and Theo Walcott, insisting both players are very different:

“They are quite similar types of players but Walcott is a bit more a striker and Oxlade-Chamberlain is more a midfielder. He [Oxlade-Chamberlain] likes more to be in the build-up of things and Walcott is more a guy who makes intelligent runs. So they are not that similar as players but they have some similarities physically already. They look the same size, the same type of player. But I believe that Oxlade-Chamberlain could be a central midfielder one day and Walcott a central striker one day. That shows the difference between the two players. I don’t know [if the comparisons are fair] but you can’t stop that.”

Is that the nice way of saying the AOC actually has a footballing brain?

My predicted line up is:

Fabianski

Jenkinson – Djourou – Miquel – Gibbs

Oxlade – Frimpong – Coquelin – Miyachi

Park - Chamakh

I see the mix of players I’ve mentioned playing, because they all need game time – I think 90 minutes under Chamakh’s belt will do him wonders, and a glimpse of what Park can do will do wonders for our squad depth. One thing you may have noticed is that I’ve reverted to a 4-4-2 and why on earth have I done that, you may ask? I’ve been a big fan of the 4-4-2 and despite telling you all that Arsene has been quite stubborn with his 4-3-3 / 4-5-1, rumours are that he will revert to a 4-4-2 against Shrewsbury.

I really hope it’s true…

Time to forget about the silly old league, it’s time to see what our kids & reserves are made of… come on you Gooners!