Reverting to a classic; One nil to the Arsenal.

Ladies and Gentleman; we’re back in business! (Sort of!)

Typing a few hours after the Swansea game, the dark clouds that have hovered over Arsenal football club for the past few weeks have started to part. Today’s game against a newly promoted Swansea brought a much needed win that will start to settle nerves and self confidence after the debacle of Old Trafford.

The pre-match atmosphere was upbeat, five new signings and two weeks to forget about previous games meant there was a sense of a chance to ‘start again’, 105 points still to play for.

The starting line up saw two new debutants in Arteta and Mertesacker. The rest of the line up was as expected with Frimpong picked as the holding midfielder and a fit for now Gibbs preferred over Santos.

Team; Szcz – Gibbs – Mertesacker –Koscielny – Sagna;  Frimpong – Ramsey – Arteta ;  Arshavin – RVP – Walcott.

The game started in positive fashion; Arteta straight into action setting up Ramsey who never found his balance to shoot on target. Theo, when put through, had a shot which was partially saved by the keepers arse and then fantastically cleared off the line by some guy in white who somehow survived a hefty collision with the post.

However as always when you play Arsenal, you will be presented with chances and Swansea’s main chance of the half was presented on a plate to them. With no pressure on the cross came and Mertsacker was outmanoeuvred to the ball by the Swansea striker on the stretch which brought about a world-class save from the Pole in our goal.

Arsenal’s winning goal came about in cruelly comical fashion. Theo tried to get away a shot from the edge of the box, it deflected up off a defender and Vorm ran to the right of the box to collect the ball. Within 2 seconds, the ball was in the back of the net. I needed the help of the jumbotron (are they still called jumbrotrons?) to understand what happened. The keeper tried to roll the ball out to a team mate further up the pitch but instead rolled it straight into the back of a team mate nearer. Arshavin, who obviously hadn’t tracked back, gleefully accepted the gift and hit the net from a fairly acute angle.

The second half was extremely nervy from Arsenal. Swansea didn’t have two banks of four anymore they wanted to press Arsenal and look for a goal. Swansea hit the bar from free kick and we struggled to get on the ball at all for period. Chamakh created and almost converted a header but the keeper saved well. There was still one heart stopping moment left for us all to survive. A corner to Swansea in the 92nd min, the ball flashed in and Szcz had a rare flapping moment, the ball was loose and somehow it was scooped over the bar from 5 yards out. A real let off.

The final whistle brought a deafening sigh of relief. 1-0 to the Arsenal

The boss seemed to agree;

“I think we started quite well but slowly the nerves took over. You could see in the second half that we just wanted to get over the line and we didn’t make a mistake.”

It wasn’t a vintage performance by any means (tough first blog!) but we now need to build on this. I’m struggling to pick out players who overly impressed but Arteta, Ramsey and Sagna put in solid performances. Szcz saved us early on and commanded his box well, even throwing in a cheeky Cruyff turn in the first half. Ok, his flap at the end could have given away 2 points but for a player who conceded 8 in his last game, today was a moral boasting clean sheet.

For me the question marks for today are around Gibbs, Arshavin and Theo. Gibbs was constantly out of position and easily beaten by Dyer. He did well not to score an own goal in the first half but that left side is still a worry for me. Add to this the poor tracking back and work rate from Arshavin, Gibbs was left exposed. As for Theo, if I say he had ‘one of those games’, I probably don’t need to say much more.

I actually was very impressive with Swansea. Very organised in their defensive set up and when they got hold of the ball they rarely gave it away cheaply. They are clearly lacking a proper striker to reward their hard work. I know Afobe is very much in Wenger’s plan this season but if he is sent out on loan in the Premiership, Swansea wouldn’t be a bad set up. Brendan Roger’s, who sadly missed the game today due the passing of his father, is an intelligent manager who respects ‘proper’ football.

A quick word on the atmosphere today. We started loud and proud, making sure the team knew we were there for them. The noise levels fell the more nervy the game got but for the final 20mins the home crowd took a leaf out of the away day Gooners book. ‘We love you Arsenal we do…’ rang out non stop from behind the goal and to the corners. If that’s the chant we use instead audible sighs and groans, then lets do it. We’re still up against it this season and we know it, so instead of getting on the players and manager’s back, lets support them through making a fucking racket.

Other goals were scored elsewhere but I really don’t care today. Right now it’s all about The Arsenal and getting the The Arsenal back on track.

If you miss the highlights or want to see things again then check out…  http://arsenalist.com/.

Lastly, I’d like to quickly send a big thank you to Dev for inviting me to share my Arsenal views on World of Arsenal. I know he has a proud Gooner following so I hope you enjoy reading my drivel. Feedback and opinions are welcome on twitter, @Tottz82.

Have yourself a great Sunday.

Ps; What do you think of Tottenham…?

Newcastle vs Arsenal: Match Preview

Another summer goes by, another season starts and it’s our very first game of the season tomorrow – Newcastle away. A ground and a game which haunted us last season after a very strange game up there saw us go 4-0 up only to draw the game 4-4. But it’s a brand new season and for the first time in a long time, a brand new squad, with old players departing and new players arriving.

The manager announced that Cesc & Nasri wouldn’t be involved tomorrow – by the time the game actually starts, they may not be at the club. The manager rightly focused on the game and commented:

“I believe the best thing for us, one day before the season starts, is not to focus on the possible transfers. What we want today is to focus on the players who play tomorrow and not the players who do not play.”

I’ll jump straight to the chase and look at who’s in and who’s out – we know Cesc & Nasri will miss tomorrow’s game, but we have a lot of good news on the injuries front – Van Persie is back and will captain the side tomorrow – Vermaelen and Gibbs are also back in contention and they are all joined by the trio of Walcott,  Arshavin and Ramsey who have all passed fitness tests. Abou Diaby is a long term absentee (how many times have I heard that?) and Jack Wilshere won’t be ready in time for tomorrow…

So, this is the predicted line-up:

Szcznesy

Sagna – Djourou – Vermaelen – Gibbs

Song – Ramsey

Walcott – Rosicky – Arshavin

Van Persie (c)

With a bench of Fabianski, Traore, Koscielny, Lansbury, Jenkinson, Oxlade , Gervinho & Chamakh

I’ve would have chosen Koscielny ahead of Djourou to partner Vermaelen as out of the two, as I think they’d work well together, but if I am correct, Koscielny didn’t feature against Benifica, so I’m not 100% sure about his fitness levels… I would definitely like to see Gervinho in the starting line up ahead of Rosicky, with Arshavin slotting in centrally, but I doubt Arsene will make such a move, he doesn’t normally introduce new players straight away…

[Update: Cesc completes transfer to Barcelona for £31m]

The saga is now complete, Cesc has moved – £31m in cash now, and then another £5m over the next 2 years based on appearances and trophies and Cesc is giving us £5m back as he’s broken his loyalty bonus, so overall transfer valued at £41m. Potential replacements are Mata, Ribery and Jadson, only time will tell.

[Update: Let's focus on tomorrow's game, not the departure of Cesc]

So Newcastle today confirmed the departure of their left back, Jose Enrique to Liverpool – that’s another high profile departure following Carroll and Nolan… so it’s actually going to be interesting to see who is going to start for Newcastle tomorrow…

The Newcastle line up could be:

Harper

Simpson –  S. Taylor – Coloccini – R. Taylor

Barton – Tiote – Cabaye – Gutierrez

Ba – Ameobi

It’s still a decent team but one we can beat with the team above!

Ramsey’s excited:

Looking forward to the first game of the season tomorrow. On way up to newcastle now! time for a bit of luther.

And so should we… time to start daydreaming – Newcastle not Cesc leaving…

Newcastle, I said, focus guys!!!

Arsenal vs Bolton Preview

It's been a busy day and I can hardly remember when the last time we played, let alone the last time we played in the premiership. Okay, so as things stand, we're 10 points behind the leaders Liverpool and this weekend is a vital weekend for us in terms of catching up. With Chelsea taking on Manchester United this Sunday, tomorrow's game means that a win will see us gain ground on one of the two teams.

You'd expect Liverpool to beat Stoke, but then again you'd have expected us to beat Stoke too, so fingers crossed Stoke can get a result. Although Liverpool's last away game was the 5-1 demolition of Newcastle, so it's most unlikely to happen.

So, injury news... Gallas has been ruled out for three weeks with a hamstring and will join Silvestre on the sidelines. Denilson will return after missing the FA Cup game and Toure is back to take up his place in the squad. Clichy should also return and should start against Bolton and Song should return to the squad, albeit to the bench...

It is too early for Eduardo, so very unlikely we will see him tomorrow, so here is the proposed line up:

Almunia
Goalkeeper
 
Sagna
Right Back
Toure
Centre Back
Djourou
Centre Back
Clichy
Left Back
 
Eboue
Right Wing
Denilson
Midfielder
Nasri
Midfielder
Diaby
Left Wing
 
  Adebayor
Striker
 Van Persie
Support Striker

With the bench entertaining the likes of Fabianski, Gibbs, Song, Wilshere, Ramsey, Vela and Bendtner.

Arsene spoke on the squad news:

“Kolo and Denilson will be back available. However unfortunately we have lost William Gallas with a hamstring problem. We lost Silvestre too with a thigh problem last week as well. So we have lost two players from the game on Saturday but we have gained two back. I think Gallas and Silvestre will be out for three weeks.”

I’m sure there will be more team news later today and maybe, just maybe, some transfer news?

On a separate note, congratulations to Adebayor for winning the African Player of the Year Award. Unfortunately, the Ivorian had to fly to Abu Dhabi to accept the award, so he’ll probably be too knackered to put a good performance.

Til tomorrow…]]>

Match Preview: West Ham vs Arsenal

This weekend was the wedding of one of my cousin's and the first out of our generation on my mum's side. I have to say, it was an amazing experience to see the people you love do something as big as get married and the time spent with family was absolutely amazing, considering how rare it becomes now adays.

Big news this weekend for Sp*rs sees their manager sacked and Harry Redknapp (someone I previously liked) taking over as their new manager. Another highlight out of the chapter of "how to mess up a football club and waste money" by Mr. D. Levy. It's amazing how they treat their managers, it's amazing how the want of sucess means they waste money, time, energy and managers to acheive something which ultimately they never achieve. Calm and consistency will give you the base to work with.

Thank God, things are different down at the 'Grove.

Onto today's game, it's the first of a double whammy of London derbies. Today we take a West Ham team desperate for the three points, but with our bad start to the season, we're also in desperate need of the three points.

Today we've got Toure and Gallas back in the squad and after the crazy performance of Fenerbahce, it would be a welcomed return to the central of defence. Arsene has been speaking about our defensive performance in Turkey...

“I do not deny we did not look very sound defensively in our last game.

“Ideally you want to be fantastic going forwards and fantastic defending. But sometimes you have a price to pay. When you incite your team to go forwards, like we did against Fenerbahce, then you will also be a bit vulnerable defensively as well. If you encourage your team to never get out of their position, it is easier to be sound defensively.”

So let’s take a look at the squad and first XI today:

Almunia
Goalkeeper
 
Eboue
Right Back
Toure
Centre Back
Gallas
Centre Back
Clichy
Left Back
 
Walcott
Right Wing
Denilson
Midfielder
Cesc
Midfielder
Nasri
Left Wing
 
  Adebayor
Striker
 Van Persie
Support Striker

With Fabianski, Song, Silvestre, Diaby, Vela, Ramsey, Bendtner on the bench.

Our squad is at one of it’s strongest with the return of Diaby and our central defenders, and looking at the bench, you can see that we have quality in all areas…

Arsene’s hoping we can kick on after the Hull defeat and we’ve shown glimpses of ability recently – Arsene said:

“It is always a good atmosphere when you play against West Ham. The supporters always get behind their team when you go there. It is always committed and interesting. But we have created a momentum after the Hull game. We beat Porto and Fenerbahce in a convincing way, had a draw with Sunderland then beat Everton. We just want to keep that going now.”

Come on you Gooners!!]]>

Arsenal 3 – 1 Everton, Walcott & Nasri inspire victory as injuries mount…

Howdie folks, and what a game…

Arsenal 3 – 1 Everton
Osman (9), Nasri (48), RVP (70), Theo (90)

It was classic Arsenal in the first half, with us going behind but our second half response was pretty emphatic, and secured three vital points to take us third in the league. Arsene opted to play Alex Song at right back, a slightly unfamiliar position for the Cameroonian, the full line up was:

Almunia

Song – Toure – Silvestre – Clichy

Eboue - Cesc – Denilson – Nasri

Adebayor – Van Persie

With Gallas and Sagna, it was a debut for Silvestre and Eboue was drafted into right wing as Theo Walcott was rested.

Everton started with a 4-5-1 and debuted young Jack Rodwell in the holding midfield position.

Howard

Hibbert –  Jagielka – Lescott – Baines

Pienaar – Fellaini - Rodwell – Osman – Arteta

Yakubu

Everton started the game well and although it was end to end for the firast five minutes, our makeshift defence was a little all over the place. Everton’s first real attack of the half resulted in a goal, when a simple 1-2 between Osman and Pienaar from central to the left wing, let Osman in before Silvestre to poke the ball into the back of the net. Silvestre no doubt would be kicking himself, he should have closed the player down much better.

That goal seemed to spark us into life and we started to pile on the pressure… A great ball from Cesc, a great run from Van Persie saw the Ducthman in front of goal, but Howard stopped the volley. Everton always seemed dangerous on the counter attack though and Osman went close shortly afterwards, a deflection by Silvestre keeping the score down.

The Toffees did well to clear a corner when Kolo Toure, who injured his shoulder in the process, went close to restoring parity. Lescott thwarted Nasri down one end, and nearly scored down the other, but Clichy chesting off the line to  keep it 1-0 at the half.

Toure’s shoulder injury seemd to get worse as the half drew to a close and he was subsituted at half time, with Walcott on for the Ivorian, Eboue to right back and Song in the centre of defence.

Now the game really got started.

It didn’t take long for us to get the equaliser when a great lay off from Silvestre saw Nasri smash the ball in the back of the net and there was a sense of relief around the Emirates. With such an unfamilar back line, it was clear to see that the midfield were aware to protect them by going forward, and Song, Eboue and Clichy ended up playing more like midfielders as we shifted the game play into their third.

We created chance after chance and Walcott and Nasri were being at their creative best. Van Persie blazed high from 12 yards, where hitting the target seemed easier. A few late challenges saw Hibbert go through Denilson, Clichy getting involved, and both him and Hibbert being injured.

We soon went in front when Ade laid off to Cesc whose shot was saved by Howard, but for Van Persie to head in the rebound. To be fair, we had dominated the second half and played some quick incisive football. Walcott wrapped up the win by scoring the third at the death, a neat one-two with Diaby and a good finish from the young Englishman.

Arsene spoke after the game and said:

“I am very proud of the way we came back with pride and we got a deserved victory.  In the last 20 minutes of the first half we were on top of them.  We had to reshuffle the team because we have a compact squad but everyone can play.  It was vital that we won for us to stay in the championship race.”

It’s amazing how he can use the phrase “stay in the Championship race” in October, but our shaky start to the season means we’ve still four points off the leaders.

Overall, a good result, three points, and a smile on my face…!]]>

Match Preview: Sunderland vs Arsenal

I saw the following picture in the newspaper yesterday and managed to track it down on the Times' website.

 

This shows the “closeness” that the two forwards enjoyed midweek. They were like distant relatives last weekend, and I hope they can be like blood brothers this weekend. I thought the picture above would be a good “choose the caption”, so feel free to comment on what you’d write.

Anyway, back to today’s game!

We travel to the north again for the third time this season and will be playing a decent side in Sunderland - in order to win, we have to be at our best. We have no “new” injury worries, so we will most probably line up as:

Almunia
Goalkeeper
 
Sagna
Right Back
Toure
Centre Back
Gallas
Centre Back
Clichy
Left Back
 
Walcott
Right Wing
Denilson
Midfielder
Cesc
Midfielder
Nasri
Left Wing
 
  Adebayor
Striker
 Van Persie
Support Striker
 

Subs: Fabianksi, Silvestre, Djourou, Eboue, Song, Vela and Bendtner.

This is the same team that lined up against Porto and I’d expect the consistency of the team selection, considering we have no midweek game. There are some thoughts that Alex Song could come in for Denilson to add some more “bite” to the midfield, but I’ll be quite happy if Denilson started in midfield, he’s been one of my favourite players this season. Some people have insisted that he’s a weak, and yes, he’s had the odd missed pass, but so has everyone. Our defeats have been down to individual errors and a bad “team” performance. A little stat that could change your mind of Denilson’s performances can be illustrated right here:

Player Long Pass Accuracy
Denilson 83%
Frank Lampard 79%
Nicky Butt 72%
Cesc Fabregas 70%
Gareth Barry 70%
Lassana Diarra 69%
Xabi Alonso 64%
Gary O’Neil 62%
Jamie Carragher 59%
John Paintsil 44%

* Stats are based on the players with the most long pass attempts in the Premier League this season. Source: James Ducker, The Times on Saturday

When you look at these stats, Denilson topping the long pass accuracy table, it’s food for thought.

Back to today’s game… let’s hear what the manager had to say:

“The pain was big but the response was good. It was important to show that Saturday was an accident.  Looking at the League table I do not think [the Hull defeat] has too much of an impact, but it is damaging. You do not want to lose at home against anybody. But I believe we have a healthy attitude in the squad and that has been shown against Porto. We want to show we have learned from the defeat against Hull. We gave the first half of the response on Tuesday night and we want to give the other half on Saturday at Sunderland. When you go there, you want your team to be completely at its best and focused. I believe what happened last week will help us to do that.”

So, today, is the second half of the response! It’s a fact that its been a while since we lost two successive league games in a row, but we shouldn’t take that fact for granted.

I expect to see the same determination and desire that we saw against Porto, Bolton and Blackburn…

Come on you Gooners, bring back the 3 points boys!

‘Til tomorrow..]]>

Match Preview: Blackburn vs Arsenal

Blackburn Rovers vs Arsenal
Barclays Premier League
Saturday, September 13, 2008, 15:00

So onto the big weekend game and it’s a must win game, even so early on in the same. Arsene believes that we’re going into the games with a good vibe considering Theo’s hattrick, France and Spain and Denmark wins. He’s confident and I hope he’s right…

“Many players had positive experiences on international duty. We have spoken about Theo Walcott, and France won also, where we had three players [Clichy, William Gallas and Bacary Sagna]. Spain won also. Overall the confidence our players got from international games will help, and also that we responded well to defeat at Fulham, with four goals against Twente and three against Newcastle. We have a very good basis to think we can do well [at Blackburn].”

After the Fulham game, we have responded, but to win a title consistency is key and winning away from home is also key. On the injury front, Diaby is still out, possibly for another week or two. Rosicky is stil out despite claims that he would be back in the squad for this weekend. Eduardo may not be back until Christmasnow despite earlier claim he’d also be back sooner. And finally young Nasri is recovering from the injury that kept him out of France’s game midweek. Ooooo and finally summer

With Nasri, Rosicky, Diaby and Eduardo all out, the midfield will virtually pick itself and I can’t see past a foursome of Walcott, Cesc, Denilson and Eboue. At the back, the fivesome of Almunia, Clichy, Sagna, Toure and Gallas would also make sense. Finally up front, Adebayor will surely start after his midweek rest and Van Persie should be fit and raring to go. With Dynamo coming quickly midweek and then Bolton away next weekend, we may need Bendtner start against Blackburn with Van Persie on the bench. If Nasri is back by the Champions League game, he may feature midweek. A little bit of rotation may be required to keep everyone fresh.

Arsene spoke about his team selection and whether Theo would start:

“Will Walcott play? I don’t know. I will have to rotate the squad now. You can’t expect the players who have played for their national teams to play three times in a week. We have a very compact squad and people are interchangeable. I believe he is hungry and he is intelligent. You can be very optimistic. I don’t set any limitations on how far he can go as a player. However, when I arrived in England 11 years ago there were fantastic strikers like Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen and their careers have certainly been damaged by injuries. You always need protection from bad tackles. You never get easier treatment when you’re dangerous.”

So based on all of the above… the predicted line up is…

Almunia
Goalkeeper
 
Sagna
Right Back
Toure
Centre Back
Gallas
Centre Back
Clichy
Left Back
 
Eboue
Right Wing
Denilson
Midfielder
Cesc
Midfielder
Nasri or Walcott
Left Wing
 
  Adebayor
Striker
Bendtner or Van Persie
Support Striker
 

And on the bench, I’d expect Fabianksi, Djourou, Song, either Nasri or Walcott, Ramsey, Vela and either Bendtner or Van Persie.

Come on you Gunners!

And before I go, here’s a round up of non match related news… We’ve been linked with a player called Mineiro who is a free agent after he left Hertha Berlin this summer. Apparently he’s 33 and a defensive midfielder and apparently we’ve offered him a trial… Arsene has been talking about the money in football and how ludicrous it is, take a read on the BBC web site here.

Here’s a classic quote from the article:

“Football is not a supermarket, we have to all understand that.”

Well, folks, I’m off to Birmingham for the weekend, so will be somehow catching the game up north… have a good weekend, and I should be back tomorrow for a summary of the game…

Til then…]]>

Match Preview: Arsenal vs Newcastle

Match Details:
Arsenal v Newcastle United
Barclays Premier League, Emirates Stadium
Saturday, August 30, 2008, 17:30

Cesc Fabregas is back in the squad now, having player over an hour in midweek, he should be the architext of Newcastle’s downfall – and he should be paired with Denilson after their decent combination against Twente midweek.

The back line is a difficult one, so far even time Djourou has played, he has looked solid and we’ve kept a clean sheet – not to say that it’s Toure fault that we lost, of course we know it was Gallas… but this means we’re not 100% sure who will start at the back.

Ade should be restored to the line up after his midweek break and hopefully will score his first premier league goal of the season, and he should be paired with Van Persie, despite his inability to hit the net on Wednesday.

This is the line up, I expect tomorrow:

Almunia
Goalkeeper
 
Sagna
Right Back
Toure or Djourou
Centre Back
Gallas
Centre Back
Clichy
Left Back
 
Walcott
Right Wing
Denilson
Midfielder
Cesc
Midfielder
Nasri
Left Wing
 
  Adebayor
Striker
Van Persie
Support Striker
 

And on the bench, I’d expect Fabianksi, one of Toure or Djourou, Song, Eboue, Ramsey, Vela and Bendtner.

Luckily for us, Martins is injured and Damien Duff and Mark Viduka have groin injuries so Newcastle may choose the following team, Given, Beye, Taylor, Coloccini, Enrique, Gutierrez, Butt, Guthrie, N’Zogbia, Ameobi, Owen.

It’s a far better team than last season, with Owen back and new signings Coloccini and Gutierrez impressive.

Okay, that’s a rap for today – til tomorrow…

Come on you reds!]]>

Arsenal 1 – 0 West Brom: Nasri shines…

I had the privilege of going to the game today and normally when I go to the game, my match report kind of sucks, but here goes...

We went with a 4-4-2 and as expected except for Eboue in defensive midfield instead of Ramsey. Eboue has played in this position in pre season but wasn't too convincing.

The game started well with some slick passing. Despite the media debates and the continual speculation, the players seemed to be focused and ready to go. For the first couple of minutes it was all Arsenal. It was fitting that we hit the back early on. Nasri and Clichy really combining well down the left with Bendtner too. One touch passing and overlapping runs, cut backs and all. On the fourth minute, Nasri put the ball in the back after an excellent move.

Arsenal 1 – 0 West Brom

It was a goal that we all thought would open the floodlights, but West Brom were resilient in defence and our finishing left much to be desired.

We continued in a good vein for a while after the goal. Gallas going mighty close with an effort from 35 yeards.

Almunia saved well from Kim, a good shot and fingertip save.

The half ended with West Brom coming into the game more, but with Arsenal the stronger side.

The second half started a litte nervy, with a goal line clearance to start the half.

Chances soon fell Arsenal’s way with Adebayor slotting just wide, and soon after Eboue shooting wide. A good break saw Ade free, but he failed to square to Nasri and was subsequently booed. He’s not exactly a fan’s favourite and he seemed to be off the boil. He was actually worse than Eboue, who also missed another two long range efforts. You’d think at this level, professional footballers would be able to get the ball on target. Bendtner was replaced by Van Persie and so good play from VP brought some life back into the Arsenal attack.

Van Persie had a good chance despite being marshalled by two defenders. But it looked like the game would petter out and end 1-0. And Arsene probably thought the same thing when he brought on Kolo Toure for Theo Walcott on the right wing.

The last 15 mins were definitely nervy, but it always looked like we had enough to win the game and with Spurs losing, it was a good day for us…

But the highlight of the day was the impressive debut by Samir Nasri. Good passing, good ball rentention, good creativity and a goal to top it off; there is still more to come, but he looks like a very accomplished player…!]]>

Match Preview: Arsenal vs West Brom…

Match Details:
Arsenal v W.B.A.
Barclays Premier League, Emirates Stadium
Saturday, August 16, 2008, 12:45

So after Wednesday stuttering start but eventual result, we’ve been boosted by the return of Kolo Toure and Samir Nasri to the squad. It’s not certain whether Kolo will start the game, but I’d say it’s a choice between playing Kolo at centre back and Djourou in midfield or playing Djourou at centre back and then keeping Ramsey in central midfield.

“Kolo could be back in the squad. He is not completely 100 per cent at the moment. He is still recovering a bit from pre-season problems. But hopefully Nasri can be back in the squad.”

Nasri, although capable of playing in the middle, I doubt would play alongside Denilson in the middle of the park – it seems too attacking.

There was some good news surrounding young Cesc as he’s due back in training in about a week and could play against Twente in the second leg. Diaby, however, won’t be back until October.

“A reasonable target for Fabregas is the second leg of the Champions League game. Diaby will take four to six weeks as we have said and we don’t know about Senderos yet.”

So where does that leave us in terms of squad and potential line up for tomorrow? Let’s take a look:

Almunia
Goalkeeper
 
Sagna
Right Back
Djourou
Centre Back
Gallas
Centre Back
Clichy
Left Back
 
Walcott
Right Wing
Denilson
Midfielder
Ramsey
Midfielder
Nasri
Left Wing
 
  Adebayor
Striker
Van Persie
Support Striker
 

With the new rule allowing 7 subs to be named, we can name Fabianksi, Toure, Gibbs, Wilshere, Eboue, Vela and Bendtner on the bench. If Toure isn’t named, we’d expect to see Randall named.

That’s my opinionated line up, of course, Arsene may have other ideas. From the comments above, it sounds like Nasri has every chance of playing, with Kolo likely to remain on the bench.

Finally, a quite look at Emmanuel Adebayor’s comments recently – without players like Cesc and Diaby, Rosicky and Nasri, we’re potentially with diminished creativity in the team. Ade has called for us to learn to win “dirty”, I suppose like we did against Twente – although we did get the ball down and play a bit; I’d say we were more nervy than bad.

“A lot of people talk about the good football we play at Arsenal but we are all in this game to win trophies and we haven’t done that. It’s difficult because when I signed for Arsenal from Monaco I knew I had the chance to win a lot of things. But I’ve been here for almost three years and I still haven’t won anything. So now we have to realise that while it’s good to play nice football, there are times when you need to be dirty to win a game. We have learned a lot recently. One of the lessons is that sometimes you have to be tough when you are on the pitch – that is part of football. We don’t have to be beautiful all the time.

My beloved Arsenal: play as best as you can at the same time win the game…

Til tomorrow…]]>

Sunderland 0 – 1 Arsenal: Walcott signs off in style…

The match details for Arsenal were:

Arsenal: Fabianski, Song Billong, Senderos, Djourou, Clichy, Eboue (Randall 81), Denilson, Silva, Walcott, Adebayor, Bendtner (Traore 81). Subs Not Used: Mannone, Nordtveit, Barazite.

It was a good start for Sunderland, with a long range effort from Carlos Edwards testing Fabianski early on. But moments later, suprise, suprise, Eboue was found in a heap on the floor. If we hate his antics, then surely non Arsenal fans hate the player even more! Eboue was stretchered off, but soon rejoined seemingly unaffected.

Ade had the first real chance of the game in the sixth minute, but reserve goalkeeper, Marton Fulup blocked well. Walcott started to show a few glimpses of magic and Bendtner was playing well. A good move saw Bendtner have a shot and a header moments later, but failed to test Fulup.

The breakthrough came on the 24th minute when Gilberto sent through a wonderful ball, to split the Sunderland defence and put Theo through on goal. An excellent finish into the bottom right hand side made it one-nil to the Arsenal.

Sunderland 0 – 1 Arsenal

After the goal, it was pretty much even stevens, a good game, but nothing worthy of note, with our makshift defence playing particularly well.

Two chances in the first half fell to Arsenal, with Senderos blazing just over from 35 yards and Walcott missing from 6 yards after Ade had squared the ball.

Sunderland striker Kenwyne Jones had been a threat in the first half, so it was a blow for the home team when he was replaced at half time.

Half time: Sunderland 0 – 1 Arsenal

The second half started well for Sunderland with Jones replacement, O’Dononvan almost equalising after the restart, but his header looping just over.

In a moment of controversy on the 57th minute, we were awarded an indirect free kick after Whitehead seemingly hadled in the box from Theo Walcott cross. Surely a pen, but the ref deemed it a indirect free kick from 6 yards out. Gilberto shooting wide.

The home side had a few chances and a potential penalty claim, but you always thought Arsenal were playing in second gear.

Mark Randall made a rare premier league appearence and played well, having a shot saved shortly after a disallowed goal. His contribution, albeit for ten minutes was good.

Full time: Sunderland 0 – 1 Arsenal

The future looks bright with first team players such as Hleb, Rosicky, Van Persie, Eduardo, Diaby, Gallas, Toure and Sagna all to come back into this side.

Good final day, and let’s bring on the summer…]]>