Transfers and Everton Team News

Good day to you all.

Some interesting news coming from Arsene’s pre-match press conference yesterday. Alex Hleb is not for sale, and Mattie Flamini’s deadline has been extended to Monday due to ‘negotiation problems’. For me that basically means Arsenal are, as I suggested yesterday, succumbing to the threat of him leaving on a free and are trying to convince him otherwise by revising their original offer. Who knows – we’ll have to wait and see.

Good to hear that Alex Hleb is not for sale, although I very much doubt that this statement will stop the press making up stories about him going to Inter, Juve etc etc. Indeed we are linked with Niko Kranjcar of Portsmouth, whose father says Wenger ‘has been tracking for some time’ (if you say so, Mr Kranjcar senior), and that he would be the perfect replacement for Hleb.

It is something we Gooners have come to live with in recent summers. ‘Cesc is off to Barca’, ‘Hleb to Italy’, ‘Adebayor to Italy’. We know it is coming, but the bottom line is all these players are contracted to the club, and cannot go unless Arsenal is willing to sell. As the boss said yesterday, the only player free to leave the club is Flamini, although we’re all hopeful that won’t be the case come Monday.

It is, in my opinion, crucial that this team sticks together. All the progress we have made in recent seasons is down to the fact that the core players have remained with the club. We really don’t want an exodus of players this summer because it will mean we have to start again from scratch, which is not an option. If the team continues to improve at the same rate then we will be champions next season, but we do need this group to stick together in order for that to be possible.

Everton Team News

Everton tomorrow is our penultimate game of the season, and last home game. Team news sees the squad remaining more or less the same as against Derby, with Robin Van Persie being rested as a precautionary measure (thigh) and Flamini possibly returning to a place on the bench. I must say that RVP’s injury situation is of great concern. He is such a classy player but you can only be incredibly frustrated with his injury problems in recent seasons. If he had been fully fit all season perhaps we would be parading the league trophy tomorrow at the Emirates. RVP and Rosicky – we need them fit and strong next season, but if they cannot meet this requirement then we really need to think about replacing them with players who are more reliable in terms of fitness.

I think we can expect Fabianski to retain his place in goal, and with RVP not playing it seems likely that Ade and Bendtner will play up front. Theo should get another start alongside Eboue, Cesc and Denilson in midfield. The back four of Toure, Gallas, Song and Clichy will no doubt stay the same, although the Boss may well decide to give big Phil Senderos another chance after having not played since that miserable night at Anfield.

This game is not an easy one to predict. We pretty much have nothing to play for if Man Utd win against West Ham today, which is expected if we’re being honest with ourselves. However Everton are 3 points ahead of Villa in 5th, but with an inferior goal difference. With 5th place offering the only UEFA Cup spot this season Everton will be giving everything to take something from the game. If we are going to reach our target of 83 points this season we will need to be fully focussed and committed tomorrow or we will be punished. The game up at Goodison was one of my favourite away games attended this season, in spite of the fact that my car had been broken into when I returned to it after the game! Here’s a tip to those of you who go to the away games – use the travel club for the Liverpool matches!

Everton will be without Cahill and Arteta and this could be decisive in terms of the result. I fancy us to nick it, what do you reckon?

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Arsenal 1 – 1 Liverpool

Immediately Eboue was back to his worst with a run that saw him do nothing and a backheel to a Liverpool player. Hoyte was playing at right back and his performance was really shaky. His positioning is not that bad, but his decision making is bad. After winning the ball he often gave the ball back to the opposition and lacked maturity.

Crouch started today and has been renowned for giving Toure and Gallas a hard time. But they stood off and Crouch had a brilliant shot and Almunia saved well.

Traore, starting ahead of Clichy, showed his abililty going forward and a few mazy runs showed good ball skills. There is a lot more to come from this boy, he's just 18. Moments, a good move saw Hoyte free on the right and a good cross saw Reina save.

Walcott had started the game on the left and his morording run down the left tore Skirtel apart. And Walcott raring down the left fouled by Skirtel - it was a rugby tackle and no card, no foul. Nothing. A good inswinging corner from Cesc, saw Toure in the air. The ball fell to Eboue. But he fluffed the shot.

Moments, later Gilberto loses the ball in midfield and then stands off Crouch. He sends Riise through and he is one on one with Almunia. His shot blazed over the bar.

Liverpool now dominating.

Moments later on a counter attack, Gilberto acrimoniously taken down by Riise, saw Riise carded and our attack broken up.

Liverpool played well and Benayoun found himself free and shot well. Then a long ball from Flamini saw, Bendtner header down into Cescy path and Cesc with a shot wide. Then a good break from Cesc sent Walcott through, the ball richoted straight to Bendtner who shot tamely at Reina.

We were starting to get back into the game and Eboue was through on goal, but instead of shooting he waited and slowed the game down and squared to Cesc marked by Finnan, Finnan blocked. Then Eboue was sent through by Cesc but misplaced his pass. Out for a goal kick.

From the goal kick, a long ball by Reina saw Gilberto flat footed, Crouch via Benayoun, a bit of a bobble and Crocuh tucked it away passed Almunia. Gilberto should have been marking Benayoun so neither Gallas or Toure would have to commit.

Arsenal 0 – 1 Liverpool

Half time.

The second half starts with no changes, not a great start either. A few misplaced passes and a few inaccurate lay offs. But we did start with more verve.

On the 50th minute, we really stepped it up a gear with an excellent Walcott shot, deflected for a corner. From the corner, Toure header just wide. Then moments later, a roring run from Traore, fouled by Pennant.

Cesc with the free kick. Bendtner runs in, goal, game on.

Arsenal 1 – 1 Liverpool

This rejuvenated our efforts, and a great ball by Cesc, headed back by Bendtner, Walcott marked but got off a a deflected strike. Substitution, Ade on for Hoyte, Eboue to right back.

Up to now the referee, Phil Dowd, had played well, but a nasty challenge by Plessis on Walcott, studs into the shin should have been dealt with, potentially leg breaking, no red card, no yellow and not even a foul.

Team playing well. Can we press on for the winner? Gerrard on for Liverpool.

25 minutes to go, good play sees Cesc free, shoots well, Cesc shot deflected. Bendtner and Ade linking up well to create chances for themselves and others. Flamini has a chance, albeit far out, save by Reina.

Cesc is really giving his all, but obviously tired. Arsene wants to win. Nice play, Ade with a good run and a right footed left sided cross, one of those Ronaldo type things. No one in the middle.

Then the last 30 mintes of attack, attack, attack. Walcott excellent. Bendtner after the goal is a different proposition that Bendtner without a goal. His confidence is making him better.

Eboue’s playing okay at right back but a few lunges and commited tackles have seen him out of position, it’s clear to see that replacing him with Sagna was one of Arsene’s summer targets.

We’re pouring forward and everytime Walcott has the ball, he looks like he can create. Bendtner seems to love playing with Ade and we’re tearing the Liverpool team apart. Come on…

Time is running out and Hleb is on for Flamini. He is added some pace and control to the game, but Liverpool have 9 behind the ball at all times. It’s a repeat of Wednesday’s game and if anyone is going to win this, it’s going to be us.

Talking about a repeat of Wednesday game, Cesc is in the area, Lucas obviously pulls his shirt, he falls. Another blatant penalty. But again not given. Dowd in the perfect position. I really don’t know why it wasn’t given. It’s crazy and something has to be done about it.

We’re playing 2-4-4 but just can’t find the winner. There’s 5 minutes to go, but we’re looking shattered. This game is catching up on us and Liverpool manage to have a chance through Vorinin.

3 minutes injury time, it looks unlikely that we can get the winner. People are starting to accept the result. Tired legs mean we can’t seem to penatrate.

Full time: Arsenal 1 - 1 Liverpool. This could see our title efforts finally over.

And breathe…]]>

Arsenal vs Liverpool: Team News

Arsenal
 
24 Manuel Almunia 
27 Emmanuel Eboue 
31 Justin Hoyte 
10 William Gallas 
5 Kolo Toure 
30 Armand Traore 
4 Francesc Fabregas 
19 Gilberto Silva 
16 Mathieu Flamini 
32 Theo Walcott 
26 Nicklas Bendtner 
 
Bench
1 Jens Lehmann 
22 Gaël Clichy 
13 Alexander Hleb 
25 Emmanuel Adebayor 
17 Alexandre Song 
 
Liverpool
 
Jose Reina  25
Jamie Carragher  23
Martin Skrtel  37
Alvaro Arbeloa  17
Steve Finnan  3
Jermaine Pennant  16
Yossi Benayoun  11
Lucas  21
John Arne Riise  6
Damien Plessis  47
Peter Crouch  15
 
Bench
Charles Itandje  30
Andrej Voronin  10
Sami Hyypia  4
Steven Gerrard  8
Fernando Torres  9 

 ]]>

It's Saturday! Time for Arsenal vs Liverpool in the Premier League

I've got the official team news, but before I publish it, I just want to touch on our strength in depth. Yesterday I was playing Pro Evo and the Masters League. Now in the game, it's pretty hard to have any long term injuries, or major absenses. So throughout the season we had the luxury of having a fit group of players. The options we had were amazing.

Van Persie and Adebayor played as the first choice striking partnership, and they finished 1st and 2nd in the scoring charts, Van Persie with 25 goals and Ade with 22. VP also got 11 assists to finish top of the assist league.

Our first choice midfield saw Rosicky, Cesc, Flamini and Hleb play. Rosicky got 11 goals, Cesc 8, Hleb popped up with 7 too, with the Flamster picking up 4 scorchers himself. Our strength in dept saw Eduardo grab 15 league goals and Bendtner managed 8 of his own. Walcott was an excellent option and played somtimes on the wing and sometimes up front. He got himself 8 assists and 6 goals.

With a fit set of midfielders, Diaby, Denilson, Song, Djourou all played vital parts in the midfields with Eduardo and Eboue also playing quote a few games in midfield.

Our defence was the best in the league and Senderos, Gallas, Toure, Song, Clichy, Sagna, Hoyte, Traore and Eboue giving us depth.

It goes to show how much strength in depth we have - but how badly our injuries have been... come on you reds today and show the Pool what we're made of...]]>

Friday Round Up, Arsenal vs Liverpool Preview: Part 2, Almunia, Merida & Transfer Rumours

Arsenal vs Liverpool Preview

Tomorrow sees two midfielders suspended. One for each side. As we know Diaby will be suspended and so will Mascherano. I believe Lucas will come into the starting XI for Liverpool, whilst Diaby hasn’t featured in our first XI. Van Persie is injured – how many times have I said that this season?

It’s been a strange series of team selection that has seen Eboue constantly picked ahead of Theo and our games have only changed positively when Eboue has been replaced. It will be interesting to see who starts on Wednesday. I think with VP out, Bendtner may start with Walcott on the bench. The reason I see Arsene putting Walcott on the bench is that a) he has attacking options on the bench b) he would want to keep him fresh for Tuesday c) Bendtner will want to make up for his awful clearance on Wednesday.

Rumours are that Liverpool team will be somewhat weakened. The Liverpool supporters I know have mentioned that the starting line up will see Crouch, Vorinin, Pennant and Benyauon play. No matter which Liverpool team plays it will be a strong team and we’ll have to be at our best to beat them. This is the line up I expect to see tomorrow:

Almunia
Goalkeeper
 
Toure
Right Back
Gallas
Centre Back
Senderos
Centre Back
Clichy
Left Back
 
Eboue
Right Wing
Flamini
Defensive Midfielder
Fabregas
Attacking Midfielder
Hleb
Left Wing
 
  Adebayor
Stiker
Bendtner
Support Stiker
 

With Lehmann, Hoyte, Song, Gilberto and Walcott on the bench.

Transfer Rumours

There have been a somewhat hightened round of transfer rumours this week and we’ve been linked with various players this month (and it’s only 4 days old)… here’s who’s who in the transfer target talk… (now that’s a tongue twister)!

Grenier Clement GrenierClement Grenier is an attacking midfielder, currently plying his trade at Lyon in France. Clement Grenier is 17 and has not yet signed a professional contract. Of couse, we all know that Arsene has had much success in landing non contracted youngsters.Grenier has been dubbed the new Kaka, which is some accolade. Although sometimes agents talk up their players in this manner to raise their profile…

And…

Diego DiegoDiego is the next highly touted Brazilian to hit the national side. He currently plays for Weder Bremen and was in action for Brazil against Sweden at the Emirates. His performance was impressive. It is understood that the asking price is around £20m, so it’s not exactly something that Arsene usually does. His father, who is also his agent has been talking this week about how both Real Madrid and Juventus have had talks.

True or false???

Almunia Signs A Contract Extension

Something which is becoming increasing clearer now is the goalkeeping situation. Almunia has been solid, has pulled off some great saves and have established himself and the number one keeper, displacing the German #1 Lehmann. The players like to play with him and have confidence in his ability.

It’s clear that next season he will be our #1  with Fabianski our #2 and Mannone our #3.

Almunia signed a long term contract recently and hopes to end his career at Arsenal.

“I’ve extended my contract and I hope to be here for a long, long time. Hopefully I can finish my career here.”

Fran Merida Signs On Too

Young Fran Merida has followed in the footsteps of Cescy from Barce to Arsenal. Merida has been out on loan with Real Sociedad this season. He is a special talent and Arsene rates him highly. I believe he will feature in our first team this season and the season in Spain will prove very useful. I have seen him in a few friendlies and he does look awesome.

Don’t forget to get up early, coverage starts at 12noon tomorrow, come on you Gunners.]]>

Match Report: Bolton 2 – 3 Arsenal, A Display Of Heart And Desire…

It's a word that describes when it doesn't go your way, when things come up and cause difficulties, it's when all things conspire against you. When Drogba, Anelka and Kalou were offside and a 1-0 win turns into a 2-1 loss. Adversity.

Today's game was all about adversity. Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong. But in the face of adversity, belief will prosper. In a game which saw rain plummet down before the game, making the surface impossible to play in. In a game which saw Bolton score on their first attack and double their lead before the break. In a game which saw Arsenal reduced to 10 men after 30 minutes. In a game where everything conspired against us, we came out winners and all credit to the team. The position that the team has been in has been a disappointment to all, but the fans reacted unbelievably. In a situation where most teams would crumble, we can out victorious.

The game started well with Arsenal dominating the early periods, we had four shots, three half chances and a real opportunity. Bendtner and Van Persie guilty of missing. It was a very bright start. Toure started the game at right back and raided the right flank well showing energy and crossing well.

But Bolton are Bolton. They counter-attacked well and after a bright start from us, we found ourselves 1-0 down when Matthew Taylor headed home from Gretar Steinsson's cross. It was a bit of a shock to the system and sometimes when we attack, attack, attack, you leave the back door open.

That goal seemed to take it out of us for a while and we lacked maturity going forward after that. But in a crazy turn of events, Diaby got sent off in a tackle that should have been red. It was reminiscent of the Eduardo / Taylor challenge, albeit not that bad, but catching the player in the way he did, the ref has no other option other than sending him off.

Shortly before the end of the first half, another Bolton counter attack saw Taylor shoot, a deflection from Gallas, past Almunia and we found ourselves 2-0 down.

“Spirit, Energy and Ability.”

Shortly into the second half, the Calvary arrived. Theo and Adebayor joined the frey, and we change to a 3-4-3 formation. It was a change that was much needed. Bendtner had been good, but it is obvious that he is still learning. Don’t get me wrong, he is a very good player and will only get better, but Ade is just a monster.

The Bolton defence couldn’t handle the new formation, and for the first time in the game since going behind, we looked like we could get something out of the game. A corner shortly afterwards saw Gallas volley in and it was 2 – 1.

Moments later, a Cahill challenge, saw Hleb tumble in the box and 2-1 became 2-2 when Van Persie scored from the spot. It was his first goal in 5 years since September and will only do him good.

We rallied well and it looked like there would be only one team going on to win this game. Ade and Walcott really tore the Bolton defence apart. In the last few minutes of the game, the winner came. A good move from the team saw Fabregas free. And something of a scramble hit two Bolton players on the way, and cross the line. A remarkable scoreline 3-2 with Arsenal campaigning with 10 men for the last hour. [Updated from original post]

It was a win that we needed and a win that we deserved… well done Arsenal. Let’s enjoy this and see what United and Chelsea can do now…]]>

Match Day: Bolton vs Arsenal, come on you Gunners!!!

A win today won't be easy, as Bolton really are our bogey side. We not beaten them in 8 and they've won the last three at the Reebok. Not the greatest of grounds for us, but something we can start rectifying today.

Arsene spoke about the game yesterday:

“On Saturday, the team just wants to focus on a top-level performance, and then we will win. Not the opposite when how you play does not matter as long as you win. It is important how we perform, then we win the game.

That’s very true, if we can play our game we can win. But “play our game” also means let’s not get upset when Kevin Davies challenges Gallas in the air and let’s not get upset when Nolan clips Walcott’s ankles. Let’s just get up, focus, play well and score goals.

As discussed yesterday, we have two possible options with the game’s starting line up. One version saw Bendtner and Van Persie up front with Ade rested and Arsene seems to think this is a good idea.

Official team news shortly, but Arsene agrees young Ade needs a rest.

“I believe he has given a lot this year and so he would need a little breather, maybe. He has played a lot on his own up front and has had to fight very hard. So at the moment, to refresh him a bit would do him some good. He has not scored recently but then, as a team, we have made less chances. Also physically he was a bit jaded because he has played in nearly every single game since the start of the season. He is an important player in our squad. But I have Bendtner there and I have van Persie coming back.”

This same variation saw Walcott and Diaby on either side with Hleb rested and saw Senderos at the back with Toure on the right.

The other variation saw Eboue at right back, Hleb and Diaby on the wings. It’s one of those days, where with a few players back from injury and a drop in form from the remaining players, we won’t know who will play until Arsene announces it…

Who ever plays will be the choice of the gaffer and a team that he thinks can win…

Come on you Gunners!!!]]>

Match Preview: Bolton vs Arsenal, Sagna Setback and Transfer Rumours

It's been 5 games since we last won a Premiership game, and we're simply not used to that!

Let's take a look at the news this week.

Sagna out for three weeks

Sagna is injured and he’s out for at least three weeks. He was the hero for us on Sunday when he scored to give us the 1-0 advantage, but his arguably his substitution disrupted the game and the defence. I’ve got cause for concern about his absence and we have to look at the options. Arsene spoke on this.

“He has an ankle injury and the first news that we have is that he could be out for quite a while. I don’t know how long he will be out, but I feel it will be three weeks at least. Five is the worst-case scenario. I have seen the injury again on tape. He wanted to kick the ball out and he twisted”

So what do we do now? Bacary has been instrumental to our campaign this season and he looks set to miss this weekend’s clash as well as the games against Liverpool (times three) and Man United. Let’s look at the options.

Emmanuel Eboue
Some say that Eboue’s better position is right back where he can overlay. Many say his attacking potential is limited and his final ball is often bad. Well, with Sagna out for the next three weeks, Eboue could see himself pushed back. Although this is a natural change, his is a liability in defence and could cause more damage than good.

Philippe Senderos
The return of Philippe could be an option, not at right back, but at centre back. That would see Toure or Gallas go out wide. With Toure the younger of the two, he may have more stamina and Gallas is renowned for not liking to play on either side of defence unless in emergency! This would be my option. As I think young Philippe is having a good season and I simply don’t trust Eboue. Toure has a bit of will to win about him, so getting forward could add a dimension to our team.

Justin Hoyte
From a defensive point of view, I’d prefer Hoyte over Eboue. He has experience at this level, but hasn’t had much playing time this season.

Kerrea Gilbert
A younger option, but probably the least probable considering the other three options. Gilbert has just recovered from an injury that saw him return from his loan spell earlier this season.


Who would you like to see play?

Arsene wants to find our form

Arsene has spoken quite a lot recently and one of the major articles you may have read or not read is about how we need to refind our early season form. It’s very much the truth. There is a psychological impact that our players had when Eduardo was injured and a major part of our form was removed. The players have taken their time to recover from this. It’s not like we played badly in the last 5 games, but it’s more like we’ve played 90% of our game.

If you’ve haven’t read this, then take a look, it’s a quick piece on why it’s not all doom and gloom.

Arsene has been talking on the fact that we must focus on our next game, and interestingly he talks about the title as a long term project? Here’s what he said:

“I believe that what we want is to win our next game and then try to get a grip on it again before we dream of winning the title. We have to be realistic. Our form in recent games is not good enough to dream of the title. Let’s first get into form where we can pretend again to win the title. I believe we will do it, but it is more than a long-term project. Let’s give everything in our next one and win it.” 

I know what he means by a long term project, yes, we’ve invested in a big stadium and no really splashed the cash on many players, but we were very close to challenging for the title this season. Actually, I believe if we still had Eduardo and Rosicky playing this season we wouldn’t have drop those points… another discussion, but we need some silverware soon…

Talking about Eduardo, he has been speaking about Taylor and how he hasn’t spoken to him yet. Take a read on Sky Sports. This is contrary to the report today from Taylor himself who insists he has spoken to Eduardo. Strange stuff, all of this.

Transfers Rumours

Something that always arises around the time of a loss or eventful week is the transfer rumours come out… in the last few days we’ve been linked with Gai Assulin  and Hatem Ben Arfa, and more recently, Zdravko Kuzmanovic.

Let’s have a look at these rumourss… The agent of Assulin has dismissed a move, and said that Chelsea are the only team that have expressed an interested. The Hatem Ben Arfa link is more credible as it’s got some Arsene backing. And most of you may be asking, who the hell is Kuzmanovic? He’s a 20 year old Serb who’s been linked as Flamini’s replacement. But I think he’s literally just signed a contract in the last hour or so, so that story was surely just a contract negotiation one.

One more speculative on is on Pjanic, who we’ve been talking about recently. Apparently the Metz coach has said they will sell Pjanic in Summer as they will need to raise cash as they will be relegated… don’t get too excited, he’s only 17, but he’s a very good 17 year old at that! The Arsenal Way has the full quote from the Metz manager, Joel Muller.

Just enough time for a match preview…

Match Preview: Bolton vs Arsenal

Okay, so we’re off to the Reebok on Saturday, a 3pm kick off off and if we don’t win, it will be Arsene’s worst ever run as manager – just shows the “crisis” we are in… but surely the boys are just as upset as the fans. Surely they want to put things right starting with Bolton. But then again, surely they wanted to win the last five games…

Positive thoughts…

It’s third from bottom versus third from top… and Bolton haven’t won in the last 8 games… so our form is marginally better!

With Sagna out of the game and Rosicky and Eduardo long term injuries, we’ve got a few choices to make now. Many people are calling for Eboue to be dropped but there seems to be two slots available for him. Ideally, I’d like to see Eboue out of the starting XI so that he has to push himself to get back into it. I’d also like to see a rest for Ade and Hleb as they seems like they need it…! Playing Bolton too, Diaby would be the better option.

Here’s the starting XI line up that I’d like to see play…

Almunia
Goalkeeper
Toure
Right Back
Gallas
Centre Back
Senderos
Centre Back
Clichy
Left Back
Walcott
Right Wing
Flamini
Defensive Midfielder
Fabregas
Defensive Midfielder
Diaby
Left Wing
Bendtner
Stiker
Van Persie
Support Stiker

But here’s the starting line up that Arsene will probably opt for…

Almunia
Goalkeeper
Eboue
Right Back
Gallas
Centre Back
Toure
Centre Back
Clichy
Left Back
Hleb
Right Wing
Flamini
Defensive Midfielder
Fabregas
Defensive Midfielder
Diaby
Left Wing
Adebayor
Stiker
Van Persie
Support Stiker

I’d like to see young Theo play – his cameo’s have been very positive and Senderos could help with those Bolton long balls, but we’ll see tomorrow what Arsene has in mind. With three games against Liverpool and then United, we have to rest some players here and there and inject some freshness into the team…

News Round Up 

Just to top it off, the British Prime Minister and French President has a meeting with Arsene at the Emirates. A nice little thing, and a very proud moment for us and for Arsene. Sepp Blatter made an appearance too, but surprisingly didn’t speak to Arsene… more on the Arsenal.com site.

Young Guns talks about Henri Lansbury’s party attitude. Carlos Vela looks like he will return on the weekend.

More tomorrow!]]>

Chelsea vs Arsenal Official Team News

Diaby is back in the squad and will start on the bench. Starting XI is as per team preview.

Almunia (Goalkeeper)

Sagna (Right Back)
Gallas (Centre Back)
Toure (Centre Back)
Clichy (Left Back)
 
Eboue (Right Wing)
Flamini (Defensive Midfielder)
Fabregas (Attacking Midfielder)
Hleb (Left Wing)
 
Adebayor (Stiker)
Van Persie (Support Stiker)

With Liverpool losing 3-0 at Old Trafford and Macherano being sent off for saying “what’s happening?” (in one of the worst – most home bias refereeing I’ve ever seen), it’s a must win game for Arsenal.]]>

Chelsea vs Arsenal: Match Preview, Team News, Line Ups

This week, I talked about the title run in and what’s required for us to win the league. I’ve also run through about the belief we need to haveas Arsene has had all season and the scandal which is Hlebgate. And amongst others, we’ve taken a look at the England squad and been very happy at the return of Bob and reviewed Clichy’s look at Chelsea and Liverpool and Matty Flamini’s contract situation.

Chelsea vs Arsenal Game Preview

It’s been a whirlwind few weeks and with 4 successive draws in the league, it’s time to get back on track. Remember, we’re only three points behind with 8 games to go, not the worst position considering our pre-season suggested finish.

Chelsea have been there or thereabouts all season and are now 2 points behind us and 5 behind United. If we win at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, it will shortly become a two-horse race.

Arsene spoke today about how the main reason that we have drawn these recent games is because we concede the first goal. It’s reminiscent of last season. But he’s right, against Villa, B’ham and Boro we were chasing the game. And when teams go a goal up against us, it makes it even harder as they defend even more. I remember at times when it seemed that the whole Middlesborough team was camped in their box.

We have to score first against Chelsea if we want to win. They’ve played midweek against Sp*rs and it was a tiring game…

Team News

Both Rosicky and Diaby are still injured, so it looks like pretty much the same squad and the same eleven that started and drew against Middlesborough.

The squad for Sunday looks like:

Goalkeepers: Almunia, Lehmann
Defenders: Sagna, Gallas, Senderos, Clichy, Toure
Midfielders: Hleb, Flamini, Fabregas, Gilberto, Walcott
Strikers: Adebayor, Bendtner, Van Persie 

The team definitely has quality and with a week’s rest, they will hopefully be raring to go. Van Persie has had another game under his belt and will be sharper and young Theo will be raring to go after his England call up. I don’t think Theo will start as his role as an impact sub seems to be more effective and Eboue can help defensively. This should be the line up tomorrow.

Almunia
Goalkeeper
Sagna
Right Back
Gallas
Centre Back
Toure
Centre Back
Clichy
Left Back
Eboue
Right Wing
Flamini
Defensive Midfielder
Fabregas
Attacking Midfielder
Hleb
Left Wing
Adebayor
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 With Lehmann, Senderos, Gilberto, Walcott and Bendtner on the bench…

Rosicky’s injury is somewhat untimely as he’s been out for 7 weeks, it’s frustrating for us and Arsene and surely for him – read more about his crazy injurynightmare on GunnersLive.

Let’s hope the first team do a reverse of the under 18′s who lost 1-0 to Chelsea yesterday - read more on Young Guns.

Quick Round Up

Although he trained yesterday, Carlos Vela looks like he won’t be travelling to London for the Mexico friendly.

Arsene has defended AshleyCole saying he’s not a dirty player – I don’t know why, but he has always said good things about Cole… despite what’s happen. Hat’s off to Arsene. The gaffer is confident in Matty signing his new contract.

In transfer news, Juventus winger Raffaele Palladino has been linked with a summer move to us – he is one of the most promising young Italians.

And that’s a wrap today… more Chelsea vs Arsenal news tomorrow…]]>