Arsenal vs Wigan preview: Will snow become a factor? and starting line up!

November 30, 2010

Tonight we face Wigan at home in the Carling Cup, if the heavy snow doesn’t lead to a postponement of match. Wigan is not doing well in the league but it is a Cup tie and anything can happen.

Wenger has already said that he will be fielding a strong team with some changes.

Therefore, for me Szczesny to start in goal in place of Fabianski. Not because Fabianski is not playing good but because Szczesny needs to play games. In defense as Squillaci is out so Djourou to return and Koscielny to retain his place. Eboue has recovered but I don’t see him playing. Therefore, Sagna to start on the right flank and Gibbs on the left to give rest to Clichy.

In midfield Nasri to take the central role as Rosicky has featured in the last two games and he will be needing rest. Wilshere needs to have a rest too so Song starts again with Denilson in the holding role.

Upfront Chamakh deserves a break so either of Van Persie or Bendtner to feature. Van Persie needs to get match fitness but I don’t see him starting. He may come on as a substitute. As for Bendtner, who hasn’t yet put words to action, he may get another chance to start. Walcott and Vela to start on the wings.

Probable team: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Djourou, Gibbs, Denilson, Nasri, Song, Walcott, Bendtner, Vela.

Notice that with seven changes, from the last starting XI, the team still looks strong as Wenger said.  

So it is another game at home. Today we have an opportunity to get back to winning ways at the Emirates. With our home record not good at all, Wigan will fancy a chance but I believe we will overcome them in style. But for that we would need to play with desire and conviction throughout the match.

I am expecting a win for us and if we can keep a clean sheet it would be good. I hope the team doesn’t show complacency today.  

The snow might become a factor today. The match may get cancelled or else the pitch will be very slippery if the match is played as scheduled. Extra efforts will be required to make things happen if it’s played in snow. Let’s hope that the weather doesn’t play a significant role today.

Thoughts!


Eboue recovers, Squillaci out, Wenger yet to decide on Van Persie, Leeds in FA Cup and Ramsey appears for Forest.

November 30, 2010

Eboue: Has made a quick recovery

Coming to matters at hand, Wenger has given away the injury news ahead of Wigan’s match tomorrow. Emmanuel Eboue, who was last week judged to be out for at least four weeks due to a knee injury, has made a remarkable comeback. He had a swollen knee but his ligament was intact. The latest tests reveal that he has recovered.

“Emmanuel Eboue is back in the squad much quicker than planned. When we made a scan his knee was swollen but the ligament was intact so we decided to push him back as quickly as possible and the tests were successful.”

Fabregas: 'Couple of weeks away'

Squillaci: Suffered a knee injury

Cesc Fabregas on the other hand is on his course to recovery. It will be 10 to15 days’ at least before he will be fit. Squillaci on the other hand has a suffered a knee problem from Villa’s game. Rest of the squad is available as it was on Saturday.

“Cesc is still out. He has ten more days or two weeks maximum. Sebastien Squillaci has a knee problem from Saturday. He is out, everyone else is available.”

Wenger has also said the he will take the tie seriously without revealing the team. He said that he will decide on who to include and who not as they have been playing football every three days for the past 6 weeks. He said that it will be a strong team with the regular players.

“I don’t want to give the team today. The only thing I promise is that we will take the tie seriously. I have to consider how many games my players play. For six weeks we have played every three days with Champions League and internationals. I will consider who needs to play and who needs to rest. But we will play with a strong team. You will see regular players.”

Van Persie: Will he play against Wigan?About Van Persie he said he has yet to decide. He said that he will speak to him on how he feels before he plays him or not.

“Van Persie? I don’t know. Do I get him a week of work or do I play him? I have to speak with him frankly to see how he feels. We will see [on] Monday.”

FA Cup third round draw: Arsenal vs Leeds

On Sunday, draws for the FA Cup third round took place. We have been drawn at home against Leeds united. The ties for the third round will be played on the weekend of 8th and 9th January. The other ties are here.

Leeds is currently at 8th place in the championships. Still they will be looking for a repeat of last season when they overcame Man Utd in the third round. They took Tottenham to a replay in the fourth round. Their manager said that it is amazing for the club and fans to be having such draws. He said that they have been giving the performances and the support they have had is really good. Yet he added that they have plenty of games before the Arsenal game and they have to focus on them as the Championship is important.

“It’s a fantastic draw. Arsenal are one of the best teams in the country and are one of the top footballing teams in Europe. I’m sure our supporters will look forward to the game and will sell the full allocation once again. After knocking Man United out in the third round last season and taking Tottenham to a replay in the fourth round, the current crop at Leeds have shown they relish the big occasion. It’s amazing when you look at the draws we’ve had and the performances and the support we’ve had. In an 18-month period, we’ve played Liverpool, Man U, Tottenham, and now Arsenal in the cups which is fantastic for the club and the fans. But…as I said before the Man U game last season, we have a lot of league games to come before then and that is our focus. The players will all want to be involved for the Arsenal game and the league games are so important to us.”

In other news, Aaron Ramsey made a first competitive appearence in a match after suffering his injury. He came on as subsitute for Nottingham Forest in a match against Leicester. They went onto lose the match but his appearence was good to see.


Defender Linked!: Will it solve our problems?

November 29, 2010

The last few matches have revealed that we are still very much prone to conceding goals at the back. After getting three clean sheets in four matches not too long ago, we have again gone to our knack of conceding goals, mostly due to defensive errors. The situation has led to many defenders getting linked with us to solve the problem. Bolton’s Gary Cahill is the foremost of the players linked to us with reports suggesting Wenger will move in for the defender in the January transfer window with a 10 million bid. With Bolton’s debt rising, they will be tempted with the bid but it will require more than this to part ways with Cahill.

I am in for the notion that we need a new defender come January if we are to have a chance to challenge for the trophies. The question is will it solve our problems? The thing that I have noticed is that most of the problems that we have are not due to the ability of the defenders but due to some basic mistakes that we are not avoiding. Even a top class defender will be made to look normal with the type of mistakes we make. The problem is further escalated due to the fact we are weak in defending as a team. We fail to keep our organization whenever we are under attack. I don’t know why it is but it is visible. Most of the times we are caught ball watching or out of position, we are weak in the air, not attacking the second balls, the midfield is not supporting the defence most of the times, our clearances are weak and we are not confident in defending the set pieces. Even if we are doing it, we are not consistent.

This problem is serious because at the moment even with a two or three goal margin a win is not ensured for us. Although this is also due to some other factors but the problem of bad defensive organization is one of the foremost.

Someone once mentioned it to me that the reason might lie in the way we practice. It’s like we usually play the beautiful game of passing the ball and looking for killer balls to open up defenses. So in practice sessions we will be doing the same thing. Our forwards and midfielders would keep the ball down and move forward, not relying much on the aerial route or set pieces. Therefore the defenders will also adjust and practice for this type of play and not the long ball game. That’s why you will see that we are good in the one-on-ones’ and in tackling but weak in the air.

Also in our style of play most of our team is involved when we attack leaving plenty of space behind. As a result a slight mistake can lead to many open spaces which the opponent can exploit and we have suffered due to it a lot.

Now I feel these problems cannot be solved wholly by buying a world class defender, although it will greatly reduce the burden and may bring some organization at the back. To counter all these problems we need to change the way we practice. We need to work out a way to defend set pieces, corners, crossess and long balls. We need to learn to defend as a team. We need to be more effective in our pressing. We need our players to stay close to the defenders when we are under attack. And for all this we need to keep our focus.

Also our keeper needs to communicate with the defenders more. The keeper is the one who has to take charge of his area and organize our defensive shape. Although Fabianski is doing great but he needs to learn to command his area and only then we can avoid conceding avoidable goals.

I am not saying that we will not be doing somthing about these problems but we need to change something somewhere. It cannot be done overnight for sure but it is high time that we dealt with them. The season is entering one of the important phases and results here will be crucial. Let’s hope we do find the solutions to our defensive frailties.


Player ratings: Aston Villa 2 – 4 Arsenal

November 28, 2010

A good response from the team after a dismal week if not the perfect. There was a visible change in the team as they were hungry for the win and it is this hunger that we as fans want to see in the team every time they come on the field. If I remember correctly the last away wins against Everton and Wolves were due to some good defending and keeping as our forward and midfield failed to create much. This time it was the opposite.     

Our front line and midfield was great today and the defence was in shambles most of the times when we were under attack. Both the goals that we conceded were down to some bad defensive organisation. At the front it was some good passing and individual brilliance that led to the goals. In the middle we did brilliantly in the first half but lost our foothold in the seconf half most of the times.
 
The other thing that I want to talk about is our corners. Before the goal that Nasri scored on the corner, all of our corners were delivered to the near post and most of the Villa players stationed their easily dealt with it. The moment it was delivered a bit back we got the goal. We were predictable and the moment we mixed it up we got the goal. This is what we have to do.
 
Coming to player ratings:
 
Fabianski: Didn’t have to do much. Can’t be blamed for the goals as was unsighted on the first and not helped by the defenders on the second. Still he has to learn to command his area and need to communicate with the defenders around. His distribution was not that good today. 6.5
 
Sagna: Solid game. Was caught out of position a few times but did well on the right flank most of the times. A few of his crosses were also good. 7
 
Squillaci: Again he was not good with his clearences. Although our whole defence line was at fault for the first goal but it was his poor clearence that led to it. At times he was shaky but did his job. Needs to be more aggressive on the headers. 6
 
Koscielny: Bettter game then the last and better then Squillaci. Some of his tackles were brilliant and covered up nicely for Squillaci. Still needs a lot of improvement though. 7
 
Clichy: He wasn’t up to it today. Defensively was no where. Offensively did okay but went missing most of the times. Gave away possession a few times too. Not his best game. Was also at some fault for the first goal as he didn’t close down Clark. 6
 
Song: Was good in the middle and when going forward. Some of his passes were great and made some good interceptions in the middle. Defensively went missing a bit. Was at fault for the second goal as he didn’t challenge the Villa player. 6.5

Rosicky: Was one of our best players today. Ran, passed, tackled, assisted and had shots on goal. He did gave away the possession a couple of times but overall had an effective game. Great assist for the Chamakh goal. 7.5

Wilshere: Started slowly and settled in nicely. Had an ordinary first half but grew in stature in the second. Scored the final goal too, his firtst for Arsenal in the league. 7.5

Nasri: He too was one of our best players. He was simply outstanding. Was involved in everything that happened out there, displayed some individual brilliance and scored a beauty. This season he is getting better and better. 8.5

Chamakh: Another excellent game. Harassed the Villa defenders constantly. linked up with Nasri and Arshavin brilliantly and never slowed down. Held the ball nicely throughout the match. Scored the important third goal smartly and provided the assist on the fourth to seal the game. 8.5

Arshavin: Awesome stuff from the Russian. He was turning, running at the defenders, passing, creating, scoring, defending. He was every where today. He was at the heart of every thing that happemned out there. Scored a brilliant individual goal, provided the assist on the second and could have had another if Nasri had not struck the side neting. This is the type of performance that we require from him everytime. He certainly changed the game today. 9

Subs:

Denilson, Gibbs and Djourou came on for a short while and did what was asked of them. No ratings though.

This game has ended and now it’s time to move on to the next. We don’t need to get carried away and show up better than this for the next and build up on this win. As I have said before “consistency” is what we need right now.


Aston Villa 2 – 4 Arsenal match report: Sweet victory! Finally

November 27, 2010

What a game; it was high tempo, free flowing and tense. It had plenty of goals, plenty of drama and plenty of edgy moments for us. I was nearly trembling near the end.  In those final 20 minutes, when Villa scored the second I wasn’t even breathing properly.

This match was pretty similar to the one last weekend but it had a different result. We started dominantly in the first half and took a two goal lead heading into the break. Villa came back rejuvenated and scored their opener within 6 minutes of the start of second. Deja vu! Plenty of tweets were coming in with these words, “Please Arsenal not again”.  Read the rest of this entry »


Aston Villa vs Arsenal preview: The team has to respond today

November 27, 2010

Last week has been nothing short of  a disaster for us as we head into today’s match desperately needing a win to put the things right. The beauty of it all is that we are still two points from the top and in all competitions. Read the rest of this entry »


Fabregas’ injury investigation, Wenger’s injury update and Ramsey loaned out

November 26, 2010

Wenger: Gives an update on the injuries

It has been confirmed today by Wenger that Fabregas is going to be out for a couple of weeks at least. Wenger said that we will be a bit cautious with him as it is a recurrence of his hamstring problem. He said that he will listen to the medical team and Fabregas before deciding to play him. It all however depends on how he feels and if he is ready.

On being asked about the injury, Wenger said that he is not sure if it’s because of the World Cup. He said that the one thing he is sure of is that they will have to be cautious because if you have a hamstring injury you have a chance to get another. As for occurrence of the injury on the other leg, Wenger said that it is very difficult to predict. He further added that he doesn’t know much about it scientifically as the medical staff they have seen can’t say more about it. He said that they are investigating his injury. They have analyzed his body and it is not due to fatigue or tiredness. They will consult every specialist but the problem he said is that despite having scientists today you still get injured.

“It could be two weeks but we are in a position where we may need to be a bit more cautious with him because it is a recurrence of his hamstring problem.
I will follow what the medical people tell me and Cesc tells me – if he feels perfectly alright after two weeks then I will play him.
I don’t know if [the injury] is down to the World Cup. What is for sure is that every hamstring injury you have gives you more chances to have another one. That’s why I say maybe we have to be a bit more cautious.
This time we were concerned with one leg before the game and it happened on the other leg. It is very difficult to predict – I am not scientific enough to speak about that and none of the medical people we have seen yet can tell us more.We have analysed his body and it is not fatigued and he is not tired.
We are investigating as much as we can. The problem [is] before when you were injured you waited at home and when you could play again you played again – today you can have ten scientists around you but you still get injured.
We will consult every specialist we can. But at the end of the day it doesn’t stop him from being injured.”

Fabregas: We need him at 100 percent!

So with this time line, Fabregas is sure to miss the Aston Villa, Wigan, Fulham and Partizan Belgrade matches. He might be back for the Manchester game but seeing the past record I have my doubts about it. It will be a bonus if he will be back for that match but we have seen Fabregas takes time before getting to his best.  So playing him just because he gets fit might not be enough.

As Wenger has said that we have to be patient with him, so let’s not push him hard.  We need to give him time because if he gets another injury, he will be out for far too long then the two weeks now. Wenger has already gambled with him and let’s not go on the same path. The Christmas period is coming up and we don’t want to have a large number of players out with injury. I believe that he shouldn’t be played until he is hundred percent the rest is up to the Boss.

Speaking about others, Wenger said that Eboue is going to be out for a minimum of 4 weeks with a medial knee ligament strain. Everyone else will be available for the next match. Speaking of Almunia he said that he will be capable of playing but it will depend on how he responds.

“Eboue has a medial knee ligament strain. It can be four weeks, can be six weeks or can be eight weeks. But I think it will be four weeks minimum. We have a lot of bumps and bruises but everyone else should be available. Almunia should be capable to play but I will see how he reacts.”

Ramsey: Goes out on loan

The thing that has surprised me is that Aaron Ramsey after making a positive return in the reserves game has been loaned out. He has joined Nottingham forest on loan until 3rd January 2011. It is a surprise because Wenger had said before it will better if he stays here and makes his comeback with us. Now all of a sudden he is loaned out to a championship team. Maybe Wenger did give a hint when he said that he needs competitive games.

“Ramsey needs competitive games. He played 45 minutes and he did well. We need to get him slowly and progressively into competition mode.”

It is good for him in that he will get some match time but we know how it is in the championship. If he is pushed too hard it might hamper his return.  We know what setbacks can do if one tries too hard on returning from injuries. Diaby, Eduardo and Rosicky are a few examples. At first I was behind the notion that he should go on loan but the thing that changed my mind was that if he can get his match fitness by playing with reserves then it will be ideal. Still I really hope this move comes up good for him and he returns with no setbacks. Good luck to him.

This is all for now. The next game is just round the corner. We have to be ready for that and bounce back better than ever. We sure need a win this weekend.