Wenger’s press conference: Consistency, Benayoun and Injury update | Marvin Martin to Arsenal? Lansbury’s contract and Cesc’s interview

September 16, 2011

The weekend is finally here with the new round of EPL games. This Saturday we are up against Blackburn but before that I have lots of catching up to do.

Dortmund game

To start off, my two cents on the positive result at Dortmund. I only saw the second half of the game and considering how the game played out, that was a very important point gained. I have to admit, I was really impressed by how Dortmund played. They really were very good with the ball and knew how to make things happen. They were also very strong at the back. They took the game to us and had it not been through some good defending and some great saves from Szczesny, it would have been a very different result. Also had they taken their chances, we would have come out with nothing. And that is why this was a very good point won against the opposition, who are surely the toughest in our group.

The whole team played their hearts out that night but the main performers for me (in the second half ) were, Koscielny, Song and Szczesny. In my preview, I mentioned how important both Koscielny and Song will be to our setup and they proved it with their play. I know Koscielny was not good in the first half but having not seen it, I cannot make comments on that. The second half was where he and Song really made some exceptional interceptions, blocks and clearances. Song alone got us out of three very tight positions if I remember correctly. Combined with Szczesny’s excellent keeping, we were able to keep the Germans from scoring goals. The goal that did come was a one-off and you won’t see any one saving a goal like that. It did, however, left me wondering as to why is it always against us the other teams find such goals?

However, despite the positive result, we are far from a finished product. Nearly improvement in every area is required. I know the team needs time to integrate but we will have to do it quickly as the games will be coming in thick and fast. Of all the things, one that really leaves me wanting is our lack of creating chances recently. Arteta, Benayoun Arshavin, Walcott, Gervinho and Van Persie all have to step up and find the right rhythm among them if we want to get back to creating aand scoring goals freely.

Marvin Martin to Arsenal?

Moving on, reports have come up related to France’s next big star, Marvin Martin that he might after all end up at our club next year. Despite signing a contract extension, the French star was quoted by L’Equipe saying this:

We had good talk and we found an agreement. The officials made a promise. Indeed, an agreement to let me leave. I will remain at Sochaux until the end of the season.

It is still too early to say anything because a year is too long a time. And it is not even sure if he will leave Sochaux to come here.  His performances for Sochaux have earned him a call to the French national team where he is set to become a regular. At only 23 he has lots of years ahead of him and if he keeps progressing, he will surely be on the radar of many top clubs. Now, how much are we interested in him will be answered either during the January window or at the end of this season. As far as I am concerned, he certainly has enough quality to add something extra to our midfield. And if we really are in to him, we would need to get him to agree a pre-contract during January before other clubs hijack the move.

Henri Lansbury extends contract!

I was glad to hear the news that Henri Lansbury has signed a contract extension with us.  After seeing him go on a season long loan, I had partly made up my mind that we had seen the last of him at Arsenal. Now, however, after having him signed that extension, I hope that one day he will be a regular player for us. He sure is one of the bright talents to look out for among the upcoming English players.

Arsene Wenger’s press conference

Moving further on, Arsene Wenger had his usual pre-match press conference ahead of the Blackburn game on Thursday. He talked about the Dortmund game, Consistency being the key and Benayoun’s permanent signing among other things.

Talking about consistency, the manager said that only getting good results is going to help the uncertainty and skepticism out of the club.

“We must win. We live in an environment that questions us when we don’t win. We do not criticise that and have to live with that. But we have to show performances, consistency, attitude and quality. That makes us respected. It’s as simple as that. That’s why it is as important that we don’t talk too much and play as well as we can. We feel we have turned the corner but we will be judged by the consistency of our results. We want to change the skepticism around us but that will only [happen] if we are consistent with our results.”

Can’t agree more on this! We don’t have to look too much ahead. One game, one positive result at a time and hopefully we can then manage to get the belief and positive vibe back into the club. We have started the process at Swansea and let’s hope that it continues for a long time.

Wenger also didn’t rule out signing Benayoun permanently; however, he did make it clear that it’s too early to decide that.

“It’s too early to say at the moment [whether we will sign him]. I want him to contribute as much as he can to the rest of the squad like every other player – not more, not less. He gives his best every time he plays and we think he can integrate well – he can play on both flanks. He can play in the middle, although I think he prefers to play on the wing. Overall he has shown on Tuesday night that he is completely physically fit again.”

In my opinion, we must wait it out till January before making any move. Benayoun is good a player but his only concern is injuries. If he can maintain his fitness throughout the season and perform consistently, I won’t mind a permanent deal. At 31 he is not likely to be made an offer for more than a year though. Still looking at Arteta’s deal, anything is possible.

Injury Update

Arsene Wenger also gave the latest injury update. Of the injured, only Aaron Ramsey seems to have a chance to be back by next game if not tomorrow. He has a slight possibility to be available against Blackburn but I won’t bet anything on it.

As for Vermaelen and Diaby, they will be back after the international break if there are no setbacks for either of them. Both the players are doing well in their recovery from their respective problems.

Regarding Jack Wilshere, the manager had nothing new to give. Wilshere is in the boot for six weeks after which the tests will decide when he will be back.

“[Abou Diaby] should be available after the international break. He is doing well now. He is just starting at the level that we are in in pre-season. He has three weeks planned now, from this Friday. So if he has no set-back after the international break, he will be available.

[Aaron] Ramsey had a little test today [Thursday] and will practice tomorrow, he has a little chance to be available.  [Thomas] Vermaelen is progressing very well and will be available after the next international break. I cannot give you any news because [Jack Wilshere] is in a boot for [six weeks in total]. The test will come after that.”

Cesc Fabregas’ latest interview

Before I conclude, Fabregas’ interview to Sport Magazine, whether true or not, have caused quite a stirring. Cesc was quick to deny whatever was said in the interview but as far as I am concerned, it doesn’t matter what he says any more about Arsenal. He is gone and not part of this club so it doesn’t matter what he says, or does. I still wish him the best of luck and will always admire his talent, but when it comes to Arsenal, I am over him.

I will come up with the preview of the Blackburn game later.


Arsenal vs Liverpool: Preview and Starting Eleven

August 20, 2011

So, onto the second League game, the first at home for us and it’s against none other than the revitalzed Liverpool.

With no Gervinho, no Song, no Wilshere, no Gibbs, no Djourou, no Rosicky and no Diaby (when was the last time he played?!) you start thinking that this game is over before it even kicks off. However, no need to be alarmed, you may if it do you any good, as we have Miyaichi, Jenkinson, Frimpong and Nasri (might be his last game for us before he departs) available to replace all of the above.

While Liverpool may have Suarez, Carroll, Adam and Downing, they also have Carragher, Enrique and Flanagan.  The Scousers might be favorites to edge this one out but they won’t have it easy themselves, unless we make it for them.

This will surely be a game where one team exploits the others weaknesses and comes out on top. At the moment, we are losing the battle in terms to having more problems. However, games are not decided on paper and the team that best utilizes its resources on the field may get the maximum today.

For us, the biggest problem today will be to find the right starting eleven. With having so few options due to injuries and suspension, one wonders what Wenger will be going through right now!

Who will play in the centre? Who will be at left back? Who will start on the wings? Are just a few questions every Gooner will be thinking about.

If I have my way, I will go with Vermaelen, Koscielny, Sagna and Jenkinson at the back.

In the middle I will go with Frimpong to do the job of Song. He will be partnered by Ramsey. The central role I will give to Nasri. Playing Nasri might not go down well with some of you, I also don’t like it, but at the moment we need to use all our options. Nasri prefers the central position and I am more than certain he will give his best. Not because he will want to stay but because he would want to show the world he still can play. (And if he doesn’t perform, we will have more reason to hate him, when he does leave)  

Upfront, van Persie will of course lead the line and on the flanks I will go with Walcott and Arshavin. Bringing on Miyaichi and Oxlade Chamberlain later in the game to terrorize Liverpool’s fullbacks further.

Probable starting eleven: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Jenkinson, Ramsey, Nasri, Frimpong, Walcott, Van Persie, Arshavin

What we have witnessed in the last two games is missing the creative spark in the middle. With Nasri we can solve some of the problem today. If he, Arshavin and van Persie can combine well, we will have some good openings. And with Walcott and Ramsey, I am confident we can have a game on our hands. We will need to exploit their full backs by using our pace on the wings as it is their week area too. With quick passing and movement we can catch them by surprise. Chances might be few for us, so, whatever comes up will need to be taken.

At the back, Jenkinson will need proper cover as he wasn’t comfortable back there against Udinese. And against Liverpool he is in for a much difficult time. To counter, I will keep Frimpong close to him and ask him not to venture forward unnecessarily. Vermaelen too will need to provide him support. The midfield will have to stay close to the defense when under attack.

Liverpool, we know, will use the pace and skill of Suarez, the height of Carroll and the intelligence of Adam in the midfield to expose our backline. We may have kept a clean sheet in our last two games but today will be the first real test of our defense, even though it is a makeshift one. So, we will need to put in more of the good stuff today.

As far as the result is concerned, a win will really make my day; however, I won’t mind a draw under the circumstances. A loss will be bad but not a disaster and it may prove a blessing a disguise, as it will surely make Wenger realize this squad needs players. ( I hope it doesn’t come to this)

Before I conclude, I want to add that if Nasri does start for us, we will have to keep our feelings towards him in check for the duration of the game as he will be out there to help us win the game. And unsettling him during the game will not help us much. Not an ideal situation but we will have to go with it.

Keep your fingers crossed and enjoy the game. Have a good day!

 


Arsene Wenger’s latest injury update, Miyaichi, Nasri, Frimpong and Jenkinson set to start against Liverpool

August 20, 2011

Arsene Wenger on Friday gave the latest update on the squad that will face Liverpool today.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Arsene confirmed that Diaby, Wilshere and Gibbs will miss the game due to injury along with Song and Gervinho, who are suspended.

In an update on Djourou and Traore, who had positive tests on Thursday, the manager said that they won’t also be available. Djourou is out with a minor hamstring strain while Traore has a slight groin problem.

Rosicky, whose inclusion was pending a late decision on Thursday, will also be given a rest against Liverpool due to a thigh injury. However, he will be back with the squad by Monday as according to the manager the injury is not bad.

Meanwhile, Wenger announced, Japanese sensation, Miyaichi, and want away midfielder, Nasri, are available and included in the squad.  

Frimpong will also be in contention to start as Wenger admitted his likeness for the youngster and his ability and added only his injury proved a hindrance or he would have played last year.

Wenger also hinted at a possible start for Jenkinson after praising his performance against Udinese.

Arsene Wenger, ahead of the game against Liverpool, said:

“The morale is strong and the belief is strong. I believe we have had a decent start. We have Song and Gervinho suspended. Diaby and Wilshere are injured. Djourou and Traore will not be available and Gibbs will not be available.

We will give Tomas a rest tomorrow. It is not a bad injury and he should be back with us on Monday but he is rested tomorrow.

He [Ryo Miyaichi] came back from Japan yesterday and is in the squad. He [Samir Nasri] is in the squad tomorrow and available to be picked to play.

Frimpong will be in contention when I pick my team tomorrow morning. I like him very much. He is a fighter, he is strong in the duels, has fantastic levels of commitment and he uses the ball well with his feet. He was one of the players who dominated pre-season last year with Jack Wilshere and was stopped through a cruciate. I think he would have played last year.

Jenkinson did really well at left-back the other night [against Udinese]. I believe that he will have an impact and you will fight for him not to play for Finland.”

 


Newcastle United vs Arsenal: Preview and Starting Eleven with Injury Update

August 13, 2011

Finally, we are set to see some football after a summer full of speculations. We are up against Newcastle United away from home. If anything, this is going to be a tough opener for us. The last time we didn’t come back in good shape from there and went on a roller coaster ride backwards. I don’t want to talk about that but I do pray that this time it isn’t the case. 

Although, I don’t think we will see the same theatrics this time, it will be an exciting encounter. Newcastle is known to attack which also leaves them vulnerable at the back. They will definitely try to hold and see how we shape up first. They will use the aerial ball and utilize the flanks, and if I am not wrong, mostly the left. Their midfield will try to frustrate us with petty fouls.

We only have to keep focus and do our job. We have the same problem at the back but if we can maintain good communication and the midfield stays close to defence, we may yet come out with the maximum and start our season on a high. Every one has to do their job properly, it’s this simple. Gervinho and Walcott’s pace might do wonders for us today if they are fed regularly with the ball.

The last time we dominated them both at home and away. Somehow we never won any of the games. Whatever we do today, we don’t have to lose concentration, even if we are 100 goals up.

As far as the starting eleven is concerned, we are sure to miss Wilshere as he has still not recovered from his injury. Ryo Miyaichi also won’t be involved as he is Japan.

With no Fabregas and Nasri, the options are pretty simple. The injury update given by Wenger on friday was very encouraging. We will have Van Persie, Gibbs, Walcott and Vermaelen back in the squad. The only missing person except Wilshere is Diaby, who frankly is always out, so it doesn’t make a difference.

Arsene Wenger’s injury update:

“Basically we have Wilshere injured, hopefully in the short-term. Diaby is not back before the end of August or the beginning of September. Everybody else should be available. Van Persie and Gibbs should be available. They have a test today [Friday]. Walcott will be back in the squad and so will Vermaelen.”

With all this in mind, I am pretty sure to see Van Persie partnered with Gervinho and Walcott up front.

The middle will be taken up by Song, Rosicky and Ramsey.

The defense will be mastered by Vermaelen alongside Koscielny. Sagna will surely start and on the left I will go with Traore as he can do a better job in defense than Gibbs (at the moment). And last but not the least, Szczesny will be in goal.

Probable starting eleven: Szczesny, Sagna, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Traore, Song, Rosicky, Ramsey, Gervinho, Van Persie, Walcott

So, this is the first game and we need all our attention diverted to this. Transfer speculations will continue till the end of August but talking about them won’t help us much. These first 15 days are going to define our season. Wenger was right in saying in his press conference that he has to concentrate on players who can make a difference right now than to talk about players who won’t be involved.

“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.”

Let’s we hope we have everyone geared up and ready. Have a good day and enjoy the game. Hopefully we will start off with a bang.


Barcelona players get extra wages for tapping up Fabregas! Man City after our targets and van Persie has a point!

June 12, 2011

Going through the all the news, I was surprised at how much time Barcelona players have. Every now and then you will hear someone asking Fabregas to come back to Barcelona.  It’s like they get extra wages for tapping up Fabregas on daily basis and saying how much he loves Barcelona. A couple of day’s back it was Iniesta who said that Fabregas will gel in well with Barcelona. A day later it was Pique having a go with saying something similar. At least change the script. It is getting boring. And it reminds me of how Barcelona plays, “It’s my turn with the ball… it’s my turn with ball…”

And just imagine what their conversations these days will be

Pique: “Today it is my turn to tap up Fabregas.”

Iniesta: “No! It’s my turn.”

Pique: “But you had your say yesterday!”

Iniesta: “But I am short on money! Give me your lines and no one will notice.”

Pique: “No way dude! I have memorized all the lines for today. You can have Xavi’s turn tomorrow.”

Seriously! Get a life or come up with a bid worth of Fabregas’ caliber.

Jokes aside there is nothing much happening. There was a report that said that our bid for Gervinho has been hijacked by Man City. After saying in yesterday’s report that we may have signed him, I can’t say anything about this. But one thing is for sure that Lille have refused Tottenham’s bid of €12 million for Gervinho.

Lille’s general manager Frederic Paquet has been quoted as saying

“We received an offer of €12m (£10.6m) from Tottenham which was refused”

That means that his price is more than that of €12 million and it seems very unlikely for Wenger to splash such amounts on him. Or maybe he has already signed for us. We can now only wait and see where Gervinho goes, if he does leave Lille.  

Man City has also launched a bid for Bolton’s Gary Cahill. It will be another great blow for us if Man City can somehow buy out Cahill.  Wenger get him now or it will be too late.

Tough times indeed for us. Meanwhile, Van Persie had something interesting to say.

“Every year it always goes wrong in an identical way and that is frustrating. When you look at results in the last years, then Arsenal shouldn’t be talking about winning the league because too many times things have gone wrong.

Sometimes you have to eat the truth and be realistic. But I do believe with the signing of a number of players, then next season we should be in there competing for prizes.”

Harsh but he speaks the truth and till the time we don’t realize our mistakes and correct them we will tend to suffer. It is also a clear message to Wenger that the players want to see some new faces. If van Persie is saying that we shouldn’t be talking about winning the league then something really is wrong.

As for Diaby, I can’t believe what he was thinking when he was talking out loud with owning a spurs shirt. Geez!! From where did we get such players? Even if you own it keep it to yourself. And if you really want to go to spurs say it out loud and go. You won’t be missed seeing you never play three games in a row.  And you won’t have any difficulty wearing the shirt out on the streets.

I guess that would be all for now. At the moment every player on whom we are laying our hands are being snatched out of our clenches. But hey! I am not giving up and never will. Keep your fingers crossed!!


Bolton vs Arsenal: Preview and Starting Eleven

April 24, 2011

Are we still in the title race? Mathematically, yes! But considering the way we have played and failed to bolster our position in the last few games, we shouldn’t even be talking about the title. The objective now should be to finish the season on a high by winning all our remaining games and see where it ends for us. For me, right now the best way to approach games is to forget about the title and the past few weeks, forget what Manu and Chelsea are doing, forget that we have won only one game in the last six and forget what the media is saying. Arsenal! Play like you have nothing to lose and hopefully the wins will come, starting from today against Bolton.

With the negativity surrounding Arsenal at the moment, it is hard to concentrate. I have kept myself busy and away from football after the Tottenham draw. Most likely, I won’t be able to even watch today’s game due to work (I will try though). The best way to reply to all the negativity and questions being raised is as I mentioned above, play like there is nothing to lose.

Bolton are playing at their home today. They were battered in the FA Cup semifinal but it doesn’t justify the way they have played this season. Sitting at eighth position in the table they will offer more than a good resistance. They will play their game and won’t hesitate to attack. They can be physical too. It will be a difficult game but I believe we have enough quality to get the three points.

I don’t have much to say on our game. The problem in the last few games has been two fold. First of all we don’t seem to find goals but if we do, we concede the same amount in the process as well. How do you get over such a problem? By buying? By selling? By sacking the manager? No! This doesn’t mean we don’t need to buy in the summers. There are some players that need to be offloaded and we do need a few reinforcements. However, buying or selling won’t be the solution to the problem. We can only solve our problem by doing the basics of football right, which we seem to have forgotten lately. Keep things simple, keep the focus for the full 90 minutes and not switch off like we did against Tottenham and we will win games.

As far as the team is concerned, it will be straight forward to pick.

Except Diaby there are no injury concerns. To replace him Wilshere will come back into the middle alongside Song and Fabregas.

As far as the defense and forward line is concerned, it is going to remain the same as it was against Spurs.

Probable starting XI: Szczesny, Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy, Song, Fabregas, Wilshere, Nasri, RVP, Walcott

To conclude, Arsene Wenger’s pre-match press conference comments regarding summer spendings have come under lots of scrutiny already. I will discuss that more in detail in later posts. However, I would like Wenger to stop explaining the world the mental strength of our team every time he talks to the media. It is doing us no good! Only performance on the field is going to help us.

That is all. Enjoy the game and have a good day!!


Tottenham vs Arsenal: Preview and Starting Eleven

April 20, 2011

Manchester United has given us another lifeline after their stalemate against Newcastle. With us drawing against Liverpool on Sunday, it looked as if it was all over for us. However, the title race is back on and we have a slight hope. Even so, our hopes will be over soon if we fail to get the three points against the Spuds tonight. Even our top four spot will be in jeopardy if we fail to win the game.

After the Liverpool match, I said that it was very unlikely that Manchester will draw two games then lose to us before we take the title ourselves, by winning rest of our games. After last night, Manu have drawn one game and hopefully there will be more. The question still remains; will we win the rest our matches? (we will find out tonight) Man United have given us countless opportunities by slipping up on many occasions. Only that we haven’t been able to capitalize on them. We again have a chance now and I hope the team gives it their all tonight against Tottenham.

Coming to the game, Tottenham are playing at home and they will approach the game as if it is a Champions League final, they wouldn’t know the feeling though, what it is to be a in a CL final. Nonetheless, they will do their all to take the three points and they surely have a few players that can make things difficult for us. Their approach will be straight forward, deliver in as many crosses as they can and hope for Crouch to head in. With RVD Vaart and Modric they can also mix things up. So our backline will have to be alert and on their toes at all times. We have already made too many mistakes and it is time now that we deliver.

As for us, we will need to play our game and never slack-off, even for a second and even if we are winning by two goals. Chances will come to us and we will need to capitalize on them. Their keeper is prone to mistakes but at times he produces excellent saves and I don’t want their keeper to be the man of the match.

Upfront, the combination of Fabregas, Walcott and Van Persie will be the key. In the middle, Song and Diaby will have to play a massive game. We can’t afford to make any mistakes today and we can’t afford any more slip ups. And please Arsenal! don’t make things complicated. Keep possession, keep it simple and shoot whenever the opportunity arise and we will get the three points.

As for the starting lineup, Sagna will join the backline in place of Eboue as he has recovered form his injury. The rest of the defense will remain the same as it was against Liverpool.

Alex Song has also fully recovered from his injury, so I expect him to start alongside Fabregas and I will also keep Diaby for his strength and height. Wilshere for me will be on bench because he has already played a lot and Wenger hinted of rotation.

Up front. the trio will remain the same as it was against Liverpool. However, I won’t be surprised to see Arshavin in place of either Nasri or Walcott. Nasri is going through a quiet patch but considering how he played in the reverse fixture at the Emirates, I will start with him.

Probable starting XI: Szczesny, Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy, Song, Fabregas, Diaby, Walcott, RVP, Nasri

Similar to the Liverpool game, it is difficult to predict what the outcome of the game will be. We haven’t scored many goals in the last few games and we have been quite ordinary in the final third. Still, away from home, we have delivered. And considering Spurs, there will be goals today. Hopefully, we will score more and get the three points. Come on Arsenal!!

Have a nice day Gooners and enjoy the game while keeping your fingers crossed. Tonight, we will resurrect our title chances!!