Fractured Fibula: Bacary Sagna out for three months!

October 3, 2011

As if losing to Tottenham was not enough, we are now going to lose Bacary Sagna for a minimum of three months with a fibula fracture.

Bacary Sagna was substituted during the game after he was pushed by Assou-Ekotto and he landed awkwardly.

Speaking after the game, Wenger informed the initial signs weren’t good and further news was awaited with the medical staff checking the fibula.

“We are very worried about his injury. He is in hospital at the moment and it is too early to say but the first signs do not look good at all. It is the fibula in the ankle that has to be checked, that is what I have been told. We will know tonight.

I think he was pushed quite hard by Assou-Ekotto and I’m not sure what happened to him. He might have landed the wrong way, I don’t know. I will have to see it again. Straight away he wanted to be substituted.”

Later in the night, the following statement was released on the official Arsenal site.

The Club can confirm that Bacary Sagna sustained a fracture to the fibula in his right leg during the match against Tottenham Hotspur this afternoon.
Further detailed investigations and assessments will take place on Monday, during which time Bacary will see ankle specialists and the Arsenal medical team regarding the further management of his injury.

It is expected that Bacary will be out for approximately three months and a surgical procedure cannot be ruled out at this stage.

With us already short in defenders, one of our consistent performers is going to be missed now.

With a surgery not ruled out, we will have to keep our fingers crossed that there are no setbacks. This season was already tough and has just gotten more difficult.

Let’s hope he returns in time. I wish him the best of luck.


Wenger’s injury update on Vermaelen, Walcott, Gervinho, Benayoun and Koscielny ahead of Tottenham

October 1, 2011

Arsene Wenger gave mixed injury news ahead of the North London derby on Sunday.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, the manager revealed Laurent Koscielny will definitely miss the Sunday game after failing to absorb any of the tests on Friday. While on Theo Walcott and Gervinho, the manager said a decision will be made either today or on Sunday with Walcott having more of a chance to be available. Arsene Wenger also confirmed Squillaci and Benayoun are completely fit and back with the squad with Squillaci short on match fitness only. 

On an update on Thomas Vermaelen, the manager revealed a delay in his recovery from the surgery. Vermaelen now will join the squad one or two weeks after the international break.

Meanwhile, with Arsenal short on defenders at the moment, Arsene Wenger said he is tempted to start with Alex Song in defence but hasn’t decided it yet with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also having a possibility to be in the team.

Arsene Wenger on Friday said:

[Laurent] Koscielny looks to be definitely out for Sunday, it looks short for him. He couldn’t absorb any test today [Friday]. For [Theo] Walcott and Gervinho a decision will be made on Saturday or Sunday. The most likely to be fit of the two looks to be Walcott. [Yossi] Benayoun and [Sebastien] Squillaci are completely fit. Squillaci lacks match fitness, Benayoun does not.

It will be a fraction longer than expected [before Thomas Vermaelen returns]. He will not be straight back [in the squad] after the international break. It will be one or two weeks later.

[Alex Song in defence?] Squillaci will not be fit enough to start the game. If I am tempted I can answer honestly ‘yes’. Will I do it? Honestly I don’t know yet.

[Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain] He is a possibility to be in the squad, I haven’t picked the team yet.


Arsenal vs Olympiacos: Preview and Starting Eleven

September 28, 2011

Just a quick preview as time is short.

Tonight we play our second group game in the Champions league and we are hosting Olympiacos. After a decent first group game against Dortmund, we lost to Blackburn before notching up a couple of wins. Tonight we need to follow it up with another win just to get the confidence and momentum going.

Games are coming in thick and fast which can only be good for us if we can manage to perform well in them. With our third game in a row at home, we need another good performance if we are to beat them. Although we have won all our games at home this season bar one, we still need to make the Emirates a fortress and that can only be possible by giving nothing to the opposition. Our home record in Europe is also good but that shouldn’t make us complacent. As Ramsey told the Official Matchday Programme:

“We have a good record at home in Europe, and I think we need to approach every game here the same. We need to say ‘this is our home pitch and this is where we are strongest’. Hopefully the win against Bolton will help us do that, and we want to go on an unbeaten run now.”

This game won’t be a walk in the park as Wenger was right when he said there is no such thing as an easy game.

“For me, it is difficult to beat anybody. We have a lot of respect for Olympiacos. I have seen their game against Marseille and they played well. You never win easy in the Champions League – when you give absolutely everything, you have a chance to win. If we have not learned that from 14 consecutive years in the Champions League, then we are really stupid. If you do not prepare properly, then you have no chance.”

While they are pretty good in attack, their defending is questionable (not very different from us). So, today it will be a matter of who best exploits the other team’s weakness. We shouldn’t under estimate them at any cost as RVP said:

“We know that tonight’s match will be a very difficult challenge. I was looking at their record and they have been champions in Greece 13 of the last 15 years. That’s pretty amazing and they will provide a really tough challenge, just like they did a couple of years ago.”

So hopefully the team is prepared to give them a lesson in football.

Injury wise, we are short in plenty of bodies in vital positions. With Gervinho, Walcott and Koscielny joining Vermaelen, Wilshere, Diaby and Squillaci (there are a few others!) on the side lines, we will have to play some young players today.

Among the injured, loss of Wilshere for five months is a big blow. Questions will always be asked as to why we always lose our best players to mysterious injuries for long durations, but I know we will never get to know the answer. It is very easy to blame some one but it won’t do us any good. Whether the fault is with our medical staff, or the way we train or the manager’s, in the end it doen’t matter as we will miss him for more than half an year. I am only hoping that we do see him in five months and he does not suffer the same fate as Vermaelen and Rosicky. We will have to cope without him with the burden falling on lots of young players eventually. Hopefully, we will come out on top!

As far as the team is concerned for today, I will go with Sagna, Mertesacker, Song and Santos at the back. We will have to go with Song as all other centre backs are injured. I shudder just imagining who will we play, if one of Mertesacker and Song get injured.

In the middle, I will keep Arteta and Ramsey and bring in Coquelin, who really impressed me in the Shrewsbury game. Frimpong is also not a bad option. Any one of them will do but personally I would like to see Coquelin tonight. Arteta and Ramsey will have to provide creativity today with Song playing as centre back. Ramsey was excellent in the second half against Bolton so hoping he repeats that same performance.

Upfront, I will go with van Persie, Arshavin and chamberlain as we are missing our regulars. Arshavin, according to Wenger just needs a bit of confidence, so today’s game might be a good opportunity to get some of it back. As for Chamberlin, he was phenomenal in the Carling Cup game, so looking forward to see him dazzle Europe today. As for van Persie, I will play him for at least an hour to get some goals in before substituting him. He will need some rest before the game against Spurs.

Probable starting eleven: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Song, Santos, Arteta, Coquelin, Ramsey, Chamberlain, RVP, Arshavin.

We can always bring on Chamakh, Park and Miyaichi to mix things up.

As for the result, I am confident that we will win this one. The pressure will no doubt be on us but playing at home, we will have the advantage of home crowd. We also need to show consistency and winning this game and next are crucial to really get us back on track.

Looking forward to a sound defensive performance and goals from Van Persie and Chamberlain. Keep your finger crossed!

Enjoy the game!


Wenger’s injury update on Koscielny, Gervinho, Walcott and Squillaci

September 28, 2011

It is back to Champions League football this midweek, with Arsenal up against Olympiacos at the Emirates. Arsene Wenger, speaking at his press conference on Tuesday gave the latest update on the injury front.

According to the manager, Laurent Koscielny, Theo Walcott and Gervinho are all out of today’s game through minor injuries and will have a chance against Tottenham coming weekend.

Koscielny is going to miss today’s game through an ankle problem as a consequence of a Nigel Reo’s tackle in the game on Saturday. Gervinho is out due to a muscle problem.

Theo Walcott, who was substituted on Saturday due to an injury, later revealed to be a knee problem, is also going to sit this game out but has more than a fifty-fifty chance for Tottenham game.

On an update on Squillaci, the manager said he will join the group on Friday or Saturday.

Arsene Wenger, ahead of the game, said:

[Laurent] Koscielny is not fit. He has an ankle problem which is a consequence of the tackle by [Bolton’s] Nigel Reo Coker, which was a fair tackle but a bit late. Gervinho is not fit, he has a minor muscular problem that is very, very mild.

[Theo] Walcott is not fit, he has a minor knee problem. He got a kick, but there is no damage in the knee. All three have a chance for the weekend. I would say Theo has a more than 50-50 chance.

Squillaci is not completely fit, he should be back in the group on Friday or Saturday.


Wenger on who will feature tonight: Jenkinson, Miyachi, Chamberlain, Coquelin and Frimpong set to start

September 20, 2011

Carling Cup is going to get underway tonight with Arsenal hosting Shrewsbury town. Arsenal are set to stick to their youth policy for the Carling Cup, as has been done over the last few years. 

Arsene Wenger, speaking ahead of the game to the official Arsenal site, revealed he will give a chance to his young players while keeping a balance between experience and youth. 

The Manager, adding he had the team in his head before the Blackburn game, confirmed that Ryo Miyaichi, Francis Coquelin, Frimpong, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Chamakh, Jenkinson and Ju-Young Park will all feature tonight.

Arsene Wenger, on Monday, said:

“We have a big squad now and we want to make use of that. I will give a chance for young players to shine and find the right mixture in this competition between keeping our faith in young players and, of course, winning the games.

“That means having the right balance between experience and youth.”

“I had my team in my head before the Blackburn game and it will remain exactly the same. We will have Frimpong, Coquelin, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ryo, and maybe one or two more. There is an also opportunity to see Park for the first time.

“Chamakh will also feature. You will also see Jenkinson start in his position. We will try to find a mixture between youth and experience.”


Blackburn vs Arsenal: Preview and Starting Eleven

September 17, 2011

Last weekend we won our first league game of the season. A week later, that included travelling to Germany and back, we are here this Saturday away at Blackburn and considering the past games, Ewood Park is a very difficult to place to go and get results. Even without Sam Alardyce, we can be sure of one thing that it will be a tough game and entirely different from what we faced against Dortmund.

The timing of the game is, however, perfect. Blackburn, like us, is going through a very bad patch of results having won no game in the last four. They will be low on confidence but at the same time desperate to get points. We can exploit this to our advantage. While the past Blackburn sides have relied more heavily on long balls and the typical English football style, this side has added quick attacking football that relies more on technical skills to their game too. They still have a very strong defense and when the need arises can mount very fast counter attacks.

It won’t be an easy game, but I do expect us to get the maximum points. The timing of the game is also great as we have an opportunity to cut the gap at the top of the table with Liverpool playing against Spurs and Man United up against Chelsea. Wenger knows this as he spoke to the official Arsenal site that big games will have an impact on the title race.

“Of course, they will have an impact at the end of the season. Both teams are lucky because they play against someone who has also played in the Champions League. I believe Chelsea have a little advantage having 24 hours more rest but Manchester United have such a big squad now.”

These game will benefit those who take the initiative and today we have one such chance.

In terms of injuries, we have nothing new from the Dortmund game, if I am not wrong. Ramsey has a chance to return to the team but I am not holding my breath over it. Song and Gervinho will return to the Premier League after sitting out the last three games due to suspension. They were really missed in those games as it was evident from their performance during midweek. I am not sure what has happened to Rosicky’s knee injury though as he was supposed to be back by last game.

I don’t see many changes from the team that was out against Dortmund on Tuesday. The backline is most likely to remain same. This back line has given us a win, a draw and one clean sheet already and it does look good. We still have a few problems but I hope they will be solved in time. It would be a surprise for me if Wenger starts with Santos in place of Gibbs though.

In the middle too, I will put up the same trio because these are the games where we need the team to integrate both in attack and defense. I also won’t start with Frimpong because that will be too defensive and today is a game that we can only win by being on the attack. Also Benayoun will have his use while we go on the offensive.

Upfront, however, I will bring in Arshavin in place of Theo Walcott as he had a rest in midweek to partner Gervinho and van Persie. Arshavin had a great game last weekend and I am hoping for a similar performance from him. Walcott despite producing a good assist is not making full use of his pace while starting, and therefore, he will be more of an asset when brought late on today.

Probable starting eleven: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Benayoun, Arteta, Song, Gervinho, RVP, Arshavin

For me, today, one of the important players is Mertesacker for his height and positioning. If Blackburn decide to use the aerial route and set pieces, his height will come in handy. To counter the pace of Blackburn, we will have to use Koscielny’s ability to close down players. For this to work, communication among both the centre backs will be vital. Gibbs will have to make sure that he doesn’t leave his flank exposed. His decisions will have to be spot on as when to make a run forward and when to hold the line.

Alex Song as usual will be vital to our play. He will have to stay close to the defense when we are under attack. While moving forward, he has the ability to pick out a delightful pass and this can come in useful today in opening the Blackburn backline.

To win this game, goals will have to be scored. Last two games we have scored a goal each. Today we will need more than a goal. We will certainly get more time on the ball today and it will have to be properly utilized to create chances. Arteta, Benayoun and Arshavin will have to work out some creative moves to break down Blackburn as they have a very sound defense. They only need to land the ball at van Persie and Gervinho’s feet in scoring positions; the rest will be done by them.

As far as the result is concerned, I am looking forward to a win which is the only good result for today. A draw for me is not acceptable and I cannot take another loss to be frank. I know it will be a tough game, but we have the team that can get a win against them. Anything less will be disappointing for me. We need to build a momentum now and these games can be the springboard for us before we face Spurs and the men in blue.   

That is all for now, enjoy the game and keep your fingers crossed. Have a good day!


Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal: Preview and Starting Eleven

September 13, 2011

I really like it when there is football every two-three days. You always have something to look forward to and it also means that Champions League is back. Champions League football officially kicks off today with the group stages and we start our campaign away at Dortmund. Last season, we started off the Champions League brilliantly with three wins and in the process notching up 13 (or was it 14!) goals. What happened after that is not a good memory and I don’t want to go over it. And I don’t expect the same amount of goals this time; I would, however, be content with topping the group. Before that, we have to play six games though, with the first one today.

Our opponents are the defending Bundesliga champions, who themselves are going through a not-so-good patch. Having recorded only two wins in five games this season, including a loss to a newly promoted side, they might be low on confidence. However, they shouldn’t be taken lightly under any circumstance because when they play, they mean business. They are an attacking side who are not afraid to pass the ball around and go for goal. They are also great at defending having only conceded 22 goals last season, lowest in their league. So, whatever they are going through right now, we will have to be at our best to get the three points.

Their star player and main creator is Mario Gotze, who has both trickery and pace. Being on the radar of top team at the age of 19 is proof enough that he is quality. Our defenders will have to be on their toes to stop him. Wenger knows this as he spoke about him in his press conference.

“He is the provider. He is the one who had the best assists in Germany and is the most dangerous player. He links well with his strikers and is the player we have to keep quiet. The best way to keep him quiet is for us to attack.”

Attacking is one option. But we will have to do some exceptional defending against him. Mertesacker can be an advantage here having played against him before. However, I believe Koscielny is the key as he is great at closing down opponents. Even Song can make a difference in the middle of the park but he will have to be careful in not giving too many free kicks.

If we can keep the ball effectively, we will keep them on the back foot and in the process get chances to score. Arteta had a decent start at the weekend and I am sure he will be more at home today. He has the ability to create openings, only our forward line has to make sure when the chances arrive, we take them. We can always use the flanks and with Gervinho back, van Persie will have the added support. Lately, we haven’t been scoring many goals but that might be due to the pressure and having won the game on weekend, I feel there will be goals from us today.

Coming to the team news, we are going to be without Ramsey, the latest to join the injured list, and Rosicky, failing to recover in time from his knee injury. Nobody has joined us from the injured players but we have Song and Gervinho returning after missing the game against Swansea through suspension.

Considering this, I expect the same backline that was out against Swansea. In the middle, I would go with Song, Arteta and Benayoun and bring on Frimpong in the second half, if need arises. As a team, we look more balanced with Song in the defensive role due to his work rate and passing. I do have a feeling that Wenger will start with Frimpong in the defensive role with Song shifted ahead of him and Benayoun on the bench.  

Upfront, I would go with van Persie flanked by Walcott and Gervinho.  I would have started with Arshavin but I don’t think he would be there physically having played a good game on the weekend.

Probable starting eleven: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Benayoun, Arteta, Song, Walcott, RVP, Gervinho

It won’t be an easy game of that I am certain. However, I do expect a good performance form our team. A win would be great but I won’t mind a draw as they seem the toughest opponent in our group. I don’t expect clean sheets on either side because both play attacking football and there will be goals today. We will have to make sure that we score as many or one better.

Having won the game against Swansea, the team will have some of the pressure lifted. If we can follow it with a win away from home, it will really give us a boost for the EPL games coming up. Wenger was right when he said this on Monday (we do need to build up our confidence!)

“It would create a certainty that we have a good chance to go through. For us to get a positive result tomorrow night would be a big lift. It’s a good opportunity for us to get positive vibes and we need a bit of that. Every team, no matter how good they are, needs confidence and I believe my team needs that at the moment.”

Whatever the result, we can be sure of one thing though, it will be an exciting game. So, from wherever you watch, enjoy it.

Have a good day!