Arsenal vs Bolton: Preview and Starting Eleven

September 24, 2011

The win against Shrewsbury Town in midweek was a welcome change. It wasn’t unexpected but we did have few scares and I am glad that we came out with a win, no matter how unconvincing we were through some of the patches.

Fast forward and here we are up against Bolton at the Emirates. While we haven’t yet lost in other competitions, the start to the Premier League for us has been nothing short of a disaster. The league table is not a good sight at the moment for us; losing three games of the first five, conceding 14 goals in the process and sitting just outside the relegation zone. However, the important thing is we have to recover from here as we can’t let it get any worse. Today, we have another opportunity to get our momentum going. Hopefully, we will have a good response from the team.

Bolton like us hasn’t had a good start to this season. Winning just one of their first five games, they sit two places below us at 19. It isn’t a good place to sit and we can be down there ourselves if we don’t win today’s game against them (It does feel odd just to be one place out of the relegation zone) Anyways, Bolton won’t be pushovers as Wenger mentioned in his press conference. They are a good side; know how to play and how to mix things up. We will have to fight hard to get a result.

We have got some mixed injury news ahead of the game. While Sagna, Ramsey and Rosicky have made it into the squad, Benayoun is going to be missed for a week. The biggest blow, however, is the news of Wilshere to undergo a surgery this Monday which is going to rule him out for at least three months. Which means, he won’t be playing this year! Well, who saw that coming? Hands up if you did!

Anyhow, Wilshere was already out for this clash and we can’t really do anything about what’s happened. For today, we need to go out there and get a result. Nothing short of a win will be a disaster, if nothing else.

We made eleven changes in the game against Shrewsbury, so I expect another eleven changes to the team. I will go with another 4-4-2 formation. The backline will see the likes of Koscielny, Mertesacker, Sagna and Santos return. Wenger may start with Gibbs but I would prefer Santos over him because we need to get our first choice backline sorted.

In the middle, I would go with Arteta and Song flanked by Ramsey and Arshavin.

Upfront I will start with Walcott just in front of van Persie, in the central role, just as he has been asking Wenger to do all this year.

Szczesny will of course return in goal.

Probable starting eleven: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Santos, Ramsey. Arteta, Song, Arshavin, Walcott, RVP. (4-4-2)

If we, however, go with 4-3-3, replace Walcott with Gervinho and bring Walcott on later. At some point, I would also like ot see Chamberlain involved as he was on fire against Shrewsbury.

We need to take today’s game by the scruff. We have already crossed the limit of making mistakes and any more will blow us apart completely. The Blackburn game saw us having a good first half where our team looked liked finally stepping up. We were, however, brought down very quickly in the second half. We need to avoid that today. A game is played for 90 minutes and we need to give our best for the 90 minutes today.

I am worried about our defense though as we have not yet found the right solution to our problems back there. Even against Shrewsbury, we had some very scary moments. Today we need to really step up our game in defense in particular and all the other areas in general. Hopefully, the team won’t disappoint.

A win is a must as I said before or we are going to end up in the relegation zone by the end of this weekend.

While the manager has been talking about going for all trophies, for me it will be an achievement if we make it in the top four this season and end up wining any of the domestic cups. We are only going to make it there if we win our games. We cannot any more live on excuses.

What Wenger is saying here has really disappointed me. We still are making excuses for our start when in the first place it has been our own fault.

“I still believe we paid a very heavy price for the Udinese game, where we didn’t get any credit at all. Today, they are top of the league.

“We had to give absolutely everything at Dortmund and in the second half at Blackburn you could see that. Our start of the season was disturbed by the transfers and by the fact that we had to qualify for the Champions League. We lost a lot of energy in these games.”

Any ways, we need to concentrate on the game and not think too much about what should have happened. Enjoy the game form where ever you watch and keep your fingers crossed. We will hopefully win today!


Wenger’s injury update ahead of Bolton: Ramsey, Sagna and Rosicky back, Benayoun out!

September 24, 2011

Arsenal host Bolton today at The Emirates after the midweek win against Shrewsbury in the Carling Cup. Arsene Wenger gave the latest injury update ahead of the game on Friday.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, the manager gave positive news on Aaron Ramsey and Bacary Sagna’s scheduled tests. Both passed their tests and are included in the squad to face Bolton. Tomas Rosicky, who has been out since the International break, is also back in the squad.

Meanwhile, Yossi Benayoun who scored his first goal for Arsenal on Tuesday will be out at least for a week with a thigh strain. Johan Djourou will join him on the sidelines with a hamstring problem.

Both of them will be missing today’s game plus the midweek clash in the Champions League against Olympiacos. They have an outside chance against Tottenham next week.

Arsene Wenger on Friday, said:

“[Tomas] Rosicky is back in the squad. [Bacary] Sagna and [Aaron] Ramsey had positive tests this morning, so overall it is alright.

[Yossi] Benayou has a thigh strain and [Johan] Djourou has a hamstring [problem]. Both of them are very minor muscular problems.

They could play with a risk of making it worse. But we will not take the gamble. As I told you, we only play players when they are 100 per cent.

Both of them are out with muscular problems in the short term. One week so Bolton and Olympiacos for sure. They have an outside chance to play against Tottenham”

 


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!!


Looking back at the week: Protest, Wenger, Fabregas, Pat Rice and Vermaelen | the story behind the new Arsenal Crest

April 30, 2011

It has been a long and busy week for me but finally I have found some time to update the blog. A lot has happened since the Bolton defeat though. The talks of a protest was a big surprise. Won’t say much about it! If the people who are in for the protest feel that it is the right way to approach whatever they want, good for them.

To start off with, I was really saddened with the result against Bolton. I was very much looking for a win but all we got was what we have seen in the past and in far too many games. I didn’t see the game though as I had a class to attend at that time (yes on a Sunday!) but what I saw in the highlights didn’t do any good. It summed up our season very nicely. As long as we won’t learn from our mistakes and rectify them, we will be forever inconsistent. The manager and players have come under lots of criticism since then, some of which is justified but in most cases people have gone overboard.

The solution to all our problems and mistakes is not to sell Wenger or a complete overhaul of the team as most are suggesting. The solution, as far as I am concerned, is a return to basics, to mix things up, to try new things, bringing up youngsters such as Wilshere and Szczesny and reinforcing the team where it requires. We have become too predictable!

Arsene Wenger has taken all the blame for the failures of the team this season. I feel that more than Arsene, the players are to be questioned, who have let themselves and Wenger down despite doing so good till February.  Wenger is to be blamed for not using players in their favoured position, for believing in some for too long while they have consistently shown that they will never come good, for not strengthening the squad when required, for not blaming the players when they should have been blamed.  The players are, however, responsible for how they perform on the field. They are professionals who are being given insane amounts of money to perform and they should be held accountable for how they play.

However, with all the flaws that Wenger and this team has, for me they are still the best. After seeing how Real Madrid fared with all their money and star power against Barcelona in Champions league, I am convinced that money doesn’t guarantee success and that this team will come up good and deliver trophies. Both the Spanish giants have star power but the way they relied on cheap tactics was a disgrace to football. 

Most of our former players have been quoted as saying that we require at least three players to strengthen the squad. I agree with them on the numbers. To make place for the new comers, we will, however, need to sell a few as we have a few good youngsters also coming up.

Wenger is also saying that we need to keep this squad together. I say, keep it together but put in some experienced players to push the players when things are down. Buying will also help keep the few players who might be thinking of leaving. Will it harm to buy players like Bastian Schweinsteiger and Gary Cahill who are only going to get better under Wenger and help us improve the squad? This is the question that Wenger needs to answer this summer and we have a long summer to talk about it. Wenger has won things before and it’s my belief that he will do it again. But he will need to make big decisions this summer.  

There was also the usual talk of Fabregas leaving in the summers.  Seriously! when is the media going to get tired!? Why can’t they just wait and see what happens than to just claim that anonymous sources have tipped them that Fabregas is leaving? And on top of it, every Spanish player claims to have been confided in by Fabregas that he wants to leave. I am not saying that they are making things up but at least have some decency to keep things to yourself. I don’t want Fabregas to leave and it would be great if we can keep him. However, if he leaves us, we can cope without him. And when he does, we will all know. It is doing no one any good by talking about his future every other day.  

One of the better news is the return of Thomas Vermaelen to the football pitch. He played for Arsenal reserves against Manchester United on Thursday. No doubt, it has been a frustrating injury for him and for us but hopefully he will return stronger than before. We might see him before this season ends but I am looking forward to the pre season. Wenger made it clear in his pre match interview that Vermaelen won’t be available on Sunday though. Vermaelen had this to say on his fitness and first appearance in seven months:

“I’m fit at the moment, I feel great and, in training, I don’t feel any problems. So physically I feel good. It’s up to the boss, he makes the decisions. I’m available at the moment so I hope I will be back in the squad soon and that is my target. The injury is fine, I didn’t feel anything today and played the whole 90 minutes without any problems. I’m really pleased with it.

It felt really good today and I’m happy to be back. It’s always good to be back on the pitch and your first game after a long injury is always special. It’s been a hard time, a difficult time and I’m happy to be back now. It’s been really frustrating because at the beginning I thought it was only going to be one week or a few days and I kept getting setbacks. It was a hard time but from these kind of situations you learn a lot. Your mental strength will be better and you always have to focus. It’s just a hard time but in these times you learn a lot of things.

It’s always important for players to have a good pre-season but for me it will be good to be fit before [the] holiday. I can go into the holiday with a clear head and come back fresh. This season was really unlucky for me but I am looking forward to the next months and the next years.”

There was also a Daily Mail report about retirement of Pat Rice at the end of the season.  Don’t know if it is true. Will talk more on it when things become clear.

Today there has been some new development on the crest that has been seen on our new (maybe!) kit for next season. I haven’t been tipped off with the information though. I read it first over here. The main features are:  

15 laurel leaves to the left side of the Club’s crest, reflect the design detail on the reverse of the six pence pieces paid by 15 men to establish the Club – the laurel leaves also represent strength.

The 15 oak leaves to the right of the Club’s crest give a nod to the founders who would meet in the Royal Oak pub.

Underneath the crest is one of the first recorded mottos related to armament and battle – Forward.

Tomorrow we play against Manchester United. A win for us will slightly derail their title chances. A loss will make things worse for us. Will talk more about it in the preview, which I will try to come up with later.  I won’t be able to see the game though due to my class.

Lastly, my apologies to all for not updating the blog regularly this month due to my work. It is going to be the same in May as my final semester is coming to an end but I will try my best to post whenever I get time (mostly on weekends). Hopefully, at the start of June, I will be free.   

That’s all for now.


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!!


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.


Beauty Triumphs Against the Moderate Beast: Report, Analysis and Ratings

September 12, 2010

Arsenal: 4 Koscielny (24), Chamakh (58), Song (78), Vela (83)

Bolton: 1 Elmander (44)

Arsenal carved out a convincing win against Bolton as Wanderers were reduced to 10 men in the 2nd half.

I missed the first 15-20 minutes of the match but from what I have heard, Arsenal created most of the chances with Arshavin and Rosicky both getting close to scoring. Arshavin was setup by Rosicky with a splendid through ball, and he should have done better in a one-on-one situation. Then Rosicky himself took a chance but his shot was over the target. Bolton themselves found a chance to score when Kevin Davies shot on the turn was held by Almunia. Read the rest of this entry »