Arsenal vs Shrewsbury Town: Preview and Starting Eleven

September 20, 2011

The loss at Ewood Park left a very bitter taste in my mouth. Three days on, it hasn’t lessened but as it has been the case for the last 7 months, we have to move on and get on with the games as they come. We definitely need to break this chain of bad results as Wenger very nicely put it while talking about the loss against Blackburn.

“Our season depends now on how well we respond to this disappointment and how quickly we can cut out the mistakes we made on Saturday by giving away goals that we should never give away. I personally want to focus on the positives because there is huge potential in this team. We had 22 shots on goal, 61 per cent of the possession. It’s very important [to break the cycle]. The Blackburn game is very disappointing and frustrating. We feel that we have given this game away, not that we have lost the game. There is nothing worse in our job than having that feeling.”

Tonight is one such opportunity against Shrewsbury Town in the Carling Cup. A win in this game might not turn any corners but at least it will give something to cheer about.

While Wenger has made it clear he will be giving a chance to the young players with a balance of experience, looking at the eighteen-man squad announced, I don’t see much in it in terms of experience. It is good to see some of the names of the young players and I am looking forward to their starts today but I am a bit disappointed to not see Santos, Mertesacker and Koscielny. The reason is that we will start with another set of defenders tonight which is not going to help the new defenders settle. Wenger said it himself that the new defenders need time to gel and tonight’s game was a perfect opportunity for all the names I mentioned to have some more playing time together.

“I believe there is a little question of time and timing. Andre Santos and Per Mertesacker are new, but they were not especially guilty on the goals. But maybe as a unit we need more time to work. A lack of concentration, a lack of communication, a lack of coordination and individual urgency [is behind the goals we have conceded]. When you score an own goal, you have to look at yourself. It is never completely out of your reach where you have no chance at all. All the rest, you have to look at yourself.”

Anyways, Shrewsbury Town shouldn’t be much of a problem even if we start with 11 changes from the team that started against Blackburn.

Half the team has already been announced by Wenger. Jenkinson, Chamberlain, Miyaichi, Coquelin, and Frimpong are all in for a start. As for the rest, you don’t have to think too much.

The only question is the formation that we will start with tonight. I have a feeling that we will finally go back to the old days and play a 4-4-2 with both Park and a Chamakh starting ahead. Chamakh looked good in the Blackburn game with van Persie playing just behind him. He does need game time to get his confidence back. As for Park, we at least deserve to see him play and tonight’s the perfect opportunity to see what he can offer. Wenger was full of praise for him while talking to the official Arsenal site.

“Park is good in every area. He is good in the air, good technically, he is mobile and that’s why he is an adaptable striker who can play up front behind the striker. That’s why we went for him. What I like with him is that he is very mobile and that’s the basis of our game.”

I am sure of one thing that he will have excellent work rate and if he can do all what Wenger has said, we might get to see some good partnership between him and Chamakh. Maybe I am looking too much into it, but he certainly has got me excited for tonight’s game.

In the middle, if we stick to 4-4-2, two places will go to Frimpong and Coquelin. For the other two, I am caught between Benayoun, Chamberlain and Miyaichi. Looking at what Wenger said, Miyaichi and Chamberlain will start but if were up to me, I would go with, Miyaichi and Benayoun, just to have some experience on the field.

At the back there is also nothing much to ponder on. Djourou needs playing time and so does Miquel. Both are in the squad, so I am expecting them to start with Jenkinson and Gibbs to flank them.

And as there is no Szczesny in the said, Fabianski is surely going to start.

Probable starting eleven: Fabianski, Jenkinson, Djourou, Miquel, Gibbs, Frimpong, Chamberlain, Coquelin, Miyaichi, Park, Chamakh (4-4-2)

As far as the game is concerned, I am looking forward to Park, Chamberlain and Miyaichi’s performances. I know they will shine tonight.

To be realistic, I also believe that the domestic cups are the only options for us to get any trophy this season. We need to make a good start and maybe this will turn the things for us. Not looking too much ahead, I am at least hoping for a big win tonight.

Enjoy the game from where ever you watch.


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.”


Player Ratings: Arsenal 1 – 2 Birmingham City

February 28, 2011

I won’t go into how the game played out or what we should have done or where it went wrong. It was just one of those days where we sadly didn’t take the initiative and suffered. Bad luck for us as it came in a final where we had a chance to end our six years wait for a trophy.

I will say one thing though that most of our players did felt the pressure of playing in the final and also playing under pressure of a lot of fans expectations. Although, it should never have been the case but they will have learnt a vital lesson. I just hope we bounce back from this.

Coming to player ratings:

Szczesny (5): Made one excellent save and did well on most occasions. However, one wrong decision and one mix-up, not entirely his fault though, and two goals. Not what I was expecting from him. Experience does matter and this will be a great lesson for the youngster.

Sagna (5): Defensively wasn’t that commanding. Provided good support upfront as he delivered in a couple of good crosses.

Djourou (4): I think he felt the pressure of the final the most. Made a lot of uncharacteristic mistakes. Missed a few headers, misplaced a few passes, lost his man on the first goal. Need I say more? Also wasn’t expecting a performance like this from him.

Koscielny (5): He was much better than Djourou. He was solid on most occasion and made a lot of important interceptions but then went on to make a mistake he will never forget. What on earth was he thinking, I will never know and I will leave it at that.

Clichy (5.5): Did well on most occasions on the left side. Was good in the one-on-ones. Didn’t provide much support upfront.

Song (4): I guess he is tired after all. Wasn’t up to his best as he misplaced a lot of passes and never looked at ease in the middle.

Wilshere (7): One of our best players. He was great in the middle, gave his heart out. We needed more like him yesterday.

Rosicky (3): I don’t want to point fingers at any one but I feel he was the weak link for us. Was way too casual as if he was sure we will win. Misplaced a lot of passes in the first half as he failed to make an impact. Improved his game in the second but still not enough. He should have won it for us if he had been simple and not gone for a deft back heel near the end.

Nasri (7): He too was great out there. Took some time but he also gave his heart out. Made excellent runs, showed good close control, had shots on target. I guess it just wasn’t our day as there were very few playing like him.

Van Persie (7): Scored an excellent goal. But I guess luck always desert us in such time. Should never have gotten injured and should never have been substituted.  

Arshavin (6.5): Excellent assist for the goal and was one of the better players in the first half. Went missing in the second half as he was substituted.

Subs:

Bendtner (6) had a couple of good moments but still lacks that extra quality Van Persie has. Chamakh (6) defensively provided good support. Upfront produced a good chance for Bendtner and Rosicky but both of them failed to utilize.


Arsenal 1 – 2 Birmingham: Heartbroken! Yes, but we have to move on!!

February 27, 2011

We could have lost any other way but not like that, just not like that. I don’t know what to write or what I feel after what just happened. We had the game in control. That kick from Foster was going nowhere. How did the ball end up in the net, I just don’t want to know or want to think about what happened in those few seconds, I just want to forget it. I am heartbroken and I feel like I have been crushed just like every Gooner but we have to move on from here and get behind the team.

But the question is where do we go from here? Will it be the end of our season or will we be hungrier for success? What will the effect be on the players? We will know the answers to these questions in the next three games for sure. We can only hope the team doesn’t crumble after this.

What ever happened out there, well done to lads for the performance and let’s just hope for the best. There is still a lot to play for and this is not the end of the world…….

Will come up with the player ratings tomorrow.


Arsenal vs Birmingham City: Preview and Starting Eleven

February 27, 2011

So, the day that we all have been waiting for has finally arrived, the day which hopefully will be the start of a new era, the day which hopefully will be start of many great things to come and the day where we will hopefully end our almost six years wait for a trophy.

I know, it sounds all dramatic but still you cannot deny the importance of today’s game. It won’t be wrong in saying that this game will define the rest of our season. Everyone including the players are pumped up for this. We have done all the hard work and today is the day to get the reward for it. This is the final hurdle in this competition that we have to cross and hopefully all our hard work will bear fruit in the shape of a trophy and more will follow when this season comes to an end. 

On paper this looks like a game that we will win easily and hopefully we will after what we did to them in the New Year. However, it is a Cup final and Birmingham surely won’t go down without a fight. They themselves will be looking for a trophy of their own and you can expect a very tight game and a match that will go till the very end.

Birmingham’s tactics will be clear. They will hold their lines and try to frustrate us as they know they can’t win by playing football against us. They will rely much on set pieces and counters. They have players that can play dirty and we will have to be wary of them.

As for us, we will have to start with a high tempo and look for an early goal or two. If we play the way we approached the game against them in January, this game will be easy. Possession again will be the key as we will have to remain focused and resilient through the 90 minutes. Our team will have to defend well because a goal for them is going to increase their confidence.

As for the starting eleven, Wenger will need to select the best possible options because today there is no room for mistakes.   

The backline and the keeper for me all pick themselves up.

It however becomes tricky in the middle. Will Diaby be a wise enough choice to start with? Who will play the Fabregas role? I have been thinking about two line ups. One consists of Wilshere in the play making role with Song and Diaby, if he is 100 percent fit, behind him. The second option is to play Nasri in the Fabregas role and with Song and Wilshere in support. Wilshere and Song are the key to our midfield today and we will need both of them to play their best games. I prefer to start with Song, Diaby and Wilshere in the middle.

Nasri to start on the right and Arshavin on the left with Van Persie to lead the attack and also the team.

If, however, Nasri starts in the Fabregas role; I will then bring in Rosicky on the right. Many will prefer Bendtner due to his performance against Stoke but I have my doubts about him on the flanks. He plays better in the lone striker role.

So my starting XI would be: Szczesny, Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy, Song, Wilshere, Diaby, Nasri, Van Persie, Arshavin

And please Arsene just don’t start with Denilson and Almunia.

I won’t make any predictions for a fear of jinxing it.  A win by any means is necessary today because anything but a win today is going to be critical for us. I just don’t want to think about anything else.

My everything is telling me that we will win this for sure so I have everything crossed for this one. Do so yourself and have a great day and hopefully we will all have a night to remember. Go Arsenal, we are all behind you!!

p.s. I hope the referee doesn’t spoil the game with incompetent or biased refereeing. With Mike Dean you can expect the worst.


Arsene Wenger: Van Persie will be the Captain, Fabregas out for two games and Walcott likely to miss Barcelona game

February 26, 2011

With Fabregas out of the Carling Cup final, Van Persie is going to lead Arsenal on Sunday against Birmingham city.

Arsene Wenger at his pre-match press conference on Friday confirmed that Van Persie will be the captain for the Carling Cup final as the manager was delighted with his return and added that the team is determined and will do everything to win the final.

On an update on Fabregas’ return, Wenger said that the Spaniard will miss at least a couple of games due to a small injury which could have been worse as he added that how it is important he doesn’t miss more games with so much to play for still.

As for Walcott who will also miss the final, the manager added that he is out for two to three weeks and admitted that he is likely going miss the Barcelona return leg.

Wenger concluded by saying how it is imperative now for the squad to focus on the final on Sunday as injuries are part and parcel of the game and added that even without Fabregas, Walcott and Vermaelen they have enough quality players to deal with the game.

On Van Persie, Fabregas and Walcott, Arsene said:

“The vice-captain, who is Robin van Persie [will be captain]. He is back and I’m delighted. We have belief, confidence, we are committed and we are determined to get over the last hurdle of the Carling Cup and will do absolutely everything to achieve it. That’s what we focus on.

He [Cesc Fabregas] is injured and is out. We had a scan yesterday. He is out for one or two games, maybe. Cesc is sad and disappointed of course. It could have been worse and the injury is a very small one. But we have so many targets in front of us, it is important that he is not out for longer.

Theo Walcott will be two to three weeks for an ankle problem. I would say today it will be very unlikely he will be fit for the second Barcelona game. I imagine the worst so maybe I will be surprised in a positive way but I just give you the gut feeling at the moment that I have.

What is important now is that the team and the squad focuses on the game we want to play on Sunday. Ideally you want everybody fit but before the season starts you know you can have some players injured. We can deal with that.

You never want accidents to happen but we can deal with the fact that Cesc will not be there, Walcott will not be there and, of course, Vermaelen will not be there. When you look at the squad we have and the number of players we have available, we have enough quality players.”


Arsene Wenger’s injury update on the squad including Fabregas, Van Persie, Walcott and Koscielny

February 25, 2011

Arsenal are going to be without Cesc Fabregas in the Carling Cup Final against Birmingham City  this Sunday.

Speaking to Arsenal TV online on Thursday, the manager confirmed the bad news by saying how it is a very small injury through which he will miss the game. On a question for his return, Arsene added that it is impossible to give a deadline for his return even after Sunday’s game .

Fabregas was withdrawn early on in the game against Stoke on Wednesday due to a hamstring concern.

The manger continued by saying how Fabregas is disappointed for being side lined from the final and added that the best way to help him  now is to win the Carling Cup for him for his contributions to the team in this competition.

Fabregas joins Theo Walcott on the list of players who will miss the final as Walcott was ruled out after the game against Stoke for his ankle injury.

The manager gave an update on his injury by saying how he has a classic ankle sprain which is going to rule him out for at least two weeks.  

Arsene Wenger also gave good news in the shape of Koscielny, Van Persie and Diaby’s return to the squad after recovering from their respective injuries as the manager added that everybody else form the Stoke game are alright.

On Fabregas, Walcott and the recovering players, Arsene Wenger said:

“It is a very small injury but certainly Cesc will be out for Sunday. For how long [beyond that] I don’t know but for Sunday he will be short. It is very difficult to give a deadline. It is impossible.

He is [disappointed]. We all feel sorry and sad for him. The only way we help him now is to win the Carling Cup as he contributed a lot in this competition.

I saw him [Theo Walcott] this morning. He has a classic ankle sprain. We don’t think there is any more damage to it. But it is still a sprain. We are sad for him too. He is out for Sunday and maybe one or two more weeks.

[Van Persie, Koscielny, Diaby] All the three will be available. That’s the good news. And everybody else is all right from the Stoke game too.”