Arsenal vs Stoke City: Preview and Starting Eleven

February 23, 2011

Stoke City are visiting us today ahead of the Carling Cup final and a win will take us closer to a point of Manchester United at the top in the Premier League.

It seems like ages ago when this fixture was postponed back in December, with the prospect of facing Barcelona getting more attention at that time. We have now come a long way from that. Snow and bad weather saved Stoke at that time, today however they are in line for a lesson in football. 

It isn’t difficult to predict how Stoke will approach this game. From the very onset they will be looking to unsettle us. They will use the long balls, free kicks and long throws to their advantage and their forwards will use any mean necessary to gain advantage over us in our danger area.  Their midfielders and defenders, no doubt, will use the ‘committed’ approach of the English game to their full benefit. So, expect a lot of fouls and very less cards for them and if I am not wrong the opposite for us.

Our game plan, as Wenger very rightly pointed out, will be to keep possession and control the game. If we play the game to our speed, Stoke will have no chance of getting into it. The midfield will have to play a very big role in this and with most of our regulars set to start, it shouldn’t be difficult.

We will have to score goals and with no Van Persie, whosoever starts in his place will have to be really creative and clinical in front of goal. Fabregas, Nasri and Walcott will have to lead by example.  

As for the starting eleven, Szczesny will return in goal along with Clichy at left back and Djourou at centre back. With Koscielny injured, Squillaci will keep his place and Sagna will remain on the right flank.

In the middle, Fabregas and Wilshere will return and Song will keep his place.

Upfront, I would have started with Walcott in the middle if it wasn’t Stoke, as we will require someone with strength up there today. With Chamakh under-performing, Bendtner is the most suitable option and I hope that today he performs well as he will be playing at his favored position. Nasri and Walcott will be on either side of him. 

Probable starting XI: Szczesny, Sagna, Squillaci, Djourou, Clichy, Song, Fabregas, Wilshere, Walcott, Bendtner, Nasri.

This game can get difficult if Stoke score the first goal because they are much disciplined at the back. The first half, therefore, will be very important and the more quickly we get the game in control, the easier it will be.

As always, we need a win to keep the pressure on Man United. It will be a tight game but I expect nothing short of three points.

That’s it for now. Enjoy the match and have a great day.


Arsene Wenger’s injury news ahead of Stoke City

February 23, 2011

Arsenal is going to be without Van Persie and Koscielny as we face Stoke City at home today.

While speaking to Arsenal TV Online on Tuesday, Arsene Wenger confirmed that Koscielny, Van Persie and Diaby are not available against Stoke while everyone else is fit.

Koscielny has a minor back problem, Van Persie is having a hamstring problem while Diaby, although suspended, has a calf injury.

However, Arsene added that the injuries to Van Persie and Koscielny are short term and they have a chance to be available for the Carling Cup final at Wembley on Sunday.

Djourou, on the other hand has recovered from his back injury as Wenger confirmed he will start today.

Today Arsenal play their 3rd game in as many competitions in just seven days as the Carling Cup final draws ever closer.

Arsene Wenger, on Tuesday, said:

 “We don’t have Van Persie, Diaby and Koscielny available. Everybody else is fit. Diaby is suspended. Van Persie has a hamstring problem and Koscielny a back problem. Both are short term and they have a chance for the game on Sunday.

Johan Djourou is better and will play”


Andrey Arshavin on the match and his performance against Ipswich

January 27, 2011

Arsenal qualified for the Carling Cup final by beating Ipswich Town in the second leg of the semifinal.

Andrey Arshavin, speaking to his personal website, talked about the match, his performance and winning his first English trophy. He said that Ipswich came to defend their advantage and stop Arsenal from scoring whereas Arsenal approached the game very seriously with the sole objective to crush the opposition from the very first minute and score an early goal.

With the scores zero all at the break, Arshavin revealed that the manager asked the team to continue with the same high tempo and speed things further up to find the goal. He asked the team to keep patience and possession as there will come a time when the opposition would get tired and openings will be created.

Arshavin said that they played that way and it led to the first goal which came at the right time. He further added that the goal lifted the inner tension and the game became easier and eventually more goals were scored. He also acknowledged the skill of Bendtner in scoring the first goal and Wilshere’s great pass that led to it.

On his own performance and assists, he bluntly said that it wasn’t a super match for him but he is satisfied with the result. He added that he is glad he was useful to the squad.

When asked about being favorites to win the tournament, he replied that considering the names they may be but as it is the final anything can happen. He added that it will all depend on how Arsenal play. In the end he said that they deserved the victory and to be in the final and wants to win the first trophy of his English career.

Andrey Arshavin said:

“Ipswich came to London to try and defend their advantage. Maybe they tried to play in such a way so that they could score from a set piece while keeping us from scoring. If they had managed to do so, we would’ve had to score three goals in order to win this game. We took a very seriously approach to this game, tried to “crush” our opponents from the very first minute of the match. We expected to score a quick first goal. But after the first 45 minutes, the score was still 0:0.

During the break Arsene told us to play in the same high-tempo and try to speed up. He said that there would come a moment when the Ipswich players would get tired and then it would get more and more difficult for them to hold back our attacks. The coach asked us to keep our cool, not to make hasty, ill-considered passes, take care of the ball. He was sure that there would come a moment when we’d press them out.

Actually, we played that way and that led to the Nicholas’s goal. I would say that the goal came at the right time. Here it’s worth pointing out not only his skills in finishing this chance off, but also a Wilsheres’s great cross to Bendtner. This goal allowed us to lift some kind of inner tension from the team and our fans. Once we started to lead the score, the game became easier. Soon we scored a good goal from a set piece.

It wasn’t a supermatch for me. But I’m satisfied with the result. I’m glad that I was useful to the squad.

Maybe, considering the names, our club is the favorite. But, this is the final. Everything will depend only on us, on our game in this match … on February 27. We deserved this victory, we are in the final. Tomorrow we’ll find out our rival that we are going to clash with on Feb. 27. I hope for success, and I want to win the first trophy in my English career. It is time to win.”


Player Ratings: Arsenal 3 – 0 Ipswich Town

January 26, 2011

Well, it was an overall good performance. In the first half we were frustrated alot by Ipswich but in the second half we were better and scored the goals at the right times.

We created plenty of chances throughout the match but most of them weren’t clear cut and Ipswich were defending quite resiliently.

However, what I enjoyed was that none of the players got panicked and sticked to the game plan.

The backline weren’t tested much but did well whenever Ipswich were in our half.

The midfiled was dominated by us as we enjoyed lots of possession.

Upfront the movemnet was very good along with the finishing.

Coming to player ratings:

Szczesny (6.5): Had nothing to do all night but to collect the back passes and clear them. Was caught once when he collided with Sagna, otherwise had the goal covered.

Sagna (no rating): Lasted for a short while. I hope he isn’t badly injured.

Djourou (7) and Koscielny (7.5): They too had very little to do but when called upon, did their job brilliantly. Made some vital interceptions and clearences. Djourou covered up well for Eboue and was always quick to close down the opposition. Koscielny scored an excellent goal with his head.

Clichy (7): Good defending at the back and contributed upfront. He is slowly getting back to his best. Keep it up Clichy!!

Wilshere (8): A very good performance by Wilshere. Found the right pass and was always involved. Controlled most of the midfield in the first half. Delivered some excellent balls, one of which led to Bendtner scoring. However, he needs to be consistent with it because at times his final ball lets him down.

Denilson (6.5): A decent perfomance from Denilson.Should have done better in the first half though. Kept the ball ticking in the midfield.

Fabrgeas (7.5): Another top perfromacne from him despite a somewhat frustrating first half. Was involved in every thing and should have scored in the first half on the ball provided by Wilshere. His second half performance was, however, excellent. Scored the killer third goal.

Bendtner (8): He clearly was on fire today. Scored an awesome first goal at the right moment that opened up the game. Moved well on the flanks and provided good width. Deliverd in some excellent crosses especially the one which led to Van Persie hitting the cross bar. Howeever, he needs to improve his first touch as at times it let’s him down.

Van Persie (6.5): Another good perfromance despite not getting a goal. Moved around well and linked up the play nicely. Was unlucky not to get a goal in the first half.

Arshavin (7): Well he isn’t up to his best but he is trying to get there. Made a good start but then went to his usuall. However, woke up to provide the assist on the second and third goal. I hope this does good to his confidence becuase we all know what he can offer Arsenal.

Subs:

Eboue (6.5): Made me nervous as he was always caught out of position. However, he did well when underpressure at the back and provided decent support upfront.

Nasri and Walcott: Too little time to make an impact. No ratings for both.


Wenger on Bendtner’s goal and performance and Sagna’s injury

January 26, 2011

Arsenal qualified for the finals of the Carling Cup after beating Ipswich town. Arsenal scored three goals in the process but  had to wait for an hour to find the first goal. It was Bendtner, who opened the scoring for Arsenal in style when Wilshere found hin with an excellent pass.

Speaking after the match, Arsene Wenger acknowledged that both the goal and the pass by Wilshere that led to the goal were great.Wenger also enjoyed the goal scored on the corner that saying that it was fantastic for him as Arsenal score very few goals on corners.

Speaking of Bendtner’s performance, he said that it he had an outstanding game. Wenger said that he is getting sharper and sharper with every game as players returning from injuries are not hundred percent and get better by playing.

He talked about rotation being vital as Arsenal has played a lot games in December and January. He said that the rotation also shows that he has the confidence in his squad.

Regarding Sagna’s injury, Wenger said that he had a concussion and needed to go to the hospital. He was sick after the game and there was pain at his nose, but wenger said the most worrying was the concussion of his head. However, Wenger was hopefull that there will be good news in the morning.

Arsene Wenger after the match said:

“It was a great goal, yes, with a great ball from Wilshere as well. He had an outstanding game tonight. I must say I enjoyed the corner as well because we score so few goals from corners, for me it is fantastic.

We rotate, I rotate from game to game because we play nine games in January and we played eight or nine in December as well. I show them as well that I have confidence in every player, no matter how big the game is. Of course sometimes when a player has not played for a few weeks, when he comes in he is not 100 per cent, but after a few games Bendtner is getting sharper and sharper.

Sagna had a concussion. He has to go to hospital, he was sick after the game. He has pain at his nose but the most worrying is the concussion of his head. Hopefully we can get good news tomorrow.”


Arsenal 3 – 0 Ipswich Town: Wembley!! here we come | Bendtner, Koscielny and Fabregas scored the vital goals

January 25, 2011

Arsenal 3 – 0 Ipswich Town ( aggregrate 3 – 1)

Wembley!! here we come. A good performance sees us through to the finals of the Carling Cup.

Thanks to an awesome goal from Bendtner, that opened our account, Koscielny for the second and Fabregas for striking the final nail in the coffin.

We had plenty of chances but just couldn’t find the net due to some good defending by Ipswich. We enjoyed the  a lot of possesion but Ipswich were frustrating us. It all came down to a brilliant goal from Bendtner in the 61st minute that opened up the game.

Koscielny scored the second from a corner with his head in the 64th minute.

Fabregas found the net for the third after a good counter attack in the 77th minute.

Besides that there were plenty of chances with Van Persie hitting the post, in the first half, being the major one.

One grey area was Sagna getting injured and I hope he isn’t badly hurt and returns quickly.

Anyways, a great result and a great finish by Arsenal. Let’s hope we do the job at Wembley, where we will either meet Birmingham or West Ham.


Arsenal vs Ipswich Town: Preview and Starting Eleven

January 25, 2011

So this is it, the final obstacle in our way to Wembley. A top performance from us today and we are there and hopefully it will be a start of more great things to come from this team.

Ipswich is leading by a goal coming into this game and their game plan will be to frustrate us by parking the bus and hoping to score on the long balls. And mind you they are much disciplined at the back. But seeing what our team did at the weekend against Wigan, I have no doubt that we will go through but we have to be at that level and never switch-off.

We just have to give our best and not take them lightly. Wenger has said that he will rotate for today’s game also. I feel that we should start with the same team that started against Wigan, with one or two changes, and kill the game off early. The more we delay in killing the game the more Ipswich will fancy their chances.

For the starting eleven, Szczesny is going to stay in goal with Djourou and Koscielny retaining their places. On the left, Gibbs should replace Clichy but on the right I will start with Sagna.

In the middle I will keep the same trio of Wilshere, Song and Fabregas as it is vital that we dominate the midfield today.

Up front I will start with Van Persie and Walcott but rest Nasri and bring in Arshavin on the left.

Probabale starting XI: Szczesny, Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Gibbs, Wilshere, Fabregas, Song, Walcott, RVP, Arshavin

Start with this team today Wenger and we will be in the finals with one hand on the trophy and hopefully we will claim it.

I won’t make any score predictions but  keep everything crossed for this one. This game won’t be a walk in the park but we can make it by giving a quality performance.

Come on Arsenal!!!Wembley is waiting!!!