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.”

 

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Arsenal vs Liverpool: Preview and Starting Eleven

April 17, 2011

Today we start our final push for the title. We host a resurgent Liverpool at the Emirates and no less than three points is what we require.

This is our title deciding week and I hope the team is ready to deal with it because it won’t be easy at all.

It has been a long time since we drew in the opening game of the season against Liverpool. With Liverpool going through many ups and down since then, with defeats against bottom placed teams to massive wins against top teams, they have been somewhat very unpredictable. However, under Dalglish they have been a changed side and make no mistake today’s game is going to be very difficult if we are to get the three points.

With their spending in the January window, they look more stable and have added two dimensions to their attack. With Andy Carroll, they can play the aerial route football and with Luis Suarez they can play the quick passing game. They will no doubt mix it up and it will be up to our defense to deal with them. With Dirk Kuyt always a threat, our team will have to stay alert at all times. Mistakes at the back will be costly today and I hope the whole team supports the defense when under attack.   

Upfront we will have to be clinical. Fabregas and company will no doubt create openings but it will up to our forward to finish them. Van Persie and Theo Walcott will have to be at the top of their game. The cost of missed chances will be more than a game today.

It isn’t easy to predict such a game as it can be either high scoring or one decided by a single goal. Both teams can win this, so we have to make sure we score the winning goals. Two years back we somewhat ended Liverpool’s title chances by a drawing against them at their home, Arshavin scored four goals back then, so, I hope Liverpool doesn’t return the favour today.

If things aren’t going our way, we will need someone to remind Liverpool that if they win, United will get the 19th title for sure. Now would Liverpool want that? Jokes aside, the title will be over for us if we don’t win any of the remaining games starting from today. Even a draw is fatal. I am gunning for a win and hoping that our team gives it their best shot and even if we lose or draw or end up without the title, we can hold our heads up.  

As far as the lineup is concerned, it will be interesting to see who Arsene opts to start with as many players are returning from injury and we do have three important games in 8 days to play.

Szczesny for me starts in goal after what Wenger said in his pre-match press conference. With no Sagna, Eboue will feature again on the right and the other flank will be taken up by Clichy. If and only if Djourou is hundred percent, I will start with him partnering Koscielny.

In the middle of the park Fabregas is the easy pick. Diaby for me stays in the lineup. I am caught up between Song and Wilshere. Again if Song isn’t hundred percent, I will start with Wilshere.

Upfront van Persie will be flanked by Nasri and Walcott. Arshavin is an asset in big games therefore he can be brought on at any time to change the game. However, I won’t mind if Arshavin starts this game at the expense of Walcott.

Probable Starting Eleven: Szczesny, Eboue, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy, Wilshere, Fabregas, Diaby, Walcott, RVP, Nasri

Before I conclude, below is what Arsene Wenger said about today’s game:

“When you are in the title race it is always like that. When we played the Carling Cup Final, Barcelona away and Manchester United three days later, we were out of three competitions.

Now Tottenham and Chelsea are out of the competitions. When you fight for big prizes in one week it can be gone. It makes Sunday’s game vital of course. If we do not beat Liverpool and Tottenham the season won’t be over but the title will be over for sure.

If we win all the games then yes, we will win the Premier League [as long as Manchester United] can draw somewhere. It’s not 100 per cent even if we win our games but we know what we have to do.”

I hope the players keep that in mind when they are out on the field.

That’s it. Have a good day and enjoy the match. Tonight we deal with the first of our seven remaining obstacles. Keep the faith and your fingers crossed!!


Arsene Wenger on Djourou and Szczesny’s start against Liverpool and Vermaelen’s return

April 15, 2011

Arsenal will face Liverpool on Sunday, where a win will take them to within four points of Manchester United. Arsene Wenger on Thursday gave the latest injury news ahead of the match.

While speaking to Arsenal TV Online, Arsene Wenger informed that there are no new injuries but there is a doubt on Sagna’s availability, who hasn’t yet recovered from his injury.

Meanwhile Djourou, Szczesny, Denilson and Song all have a chance to be available on Sunday. Wenger added that Djourou and Szczesny’s inclusion will be decided after how they perform in the training session because they have question marks on their fitness. 

The manager also gave good news on Vermaelen’s return as he confirmed that he has joined training. He added that we will need to show patience with Vermaelen as he has just joined the team and isn’t match fit yet.

On Thursday, Arsene Wenger said:

“We have no [new injuries] but we have a big doubt on Sagna. Djourou and Wojciech are question marks. Will they be fit? That all has still to be decided. We have two more days to find out. It could be a possibility that they could be available.

It’s difficult to say [what their chances are]. We have a test today [Thursday], we have a big test to see how they survive the training session. That will be very important. Denilson and Song have a chance to be available as well.

I am not reluctant [to use Vermaelen] but he is not match fit yet. He just joined the team this week so we have to be a bit patient with him.”


Alisher Usmanov will not sell his stake, Szczesny and Djourou back in training and some other news

April 13, 2011

The big news in the past couple of days has been the proposition of Stan Kroenke’s complete takeover of Arsenal. Stan Kroenke increased his Arsenal stake to 62.89 percent by buying the shares of Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith and Danny Fiszman. As a result, Kroenke has the control of the club and he was forced to make a complete takeover bid. If he can reach 90 percent, he can compulsory buy the rest of the club shares.

However, it seems now that it won’t come to pass due to a new development. Alisher Usmanov, whose RED and White Holdings own 27 percent of the Arsenal shares, has declined to sell his stake to Kroenke by saying that he loves Arsenal and that is the reason he is a shareholder. This is what he said:

“I’m not going to sell my stake. I love Arsenal, that’s why I’m a shareholder”

Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (AST) has welcomed the decision made by Usmanov and have also declined to sell their shares. AST, however, is not against Kroenke’s takeover as long as the fans have a say in the ownership of the club. An AST statement said:

“AST welcomes Red and White Holdings’ commitment to Arsenal and calls on all shareholders to work together. Their priorities should firstly be making Arsenal a successful football team, secondly placing no leveraged debt on the club or taking dividends and management fees out of the club, and thirdly helping supporters be directly involved in the club’s shareholding. Arsenal is too important to be owned by any one man.” 

I don’t know what will happen next but one thing is for sure that Arsenal will not be in the hands of a single owner, which is good news. I don’t want Arsenal to turn into a plaything for one individual. As long as the fans hold some part of the club, Arsenal will remain the club it is.

All I want is that whatever happens next, it doesn’t disturb the way the club is being run. As long as we have the money to sustain the team and buy players, ownership issues won’t matter much. I will also add that the best thing is to wait it out and see how things turn up, and hopefully it will be for the best.

Coming to matters concerning injuries, there have been reports that Szczesny and Djourou have both returned to training ahead of the Liverpool match and both will be available for selection in the squad. The reports confirm what Arsene said in his post-Blackpool comments that Szczesny is not far from returning. So if all goes well, we will have our first choice keeper and  Djourou available for the crunch final run in.

Yesterday there were also reports of a row between van Persie and Diaby at half time during the Blackpool game, concerning the way Diaby reacted before he was booked in the first half. I don’t know if it is true, although, if it is then it is good because it shows that the senior players are taking responsibility to put the wrong things right. It will be better for Diaby to realize that the way he reacted is only going to harm him and Arsenal and no one else. However, I would want that whatever happens inside dressing rooms should remain there because media will always find ways to exploit such incidents.

In other news, Wilshere has slammed the news of a possible move to Manchester City in the summer by saying this on his official twitter:

“People asking if I’m going city? I don’t kiss the Arsenal badge then leave – this club in my heart!”

Denilson is here talking about Shakhtar Donetsk’s Willian and wants him to come to Arsenal.

Champions League quarter finals are also under way and sadly we are having no part in it. Last night Man United and Barcelona qualified for the semi finals at the expense of Chelsea and Shakhtar respectively. Tonight we will find out who the other two teams are, although by now it’s pretty clear which teams will make it.

Till later…


Player Ratings: Newcastle 4 – 4 Arsenal

February 5, 2011

You can win with 11 men against 14, but 10 against 14 becomes a very daunting task. People will say that Arsenal should have done more in the second half, and I agree, but it doesn’t change the fact the standard of refereeing was just poor today and it’s not for the first time. It is there for all to see how much the ref can influence a game. And I know it will be forgotten in a minute and no one will talk about the refereeing as they will have Arsenal to talk about. And such pathetic standards will continue because the FA is incompetent to the very core of its existence.

Coming to the performance of the team, it can be divided into two halves.

In the first half we were very much in the driving seat as Newcastle were at times mere spectators. We controlled the midfield, our passing was sublime, the movement was excellent and the finishing was spot on. At the back we were comfortable as we dominated the game.

The second half, however, was very poor as compared to the first. Down to 10 men, we struggled to control the midfield as Newcastle attacked our goal aerially through set pieces and long balls. Upfront there was no movement as we were stuck up at the back.

Coming to player ratings:

Szczesny (7): Was a spectator in the first half. In the second he was the centre of attention. Made some brilliant saves and cannot be blamed for the goals. Still needs to improve his distribution on kicks.

Sagna (6.5): Good first half as we dominated the game. In the second did well on most occasions while we were being showered with long balls. Good cross for the assist on the fourth goal.

Koscielny (6.5): Top performance in the first half. Made some very good interceptions and was strong in the air. In the second he continued with it but we had too many long balls and set pieces to defend. The penalty conceded was very soft; in fact the ref was in no position to award it. However, he must be careful in the future in making such tackles in the danger area.

Djourou (7.5): Also had a top game. Partnered well with Koscielny and did well on every occasion. Scored a good goal. I hope he isn’t seriously injured.

Clichy (6): He too was brilliant in the first half. In the second made only one mistake that led to goal. Otherwise did well.

Diaby (7.5 – not taking into account his sending off): Impressive first half as he broke up the play of Newcastle very easily and linked up nicely with the forward players. However, he should have kept cool when fouled by Barton. It was what Barton wanted and Diaby complied.  

Fabregas (6.5): Awesome first half. The number of delightful balls he delivered in the first half was just a treat to watch. However, in the second he couldn’t do much as the pressure mounted.

Wilshere (6): He too was very good in the first half and similarly to all, vanished in the second. Isn’t the answer to our defensive cover in absence of Song, Diaby and Denilson.

Walcott (7): Looked dangerous whenever he had the ball. Took the first goal very nicely and good cut back for the assist on third. Provided defensive cover in the second half before he was substituted.

Van Persie (6.5): Scored three goals, one of which was called offside though. Provide good cover in defense in the first half but didn’t do much in the second. Delivered in some good free kicks and corners.

Arshavin (7): Another two assist to his name. Helped the team overall before getting substituted.

Subs:

Squillaci (6) needs to improve his communication with Koscielny as we can’t go on like this forever. Didn’t do anything wrong but also didn’t help the team with his experience. Rosicky (3.5) failed to do for what he was brought. In fact he made things harder for us. The second penalty was never a penalty, it was just incompetent refereeing which will go unpunished as usual. Eboue (4) also failed to provide cover in defense.

Well, we have certainly dropped two points which after the first half none would have imagined that we would drop. As it stands, we have to move on from here and not let this result be our downfall. There is still a lot to play for and with United losing, it’s not that bad. And I hope the result doesn’t affect us psychologically.

And seriously, one can only win against 14 men once a week.


Arsenal vs Huddersfield Town: Preview and Starting Eleven

January 30, 2011

It’s back to the FA Cup today and we are at home against Huddersfield town.

In the last round we were taken to a replay by Leeds and I hope it’s not the case this time. I don’t know much about Huddersfield but that they are in League One and they are fighting for promotion. This Cup, I feel, will not be a priority for them but still expect a very determined side that faces us today.

For the starting team, we can expect many changes and most of our second string to start as we have a Premier League match forty-eight hours after it. Most will be hoping for a strong side, but with a match against Everton on Tuesday, we cannot play the same men twice. And by now you would expect the whole squad to be at the same level.

So who ever starts, we can expect a win but we would have to show up and not take them lightly.

In goal, I expect Szczesny to keep his place even though Almunia is back from his injury. With Squillaci available, he will be in the starting eleven and Djourou will have a rest. Koscielny, therefore, will be the other centre back. Gibbs and Eboue will be on the flanks as Sagna won’t be risked for this and Clichy will need to start on Tuesday.

In the middle, Arsene will have to be decisive. I won’t start with Diaby as he has just come back. Also we would need someone who can control the midfield. We cannot start with Fabregas. However, we can start with Nasri as he started on the bench in the last game. Denilson to retain his place. To partner them, I will go with Song as we will need a good cover for our backline. We can bring on Diaby later when we have the game in control.

Upfront, I would start with Chamakh as lately he hasn’t featured much. On the left side, Arshavin needs to continue to improve his confidence. On the right, I can’t make up my mind between Walcott and Bendtner. Bendtner and Chamakh’s combination hasn’t clicked yet. However, Bendtner is improving with games and I won’t be surprised if he starts. Although, I would prefer Walcott to start.

Probable starting XI: Szczesny, Eboue, Squillaci, Koscielny, Gibbs, Song, Nasri, Denilson, Walcott, Chamakh, Arshavin

This game should be a walk in the park, no disrespect to Huddersfield, considering our team and how we have played these past few games.

My only concern is the back line as they will be playing together after a long time. However, if our midfield stays close to the defenders and not lose possession in dangerous areas, we will be fine.

No score predictions again as they always turn out to be incorrect.

Enjoy the match and keep your fingers crossed.


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!!!