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.

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Arsenal 0 – 2 Liverpool: Thoughts and Player Ratings

August 21, 2011

So, more of the same from Arsenal with a different result this weekend.

With a makeshift midfield and defense, we started this game very positively but then went into a nut shell. If was Liverpool who created the better ‘half chances’ as we drifted from one end to another, hardly having a shot on goal. Nasri did have a go at goal near the half hour mark, so did Frimpong. Otherwise both the teams lacked creativity. The second half was where things started happening. Kelly rattled the cross bar, Van Persie had a shot saved, Frimpong was then sent off, Suarez came on and tested Szczesny followed by Downing and then the unfortunate own goal, involving Miquel and Ramsey. From there it was always us chasing the game and Liverpool ended it with another goal, the final nail in our already full coffin.

There is nothing much to talk from the game so I will come straight to what I feel.

First off, this is type a result one is going to end up with by putting youngsters on the field, who hardly have any Premier League experience against a squad that surely means business. The youngster’s fighting spirits will give you hard earned draws and at times an odd win but you will never be sure.

What we saw today is prove enough that our young players have all the talent in the word but they need experienced players to guide them. They cannot on their own make us challenge for the title, they need support.  

And this is where I fear Wenger is wrong. To put so many burdens on players who have hardly played a full game in the League is asking too much and at one point it surely is going to spill over. Look what happened in the case of Fabregas.

And on top of that to come out and say that we need to keep patience is not going to go down well.

Result and obvious lack of investment aside, the players out there deserve plaudits for giving their all from the first ball to the last. The defense was solid and to have kept the scores level till the last quarter of the game against a fully fit Liverpool squad is proof that we are improving, at least in one area of the field.

As for the result, weren’t we expected to lose this one? Yet, we lost only after going a man down and that too by gifting a freak own goal and through some bad refereeing by the lines man. I know these will sound like excuses but it is the reality. Liverpool were ordinary. We had eight first team players missing against a squad that has spent a fortune on players since January, yet, they couldn’t do us any damage with 11 on 11. (There is sure hope!) And looking back, I have a regret that we could have even won this game had our first team played.

Yet, this is no reason for where we are or why we don’t have to buy. We had a whole summer to solve our problems and buy the players required. What we have been doing can only be answered by Arsene and company. To play Miquel and not Squillaci, to bring on Bendtner and not Chamakh shows indecisiveness on our manager’s part. With the season two games old, we haven’t decided who will we keep and who we won’t. I don’t mind though, because late is better than never and this show that Arsene has lost his confidence with Squillaci and Chamakh (or am I seeing too much into it?)

I don’t even want to go over the players that are out injured or suspended. The Udinese and Manchester game just got a lot tougher for us. Qualification for the Champions League must be, however, the priority. If we fail to qualify, I am afraid, we will have to find another coffin. More on the Udinese game when the time comes.

The bottom line is we still need to strengthen despite having many players out injured or suspended because we won’t survive the season playing like this.

Before I conclude, apologies are also in line for Nasri who showed he truly is a professional and his commitment is spot on. He was on fire and looked like he cared for the team.

Coming to player ratings

Szczesny: (8) He again was commanding and covered his area well. Made some great saves, one each from Carroll, Downing and Suarez. Not at fault for both the goals.

Sagna: (7) Shifted from right to left and didn’t put a foot wrong. Offensively didn’t contribute as he was not on his preferred side.

Vermaelen: (8.5) Well he surely is a beast. Got his head onto every ball and never gave Carroll or any Liverpool forward space. Led by example and later on tried to revive the team by some forward runs. Caught out of position on the second goal but we were already losing then.

Koscielny: (no rating) Unlucky, looked decent before he went off injured.

Jenkinson: (7) He looked solid on his preferred flank and he sure is the right cover for Sagna. His crossing was better but as always we had no one attacking them.

Frimpong: (7) He really impressed me bar his second tackle that earned him the second yellow. Not afraid to put a foot in and was extremely quick on his feet. Had Liverpool in check till the time he was on. Even had a go at goal from range. As for his temperament and discipline, he needs to keep that in check. Will learn with time surely but I liked what I saw from him today.

Ramsey: (4.5) He really disappointed me today. He was slow and didn’t have things going his way. Lost the ball on countless occasions and didn’t give the support I expected from him.

Nasri: (6.5) As mentioned above, he deserves some slack after his performance today. Sure he did fade away at the end but we were already stretched to the limits. Made a great run in the first half that ended in shot going just wide. Moved the ball around and even dropped down deep to get it.

Arshavin: (4.5) One word, unacceptable! He did try to change things around but nothing was going his way. Ironically, he created the only chance for us. Should have been substituted early in the second half.

Van Persie: (5.5) Was isolated and never got any support. Only got one chance and he hit it straight at Reina in the second half just before things started going from bad to worse for us.

Walcott: (4) He too was anonymous and below par. He was always surrounded whenever he got the ball though. Lost the ball on countless occasions and made runs that ended in nothing.

Subs:

Miquel: (7) He justified his picking ahead of Squillaci. Comfortable and calm on the ball and read the game well. His positioning was also good. Being involved in the own goal was unfortunate.

Lansbury and Bendtner: (no rating) Didn’t have much time to make impact and by that time we had faded. Lansbury had the time to get booked though but liked his attitude.


We need more players like Emmanuel Frimpong, Chris Samba wants to take the next step, Carlos Vela is staying at Arsenal!

June 24, 2011

These past few days have been really boring with nothing new happening. And in all the boredom, Samba’s signing has gone from being interesting to done to a matter of want-to and don’t-want-to and we are still where we were when we played the last game of the season. It now seems that Blackburn is not willing to sell their backdone. Blackburn’s manager, Steve Kean, has been quoted as saying, in regard to Samba’s possible departure

“We don’t have to sell him. He signed a five-year contract in the last window and he’s one of the players we would like to keep… we are going to try and hold on to all our good players.”

Well it was surely going to happen. On the other hand, Samba himself has come out said that he is ready to take the next step and hopes that Blackburn won’t “put a stick in the wheels”.

“I know there are discussions with some clubs. If a good opportunity arises, I want to seize it. It is necessary that the club understands that I want to go one step further. I hope they will not put a stick in the wheels. It’s been four and a half years I have been at Blackburn and two years I have played in relegation battles.”

This does sound similar to our own situation of Fabregas to Barca, the only difference in that Fabregas hasn’t publically said that he wants to move away (or has he?). Now I can’t tell what will happen in this case but one thing is for sure that if we really are moving in for him then we will be required to pay a hefty price. Is Wenger willing to pay such a price? This is a question that can be answered by Arsene alone, although, I myself am convinced that this summer he will. When remains to be seen!

By the way, the thing that made me laugh was when I read the same story that has been out there for the last two years, ‘Arsenal moving in for Phil Jagielka’. Seriously, do the people who right such stories don’t think for an instant what they are writing. One moment we are after Samba, Jagielka isn’t even mentioned, the next, as soon as Blackburn says we won’t sell him, we are after Jagielka. It is one thing to speculate and another to just put up the same story that has been read over and over again. They must really believe that people don’t think! 

Anyways moving on, the latest development on Clichy is that he wants a move to Liverpool despite an offer from Roma that includes £30 million wages for 5 years according to The Sun. Is Liverpool offering more in wages or Clichy doesn’t want to play European football next season? Sounds quite ridiculous to me but if this report is true then Clichy will have his reasons.

The only new development is in regards to Carlos Vela. His agent is saying that Vela is going to stay at Arsenal as he is very much in Wenger’s plans. His agent, Eduardo Hernandez has told ESPN Radioformula in Mexico

“I have had eight conversations with Arsenal, the most recent was last Friday, and Carlos is an Arsenal player, he will stay at Arsenal and is not for sale. The process with Carlos is a little bit slow. Arsene Wenger is an extremely demanding coach, he sent him on loan for six months to West Brom not with the results he wanted, but, nevertheless, everything is going very well.”

We have seen very little of Vela at Arsenal and I believe it has been unfair on him. He himself hasn’t been able to grab the opportunities and make his mark.  But that also is our own fault as we have been playing him out of position. His finishing is good, can improve, still the main problem is that we cannot get the best out of him by playing him wide. That is why I think the best option for him will be to move away from Arsenal or go on loan for a whole season. We do need a striker though and Vela is not the solution for next season. It is all my opinion though and we can’t really say what Wenger has in his mind.

Before I conclude, I would like to share what Emmanuel Frimpong has said on twitter about being ever shown the door at Arsenal

“Arsenal FC is pumping through my veins. I will never leave Arsenal even if I get released I will beg on both knees to stay they’re going to have to escort me [out].”

If only we can have the same attitude from all our players!


Arsene Wenger’s latest update on Frimpong’s recovery and Diaby’s injury

December 30, 2010

We have an away game at St. Andrew’s  in two days time. Wenger, today, gave the latest on the squad ahead of the fixture while speaking to Arsenal.com.

Diaby: Out for three weeks

Wenger confirmed that from last night’s game we have only lost Diaby to a calf injury. He is to undergo tests but could be out for a minimum of three weeks according to Wenger.

Kieran Gibbs is still out due to his ankle injury, Vermaelen is not yet back and Almunia is also injured.

Fabregas, however, will return after his suspension. Rest of the squad will be available for the match against Birmingham.  

Wenger also gave the latest update on Frimpong who has been out since pre-season with a knee injury. He was sidelined for 9 months of which close to 6 months have already passed. Even so he is making good progress in his recovery from the injury. Wenger confirmed today that he is coming along well and close to running. In a month’s time he will be back to playing in training.

Wenger told arsenal.com:

“We lost Diaby last night for a while and he will have a scan today [Thursday] but in my opinion he will be out for over three weeks.

Of course Thomas Vermaelen is not back, Manuel Almunia is still injured and Kieran Gibbs is injured as well with his ankle. He is not back but everybody else should be available.”
 
“He is coming along well for a guy who has a cruciate.

“You count nine months and it is now nearly six. He is close to running and in one month he should start to play in training.”