Will we get a new defender?!, Vela off to West Brom and Szczesny is our first choice keeper

January 29, 2011

With so many players linked over these past few weeks, and with us short at the centre back position, one would have been hundred percent sure that a defender would be signed in order to make up for the numbers at the back. As it stands the transfer window is almost over and there are no signs that a a new player will be coming.

During this transfer window, I haven’t talked much about the players linked because speculations always end up futile. The other reason being that I did an article back in December, where we were in a similar situation, and I had said that to avoid similar situations in the future we must sign a defender in the January transfer window. That article didn’t go down well with the readers. The timing of the post maybe wasn’t good but the problem was there and we still haven’t addressed it. We survived that period and thankfully we have survived it again this month, and I hope we won’t have a similar situation in the future. But we have an opportunity to solve it, yet we haven’t taken it.

We still have time but with Squillaci returning, Vermaelen on the way and Song also able to play at the back, there is only one percent probability that a defender will be signed.

Following is what Arsene Wenger said yesterday:

“I focus on my squad and I feel we have 22, 23 outfield players who can cope with what we need. Vermaelen looks to be making good progress, Squillaci is back available, so that was the only position we were short, at centre-backs. If I don’t make any signings it is because I have not identified a special player who could strengthen our squad at the moment.”

So that’s that. I won’t go more into this. Wenger knows more for sure and I hope he is right on this one and I hope we don’t have similar situations as we head into the final lap of the season and don’t rue this opportunity.

Coming onto other news, Vela is off on loan to West Bromwich. It’s about time that a move has been made because he deserves to play games and staying at Arsenal he was getting many. It’s a good opportunity for him to prove his worth and I wish him the best of luck.

Also Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Szczesny is Arsenal’s number one keeper.

“At the moment Wojciech is No 1. He’s done nothing for me to take him out. [As for Sunday], I can rotate the goalkeepers. In the Cups I sometimes play different ones. “

This has come at the right time as we have looked pretty solid with Szczesny in goal. He still has a lot to learn but with him, there is a feeling the the defenders are more confident. And with Fabianski also doing great, the goal keeper situation looks fine. As for Almunia, he will have to prove his worth but it’s quite clear that he will have a hard time in doing that.

That’s all for now. Tomorrow is yet another Cup match and this time the opposition is from League one. I don’t see anything but a win for us. Enjoy the game where ever you are and have a great day.

Arsene Wenger: Sagna is good, Diaby and Squillaci are fit for Sunday while Rosicky is still a doubt

January 27, 2011

Arsenal’s next match is against Huddersfied Town on Sunday in the 4th round of the FA cup. Arsene Wenger today gave the latest injuries news ahead of it.

Speaking to Arsenal TV online, Wenger confirmed that Squillaci and Diaby are back in the squad for Sunday’s fixture. Diaby has been out since the end of December through a calf injury while Squillaci has been missing due to a hamstring injury since the 8th of this month.

He also told that the only uncertainly is of Rosicky as he could not confirm, due to his sickness, whether he will be fit or not.

Whereas, according to Wenger, there is a chance for Almunia to be in the squad, who has been out due to elbow and ankle problems for a while now. But as far as Fabianski and Vermaelen are concerned, they won’t be available.

Regarding Sagna, Wenger told that he is good but still has a little bit of headache. However, Wenger added that all the tests at the hospital were clean and he will be available on Sunday or at the most by Tuesday for the match against Everton.

Arsene Wenger, while speaking to TV online, said:

“Squillaci and Diaby will be in a squad. The only uncertainty I have is Rosicky. I don’t know if he’ll be fit or not. He was really sick. 

Almunia has a chance, Fabianski no and for Vermaelen we need to be patient.

Sagna is as good as you can be. Yesterday he was at home and he still had a little bit of a headache. All the examinations made at the hospital were clean. He should be available for Sunday. If not Sunday then Tuesday.”

Chamakh and Denilson have minor knocks, Diaby and Squillaci are a week away from returning

January 20, 2011

Speaking to Arsenal TV online today, Arsene Wenger gave the latest update on the squad ahead of the Wigan game.

After last night’s game, there are some uncertainties on the availability of Denilson and Chamakh for Wigan. Both of them picked up minor knocks in the game against Leeds but it’s too early to say if they will be available or not.

The manager said that overall there are no new injuries as both of them are ‘small doubts’. According to Wenger, Chamakh looked better even today after picking up a minor knock to his knee while Denilson will be checked tomorrow to see how he responds to the knock on his hip.

As for the other injured players, they are still not yet ready to be back.

Wenger confirmed that Diaby and Squillaci are not far away but won’t be ready at the weekend. A week is what Wenger gave for their return.

As for Fabianski, Wenger said that they will have to remain patient as his shoulder still gives him pain.

Wenger, while speaking to TV online said:

“We have some uncertainty about Chamakh and Denilson. Denilson has been hit on the hip and we will see how he responds tomorrow morning. Chamakh today looks good so overall I don’t think we have lost anybody last night. They are small doubts.
Diaby and Squillaci are not far away but they will not be completely ready for the weekend. They will be one week I think.

Fabianski is still out unfortunately with his shoulder. It still gives him pain and we have to be patient about that.”

Sagna returns, Diaby not far away and Szczesny will start against Leeds as Fabianski has a setback

January 17, 2011

Arsene Wenger gave the latest update on the squad ahead of the Leeds game while speaking to Arsenal TV online.

With Sagna returning from his three match suspension and no new injuries from the weekend’s game, Wenger said that things look alright. Wenger revealed that the situation hasn’t deteriorated as Ramsey is also available and Diaby is not far away from returning.

Regarding Diaby, Wenger said that he will be the first one to return from injury but Wigan and Ipswich games will be too early for him.

Fabianski is also out with his shoulder injury and with Almunia already out, Szczesny is the only keeper fit to start and Wenger said that he will remain in goal for the coming matches.

Regarding Fabianski, Wenger said that he has a setback and it will take time to recover. He will also be returning after the Ipswich game.

As for Squillaci, Wenger said that he could be available in two weeks.

Arsene Wenger said:

“We look alright. We have of course Ramsey available again and Diaby is not far away. So overall the situation has not deteriorated and we hope to get Diaby back soon.
Wigan will be too early [for Diaby], even I believe Ipswich will be too early, but the game after he should be available. He should be the first one who will be back.
We still have Fabianski out with a shoulder injury, we still have Almunia out and therefore Wojciech will continue to play.
Fabianski had a little setback, it doesn’t improve as quickly as we thought and like Diaby he will not be available for Wigan or Ipswich but after. Squillaci could be available in two weeks.”

West Ham vs Arsenal: Preview and Starting Eleven

January 14, 2011

So it’s back to the Premier League after two disappointing cup ties. Before the Leeds game I said that these cup matches came at the right time as our players can have rest and some like Ramsey will get the chance to up their match fitness. What happened is in front of you all with no results in our favor.

But as always we have to move on and start afresh. Tomorrow we have an opportunity to bounce back as we face West Ham at their home. Despite them being bottom of the table, this won’t be an easy game. They are coming on the back of an impressive win against Birmingham in the other semifinal of the Carling Cup and they will be pumped up. They will no doubt fancy their chances after seeing us play the way we played against Ipswich Town.

However, if we take the game seriously and perform well, it shouldn’t be much of a problem. Scoring goals will matter because lately we haven’t found the net. The more time we take to score our first goal, the more West Ham will grow in confidence. They will for sure park their busses and try to hit us on the counter, so it will be up to us to break them down and score and not give them chances to counter attack.  

As far as the team is concerned, there won’t be many changes for this one.

With Fabianski injured, Szczesny will remain in goal.

The back line will also remain the same as from last match with the only change that Clichy should come in for Gibbs.

In the middle, Song will return to partner Fabregas and Wilshere.

Upfront Nasri and Van Persie after their rest are also going to start and Walcott will retain his place.  

Probable starting XI: Szczesny, Eboue, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy, Song, Fabregas, Wilshere, Walcott, RVP, Nasri

No matter how we played in the last two games, I, as always, expect us to win. We can’t afford to drop more points in the Premier league so this is a must win game. With Manu playing against Tottenham on Sunday, three points tomorrow will put more pressure on Manu.

Hopefully, we will get the three points and Tottenham will do the rest. Keep your fingers crossed and enjoy the match!!

Wenger’s update on Vermaelen and Gibbs, Diaby and Fabianski are good to go against Chelsea

December 23, 2010

The postponement of the games over the weekend might have left many people fuming, but it has turned out to be a good mini break for us. Most of our injured players are back and better than before as Wenger revealed while speaking to Arsenal TV online.

Diaby, Fabianski, Fabregas and Van Persie are all good to go against Chelsea. Most of them would have been available for the Stoke match but an extra week would have certainly helped them to prepare better and get their fitness levels up.

“We have everybody back. We had them in the squad for Stoke – Diaby, Fabregas, Van Persie. Fabianski too.

They have had one more week to prepare for this game and build up their fitness. That will have helped them of course.”

Apart from them, the ones who have been involved twice a week for the past couple of months will also have benefitted from this postponement.

On the other hand Vermaelen, Gibbs and Almunia are still out injured and won’t be back over Christmas.

“So overall we miss only Vermaelen, Almunia and Kieran Gibbs now. They will not be back in the short–term – over Christmas – but everybody else is available.”

The timeline that Wenger gave on Gibbs is that he will be back by early January.

On Vermaelen’s return, Wenger said that he will be back by late January. At the moment the signs are good from Vermaelen as he needs to build his match fitness. It will take about four weeks to get him fully match fit. Wenger is, righfully, being cautious with him as he already has had a lot of setbacks.

“I would rather say late January. He is short on fitness and we have to build it up. That will take three to four weeks. He has started now and the signs are good. But I have been hit so many times with backlash that I am very cautious with Vermaelen.

“However Gibbs should be available at the beginning of January.”

So, if all goes well we will have the whole squad back by the end of January, provided there are no new injuries, and hopefully till then we will remain near the top and continue with our title charge.

Arsenal vs Stoke preview: To hell with Barcelona, it’s Stoke + starting eleven

December 18, 2010

Most of you will be thinking about the Barcelona tie. I say to hell with them, we have more important matters at hand and we must focus our attention towards that. Its Stoke tomorrow, the return of the thugs led, none other than, by Ryan ‘not that kind of a guy’ Shawcross.

Much has been said on the Ramsey incident already and I won’t go into that. As for what the crowd does to Shawcross, I don’t care. What I care about is that we win by scoring plenty of goals. And incidentally we will go top again, and if Chelsea does their job we will stay there.  

As it is Stoke, expect lots of long throws, long balls, pushing, shoving, kicking, tackles and everything you can imagine to try and put us on the back foot.

To counter it, we would need our midfielders to support the defense every time the ball is with Stoke. The second ball is what we need protection against and the midfielders will come into play a lot tomorrow. If we can shut them out in the middle by keeping possession, they won’t be much of a threat then. Provided we score on the chances we get and keep it disciplined at the back, we will get the result.

As for the team, Djourou needs to start tomorrow. He has been excellent in the air and we will need that. To partner him I would go with Squillaci. Clichy has come under a lot of fire for his performance against Manu. As Desigunner proves it here and I agree that it was the lack of support on his flank that led to that side being exploited. And since there is no word on Gibbs yet, Clichy is going to start. Sagna to occupy the other flank.

The latest on Fabianski is that he is to undergo tests, in other words he won’t start. As a result Szczesny will be in goal. He was impressive against United; showing confidence, making saves and catching whatever went down his way. We will need the same type of performance as there will be plenty of long balls tomorrow.

In the middle, Fabregas needs to start as the match with Chelsea is next and we need him to get some playing time. Song and Wilshere to support him. Both of them will need to be alert by providing cover for the defenders properly.

Upfront, I feel it’s time now to give Van Persie a start. We need him to get his form back as it is vital for our campaign. To partner him, Nasri is a certainty to start. This leaves only one place and I can’t decide between Arshavin and Rosicky (although Arshavin is edging it at the moment).  Rosicky will offer us cover at the back while contributing upfront also. Arshavin on the other hand is a game changer and despite not playing well in the last match, will always be a danger.

And I have not forgotten Walcott. I believe that he offers us more when he comes on as a substitute. He along with Chamakh to start on the bench.

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

No predictions for tomorrow. However, I would love to see plenty of goals and a clean sheet.

Come on Gooners!! Let’s show Stoke how proper football is played!!

Player Ratings: Everton 1 – 2 Arsenal

November 15, 2010

Another away game and another massive result. Not a perfect game from us but again we showed the desire and determination to get the three points and the whole team delivered. Now twice in a row we have grinded out results despite not being at our best. On both occasions we have done enough. Just imagine what the results would be if we played in our best form. We just have to show consistency. Read the rest of this entry »