Arsenal vs Manchester United: Preview and Starting Eleven

May 1, 2011

Approaching today’s game would have been so different and wonderful had we won the Carling Cup final and the last 6 Premier League games. Now, it is only a game where we need a win to at least finish third and in the process make the title race interesting for some more weeks. Sadly we won’t be involved! The game which should have been the title decider (in a way it still is if Manu wins) is now only a game to restore our pride.

If you take a look at the league table, Man city are in a very good position to finish third provided they win all their remaining games and we lose even one of ours. Not likely to happen but we can be in serious trouble if we don’t perform in any of our remaining games.

To be honest, my heart is saying that we will win this one because we always perform when there is nothing nagging us in the back of our minds. We might have looked short on confidence in the last few games, but today, I feel we will get the response from the team, which should have come after the Carling Cup final defeat.

Manchester United, on the other hand, are looking quite strong. They, for one, have a much better defense than the likes of Bolton, Blackburn and Sunderland and are better equipped in attack. It will be difficult to score as well as difficult to defend. The devils approach will be simple. They will get bodies behind the ball and score on the counter using the speed of Nani and Rooney. And they do know how to finish clinically. They will have no problem in defending all day and score a poachers goal. They have done it before and they will do this again.

We will have to be intelligent in our play. Draw them out of their half and then exploit the gaps using Walcott’s pace. Keep things simple. Make sure that mistakes are’t made becaue United will be waiting to pounce on it. One thing is for sure, we will have to give a massive performance if we want to take the three points.

Arsenal! Remember how you beat  Chelsea, City and Barcelona and forget what has happened in the last month.

As far as the starting eleven is concerned, there is nothing much to choose from. The same team that featured against Bolton is on the cards again.

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

I am tempted to start with Arshavin, if he can give a performance to remember and therefore shut the mouths of those who want him to be sold.

I hope Fabregas has his mind on the game as there have been reports of a break up between him and his girlfriend.

Arsene Wenger in his pre-match press conference talked about the frustrations and disappointments of this season and how the top four spot is not yet confirmed and how the focus is to win our games. He said: 

“We have to watch that. I am convinced that is not done. Even being in the top four is not done. We have to fight like mad. It is not a massive concern maybe because if Tottenham come up then Manchester City or Chelsea drop as they all play each other. But our focus has to be to win our games.” 

I hope the players focus on their game and finishing third or possibly second and not on what Tottenham and City and Chelsea are doing. 

That is all for now as there is nothing else to discuss. Enjoy the game and have a good time. Looking forward to a good game!!


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.”


Ipswich Town vs Arsenal: Preview and Starting Eleven

January 11, 2011

After barely surviving in the FA Cup on Saturday, we are up against Ipswich Town in the Carling Cup semifinal tomorrow.

I don’t know much about Ipswich’s team. Only that their dismal performance in the Championship has led to the sacking of their coach Roy Keane and since then they have been thrashed by Chelsea in the FA Cup. But as this is the semifinal of the Carling Cup, they will be a changed team and this can be tricky match. They will no doubt fancy their chances over two legs and try and get something from their home game.

Still, as always, I expect us to win this without much fuss, provided we don’t play like we did against Leeds.

The starting eleven for tomorrow is again going to be a hard decision for Wenger. With three games in seven days coming up, rotation will be a key part of it. And as the semifinal is spread over two legs, I believe a team similar to what we saw against Leeds will be put out.

With Squillaci joining the injured players and Vermaelen yet to return, the choice for centre backs is very limited. Koscielny for me is a sure starter. Djouroru I feel won’t be risked as there is a League match at the weekend. However, we can play Song back there and also give Ignasi Miquel a chance. I will prefer Song. On the flanks Eboue and Gibbs are going to start as Sagna is still suspended and Gibbs needs a run of games.

Szczesny is a sure starter with Wenger already confirming it.

In middle I will go with Denilson and hopefully he will keep it simple and not disappoint. Rosicky should start again and Wilshere to partner him.

Up front it’s time that Wenger picks either Chamakh or Bendtner to start because both of them starting together haven’t helped us or either of them. For tomorrow, I will go with Chamakh. Arshavin hasn’t been performing well and has been highly criticized for his past few performances. Still, I would start with him so that he can get his confidence back. On the right I will start with Walcott or if he is rested then Vela will be the next best option.

Probable starting XI: Szczesny, Eboue, Koscielny, Song, Gibbs, Denilson, Rosicky, Wilshere, Walcott, Chamakh, Arshavin

Hopefully we will not have many problems tomorrow and maybe give Ramsey some playing time as he also needs to up his match fitness.

As far as the result is concerned, a win will be ideal. However, a draw or a draw plus away goal(s) won’t be bad.

Hopefully it won’t come to away goals and we will win both the fixtures and eventually the Carling Cup. Keep your fingers crossed!!


Arsene Wenger on drawing Barcelona in Champions League

December 18, 2010

Wenger nonchalantly predicted that we would get Barcelona in the round of 16; and we did get them. Most will be dreading the outcome, but in terms of football, it will be a masterpiece. We certainly will be the underdogs but let’s not forget we can beat anyone on our day. We have always been written off in such matches, remember AC Milan and Real Madrid, and we have always surprised the world. Let’s hope we put up a great show when the time comes as Wenger puts it very nicely that it will be difficult but possible.

All teams are difficult to play at this stage and Wenger wasn’t hoping for any particular team.  Although Schalke would have been an easier opposition in comparison to Barcelona, who, certainly are the favorites to win the Champions League.   

“My reaction is very simple – difficult but possible.

I didn’t want anybody really, in that all teams would have been difficult. You could have said that Schalke – a team with less history in the Champions League – would have been easier maybe. But the advantage is that we will be on our toes and we’ll be ready.

Barcelona are certainly the favourites [for the competition] and a famous team but, on their side, they did not want us either because they know they will get a game.”

With almost two months to the tie, Wenger said that he can’t say much on the match and how they will approach it. As far as the team is concerned they will be ready to face Barcelona when the time comes. At the moment Stoke is the priority for Wenger. Wenger although doesn’t have revenge on his minds as he only wants to qualify by knocking Barca out.

We have a realistic chance too as most of our injured players will be back to playing their best by then and we have done improvements in most areas from last year.

Wenger feels that the best possible way to beat them will be to build up confidence by doing well in the Premier League, Carling Cup and FA cup.

“Revenge is not on my mind. We want to qualify and we want to knock them out. So is it difficult? Yes. Is it possible? Yes.

I think we are better than last year and we have a good opportunity to show that. I won’t come out on [how we will make it a different game]. What is on my mind right now is Stoke tomorrow more than Barcelona.

We are in the middle of December and we play at the end of February. So there is a long way to go.

It is too early to speak about this game concretely. You can just speak about the draw. The whole context might be completely different in two months. We don’t know what we will do and how we will feel.

But the best way of going into that game with confidence is down to what we do from today until then. If we do well in the League, the FA Cup and the Carling Cup that will give us the best chance of knocking them out.”


Player ratings: Arsenal 2 – 0 Wigan

December 1, 2010

The match didn’t turn out to be difficult at all. Wigan were really poor as we made easy work of them without really getting out of second gear. The result although sends us into the semi finals of the Carling Cup which matters the most.

The performance as such wasn’t an eye catching one but the game had its moments. After a slow start we found our rhythm slowly and steadily. Van Persie, Vela and Wilshere produced some delightful balls yesterday. Had we been clinical in front of goal and had the ref seen two open handballs in the box we would have scored plenty of goals. A clean sheet is also a bonus.

The defencec overall was solid yesterday although they weren’t tested much. Eboue looked nervous but the other players helped him out. The midfield didn’t get a hold on the centre in the first half but had it controlled in the second. They helped out in the defence also. The forwards also had an on and off game. They missed plenty of chances but still there movement was good. Overall it was a satisfactory performance as there were  plenty of changes and most have not played many games.

Coming to player ratings:

Szczesny: He was a mere spectator yesterday. Did well when called upon. His distribution was also good 6.5

Eboue: Was not at ease against Moses and didn’t offer much going forward. 5.5

Djourou: He was excellent yesterday. Assisted Eboue a lot and never looked panicked. 7

Koscielny: Same as Djourou. Convincing performance and good in the air. Made some good interceptions and tackles. 7

Gibbs: Offensively contributed a lot. Defensively was okay barring a few mistakes. Need more games. 6.5

Denilson: Provided the balance yesterday. Kept the game ticking and linked the play nicely. He had some bad moments but worked hard. 7

Wilshere: Started slowly again and then made some excellent passes in the second half. An improved performance from last time. 7

Van Persie: Oh boy! I had forgotten what he can offer us. His vision, his movement, his eye for a pass and his execution were awesome. Still he is far from his best but what he did yesterday was a treat to watch. Needs game time and hopefully he will stay fit. 7.5

Walcott: Tried hard but yet again failed to make much of an impact. His crossing was not good at all although on set pieces he did better. His decision making was also not good. 6

Vela: If he had not missed the goals he would have had a perfect game. Still he was everywhere yesterday. Most of  the things happened through him and he never stopped despite missing the goals. Delivered some excellent balls upfront and even got an assist. 8  

Bendtner: Complete opposite of Vela. He was anonymous and poor in the first half. Somewhat improved in the second. He did score a goal though and that is important. Still needs to do a lot to prove his words. 6.5

Subs:

Nasri kept the ball moving. He did miss a scoring opportunity though. Eastmond did what was asked of him and JET had no time to impress. No ratings for them.

So as it stands, with Man Utd also kicked out of the tournament, Carling Cup is for ours to lose now. Hopefully we will win it, which will be the start of plenty trophies to come.


Arsenal vs Wigan preview: Will snow become a factor? and starting line up!

November 30, 2010

Tonight we face Wigan at home in the Carling Cup, if the heavy snow doesn’t lead to a postponement of match. Wigan is not doing well in the league but it is a Cup tie and anything can happen.

Wenger has already said that he will be fielding a strong team with some changes.

Therefore, for me Szczesny to start in goal in place of Fabianski. Not because Fabianski is not playing good but because Szczesny needs to play games. In defense as Squillaci is out so Djourou to return and Koscielny to retain his place. Eboue has recovered but I don’t see him playing. Therefore, Sagna to start on the right flank and Gibbs on the left to give rest to Clichy.

In midfield Nasri to take the central role as Rosicky has featured in the last two games and he will be needing rest. Wilshere needs to have a rest too so Song starts again with Denilson in the holding role.

Upfront Chamakh deserves a break so either of Van Persie or Bendtner to feature. Van Persie needs to get match fitness but I don’t see him starting. He may come on as a substitute. As for Bendtner, who hasn’t yet put words to action, he may get another chance to start. Walcott and Vela to start on the wings.

Probable team: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Djourou, Gibbs, Denilson, Nasri, Song, Walcott, Bendtner, Vela.

Notice that with seven changes, from the last starting XI, the team still looks strong as Wenger said.  

So it is another game at home. Today we have an opportunity to get back to winning ways at the Emirates. With our home record not good at all, Wigan will fancy a chance but I believe we will overcome them in style. But for that we would need to play with desire and conviction throughout the match.

I am expecting a win for us and if we can keep a clean sheet it would be good. I hope the team doesn’t show complacency today.  

The snow might become a factor today. The match may get cancelled or else the pitch will be very slippery if the match is played as scheduled. Extra efforts will be required to make things happen if it’s played in snow. Let’s hope that the weather doesn’t play a significant role today.

Thoughts!