Wenger’s injury update ahead of Bolton: Ramsey, Sagna and Rosicky back, Benayoun out!

September 24, 2011

Arsenal host Bolton today at The Emirates after the midweek win against Shrewsbury in the Carling Cup. Arsene Wenger gave the latest injury update ahead of the game on Friday.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, the manager gave positive news on Aaron Ramsey and Bacary Sagna’s scheduled tests. Both passed their tests and are included in the squad to face Bolton. Tomas Rosicky, who has been out since the International break, is also back in the squad.

Meanwhile, Yossi Benayoun who scored his first goal for Arsenal on Tuesday will be out at least for a week with a thigh strain. Johan Djourou will join him on the sidelines with a hamstring problem.

Both of them will be missing today’s game plus the midweek clash in the Champions League against Olympiacos. They have an outside chance against Tottenham next week.

Arsene Wenger on Friday, said:

“[Tomas] Rosicky is back in the squad. [Bacary] Sagna and [Aaron] Ramsey had positive tests this morning, so overall it is alright.

[Yossi] Benayou has a thigh strain and [Johan] Djourou has a hamstring [problem]. Both of them are very minor muscular problems.

They could play with a risk of making it worse. But we will not take the gamble. As I told you, we only play players when they are 100 per cent.

Both of them are out with muscular problems in the short term. One week so Bolton and Olympiacos for sure. They have an outside chance to play against Tottenham”

 


Arsene Wenger’s injury update: Rosicky, Djourou and Traore back, Wilshere has a setback

August 24, 2011

Arsenal are set to face Udinese today for the important second leg of the Champions League play-off, that is going to decide which team ends up in the group stages. Arsene Wenger on Tuesday gave the latest team news.

Speaking ahead of the game, Arsene Wenger revealed that Rosicky has been picked for selection in the squad; however, whether he will start is not yet confirmed. Djourou and Traore are also returning to the squad after recovering from their respective injuries.

Alex Song, Frimpong and Gervinho are back from suspension for the game.  Van Persie is also available who missed the first leg due to suspension.

On an update on Jack Wilshere, the manager informed he has suffered a setback and will not be available for at least two to three weeks.

As for Laurent Koscielny, he has a chance to be fit for Manchester United but he won’t be available today.

Arsene Wenger, on Tuesday, said:

“[Tomas] Rosicky is in the squad, he’s available, he had a test this [Tuesday] morning. We don’t know whether he will be fit to start but he is in the squad. Djourou and Traore are back as well. Alex Song and Gervinho are back from suspension. Robin van Persie and Emmanuel Frimpong are available too.

Unfortunately [Jack] Wilshere is not ready so that is bad news for us and adds to the players we miss with transfers and some through injuries. Of course at the moment the squad is short.

I don’t know if we are back to square one or for how long he [ Jack Wilshere] will be out. He’s in a boot again, so that means he will at least be out for two or three weeks.

[Laurent] Koscielny is out but he has a chance to be fit to face Manchester United.”

Squad to face Udinese:

Wojciech Szczesny
Lukasz Fabianski
Carl Jenkinson
Bacary Sagna
Thomas Vermaelen
Johan Djourou
Armand Traore
Ignasi Miquel
Andrey Arshavin
Emmanuel Frimpong
Gervinho
Aaron Ramsey
Alex Song
Theo Walcott
Tomas Rosicky
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Marouane Chamakh
Robin van Persie


Arsenal vs Liverpool: Preview and Starting Eleven

August 20, 2011

So, onto the second League game, the first at home for us and it’s against none other than the revitalzed Liverpool.

With no Gervinho, no Song, no Wilshere, no Gibbs, no Djourou, no Rosicky and no Diaby (when was the last time he played?!) you start thinking that this game is over before it even kicks off. However, no need to be alarmed, you may if it do you any good, as we have Miyaichi, Jenkinson, Frimpong and Nasri (might be his last game for us before he departs) available to replace all of the above.

While Liverpool may have Suarez, Carroll, Adam and Downing, they also have Carragher, Enrique and Flanagan.  The Scousers might be favorites to edge this one out but they won’t have it easy themselves, unless we make it for them.

This will surely be a game where one team exploits the others weaknesses and comes out on top. At the moment, we are losing the battle in terms to having more problems. However, games are not decided on paper and the team that best utilizes its resources on the field may get the maximum today.

For us, the biggest problem today will be to find the right starting eleven. With having so few options due to injuries and suspension, one wonders what Wenger will be going through right now!

Who will play in the centre? Who will be at left back? Who will start on the wings? Are just a few questions every Gooner will be thinking about.

If I have my way, I will go with Vermaelen, Koscielny, Sagna and Jenkinson at the back.

In the middle I will go with Frimpong to do the job of Song. He will be partnered by Ramsey. The central role I will give to Nasri. Playing Nasri might not go down well with some of you, I also don’t like it, but at the moment we need to use all our options. Nasri prefers the central position and I am more than certain he will give his best. Not because he will want to stay but because he would want to show the world he still can play. (And if he doesn’t perform, we will have more reason to hate him, when he does leave)  

Upfront, van Persie will of course lead the line and on the flanks I will go with Walcott and Arshavin. Bringing on Miyaichi and Oxlade Chamberlain later in the game to terrorize Liverpool’s fullbacks further.

Probable starting eleven: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Jenkinson, Ramsey, Nasri, Frimpong, Walcott, Van Persie, Arshavin

What we have witnessed in the last two games is missing the creative spark in the middle. With Nasri we can solve some of the problem today. If he, Arshavin and van Persie can combine well, we will have some good openings. And with Walcott and Ramsey, I am confident we can have a game on our hands. We will need to exploit their full backs by using our pace on the wings as it is their week area too. With quick passing and movement we can catch them by surprise. Chances might be few for us, so, whatever comes up will need to be taken.

At the back, Jenkinson will need proper cover as he wasn’t comfortable back there against Udinese. And against Liverpool he is in for a much difficult time. To counter, I will keep Frimpong close to him and ask him not to venture forward unnecessarily. Vermaelen too will need to provide him support. The midfield will have to stay close to the defense when under attack.

Liverpool, we know, will use the pace and skill of Suarez, the height of Carroll and the intelligence of Adam in the midfield to expose our backline. We may have kept a clean sheet in our last two games but today will be the first real test of our defense, even though it is a makeshift one. So, we will need to put in more of the good stuff today.

As far as the result is concerned, a win will really make my day; however, I won’t mind a draw under the circumstances. A loss will be bad but not a disaster and it may prove a blessing a disguise, as it will surely make Wenger realize this squad needs players. ( I hope it doesn’t come to this)

Before I conclude, I want to add that if Nasri does start for us, we will have to keep our feelings towards him in check for the duration of the game as he will be out there to help us win the game. And unsettling him during the game will not help us much. Not an ideal situation but we will have to go with it.

Keep your fingers crossed and enjoy the game. Have a good day!

 


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.”

 


Gibbs and Djourou join the injured! Vela and Botelho off on loan, Song suspended for three games

August 17, 2011

Arsenal played the first leg of the Champions League play off last night and ended up taking a slender lead into the second leg.

In terms of injuries, however, Arsenal are two more players down.

First off, left back, Kieran Gibbs, got off injured. He was having a decent game before he was substituted in the half time break.

Djourou,who came on for Gibbs after the break with Vermaelen going at left back, himself got off injured ten minutes later. Djourou produced one crucial block during his time on the field before he was replaced by Jenkinson.

After the game, official Arsenal site released this statement (later taken down):

“Kieran Gibbs and Johan Djourou both picked up minor hamstring problems during Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Udinese on Tuesday night. Gibbs was replaced by Djourou at half time and the Swiss defender was in turn replaced by Carl Jenkinson 10 minutes later. Both players could miss Saturday’s game against Liverpool.”

Arsenal official twitter account tweeted this:

INJURY NEWS: Gibbs and Djourou have minor hamstring problems and could miss Saturday’s game against Liverpool

With Traore already injured, during the reserve game against United, we are left with no left backs and only three first team defenders. Jenkinson filled in at left back last night and he wasn’t comfortable back there. The big question now is who are we going to see in defense against Liverpool? Wenger will certainly have to make some tough decisions! I shudder even at the thought of losing one of Vermaelen or Koscielny now.

In transfer news, last night, Arsenal announced that Carlos Vela and Pedro Botelho are going to spend the 2011/2012 season on loan in Spain.

Vela will join Real Socieded, he was unveiled today. Botelho will join Rayo Vallecano.

Although, I would have loved to see Vela play for us this season, I have to admit this loan move is the best option for him to play regular football. He has the talent and in my opinion he hasn’t been given a fair chance at Arsenal to show that. Spanish game will suit him better and will polish his skills further. Maybe, next year he will play for us. The only concern is he might not return as these loan moves usually turn out to be permanent transfers in the end.

Apart from this, Alex Song is going to serve a three match ban, starting from the Liverpool game, after he accepted the FA charge. He was charged with violent conduct after the game against Newcastle United for stamping on Joey Barton.

The FA statement on the official Arsenal site said:

Arsenal’s Alex Song will begin a three-match suspension with immediate effect after he accepted a charge of violent conduct. Song was charged following an incident during Arsenal’s fixture at Newcastle United on Saturday, August 13.

This is further bad news for us because our claim for Gevinho’s red card has already been rejected. And seeing how Song performed yesterday, he is going to be missed dearly in the next three league games. He will, however, be available for the second leg against Udinese.

With players going down left and right for Arsenal through suspension and injuries, it looks to be a tough two weeks for us. With this pace, I am afraid by the end of this month, we won’t have a first team to field. I hope this makes Wenger realise that our squad is not big enough as he is claiming.

 


Arsenal 1 – 0 Udinese: Thoughts and Player Ratings

August 17, 2011

WOW! That was a massive win which is only going to improve the confidence of the team.

This is what happened; We started off positively, got the early goal, looked dangerous, Udinese replied with Di Natale hitting the cross bar, we tried again, were caught on the counter, Szczesny and Song came to the rescue, half ended with Gibbs getting off injured. We started again, Koscielny misplaced a pass, Djourou came to the rescue, got off injured, Jenkinson came on, Udinese were threatening our goal as our team went missing, Walcott missed a chance, we brought on Frimpong, Song rescued us again at the back, stoppage time started, Gervinho released Walcott again, their keeper produced an excellent save. The game ended with us having a goal advantage going into the second leg.

Overall, it was again a performance we can be proud of under the circumstances.  But we don’t have to get carried away. We were good in patches only and not entirely convincing. Our squad is, though, seriously lacking players. A presence of a quality midfielder was also felt as Rosicky and Ramsey are clearly not there yet. We didn’t build on the first goal and slowly went missing allowing Udinese chances to get into the game. It reminded me of the pre season games but thankfully we didn’t end up drawing or losing the game.

The first half was much better than the second for us. The second half rarely saw us having a shot on goal except near the end. Questions will be asked of the defense and midfield as we gave lots of room to Udinese and it won’t be wrong to assume, had the opponent been some better team, the outcome would have been different.

The positives from the game are many. We achieved our objectives which matters the most! We kept another clean sheet. Szczesny, for one, is going to be a great number one for us for years to come. The partnership of Vermaelen and Koscielny is improving every game. Frimpong is going to be a big player. Walcott is gaining his form and confidence back. Song is a beast in the middle.

The only negative from the game are the injuries to Gibbs and Djourou. I hope they recover quickly.

Before I move onto player ratings, I want to categorically add that we do need signings. This team is good, still, not enough to challenge for the title. With the right tools added, this team can be great and we can surprise many. I just hope Wenger gives this team what it deserves!

Coming to player ratings

Szczesny: (7) One word to describe his performance, splendid! Commanded his area with authority and produced great saves whenever called upon, especially the one-on-one in the first half was brilliant. His positioning on the first free kick from De Natale was disappointing but he will learn with time.

Sagna: (7) Defensively was great bar one horrible mistake in the first half that led to Szczesny and Song saving the day.

Koscielny and Vermaelen: (6.5/6.5) As said above, their partnership is improving game by game. They both complement each other. Koscielny really impressed me bar a couple of misplaced passes. The first half hour was where he was contributing all over the pitch. Always kept his man in check and his ability to close down players is very good. Vermaelen did his part and led the team well.

Gibbs: (6) Till the time he was on, did his job well. His defending though still needs lots of improvement, as one of his clearances in the first half was very poor. His injury is what concerns me. I hope he returns soon.

Song: (7.5) He was immense last night and I am afraid, he is going to be missed in the next 3 EPL games. He got us out of at least three goal conceding occasions.

Rosicky: (5.5) He gives his all in the centre but still is not enough. He disappeared again in the second half and was substituted at the right time as he looked tired. We need a creative midfielder ASAP!

Ramsey: (6) He is more comfortable while going forward and last night produced an assist for the first goal. Did give away the ball on a few occasions and he needs to overcome this habit of his. And as I said last time, needs to improve his work rate.

Walcott: (7.5) He was amazing. Got the goal, was a continuous threat and his movement with and without the ball was great. Missed one great chance in the second half though, when he scuffed his chip. Gutted he didn’t get the second goal.

Chamakh: (3.5) At one point in the game, I was furious at him for slowing our passing and game. He is seriously lacking confidence. Did well in defense and linking up play though. We need more in front of goal from him and needs to come out of the shell he has retreated into.

Gervinho: (5.5) Again he showed his pace and movement with the ball. However, still frustrating with his final ball.  Lost the ball on more than a few occasions. Managed to produce a great run in the second half and one great ball for Walcott, who was denied by the keeper.

Subs:

Djourou: (6.5) His partnership with Koscielny didn’t look as strong as Vermaelen/ Koscielny. In the time he was on, produced one vital block to deny Udinese an open goal. It is a shame that he got off injured.

Jenkinson: (6) Didn’t look comfortable on the left but kept things simple and did the job. Was beaten a couple of times but shouldn’t be judged on that.

Frimpong: (6) Did give a couple of free kicks in quick succession when he came on. Once settled, showed his ability. He has pace and isn’t afraid to make a tackle. Made an interesting run down the left using his pace, later in the second half, which got me out of my seat.


Newcastle 0 – 0 Arsenal: Thoughts and Player Ratings

August 14, 2011

Just like last season’s opener, Arsenal started the new EPL season with a draw and going a man down.

I missed the first 38 minutes of the game, for the first time in a very long time I missed some part of a season opening game. Even so, I didn’t miss much in terms of action. Apart from the theatrics of Joey Barton, which I will discuss later, it was a forgetful game that had nothing to offer in terms of quality in attack from both sides. Newcastle failed to threaten us throughout the game despite using lots of aerial balls. Szczesny was merely a spectator.

As far as Arsenal is concerned, it was an overall decent performance. In defense we performed exceptionally well and more than what I was expecting. We were first to almost all the aerial balls and cleared away the dangers early. The midfield also provided great support, especially Song. The back four plus the midfield deserve credit for such a sound defensive performance. Still we should not to get carried away as we will need to maintain this standard throughout the season.

On the other hand, offensively we were rather ordinary. We did have lots of possession but failed to create clear cut openings. What we did create were not taken. We lacked ideas in the middle and failed to maintain a high pace to our passing. The flanks weren’t properly used and the finals balls were clearly lacking quality.

Coming to the sending off of Gervinho and Barton’s disgraceful conduct. Do I don’t need to narrate the incident!? In short Gervinho went down in the box, Joey c**t Barton lost his temper, dragged Gervinho up aggressively using his shirt and then went down clutching his face as if struck by a bullet in the resulting fracas of players. The replays showed that Gervinho hand did touch Barton on the face when trying to get away from his clutches and other Newcastle players.

The referee, who I am sure didn’t see the incident then somehow made the stupidest decision in football that I have ever seen, now a standard in EPL. He sent off Gervinho and only gave a yellow to the instigator, Barton. I was dumbstruck at what had happened. It was either a red to both or a yellow, just like Arsene said after the game. It was never a red to one a yellow to the culprit.  

I don’t want to say anything about Barton because you will always have players like him that don’t deserve to be on the pitch. As for Gervinho, he shouldn’t have reacted because that was what Barton wanted. Barton did it last season to us and he has done it again this season. Dealing with such players is only going to harm us. And this brings me to the point that we don’t learn from our mistakes.

As for Gervinho going down in the first place, the replays showed that he was clipped. Technically that should have been a penalty. However, I don’t want to see players going down this easily. I hate this when other players do it so it is not acceptable for one our players to do the same.

As for the Song stamp on Barton, I personally don’t want to see such incidents. Song should not have done it. He did get away with it in the game but we can lose him for three games if further action is taken on it.

Final Thoughts

Despite a decent performance, we need to improve a lot. We did miss Fabregas’ vision and we do need to replace him with someone who can do a job as well as him. The same is the case at the back.

I was again impressed by Gervinho. He sure has pace and he knows how to get away from defenders. He does need to improve his final ball and understanding with Van Persie though.

Rosicky, Arshavin and Ramsey need to take more responsibility and improve their work rate. Our game depends on quick passing and we certainly lacked that yesterday.

I was also glad to see Wenger making the right substitution at the right time. Bringing on Frimpong and Djourou near the end was necessary to end the game with a point.

We do need to control our emotions during the game as it can cost us in the long run. We are now going to face Manchester United and Liverpool without Gervinho and I hope not, Song.

A point away from home is good enough but, as I said before, we need to improve. We have to keep working hard as lots of work needs to be done still. A few more recruitment will really give us a boost.

Coming to player ratings

Szczesny: (6.5) Didn’t have much to do as Newcastle hardly had a shot on goal. Managed to catch and punch every ball that went down his way.

Koscielny: (8) Great performance from the Frenchman. Didn’t put a foot wrong. Read the game nicely and was always early to the ball and cleared the danger. Was also good in the air and covered well for Vermaelen.

Vermaelen: (7.5) Overall a good game for him but still needs time to get back to his best. Lost his man a couple of times and missed a few headers. Otherwise didn’t give space to the Newcastle forwards.

Sagna: (7) Solid performance as usual. Was caught napping on one occasion in the second half and still needs to improve his crossing.

Gibbs: (7) He also performed well and more than my expectations. Was always ready to attack and defensively showed composure. He was outsmarted a couple of times quite easily though. Needs to improve his positioning.

Song: (7) Another one who put on a great show. Shielded the defense well and was always pressing. Moving forward he produced one great ball in the second half. The stamp on Barton was, however, uncalled for and needs to reduce the number fouls he commits.

Ramsey: (5) He had an on-and-off game. Gave away the ball in dangerous positions but his pressing was better. Needs to improve his stamina as he looked tired near the end.

Rosicky: (5.5) His movement with the ball was good and looked lively but lacked the killer pass and then he disappeared near the end. Needs to take more responsibility and improve his work rate.

Arshavin: (6) He looked lively from where  I started watching the game but then became anonymous. Produced a great ball in the dying minutes of the first half. He too needs to increase his work rate and take more responsibility.  

Van Persie: (6) Was missing his killer touch in front of goal, should have scored on Arshavin’s pass. Was good on the free kick and provided good support in defense.

Gervinho: (6.5) Produced an impressive performance, not taking into account the red card. Showed his pace and skill with the ball. He was a continuous threat on the flanks but his final pass needs improvement as said above.

Subs:

Walcott (6) looked rusty and missed one of the better chances to score. Frimpong (6) came in and provided good support in the middle. Djourou (no rating), despite coming in stoppage had, had an opportunity to make an impact, was let down by his pass.