Arsenal vs Bolton: Preview and Starting Eleven

September 24, 2011

The win against Shrewsbury Town in midweek was a welcome change. It wasn’t unexpected but we did have few scares and I am glad that we came out with a win, no matter how unconvincing we were through some of the patches.

Fast forward and here we are up against Bolton at the Emirates. While we haven’t yet lost in other competitions, the start to the Premier League for us has been nothing short of a disaster. The league table is not a good sight at the moment for us; losing three games of the first five, conceding 14 goals in the process and sitting just outside the relegation zone. However, the important thing is we have to recover from here as we can’t let it get any worse. Today, we have another opportunity to get our momentum going. Hopefully, we will have a good response from the team.

Bolton like us hasn’t had a good start to this season. Winning just one of their first five games, they sit two places below us at 19. It isn’t a good place to sit and we can be down there ourselves if we don’t win today’s game against them (It does feel odd just to be one place out of the relegation zone) Anyways, Bolton won’t be pushovers as Wenger mentioned in his press conference. They are a good side; know how to play and how to mix things up. We will have to fight hard to get a result.

We have got some mixed injury news ahead of the game. While Sagna, Ramsey and Rosicky have made it into the squad, Benayoun is going to be missed for a week. The biggest blow, however, is the news of Wilshere to undergo a surgery this Monday which is going to rule him out for at least three months. Which means, he won’t be playing this year! Well, who saw that coming? Hands up if you did!

Anyhow, Wilshere was already out for this clash and we can’t really do anything about what’s happened. For today, we need to go out there and get a result. Nothing short of a win will be a disaster, if nothing else.

We made eleven changes in the game against Shrewsbury, so I expect another eleven changes to the team. I will go with another 4-4-2 formation. The backline will see the likes of Koscielny, Mertesacker, Sagna and Santos return. Wenger may start with Gibbs but I would prefer Santos over him because we need to get our first choice backline sorted.

In the middle, I would go with Arteta and Song flanked by Ramsey and Arshavin.

Upfront I will start with Walcott just in front of van Persie, in the central role, just as he has been asking Wenger to do all this year.

Szczesny will of course return in goal.

Probable starting eleven: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Santos, Ramsey. Arteta, Song, Arshavin, Walcott, RVP. (4-4-2)

If we, however, go with 4-3-3, replace Walcott with Gervinho and bring Walcott on later. At some point, I would also like ot see Chamberlain involved as he was on fire against Shrewsbury.

We need to take today’s game by the scruff. We have already crossed the limit of making mistakes and any more will blow us apart completely. The Blackburn game saw us having a good first half where our team looked liked finally stepping up. We were, however, brought down very quickly in the second half. We need to avoid that today. A game is played for 90 minutes and we need to give our best for the 90 minutes today.

I am worried about our defense though as we have not yet found the right solution to our problems back there. Even against Shrewsbury, we had some very scary moments. Today we need to really step up our game in defense in particular and all the other areas in general. Hopefully, the team won’t disappoint.

A win is a must as I said before or we are going to end up in the relegation zone by the end of this weekend.

While the manager has been talking about going for all trophies, for me it will be an achievement if we make it in the top four this season and end up wining any of the domestic cups. We are only going to make it there if we win our games. We cannot any more live on excuses.

What Wenger is saying here has really disappointed me. We still are making excuses for our start when in the first place it has been our own fault.

“I still believe we paid a very heavy price for the Udinese game, where we didn’t get any credit at all. Today, they are top of the league.

“We had to give absolutely everything at Dortmund and in the second half at Blackburn you could see that. Our start of the season was disturbed by the transfers and by the fact that we had to qualify for the Champions League. We lost a lot of energy in these games.”

Any ways, we need to concentrate on the game and not think too much about what should have happened. Enjoy the game form where ever you watch and keep your fingers crossed. We will hopefully win today!


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.


Blackburn 4 – 3 Arsenal: Thoughts and Player Ratings

September 17, 2011

It is very hard to write something about a game that seems all too familiar now. Hours have passed since it ended and it is still painful and embarrassing. I thought I had the worst of it against Manu but this is in the same league.

What’s the count for us now in giving away leads after yet another farce? Starting from the season before last, it has now become a norm for us to give away leads. We are hardly over one loss when Arsenal ends up with yet another show of comedies.

I don’t have it in me to go over what happened in the game. In a nut shell, we scored, we conceded, we scored again, we scored (this time at our own end), we conceded, we scored at our own end again! (By this time we had scored 4 goals and were losing by two goals), and then we realized we have to score against the opposition, but it was all too late.

In between all his, we squandered a lot chances either through bad finishing or selfish play. We played the best first half that we have played all this season, despite some bad moments, yet we turned up in the second half as if Blackburn were going to give us the win gift wrapped. Why Why Why do we always do this?

Highlights of the game were we again showed how inept we are at defending and how leads can be squandered away by simply switching off after the half time break. We again showed how easy it is to make the same mistakes because it is quite difficult to correct them. We again showed that our problem is not individuals but the system we play. Although the individuals do amplify all the problems.

I know I am being too negative but tell me what the point of staying positive is when every other game we are going to witness is like this!? Yes, we had a great result against Dortmund, yes, we had a good first half today, but then you don’t have a one-game-season and you don’t have a football game with only one half. You have to fight for the whole season; you have to fight for the whole 90 minutes to have something at the end of it. One great result, one great half doesn’t make a difference in the long run.

The saddest bit is that we usually play like this at the end of the season, like we have done in the last couple of seasons. This time we are doing it from the start and if things are to continue like this, we are heading for a bottom half finish, forget the top four.

When will the team realize this is beyond me. As for Wenger, I am at a loss for words as to what has gone wrong with him. Why has he allowed the things to go wrong this much? Every defeat like this is going to be the final nails in his coffin. Or not!? Personally, I can’t seem to make up my mind on Wenger, one half of me wants him to stay and do well, and the other says his time is over. One thing is for sure, we need changes at the club, be it in the back room staff or the whole management, it should be done fast.

Looking ahead, I don’t see anything at the moment. It is going to take a season long time to finally get over this and that too if we end up in the top four.

I will now come to the player ratings:

Szczesny: (6) Made a couple of good saves but made a few school boy errors too like the one where he came forward in the first half and was caught in no man’s land. Wasn’t at fault for any of the goals, though, could have done better on the fourth.  

Sagna: (6) Going forward produced some good crosses. At the back was solid but did lose his man a couple of times. I hope the injury is not bad

Mertesacker:  (6) Can’t blame him for anything except for not putting the ball in the back of the net in injury time late on. We knew he was slow when we bought him! It is more of a fault with the way we defend.

Koscielny: (4) He produces a game like this every now and then which highlights the problems we face as a team. Nothing went for him today and he ended up with an own goal. Unlucky or incompetent you decide!

Santos: (5) Wasn’t the start I expected from him. If I had my way, I would not have started with him in this game. At fault for the first goal and not good with his positioning. Although his crosses late on in the game were great, defensive stability is what we need right now and he didn’t provide that today.

Ramsey: (6) Surprised to see him start today. Looked lively while going forward and was involved a lot. Produced a great assist for Arteta’s goal. Disappeared in the second half like most of our players did.

Arteta: (6) Opened his Arsenal account with a good finish. Was at the heart of every good thing in the first half. However, he needs to do much more as he was nowhere in the second half.

Song: (6) As I said in my preview that his ability to pick a pass can be useful. He proved it today with his assist on the first goal and started the move that led to the second. A great first half from him but in the second had the complete opposite. Was in the wrong place at the wrong time when he scored that own goal. Should have also done better on the fourth and rightly substituted later in the game.

Arshavin: (6) Looked lively and had a couple of good shots on goal. Created a few openings but it was his needless foul that led to the second Blackburn equalizer. Needs to do more in terms of creating opportunities and improve his finishing which has gone way off.

RVP: (6) He needs to be passed the ball if we want him to score. Had a couple of shots from tight positions late on that were saved and provided the assist for the third goal. Otherwise he wasn’t given the support required.

Gervinho: (6) Scored a good first goal and looked dangerous throughout the match. However, was frustrating at the same time with his selfishness and bad decision making. He needs to learn that the team is more important than individual goals. Needs to learn when to pass and when to go for goal.  Had he found van Persie late on in the first half, things might have been different.

Subs:

Djourou: (2.5) Don’t have anything to say about him as he has forgotten how to play football. Is it his entire fault!? Wenger will know the answer to this!

Walcott: (6) Produced some excellent crosses but then again we don’t attack the ball. Can’t blame him.

Chamakh: (6) It was a welcome change that he found the net with his head today. Should have scored another but really can’t blame him for the dropped points.

 


Blackburn vs Arsenal: Preview and Starting Eleven

September 17, 2011

Last weekend we won our first league game of the season. A week later, that included travelling to Germany and back, we are here this Saturday away at Blackburn and considering the past games, Ewood Park is a very difficult to place to go and get results. Even without Sam Alardyce, we can be sure of one thing that it will be a tough game and entirely different from what we faced against Dortmund.

The timing of the game is, however, perfect. Blackburn, like us, is going through a very bad patch of results having won no game in the last four. They will be low on confidence but at the same time desperate to get points. We can exploit this to our advantage. While the past Blackburn sides have relied more heavily on long balls and the typical English football style, this side has added quick attacking football that relies more on technical skills to their game too. They still have a very strong defense and when the need arises can mount very fast counter attacks.

It won’t be an easy game, but I do expect us to get the maximum points. The timing of the game is also great as we have an opportunity to cut the gap at the top of the table with Liverpool playing against Spurs and Man United up against Chelsea. Wenger knows this as he spoke to the official Arsenal site that big games will have an impact on the title race.

“Of course, they will have an impact at the end of the season. Both teams are lucky because they play against someone who has also played in the Champions League. I believe Chelsea have a little advantage having 24 hours more rest but Manchester United have such a big squad now.”

These game will benefit those who take the initiative and today we have one such chance.

In terms of injuries, we have nothing new from the Dortmund game, if I am not wrong. Ramsey has a chance to return to the team but I am not holding my breath over it. Song and Gervinho will return to the Premier League after sitting out the last three games due to suspension. They were really missed in those games as it was evident from their performance during midweek. I am not sure what has happened to Rosicky’s knee injury though as he was supposed to be back by last game.

I don’t see many changes from the team that was out against Dortmund on Tuesday. The backline is most likely to remain same. This back line has given us a win, a draw and one clean sheet already and it does look good. We still have a few problems but I hope they will be solved in time. It would be a surprise for me if Wenger starts with Santos in place of Gibbs though.

In the middle too, I will put up the same trio because these are the games where we need the team to integrate both in attack and defense. I also won’t start with Frimpong because that will be too defensive and today is a game that we can only win by being on the attack. Also Benayoun will have his use while we go on the offensive.

Upfront, however, I will bring in Arshavin in place of Theo Walcott as he had a rest in midweek to partner Gervinho and van Persie. Arshavin had a great game last weekend and I am hoping for a similar performance from him. Walcott despite producing a good assist is not making full use of his pace while starting, and therefore, he will be more of an asset when brought late on today.

Probable starting eleven: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Benayoun, Arteta, Song, Gervinho, RVP, Arshavin

For me, today, one of the important players is Mertesacker for his height and positioning. If Blackburn decide to use the aerial route and set pieces, his height will come in handy. To counter the pace of Blackburn, we will have to use Koscielny’s ability to close down players. For this to work, communication among both the centre backs will be vital. Gibbs will have to make sure that he doesn’t leave his flank exposed. His decisions will have to be spot on as when to make a run forward and when to hold the line.

Alex Song as usual will be vital to our play. He will have to stay close to the defense when we are under attack. While moving forward, he has the ability to pick out a delightful pass and this can come in useful today in opening the Blackburn backline.

To win this game, goals will have to be scored. Last two games we have scored a goal each. Today we will need more than a goal. We will certainly get more time on the ball today and it will have to be properly utilized to create chances. Arteta, Benayoun and Arshavin will have to work out some creative moves to break down Blackburn as they have a very sound defense. They only need to land the ball at van Persie and Gervinho’s feet in scoring positions; the rest will be done by them.

As far as the result is concerned, I am looking forward to a win which is the only good result for today. A draw for me is not acceptable and I cannot take another loss to be frank. I know it will be a tough game, but we have the team that can get a win against them. Anything less will be disappointing for me. We need to build a momentum now and these games can be the springboard for us before we face Spurs and the men in blue.   

That is all for now, enjoy the game and keep your fingers crossed. Have a good day!


Arsenal vs Swansea: Preview and Starting Eleven

September 10, 2011

So after a draw, two losses, countless red cards and injuries, frantic last two days in the transfer window and the ever boring international break, we are here, almost a month later since the inception of the season for a fresh start. We are up against Swansea at home and I am already feeling the excitement of today’s game.

International breaks are never a welcome thing, however, this one did came at the right time for us. We needed a break after the thrashing at Old Trafford and our new signings needed time to get acquainted with the team. How will they gel in with the team on the field particularly and the English football in general will be somewhat answered today.  Most of our players (old and new) had some great international games, scoring lots of goals though. Hopefully, they will repeat that today against Swansea.

On the injury front, we have not made much progress though. We have Gibbs back from his injury (hopefully he won’t go out injured today). Otherwise, we have lost Vermaelen for a month, Wilshere for up to two or may be more, Squillaci is still having a calf injury and Diaby is as usual enjoying time on the side lines. Miyaichi and Rosicky have joined them for short durations and will hopefully return in midweek.

I am glad though that Frimpong is back and that we were able to sign five players in the final two days. Otherwise we would still be stretched in the middle and at the back. With Arteta, Benayoun, Mertesacker, Santos and Park, we have plenty of options to start with today.

We do need a win (for a change) but if we do it by a margin, it will really set the right tone to our miserable start. However, we shouldn’t be complacent under any circumstances. We have a perfect opportunity to bounce back from the awful start, so, let’s take it with a bang. I know we will have a few new bodies out there, but I am expecting them to give a great performance to send the right message out to the masses.  

As far as the starting eleven is concerned, it will be interesting to see who Wenger opts to start with. Based on the team news, it is quite obvious that we will see a backline of Sagna, Koscielny, Mertesacker and Gibbs. Andre Santos is in the squad but lacking match fitness and knowing Wenger, he won’t start with him. We might though see him later in the game. As for Mertesacker, I am really looking forward to see how he partners with Koscielny.

In the middle, Frimpong will have to start in the holding role behind Arteta and Ramsey. I won’t be surprised if Benayoun deputizes for Ramsey but I have a feeling Wenger won’t start with him today.

Robin van Persie is sure to start up front flanked by Walcott and Arshavin. I am tempted to start with Benayoun in Arshavin place though. Park is another option to start with but I am not sure how he will respond to playing on the wings. Seeing his international goals, he does get into some good scoring positions and is not afraid to have a shot on goal. To properly utilize Park we will need to change our formation and I am certain on one thing that it won’t happen today.

Probable starting eleven: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Arteta, Frimpong, Ramsey, Walcott, RVP, Arshavin

With this team, we still will have a bench of Benayoun, Park, Chamberlain, Djourou, Santos, Fabianski and Chamakh with quite a few suspended and out injured. It does feel good to have options after failing to put out an experienced team in the opening three games. However, lots of work still needs to be done. We have got our numbers up and we have got some quality and experience in the team, but we will need to show it on the field by giving results.

As I said before, we have been given the best opprtunity and we need to give the perfect response.  

Here it is to a great win today, a first of many to follow. To all the Gooners who will be at The Emirates, be loud and vocal in your support, the team will need it today.

Enjoy the game and have a good day!

 


Benayoun on loan to Arsenal and Arteta also close to signing!? Mertesacker to wear No. 4 shirt

August 31, 2011

After announcing earlier that Per Mertesacker deal was pending formal completion, Arsenal has now officially announced that the deal is completed. He will wear the number 4 shirt.

Arsene Wenger on signing him said:

“We are delighted to welcome Per Mertesacker to the Club. He is a German international with vast experience and strength and is good on the floor and in the air. I believe he will be well-suited to the Premier League and a tremendous asset to the team.”

Mertesacker, on completing his move, said:

“I had a great time at SV Werder Bremen and I’m grateful to the club. Moving to London enables me to fulfil a dream and a further step in my career. The Premier League has always represented a great challenge for me.”

And in a major development, talks with Arteta have started again according to Skysports. In a major twist in our favor, Arteta is now only a few minutes from signing for Arsenal.

It is being reported that the deal is agreed and only wages and personal stuff is to be decided. Arteta himself is pushing in for the move. Which means this deal is well and truly done!

This comes on the back of Benayoun talks, on whom the latest report is we have signed him on a season long loan.

Stay tuned as the confirmation comes in!

Update: It is now confirmed that Benayoun has signed for us. This is what the player tweeted just a few minutes ago:

“I sign with arsenal,very happy and excited about it,but now my head is only in the game against grecce on friday,thanks for the support.”


Arsenal officially announce the signing of Andre Santos and Per Mertesacker!

August 31, 2011

After unveiling Park, Arsenal has now officially announced the signing of Andre Santos from Fenerbahce. Santos has joined on a long term contract. He will be wearing the number 11 shirt at Arsenal and have A.Santos on the back of his shirt.

Arsene Wenger, on signing him, said

“Santos is a quality player, with the ability to both defend well and get forward and help with attacks. He has experience in the Champions League and for Brazil and has proven he can deliver at the highest level. We welcome Santos to the Club and look forward to him having a big impact for us.”

Santos, himself after completing the move, said

“I am delighted to have signed for Arsenal. It was one of my dreams to play for a major European football club and I have accomplished this. I am very happy to be part of this team. All the Brazilians who came to this club spoke wonders about it and I am delighted to be part of the Arsenal family.”

You can see some of his pictures here.

Following Santos, Arsenal also announced Per Mertesacker’s signing. He will complete the move from Werder Bremen which is pending completion of formal registration processes.

 

More to follow