Arsenal vs Sunderland: Preview and Starting Eleven

March 5, 2011

We are back in action today in the Premier League with Sunderland coming to our home. I know no one needs to be reminded but all the remaining fixtures from now on are of great importance and points dropped in any will be crucial in the end. And after Chelsea’s win, this game is where we just don’t have to drop points. The ball is in our court, it is up to us to take the initiative and capitalize on this opportunity to put pressure back on United, who travel to Liverpool on Sunday. We shouldn’t be looking too much ahead but if we win today’s game, we will only be a point behind United and hopefully top of the table by 20th of this month.

As far as today’s game is concerned, I expect a difficult match for us. Although, Sunderland haven’t been playing well recently but I believe them to up their game as they always do against top of the table teams. Now, most teams go for ‘park the bus’ approach against us at our home but today I don’t see Sunderland doing the same. They will go for the attack as they did earlier in the season against us (although it was after we went down to 10 men) and they certainly can cause damage with Asamoah Gyan upfront. They are also good in keeping things compact at the back and then cause damage on the counter as they did to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

However, it doesn’t matter how Sunderland approach the game because it all depends on how we play. If our start is good, Sunderland will certainly go on the defensive. On the contrary if it isn’t, Sunderland will grow in confidence and try and take their chances. So for us to get the maximum points, all our players will have to perform. Be it the defenders, the midfielders or the attackers, all of them will have to work hard for the 90 minutes. The other thing we have to ensure is that we don’t concede silly goals at the back. If Djourou and Koscielny start I don’t see many problems but our midfield will have to contribute a lot.

As far as the starting eleven is concerned, I expect all of our regulars to start after Arsene admitted that Premier League is the priority and all focus is on this game.

Szczesny along with Djourou, Clichy and Sagna will surely return. If Koscielny isn’t hundred percent only then Squillaci should be started and not because of Barcelona but because Koscielny will be required for the FA Cup Quarter final and any recurrence of his injury will leave us very depleted at the back. And I hope Szczesny and Koscielny have one hell of a good game.

In the middle with no Cesc and Song our possibilities are limited. I will go with Wilshere, Nasri and Diaby. In this setup, Wilshere will have to stay a lot deeper.   

Up front Arshavin will return. Bendtner deserves a start after his hat trick against Leyton and on the right I will keep Rosicky. Rosicky and Nasri can interchange if things are not going to plan.

Probable starting XI: Szczesny, Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy, Wilshere, Nasri, Diaby, Rosicky, Bendtner, Arshavin

As I said before that this game won’t be easy but I expect the three points. We can win this but as easily we can drop points if we are not focussed – I am as always gunning for a big win.

Aaron Ramsey may also feature today and I am looking forward to it. I hope he comes on for a few minutes after all this time being on the sidelines but it will only be possible if we have the game in control.

Have a great day Gooners and enjoy the match. Barcelona can wait for now as today we reduce the gap to one point from Manu. Go Arsenal go!!


A quick recap of our season so far

December 27, 2010

Almost half of the season is over and despite all the disappointing losses we are still up there and in all competitions. The losses have been really frustrating to say the least. I still believe that had we maintained our focus in the matches lost, we would have been running away with the title right now and in the Champions League we would have topped our group. Still all is not lost yet. More than half the season is yet to be played and if we play our best football, there can be no stopping us. Before heading forward here is a look at what we have done so far.

Premier league:

We started of the season by snatching an away draw against Liverpool. We followed it by some good away results including the win against Man City. In between, however, we lost frustratingly at home the games we would have won any other day. With a loss at Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge we are currently second in the league behind Manu. Man Utd are top with five points (they have won their match against Sunderland).

Played: 17, Won: 10, Lost: 5, Draw: 2, League position: 2

Champions league:

After winning the opening three games we went onto lose the next two and finished second in our group with a win in the final group match. We have been drawn against Barcelona in the next round.

Carling cup:

We are to face Ipswich Town in the semi final after overcoming Tottenham, Newcastle and Wigan.

And we are where we are despite having plenty of injuries. Slowly and gradually our injured players are returning and we can only hope we don’t suffer more injuries.

Now I am in no way saying that what we have done is enough or we don’t need to improve. There are some problems that we have to get right. The thing that is of concern is that the reason behind some of the losses has been some poor team defending at times. We have given away silly goals and at the other end we also haven’t been clinical at times. Sometimes complacency has been the reason. However, we still have scored plenty of goals and only four teams have conceded fewer goals than us in the league.  

The other thing is that our home form hasn’t been at par with our away record domestically. It is the opposite in Europe but I won’t go into that as we have a more realistic chance of winning trophies domestically (I am not writing us off against Barcelona). As Wenger said that our domestic form is going to be vital to our success in Europe.

What we need is to build on our positive performances from the first half, solve our problems and end the season with something worthwhile. And also our home form needs to improve exponentially. We have the opportunity to do it and it starts with tomorrow’s game against Chelski. This game can be the catalyst to our season. Deliver tomorrow and we can forget what has happened in the past and look with certainty towards the future. Fail to deliver and we go back to where we started.

A loss won’t end our title aspirations but it may deal a severe blow to our confidence. We have to get this label off of us that we can’t deliver against big teams. If we do it tomorrow i have no doubt that this season is going to be ours.

Let’s hope that it doesn’t turn out to be a disappointment. We have the team and the belief, we just need to deliver.


Positives + Negatives and Player Ratings

October 4, 2010

The match against Chelsea started with a lot of expectations and it ended with the same score line as last time. There was a marked difference between the two games though as we weren’t overpowered the same way and we showed lots of fighting spirit which was an improvement and good to see. Read the rest of this entry »


Chelsea 2 – 0 Arsenal:Match Report and Quick Analysis

October 3, 2010

Chelsea:  2 (Drogba 39, Alex 85)

Arsenal: 0

Well it was again a repeat of what has happened before.

We created more chances, we failed to convert them and Chelsea tore us apart on the counter.

It was Drogba again who broke the deadlock, it was again our defence who failed to deal with the counter attacks.

It was us again dancing in front of the goal with no end product, it was Chelsea again who capitalized on our weakness.

It was us again with more possession, but it was Chelsea who scored the goals.

It was us again giving too much space to Chelsea, and it was Chelsea who didn’t back away from it.

Well it’s turning into more of a rant now. Getting back to the match now. Read the rest of this entry »


Chelsea vs Arsenal: Patience and focus will do it

October 2, 2010

So the game on Sunday against Chelsea is upon us. We have just two wins out of the last 17 matches against them. The last two defeats will certainly be fresh in many Gooner’s mind. Still a win on Sunday will change that. We have the media, the recent history and pundits against us. Still we have the belief and the team, we only need patience and focus to dig out a result.

Read the rest of this entry »


Our team is better and we can beat Chelsea

October 1, 2010

As we are approaching the important game at the weekend, many anti-Arsenal folk have already sidelined us .As for me, I believe that we can beat them in their own backyard as we did two years ago but for that we need to play to our strengths and not get intimidated by them.

Read the rest of this entry »