Arsene Wenger: Nasri’s injury is a big blow, Squillaci’s red card was harsh

January 31, 2011

Last night Arsenal qualified for the 5th round of the FA Cup by beating Huddersfield Town but it came at the expense of Nasri’s injury and Squillaci getting suspended for three domestic games.

After the match, Wenger confirmed that Nasri is going to be out for at least two weeks due to a hamstring injury and admitted that it is a big blow at this stage of the season. He also confessed that he took a gamble in playing him ahead of Rosicky. He further added that losing players now, with so many games ahead, makes it difficult for the team overall.

With the knock out stages of the Champions League just round the corner, Wenger also admitted that there is a possibility that Nasri will go on to miss the match against Barcelona.

On Nasri’s injury,Wenger said:

“Nasri looks to have a serious hamstring injury. Usually it is three weeks [out], we have to see if it is a Grade One [strain] because that can be two [weeks]. It is a big blow, how big I do not know because the results in the future will tell, but it is a big blow. Put three weeks to today’s game and you will know [if he misses the Barcelona game]. I think yes.

I have regrets now, yes, because the plan was first to play Rosicky but he was still too weak because he was sick. So I took the gamble on Nasri and it back-fired but he could have come on and because it was after 25 or 30 minutes it could have happened as well if he comes on.

It is difficult to predict but of course we are at the stage of the season that we play so many games that to lose bodies is very difficult for us.”

Regarding Squillaci’s red card, Wenger said that it was a harsh decision but admitted he feared a red card to be flashed.

However, Wenger added that Squillaci’s suspension won’t affect the transfer plans. Wenger explained that with three games in a week, Squillaci is only going to miss a week of football. He also confirmed that he isn’t close to signing anyone before the deadline.

On Squillaci’s suspension and new signings, Wenger said:

“I found it harsh but you can give it or not give it. It was a foul, it didn’t look to me like an obvious goalscoring opportunity. Is he the last man? I am not sure as well. But I feared the red card and unfortunately he gave what I feared.

Not more, not less, because it’s three games. For us it’s good because we play three games in a week so it is only one week [that he will be out]. No [I am not likely to sign anyone before the deadline], I leave these headlines to all the other clubs, but at the moment no. I cannot tell you definitely because someone might knock at my door in the morning and says ‘I would like to play for you’ and he is a good player because I would sign him!”


Arsenal vs Huddersfield Town: Preview and Starting Eleven

January 30, 2011

It’s back to the FA Cup today and we are at home against Huddersfield town.

In the last round we were taken to a replay by Leeds and I hope it’s not the case this time. I don’t know much about Huddersfield but that they are in League One and they are fighting for promotion. This Cup, I feel, will not be a priority for them but still expect a very determined side that faces us today.

For the starting team, we can expect many changes and most of our second string to start as we have a Premier League match forty-eight hours after it. Most will be hoping for a strong side, but with a match against Everton on Tuesday, we cannot play the same men twice. And by now you would expect the whole squad to be at the same level.

So who ever starts, we can expect a win but we would have to show up and not take them lightly.

In goal, I expect Szczesny to keep his place even though Almunia is back from his injury. With Squillaci available, he will be in the starting eleven and Djourou will have a rest. Koscielny, therefore, will be the other centre back. Gibbs and Eboue will be on the flanks as Sagna won’t be risked for this and Clichy will need to start on Tuesday.

In the middle, Arsene will have to be decisive. I won’t start with Diaby as he has just come back. Also we would need someone who can control the midfield. We cannot start with Fabregas. However, we can start with Nasri as he started on the bench in the last game. Denilson to retain his place. To partner them, I will go with Song as we will need a good cover for our backline. We can bring on Diaby later when we have the game in control.

Upfront, I would start with Chamakh as lately he hasn’t featured much. On the left side, Arshavin needs to continue to improve his confidence. On the right, I can’t make up my mind between Walcott and Bendtner. Bendtner and Chamakh’s combination hasn’t clicked yet. However, Bendtner is improving with games and I won’t be surprised if he starts. Although, I would prefer Walcott to start.

Probable starting XI: Szczesny, Eboue, Squillaci, Koscielny, Gibbs, Song, Nasri, Denilson, Walcott, Chamakh, Arshavin

This game should be a walk in the park, no disrespect to Huddersfield, considering our team and how we have played these past few games.

My only concern is the back line as they will be playing together after a long time. However, if our midfield stays close to the defenders and not lose possession in dangerous areas, we will be fine.

No score predictions again as they always turn out to be incorrect.

Enjoy the match and keep your fingers crossed.


Player Ratings: Arsenal 3 – 0 Ipswich Town

January 26, 2011

Well, it was an overall good performance. In the first half we were frustrated alot by Ipswich but in the second half we were better and scored the goals at the right times.

We created plenty of chances throughout the match but most of them weren’t clear cut and Ipswich were defending quite resiliently.

However, what I enjoyed was that none of the players got panicked and sticked to the game plan.

The backline weren’t tested much but did well whenever Ipswich were in our half.

The midfiled was dominated by us as we enjoyed lots of possession.

Upfront the movemnet was very good along with the finishing.

Coming to player ratings:

Szczesny (6.5): Had nothing to do all night but to collect the back passes and clear them. Was caught once when he collided with Sagna, otherwise had the goal covered.

Sagna (no rating): Lasted for a short while. I hope he isn’t badly injured.

Djourou (7) and Koscielny (7.5): They too had very little to do but when called upon, did their job brilliantly. Made some vital interceptions and clearences. Djourou covered up well for Eboue and was always quick to close down the opposition. Koscielny scored an excellent goal with his head.

Clichy (7): Good defending at the back and contributed upfront. He is slowly getting back to his best. Keep it up Clichy!!

Wilshere (8): A very good performance by Wilshere. Found the right pass and was always involved. Controlled most of the midfield in the first half. Delivered some excellent balls, one of which led to Bendtner scoring. However, he needs to be consistent with it because at times his final ball lets him down.

Denilson (6.5): A decent perfomance from Denilson.Should have done better in the first half though. Kept the ball ticking in the midfield.

Fabrgeas (7.5): Another top perfromacne from him despite a somewhat frustrating first half. Was involved in every thing and should have scored in the first half on the ball provided by Wilshere. His second half performance was, however, excellent. Scored the killer third goal.

Bendtner (8): He clearly was on fire today. Scored an awesome first goal at the right moment that opened up the game. Moved well on the flanks and provided good width. Deliverd in some excellent crosses especially the one which led to Van Persie hitting the cross bar. Howeever, he needs to improve his first touch as at times it let’s him down.

Van Persie (6.5): Another good perfromance despite not getting a goal. Moved around well and linked up the play nicely. Was unlucky not to get a goal in the first half.

Arshavin (7): Well he isn’t up to his best but he is trying to get there. Made a good start but then went to his usuall. However, woke up to provide the assist on the second and third goal. I hope this does good to his confidence becuase we all know what he can offer Arsenal.

Subs:

Eboue (6.5): Made me nervous as he was always caught out of position. However, he did well when underpressure at the back and provided decent support upfront.

Nasri and Walcott: Too little time to make an impact. No ratings for both.


Arsenal 3 – 0 Ipswich Town: Wembley!! here we come | Bendtner, Koscielny and Fabregas scored the vital goals

January 25, 2011

Arsenal 3 – 0 Ipswich Town ( aggregrate 3 – 1)

Wembley!! here we come. A good performance sees us through to the finals of the Carling Cup.

Thanks to an awesome goal from Bendtner, that opened our account, Koscielny for the second and Fabregas for striking the final nail in the coffin.

We had plenty of chances but just couldn’t find the net due to some good defending by Ipswich. We enjoyed the  a lot of possesion but Ipswich were frustrating us. It all came down to a brilliant goal from Bendtner in the 61st minute that opened up the game.

Koscielny scored the second from a corner with his head in the 64th minute.

Fabregas found the net for the third after a good counter attack in the 77th minute.

Besides that there were plenty of chances with Van Persie hitting the post, in the first half, being the major one.

One grey area was Sagna getting injured and I hope he isn’t badly hurt and returns quickly.

Anyways, a great result and a great finish by Arsenal. Let’s hope we do the job at Wembley, where we will either meet Birmingham or West Ham.


Arsenal vs Ipswich Town: Preview and Starting Eleven

January 25, 2011

So this is it, the final obstacle in our way to Wembley. A top performance from us today and we are there and hopefully it will be a start of more great things to come from this team.

Ipswich is leading by a goal coming into this game and their game plan will be to frustrate us by parking the bus and hoping to score on the long balls. And mind you they are much disciplined at the back. But seeing what our team did at the weekend against Wigan, I have no doubt that we will go through but we have to be at that level and never switch-off.

We just have to give our best and not take them lightly. Wenger has said that he will rotate for today’s game also. I feel that we should start with the same team that started against Wigan, with one or two changes, and kill the game off early. The more we delay in killing the game the more Ipswich will fancy their chances.

For the starting eleven, Szczesny is going to stay in goal with Djourou and Koscielny retaining their places. On the left, Gibbs should replace Clichy but on the right I will start with Sagna.

In the middle I will keep the same trio of Wilshere, Song and Fabregas as it is vital that we dominate the midfield today.

Up front I will start with Van Persie and Walcott but rest Nasri and bring in Arshavin on the left.

Probabale starting XI: Szczesny, Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Gibbs, Wilshere, Fabregas, Song, Walcott, RVP, Arshavin

Start with this team today Wenger and we will be in the finals with one hand on the trophy and hopefully we will claim it.

I won’t make any score predictions but  keep everything crossed for this one. This game won’t be a walk in the park but we can make it by giving a quality performance.

Come on Arsenal!!!Wembley is waiting!!!


Arsenal vs Leeds: Preview and Starting Eleven

January 7, 2011

After playing four games in ten days in the League, it’s time for the third round of The FA Cup and we start this seasons campaign at the Emirates against Leeds.

This game comes at the right time as we need a breather from Premier League. Also most of our squad needs a rest and our returnees from injury an opportunity to up their match fitness. This in no way means that we should take this match lightly, as it is also one of the trophies that we can win despite tomorrow being just the start of it.

Last season Leeds were very impressive as they surprised United and took Tottenham all the way before bowing out. So we can expect nothing less than a determined approach to the game from them.

Still, I believe that whatever team will be put out , we will be able to get a result in our favor, provided we stick to our game.

For the starting lineup, Wenger has already confirmed that Van Persie and Nasri will be rested for this one and he will make plenty of changes. As far as I can see, it will be a team similar to the one against Wigan.

The back line will comprise of Koscielny and Squillaci, who was absent in the last couple of games. Djourou won’t be risked for this one for sure. As Sagna is suspended, Eboue returns to occupy the right back position and with Gibbs also back in the squad, he will occupy the left back.

Szczesny should start this one at least!!

In the middle, Denilson will return. To partner him I would go with Song, as Wilshere has played in almost all of the last four games. Though, I wouldn’t be surprised if I see him in the starting eleven. Rosicky to occupy the playmaker role.

Upfront, Chamakh should start, and this time we need a performance like he was giving before December. Arshavin and Bendtner to flank him. Last time they didn’t connect well but I hope this time they do.

Probable starting XI: Szczesny, Eboue, Squillaci, Koscielny, Gibbs, Song, Rosicky, Denilson, Bendtner, Chamakh, Arshavin.

There are reports that Ramsey will also be in the squad, so maybe we will see him later in the game. I hope he does get a few minutes.

As far as the match is concerned, just keep to the way we have played against the likes of Birmingham, Chelsea and City and we will see this through without much fuss. One more thing, kill this game early, as the more we delay in doing it, the more Leeds will believe in getting something out of it.  A repeat of this is what we can avoid if we get a result and that will be one fixture less from the fixtures for January.

A couple of goals will be enough to seal this one and it will be good if we get another clean sheet.


Arsenal vs Man City preview: Yet another must win game!

January 5, 2011

Tonight it’s yet another important and must win game as we face Man City at our home. This season, if I am not wrong, most of the games have been must win and I believe the games to come are going to be no different. We can only keep pace by taking most of our points and capitalizing on others dropped points. Man Utd played yesterday and won their game, so we need nothing short of three points to keep up with them.

Matches against Man city have been feisty encounters in these last few years, except the one played at our home in April last year. With plenty of star players in their squad, this year they have the results going their way despite plenty of off-the-field incidents. Currently lying second in the table, they are a team to be beaten if we want to maintain our challenge.

For today’s game they have Silva out. Yet they have players like Yaya Toure, who is a very dangerous player if allowed to run with the ball, Tevez, Milner and Hart to name a few available. Defensively they have been very good and if they come out to play they can also be very creative upfront.

As for us, we will need to keep our focus from start to finish. They will be hard to break, so patience and alertness will be important. The real battles will be in the middle as we experienced last time, when we played them at their home in October.

I would start with the same back line as it was against Birmingham. Szczesny to start in goal. Fabianski had a good game against Birmingham but I still maintain we need to start more with Szczesny in goal.

In the middle, I would stick with same trio too but if Wilshere needs a rest, I would pick Rosicky to replace him.

Up front Van Persie should start in the lone striker role. Chances are high that Van Persie gets a rest and we see Chamakh up there. On the right, I would play Nasri today because in the last match he connected really well with Fabregas when he drifted to the centre or to the right. On the left, I would then go with Arshavin. He usually ups his game in the big matches and with him staying on the bench these past few games, he would want to do more to show his abilities, and this is where he can be a game changer.

Otherwise, Arsene, please pick the same team that played against Birmingham with Szczesny in goal.

Probable sarting XI: Szczesny, Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy, Song, Fabregas, Wilshere, Nasri, RVP, Arshavin

This is going to be yet another exciting game no doubt and I believe we will win it. The way we have played against Chelsea and Birmingham has been really encouraging and if we maintain the same level of football, we will roll Man City, provided we take our chances.

Enjoy the match and keep your fingers crossed!!