Sunday, 26 April 2015

Chelsea (H)

So firstly it's been a long, long time since I last posted and so much has happened, too much to cover so I'll assume we're up to date with how it stands. Today we take on Chelsea who have the title all but wrapped up and for that reason I think this afternoons match could be a borefest. Mourinho will set his men out to get a draw and I have no doubt that's what they'll do.

You can be as tactically astute as you want, when his team are setup like that breaking them down is incredibly hard. They hold their shape, break up play and make life miserable for the opposition. That said we know their threat going forward and to think they won't attack is stupid.

In terms of team news, our big doubt this weekend is Per Mertesacker who limped off furing our win over Reading at Wembley. In that game Wenger shuffled the pack a lot bringing in a raft of players who weren't sharp which I think is part of the reason we struggled. I expected Paulista will start today and the back four will resume with Monreal and Bellerin as the full backs. 

Chelsea's main issue is their lack of a fully fit striker. Remy and Costa are out so our old foe Drogba will lead their line even though there are doubts over how fit he is. Trying to guess how Mourinho will setup is hard, he will be aware of Sanchez's threat so may deploy Ramires to deal with him. I expect Willian will come in to add even more muscle to the midfield containing Matic.

From a sporting point of view, the best thing to happen in this game is we score early on to draw them onto us although secretly aside from it being against us I don't think Mourinho would be devastated by a slim defeat with their gap. The three most likely scorelines I can see here are 1-0, 0-0 or 0-1. But only time will tell. This would be a huge monkey off our backs and a big victory for Wenger over that unbearable Portuguese prick. It would also take us back into second and following United's loss against Everton would give us a two point cushion over 3rd place City with a game in hand.

An interesting game it looks set to be. 

Saturday, 14 March 2015

West Ham (H)

Well it's been a long time since my last post and I'm aware kick off is minutes away so I'll have to keep this one short ahead of the match at the Emirates against West Ham. A more thorough breakdown of the last few weeks to follow later before Monaco on Tuesday.

Team news today is that Welbeck and Cazorla have dropped to the bench probably with the Monaco match in mind if the manager has an idea of how he wants to line up ahead of that one. This means for the first time Sanchez, Ozil, Walcott and Giroud all lead our attack. They sit infront of Coq and Ramsey in the two holding roles. Chambers, Mertesacker, Koscielny and Monreal are the back four ahead of Ospina who regains his league place following SZCZs appearance against Man United on monday.

West Ham will line up with former gunner Alex Song who will be looking to prove a point against us. Of course they are without the other gunner in the side Jenkinson due to the terms of his loan deal. They've been in odd form of late which makes it hard to see how they'll play in this match. Sakho leads their line and he can be a handful on his day so the defence will need to be on the ball in order to prevent him for generally being a nuisance.

Well the match is underway so I'll leave it there. Come on you gunners!

Friday, 20 February 2015

Crystal Palace (A)

It's been a long time since my last post for various reasons and a lot has happened since then including a derby defeat, progression in the FA Cup and a draw at Old Trafford in the next round. Rather than cover it all I'm just going to assume you're all following and move on.

The games come thick and fast now with FA Cup ties, Champions League matches and of course the league all starting to pick up so we travel to Crystal Palace this weekend and there's a chance to leapfrog Southampton in fourth as they entertain Liverpool at St. Mary's on Sunday. Tottenham sit just two points behind us and we need to make sure they don't steal a march going into the business end of the season. 

Crystal Palace have enjoyed a revival under Alan Pardew and will be difficult to beat away from home. Pardew's sides are always physical so we know what to expect, but we're also on a good run and it'd be good to keep the pressure on those above us. Team news is overall positive with Wilshere returning along with the OX after spells on the side lines. Sanchez overcame a knock to play against Boro in the cup and I expect him to retain his place. Impressive Mesut Ozil will be hopeful of keeping his place also. Hector Bellerin is a doubt and needs to be assessed but if not we have Chambers who can step in as cover. Ospina should regain his place between the sticks after a break at the weekend.

Palace are a side who's dangers lie in the potential pace from the likes of Zaha along with star player Dwight Gayle who can hit a ball and find the net with relative ease as Liverpool have found out on various occasions. At the back Hangerland will give Giroud a tough time with his height and build but the pace of our players going forward will cause him problems. They also have a new left back who is lined up for his first taste of Premier League which could be an outlet for Sanchez to get in behind. 

So 3 points this weekend could be very welcome with Southampton and Tottenham facing tricky games against Liverpool and West Ham respectively. Let's hope we can push on before our huge last 16 game against Monaco on Tuesday. COYG

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Aston Villa

Another solid(ish) performance last weekend against Brighton in the FA Cup, securing our passage into the next round and setting up a home clash with Middlesborough, in a few weeks time. In reality the 3-2 scoreline made the game seem a lot closer than it was, we were always in control and when Theo Walcott scored his first goal since his return from injury after 6 minutes, it seemed as if it would be one way traffic. Mesut Ozil made it 2-0 with a smart finish and Arsenal were cruising. Brighton pulled one back, but no sooner where they back in it than Arsenal finished the match off as Rosicky, who was outstanding all match, scored a thumping volley to cap his performance. Although Brighton got a second Arsenal managed to hold on.

Today we have a chance to draw level on points with 4th placed Southampton if we beat Aston Villa at the Emirates. Villa are a side who are in big trouble and have struggled this season. That said they are in desperate need of some points and we all know that Villa at home is far from a banker. We've struggled against Villa at home before and we know what they bring with them and how they play. They have the powerful Benteke upfront who despite a dry spell is always dangerous infront of goal along with the likes of Agbonlahor and Fabien Delph on the wing they have the potential to pose a huge test for us. After a wonder strike last week Charles Gil might be their biggest threat though purely because he's an unknown quantity.

In our team news Wenger confirmed earlier in the week that his is "unlikely" to risk playing Sanchez who had a slight thigh issue. I would imagine this means he'll be on the bench and will only be used if he's desperately needed. The free space in the midfield I think will probably be take but the newly fit Mesut Ozil albeit in his least favourite position on the wing. Danny Welbeck remains sidelined but is expected to be fit again for the NLD next weekend. Coquelin is expected to regain his place as the holding player in the middle of the park whether that's alongside or behind Ramsey remains to be seen. The battle at right back is on between Chambers and Bellerin. My gut instinct looking at Villa's left flank would be to play Bellerin purely because of his pace against Delph and Agbonlahor. New boy Gabriel Paulista is fit and could see some action but I expect him to start on the bench.

With all teams around us winning yesterday we need to step up and show some steele to make sure we aren't the big losers of the weekend. A win would also put some pressure on Southampton who play against Swansea in the late game today. COYG!

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Brighton & Hove Albion + Signings

Well I've been away for a few weeks and what a few weeks it's been. We went to the Etihad and played a style of football I never thought I'd see Arsenal play, we set out and protected the back 4 through the simply brilliant Coquelin and a simply magical performance from Santi Cazorla. It was a big performance and hopefully we've broken through this mental block we seem to have in the big games.

Since then we've made a couple of signings. Firstly in the form of a youngster from Legia Warsaw called Kristian Beilik. He's a holding midfielder but at 17 years old I think he's definitely one for the future. The other which is all but confirmed is the signing of Villareal centre back Gabriel Paulista. He's been part of a defence that have conceded just 17 goals this season in La Liga. Joel Campbell is going the other way on a loan deal but there is a sticking point to this deal and that is his work permit. As he's not a Brazilian international there's no guarantee that he'll be granted one. That said, with a fee rumoured to be around £14m, I can't see us dropping that sort of money without being confident enough to get it sorted.

Yesterday was a quite brilliant day and a fantastic advert for the FA Cup. Chelsea crashed out at Stamford Bridge losing 4-2 to Bradford City in an amazing performance. Man City also crashed out to Middlesborough 2-0 at the Etihad. Along with those Southampton and the spuds also went out in surprise results. United and Liverpool have replays so who knows what will happen. As good as these results are they should server as a very serious warning about how dangerous this competition is. We need to make sure we aren't another victim of this mad weekend. We take on a Brighton & Hove Albion side who sit 19th in the Championship but will be right up for it today.

I expect we'll see starts for the likes of Walcott and Ozil who have been watching from the bench recently. I also expect rests for players such as Sanchez and Cazorla who desperately need them, not that you'd know by the way they've been playing recently. We have enough to get through this fixture but we just need to make sure we don't take our foot off the gas.

So fingers crossed we aren't another victim of this weekend. COYG. 

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Manchester City

It's been a good couple of weeks for Arsenal on the pitch, victory against Hull in the cup and then a good 3 points against Stoke in a controlling performance. But in football you can only look forward and today we take on Champions Man City away. Any wiggle room we might have been gifted by yesterdays results didn't materialise as Chelsea, Southampton, United and Sp*rs (lucky again) all won so today's game means just as much to both teams.

Last season we went down 6-3 in a bizarre game that although on the face of it looks like a demolition, I don't think it can be in the same class as the Stamford Bridge or Anfield mess. On another day we could have taken something from that match. But still we'll be eager to right some wrongs in this one and City are in patchy form, although we are too.

We're without Debuchy after the news that he'll be out for 3 months after a deliberate and unpunished push from that thugish shit Arnautovic. So I think Chambers will fill that gap on the right and it seems Gibbs is still out so Monreal will retain his place at left back. Ramsey returns to the team so he could partner Coquelin in the deep lying midfield role, Ozil is also back despite lacking match sharpness so I think he might start on the bench. The big decision for Wenger is whether he opts to keep Ospina in goal or revert back to SZCZ. My gut instinct is he sticks with Ospina but only time will tell.

City have Aguero and Kompany back in the side (of course they do) so we'll have problems defensively and offensively. Our defence will have to be on top form to keep the live wire quiet. Kompany is obviously a quality defender but I don't rate Mangala so if we can force anyone into some problems it will be him. Silva is the other player to stifle, the ugly Spaniard usually provides a moment of magic so stopping him should be our other priority.

This is a huge match for us today and anything we can take from this is a bonus, a point will take us back above Sp*rs on goal difference. A win though would keep us within touching distance of the top 4. Til next time, pray for a win.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Hull City

The Third round draw of the FA Cup wasn't kind to us really although it could have been worse. We take on Hull in a repeat of last seasons final where we needed extra time to beat them after nearly being put out of sight within the opening 20 minutes. It'll be a hard game particularly with our injury hit midfield even though we may have Flamini returning and in Wengers own words "a small chance" of Ozil making an appearance although I struggle to see it. 

After our abysmal performance at St. Mary's we need a big result today even though I'd have preferred to see us rest players who are quite clearly shattered (Sanchez). But with our team in the shape it's in currently I think we can dismiss that idea. We know that one thing is for sure and that is David Ospina will play in place of SZCZ and according to the club this was planned long before his comedy show at the weekend. Theo Walcott is expected to start which will be good for him after being out for so long. If anything he takes some of the emphasis off Alexis with his pace and penetration.

Upfront I've heard mixed news about Welbeck ranging from he has a chance to he's ruled out. I would suggest he wont play so Wenger will decide whether to put Chuba Akpom upfront or whether to play Alexis as the lone man again. In the middle Francis Coquelin may play again pairing up with Flamini this time instead of Chambers. Aside from that I don't think we have any other team news. Our defence looks set to remain the same against Southampton let's just hope the don't repeat their performance.

I'm not sure about Hull in terms of who they have available to play but I do know they've been struggling for form recently and goals which probably means they'll unload on us. They have got a goal threat from Jelavic amongst others but the big man I assume will be the one we need to keep quiet. Their defence is there to be got at if we can pull them out of shape with our pace going forward.

Big performance needed today boys, let's repeat the outcome in May.