Despite the disappointing week we’ve had we have another game to look forward to as we travel to Everton for the early kick off at 12:45 tomorrow afternoon, I know the lads have not had much rest and in an ideal world this game should be played on Sunday instaed as Everton players had a whole week to recover from their FA Cup triumph against Chelsea, whilst we played Barcelona mid week which without a doubt was a very demanding game physically. Still, there is no point complaining and moaning about this now, these lads are professional football players and must cope with such a busy schedule.
As far as team news is concerned we have only lost Flamini (some will be relieved) with a hamstring injury he suffered against Barcelona. Unfortunately there is no one coming back so we are most likely to see the same team minus Flamini from Wednesday evening.
In terms of the other players coming back Arsene said:
Wilshere is showing good signs now of recovery, Santi is a bit slower. The players who will definitely be back from injury [after the international break] will be Ramsey, Cech and maybe Flamini. But I don’t think Cazorla or Wilshere will be straight after the international break.
Everton will be without Kevin Mirallas and Gareth Barry as both are suspended, Bryan Oviedo could also miss this game due to illness but he did resume training so knowing our luck he will recover in time.
It’s still a mystery why Santi and Wilshere are still out injured especially Santi as we have missed him badly in the middle of the park, will we see them again on the pitch this season? I simply don’t know and somehow have my doubts. For me the Everton game is our last ditch challenge if we still believe and hope of winning the Premier League if we loose it’s definitely game over and there is no coming back from this one. On the other hand, teams behind us are not far away so we really need to go on a wining run if we are going to challenge for the Champions League spot again. Here’s what Wenger had to say:
“I would say we have to go step by step,” he said. “Let’s get back to winning habits first, that starts tomorrow… if we win tomorrow, we’ll see. That’s our target.
“But at the moment, the only way to achieve something special is first to be realistic and humble enough to deal first with Everton.
“Things will change until the end of the season, that’s for sure. We have to take care of our own destiny, and that’s by producing the performances we expect from ourselves.
“It’s very tight, but I believe the Premier League is far from over. We are in a position where we hope for the best. I agree that a negative result would be very bad for us, but we focus on a positive result. We know now is the time for us to produce the result we want.
“We also have to look behind us because things can change very quickly. We want to move forward, but I’m conscious that our position is not secure, even where we are.”
You can’t disagree with that in any way he’s absolutely right, but will his players be up for it and show sheer heart, determination and desire to finish this season on a high? I sincerely hope so, if we can repeat the performance from Wednesday night effort wise and find the target when opportunities arise then we have a good chance of winning this game. We know too well Everton will be up for it and Lukaku will be a handful as he has shown last weekend against Chelsea. With an early kick off tomorrow afternoon I intend to be a happy Gooner (fingers crossed) for the rest of the weekend so come on Arsenal it’s time to stand up and make an extra effort so we can finally get some momentum going and go on that winning run we’ve missed so badly, after all tomorrow is a must win game!
For those of you who are going have a safe trip and get behind our lads I know will be doing my share form my living room. Come on Arsenal!
This weekend, Arsenal plays a home match against Watford. At Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon the Gunners will continue the defense of their title by seeking a return to Wembley for the third successive season! Midweek they played their fifth round replay against Hull City and they thrashed the Championship outfit with a 4-0 score!
Last weekend, Arsenal came from 2-1 behind to snatch a draw in the North London derby against Tottenham at White Hart Lane in the Premier League. Watford also haven’t their best time in the Premier League. They haven’t managed a win in any of their last three Premier League games and they also failed to score in any of them! Watch the livestream of the match on livestreamsports.nl for live soccer matches. You can also watch livestreamsport.co.uk for matches.
A goalless draw with Bournemouth and 1-0 defeats to Leicester City and Manchester United are a minor blop in what has otherwise been an excellent season for the Hornets so far. The last meeting between Arsenal and Watford saw the Gunners run out as comfortable 3-0 winners in a Premier League clash at Vicarage Road back in October 2015.
We will be relieved that Per Mertesacker and Gabriel Paulista will start, after both central defenders were taken off injured against Hull City on Tuesday. The referee of the match will be Andre Marriner. Here you can find the probable starters for the match:
Arsenal: Ospina, Bellerín, Mertesacker, Gabriel, Monreal, Coquelin, Elneny, Walcott, Özil, Sánchez, Giroud Watford: Gomes, Nyom, Prödl, Cathcart, Aké, Abdi, Watson, Behrami, Capoue, IghaloFor more info, you can check the infographic below. This infographic was made by livefootball.co.uk. If you want to see live football scores of the match, check out their website!
So as the heading goes we are off North tomorrow morning, this is not a special treatment from the club either, the lads are going there to earn three points end off!
So Sahin deal did not come off in the end, to me it wasn’t a final transfer deal to be honest. When Jack W comes back to full fitness and takes to field his presence becomes rather obsolete so we have lost and gained at the same time without spending big bucks! Frankly I have never heard of him until now which is strange because I’m always in the know how place.
You could say the club is eyeing up every penny and somewhat shame on us for not bringing him in, however we have a structure and a wage bill to consider. A loaned player cannot make more than the current lads in the squad I believe we offered £2 Million and a buyout clause. Liverhoof beat us with £5 million and a staggering £115000 a week. Considering their situation they are heading for disaster already!
Stoke here we come then, it will be a good and physical stern test for the new lads as we know nothing comes easy off over there even Tony Pubes hat for that matter. Defence needs to be tight especial on those set pieces that stick of a man can always cause damage. The only area which I think we are a bit short is the hrrrrrrr DM Arteta is not that kind of player and I would like to see him bit more advanced if you ask me. Jack is on his way back which is a blessing in disguise however we still need that DM someone like Gilberto Silva who would keep his post occupied unlike Song who left us cut open to counter attacks.
Enough of that , big game tomorrow for those of you going take care and look after each other. I will be here in my chair shouting for the lads!
Come on Arsenal!
Greetings fellow Gooners!
Up to 7th and within touching distance of the Champions League places again…Crisis? What crisis?!?!
Of course, we all had our doubts at one point or another. We all had to listen to the media screaming about the end of Arsenal. We all had to listen to other “fans” crying out for the head of Arsene Wenger. We even had to sit through protests at the stadium before games (just what is needed when you have a team desperately low on confidence!). But, in the end, that “mentul strengff” that we have heard so much about and has been questioned so very much in seasons past, really has shone through.
1-0 down away to Norwich. Hhmmm. five weeks ago we would have been hoping that we managed to keep the score respectable but when a team is in the kind of form that we are in, when the captain is in a run of games like he is (more on him later!) and when the general levels of confidence around most of the players appear to be sky-high, anything is possible.
And possible it was! Another fantastic showing from van Persie, ably supported in yet another starring role by the also in-form Gervinho and Walcott who in turn are being given a backbone of extreme strength by Arteta, Song and the fabulous Ramsey and before you could say 2-1 to the Arsenal it was, well, 2-1 to the Arsenal!
Another three precious points in the bag on a weekend that saw Chelsea, Aston Villa and Newcastle all lose and BOOM there we are in joint 5th (I know, I know, we are 7th on goal difference, but joint 5th sounds so much nicer!), seven points clear of 8th place and looking straight up the backsides of the Toon and the Lillywhite Shite and toying with the idea of being 3rd when we were being asked if we were in a relegation fight only weeks ago!
On top of all of this exciting news, we could see a few shocks next weekend too with West Brom unlikely to make things easy for the Spuds for their visit to The Hawthorns, Newcastle away to the yet again smash and grabbing, 1-0 winning, lucky feckers United and Liverpool hosting Citeh. With us at home to the currently woeful Fulham, I expect to see us climb to 5th or even 4th by the end of Sunday. Seriously?! Did I just say that the same Arsenal team that lost all of its creativity and its best players in the summer, replaced them with a bunch of unknowns and rejects after being thrashed 8-2 by the eternally indebted, could actually be in the Champions League places with about two-thirds of the season left to play?!
And that is how fickle the football Dennises are and how even more fickle football fans can be.
But that is next weekend and we have the small matter of Dortmund at home in the Champions League first.
Dortmund are actually in great form in the league of late, having dispatched Bundesliga leaders Bayern 1-0 away from home on Saturday to continue an unbeaten run that stretches back to the 18th of September, scoring 20 goals in their last seven outings and conceding only three goals in the process. They do seem unable to replicate anything like the same form in the Champions League though, with only four points from four games scoring three and conceding seven!
So a win is to be expected, but is far from guaranteed. Any team with players in the creative positions like Gotze, Großkreutz and Kagawa are capable of beating anybody on their day. It just seems that their day isn’t, hopefully, destined to be in this seasons Champions League. Another reason that the Germans should be taken very seriously indeed is that, should they fail to get something from this game, they will be out of the competition. They have nothing left to lose and everything left to gain and that is exactly what Jürgen Klopp will be telling his team.
So, with this game offering us the opportunity to guarantee qualification in the event that we win it, or even draw it for that matter, and Dortmund realistically needing a win to stand a chance of advancing in the competition, one expects that Arsene will put out something like his strongest side. With the injury list growing faster than it is shrinking (Rosicky – Thigh, Chamakh – Knee and Miyaichi – Ankle now added to the long-term injuries to Wilshere, Sagna, Jenkinson and Gibbs), I would imagine the team to look something like this:
OK, I know I have put Arshavin in over Gervinho on about three occasions so far this season only for Wenger to surprise me and leave the Ivorian in and, more surprisingly, the Russian out, but I really do think that this time he will get the nod, if for no other reason than Gervinho is playing a lot of games for us at the moment and is currently in a run of form that would allow him the luxury of this being a rest and not being dropped in favour of Arshavin. If you see what I mean?!
Predictions are tough for this one as with only a point needed to guarantee qualification one would think that a tight defence and a cat and mouse game of counter-attacking would be on the cards. There is, however, the small matter of Marseille playing Olympiacos at home thus almost guaranteed the three points, which would mean that a draw would leave us in 2nd place and hoping for a result away in Greece or Dortmund doing us a favour at home to Marseille in two weeks time, all of which sounds like the hard way to go about things…But this is Arsenal and the hard way IS the Arsenal way!
In truth, the best way to go about this is to get at them early, try to get an early goal and then keep going. Dortmund will be dangerous on the counter, of course, but then again, we are dangerous from just about anywhere right now! And can anybody really see us trying to grab a goal and then sit on it for the remainder of the game?! No, me neither. So, with all that in mind, I am going for a 3-1 win and a good performance to go with it. If Song can put in the kind of shift that he has been of late, we may even see the likes of Gotze struggle for the time and space that his game needs and we could even get away with a clean sheet! Arsenal?! Clean sheet?! Are you MAD?!??!
Come Wednesday, we shall find out! Mad or not, I genuinely believe that this is one of the best Arsenal squads for a few years now and one that has the potential to keep going where others have been found wanting. With players like Miyaichi, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Frimpong and Aneke, Ozyakup and Miquel waiting in the wings, this really could be the beginning of something quite special that could last for years rather than the end of Arsenal Football Club as many were predicting only a few weeks ago.
And with Sagna, Jenkinson, Wilshere and Gibbs all still to return, we may even see a season where the all too familiar self-destruction sequence is avoided and a stronger team emerges after Christmas. Only time will tell, but I know that this is, yet again thanks to Arsene Wenger, a wonderful time to be a Gooner!
Diaby Returns AGAIN!
Since having his leg broken for him some 5 years ago by that knuckle-dragging imbecile Dan Smith, his ability to stay fit has been seriously questioned. Strangely he is not particularly popular amongst Arsenal fans even though his playing statistics show a player of some impact. 20 goals and 14 assists in 158 matches for a box-to-box midfielder are not bad statistics at all, although I am aware that these numbers do not speak the whole truth regarding his at times seeming inability to make a decision in time to not lose the ball in the most dangerous of positions, neither do they show how easy it is to reduce your popularity when getting a stupid and unnecessary red card in a game in which we are 4-0 up at Newcastle only to then see the referee basically hand a draw to the Toon with a couple of unspeakably ridiculous penalty awards, a failure to send off one of their players for a headlock/strangulation effort on “the Pole between the poles” and a generally hideous defensive effort. To place all the blame on the midfielder for all of that seems a little unfair but scapegoats will always be found when needed and his was the most obvious place in which to point the finger.
in my opinion his return to fitness (and subsequent inclusion in the squad to face Dortmund), hopefully for more than a handful of games this time, should only be a good thing in terms of squad depth and, if he realises only a fraction of his enormous potential, we could see a great set of midfielders competing for places come January. Imagine this: Wilshere, Ramsey, Arteta, Diaby, Benayoun, Song, Frimpong and Rosicky all competing for three starting places. Competition for places is often overlooked in the bigger picture, but I believe that Walcott, Song, Koscielny, Gibbs and Ramsey are all showing great leaps in class since their places were no longer guaranteed due to the arrivals and emergences of the Ox, Frimpong, Mertesacker, Santos and Wilshere respectively.
As Arsene has recently said, this is a big squad but also a squad with strength in depth and “those who shall not be pleased” who claim otherwise are ignoring the obvious in deference of searching for more reasons to bleat.
Let them bleat, I say!
Van STILL The Man!
Robin van Persie’s incredible run of form since he finally managed to find a run of games without serious injury now sees him with 31 goals in 29 games in 2011, top of the goalscoring charts in the Premier League and a set of statistics that put him up there with the very best players in the world – 13 goals in 12 league games compared with 14 in 12 for Ronaldo and 15 in 12 for Messi.
Couple this with the obvious understanding developing quickly between him and Theo Walcott and the constantly improving form of Gervinho, we look like we can score whenever we attack, even if the bulk of those goals are coming from the one man.
Of course, without a new contract signed sealed and delivered, there is the fear that our Dutch talisman could be on his way for a fistful of dollars come the end of the season. Personally I do not put much stock in the relentless rumours of his inevitable departure and believe that a combination of the board, Arsene and the fans will do just as much as the team to convince him to stay as any amount of money could convince him to leave. A player enjoying his football as much as he is would find it difficult to leave any team, but one that actually wins something, which I believe that this team is capable of this season, would, of course, make it even more difficult.
The chance that he may go the way of the likes of Na$ri, AdePayMeMore and Clichy exists until that contract is signed but, as we have seen in recent years, signing a new contract doesn’t guarantee that a player will stay anyway. As fans the very best that we can do is get behind him, the team and the manager and show him and all of our other great players that we are the best fans in the world and that this team is one with a glowing future that he would be mad to leave behind.
So, let’s do our jobs and get behind the team and the manager as well as the captain and let’s make that 12th man truly count.
Come on you League Climbing, Champions League Knock-out Rounds Qualifying Bright Future Gooooooonnnnneeeeerrrrssss!
Greetings fellow Gooners!
Yes, it’s that time again, isn’t it?! International break misery has set in and the tabloids are left with literally nothing else to do but find a few new ways to beat Arsenal fans over the head! Worst of all, they seem to be able to find hundreds of old ways to do it too! This situation is not helped when Peter Hill-Wood, the Arsenal equivalent of Prince Phillip, decides it is time to open that ludicrous out of control trap of his!
Speaking on the subject of Robin Van Persie and contract negotiations, he had this to say:
“He doesn’t want to talk about it at the moment and we are not troubling him.
“I think we will approach him near the end of the season. But we obviously hope that he will sign a new contract – I don’t see why he should not. I can’t believe he is unhappy with us.”
Which immediately rings two alarm bells…
1. Why are we “not troubling him” when his contract may actually be more important than qualifying for the Champions League this season?
2. Why would it be so impossible to believe that he could be “unhappy with us” when he is clearly carrying the burden of a major responsibility of the teams success and or failure at the present time and has seen an average of two of our best players leave the club almost every summer for the past 6?
I simply don’t get this! I know we are the most dramatic club in the EPL. I know that we do everything in the most arse about face, difficult and last minute manner that we possibly can, but why aren’t we simply putting a club record breaking contract in front of his nose right now, this very second or even better, yesterday?!
Seriously, 150k per week, a new Bentley and all the half-time oranges he can eat should just about cover it and, let’s be totally honest, a bargain if you consider what a player of his calibre and experience would cost if we had to replace him.
I am not saying that he is irreplaceable, no footballer is as the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson has proven time and time again when clearing out mega-stars at the drop of a hat, but I do believe that the costs and risks associated with replacing a player who has been banging goals in faster than almost anybody on the planet for the past 12 months are desperately long without spending extraordinary amounts of money and, even then, there is no guarantee of succeeding in finding a replacement that “gels”. Why even think about waiting when we already have a player that clearly gels like a MoFo?!!
But the highlight of Hill-Wood’s comments has to be this little gem…
“I think he is a decent fellow. He was quite difficult at Feyenoord, but we have had no trouble with him.”
HAHAHA! Oh my Dennis! If I were Van Persie I would be more than a little hacked off that this Muppet has actually decided that my past, over 7 years in the distant past when I was 20 years old and a very young man rather than just a young man, should be dragged up now. As for having no trouble with him, well, I think that there was a little trouble back in 2005, what with the Dutchman spending a couple of weeks in prison and all that, but again, that is history and it should be allowed to stay where it belongs…In the past.
It is time that Silent Stan decided that “we don’t need his sort” talking to the press any more and wrapped a mighty, magical conversational chastity belt around the old duffers chops!
Bored, bored, BORED!
Ok, I know that we have finally managed to go into an international break with a decent run of form going, a couple of great wins behind us and a feeling that we may not have actually seen the best of this Arsenal squad as yet, which is quite exciting all round really, but I cannot help wondering how many injuries we will pick up this time whilst our players wander off around the world to play in qualifying matches in various competitions.
But apart from that vague point of interest, I can literally find nothing to alleviate the desperate boredom of these hateful breaks in the footballing calender. I know that many claim that international football is the pinnacle of football and is the basis for the general growth of this wonderful sport and some may even say that without it we would never have seen some of the best talents of the past 20 years playing on our shores and gracing us with their skills.
What a load of old pony, I say!
Take the European Championships, for example. This “glorious” competition is boring because there are only really a handful of all of the European nations that ever actually win it. Look at this map for an idea of what I am talking about:
See what I mean? All those big white spaces are countries that never have and probably never will win the trophy, EVER! Ok, I know the same could be levelled at the Premiership, La Liga, Serie A and maybe even the Scottish Premier League at a push (!) but I don’t fecking care about that. I love Premiership football because I love Arsenal and I know that, win or lose, come rain or shine they will always be the most consistent part of my life in terms of love and desire. European football at the international level is just plain boring ad has none of the heart of a club side competition.
As demonstrated by the “Winners Map”, the majority of international football is just a meandering path to almost inevitable conclusions. For all the qualifying “drama”, competition “drama” and winning “drama”, how often is there any actual drama in international football? Denmark won the European Championships about 100 years ago, or so it seems, but apart from that the list of winners of that competition reads like this since 1960:
Soviet Union, Spain, Italy, West Germany, Czechoslovakia, West Germany, France, Holland, Denmark, Germany, France, Greece and Spain.
Ok, Greece was a bit of a surprise too, but who really cares anyway?! Did their players suddenly change the face of modern football? Did the country experience a massive upturn in the general desirableness of its league seeing a large influx of major talents wanting to leave the like of Spain and England to go and play there? Did they even go on to use that win as a platform for future development and thus further successes?
Did they arse!
For example, since winning the Euros in 1992 Denmark, with their “Golden Generation” of players, managed to fail to qualify for the next World Cup and fall in the group stages of the next two European Championships.
But surely Greece have faired better?
Since winning the 2004 European Championships, with one of the most dire and George Graham-esque styles of play ever seen in modern international football, the Greeks then failed to qualify for the next World Cup, get knocked out in the first round of the 2010 World Cup and got knocked out in the group stage of the European Championships!
In fact, and here is a cracking statistic that demonstrates the utter futility of all international football, Greece have never actually won a single game in the European Championships finals apart from the 4 wins they managed to piece togther whilst winning the damned thing! Even more hilarious, Denmark have only ever won 6 games in the European finals and only managed to win 2 games, yes, read that again just to make sure you got it right, TWO GAMES when WINNING the tournament!!!
OH my Dennis! How can a team be called European Champions when they only actually won two games in the tournament?! Hold on…Quarter final, semi-final, final…Surely that would require three wins at the very least?! But no! There were no quarter finals that year, only two groups of 4 teams, 2 semi-finals and final and, hey presto, you are the “Champions of European International Football!” I think it tells a large part of the story when you consider that the 1992 European Championships were held in Sweden and of the four clubs to qualify for the semi-finals, three of them were Holland, Sweden and Denmark!
Oh, and just in case you forgot, even though football was good enough for the warring nations in World War II on Christmas Day, or so we are told, UN sanctions banning Yugoslavia from taking part in the tournament is the only reason that Denmark even got a free pass to play after not even managing to qualify for the tournament!
Oh please, give me a break! Just not an international one!!!
Jack’s Here Forever!
Young superstar come wonderkid, Jack Wilshere, has announced that he will stay with Arsenal forever! WOO HOO!
“Can I promise I will be at Arsenal for ever? I can promise that, yes.
“I’ve been at the club since I was nine and I’ve learned to love it. From the Patrick Vieira days, to Dennis Bergkamp, Cesc Fabregas, I’ve watched them come through and move on.
“But now there’s a crop of new players, Aaron Ramsey, myself, Kieran Gibbs, hopefully we can really create something special. I love the club and I want to be part of its future.”
Throw in The Ox, Koscielny and Miyaichi and I think we can say that there is a wealth of young talent at the club all over again! You could even throw a quick glance at Theo who seems to be improving with the added competition for places and still only 22 years old!
All that aside, it is great to hear a player in this day and age speaking in those terms. I just hope that we continue to build on the squad we have in the January window so that he can enjoy playing for us as well as do it for the love of the club.
With this in mind, I have decided to put together a “Jack-O-Meter” to, subjectively and without any real knowledge of the players, their mindset, aims or desires, judge where they would come regards the potential longevity of their Arsenal careers!
So, I will look at a particular player each week and make a totally arbitrary decision based upon nothing in particular aside from my own personal wishes, bias and random decisions! This week we will start at the very back of the team and judge “the Pole between the poles” Wojciech Szczesny:
Well, that seems fairly conclusive! Szczesny will be with us for life, or as close to that as a footballer can get!
Oh, you wanted some reasoning behind this judgement?! Ok, how about this…
The young pole was literally nobody when Wenger picked him out of obscurity and gave him a chance to prove himself. He didn’t shower himself in glory at first and, if all truth be told, many Arsenal fans felt that he would be on his way out and that Fabianski would be the “next great thing” between the sticks. Wenger stood by him, told him to knuckle down and, when injuries and fate collided, the young(er) pole took his chance with, dare I say it, indeed I do, both hands!
Since then he has proven himself to be a match-winning, shot-stopping, penalty-saving maniac and, to boot, he spends most of his time away from the pitch roaring like a young Arsenal lion on Twitter! Some of his recent classics include, but are not limited to:
“How can you not get frustrated with decitions [sic] like that going ALWAYS Man Utds way?! Its a clear pen and sending off!”
And who can argue with that?
“Tweeps, what do you think Ashley was aiming for when he took his penalty?”
Quickly followed by:
“Is it a plane? Is it an aeroplane? No, it’s just Ashley throwing Chelsea out of the FA Cup.”
And my personal favourite:
Please continue the “Szczesny to Barcelona” rumours. Makes me laugh everytime I read it. haha”
So, aside from his obvious loyalties to our great club, Manchester United, Chelsea nor Barcelona are not likely to offer him a job any time soon, so that should help us to keep him!
A resounding 100 degrees Gooner, I think that we can all agree! And if you don’t, well, that’s just tough because it’s my Jack-O-Meter!
And on that hot, sticky note I shall leave you.
Come on you Please Don’t Get Injured Whilst Away On Boring International Duty Gooooonnnnneeeerrrrrsssss!
Greetings fellow Gooners!
Chelsea…Wasn’t it? Really…Lesson in football. Jumpers for goalposts…!
But seriously folks, if we ever needed a heavy landing from the heady heights, the 0-0 draw with Marseille certainly provided us with that. A draw we really didn’t need given the number of games we have over the next few weeks, maybe. A return to old habits, for certain. Our inability to convert large chunks of possession and great play into goals is a ghost that has haunted us for the past few seasons and one which I am sure many of us had started to believe had finally relinquished its hold on us. Have the last few games been the new Arsenal with profligacy a thing of the past or have they been a juicy hiatus only to see us return to “form” after giving us a sense of new hope?!
So, with all that in mind, there has never been a better time to show a level of consistency and, more importantly, the ability to ensure that the “minnows” of the Premier League don’t have some kind of “hoo-doo” over us, as some would have us believe. And I think that is exactly the kind of game we need to restore a little of the confidence that we had so carefully and lovingly built up in recent weeks. Stick a few past the Baggies and leave a sweet taste in the mouth ahead of the international break and we could actually start really believing in ourselves rather than worrying about flashes in pans. Games like Chelsea drive things forward at 100mph but games like Marseille create that horrible smell in the car that only a handbrake left on can do. We need to remove the handbrake permanently but only a run of free-flowing Arsenal performances can do that and whilst we were in that particular groove, there has been a faint whiff permeating the air and threatening to derail the Gooner Express at any moment. Will Tuesday prove to be nothing more than a short-lived signalling failure and will today present us with all the proof that we need that we are still full steam ahead? Let’s hope so!
In reality, West Brom are not the pushovers they once may have been, although they have been horribly inconsistent so far this season, having pushed Manchester United and Chelsea almost all the way to the finishing line in the first two games of the season, conceding the points in the last 10 minutes on both occasions whilst the same team got beaten 3-0 by Swansea and yet managed to beat Wolves and Villa in the Midlands derbies! All of that said, they were anything but pushovers when they took 4 points from our two league games beating us 3-2 at the Emirates and holding out for a 2-2 draw at The Hawthorns last season, were they and that is exactly why we need to get a result today. Time to put some of the old ghosts to rest and show that we can beat the “bogey” teams.
So, we can expect Van Persie to return, after the blunt attacking force that was presented against Marseille in mid-week that much is certain, but how many people will successfully guess what the central defensive partnership will be or, more importantly, do so with any real certainty?! Aside from Arsene himself, not many I would bet.
If I were a betting man, which I am not, I would go with Vermaelen and Mertesacker again, regardless of how well Koscielny has been playing, as I believe that PM4 ad TV5 represent absolute class whereas Koscienly has, thus far, only managed to prove that form is temporary, in whatever direction. Yes, the Frenchman has played some great matches lately, most of them contenders for man of the match, but his two previous years have shown a frailty that we can ill afford right now. All that aside, isn’t it wonderful that Wenger actually has this selection “nightmare”?! Three centre backs all playing at a near world class level…Almost unheard of! Of course, when they succeed in keeping clean sheet after clean sheet and putting in solid performances game after game, we will have to hear about how Arsene inherited the defence from George Graham! HA! Just like the defence of Lauren, Campbell, Toure and Cole, not one of which was actually at the club when Wenger took over!
At right back I expect Jenkinson to get the nod over Djourou as the latter has done absolutely nothing, barring a decent cross against Marseille that led to the winning goal on that wonderful night in France,to deserve a place in this side and at the very least young Carl has shown a lot of heart and determination and, most importantly, improvement.
I think it may be that time again regards the Gervinho/Arshavin conundrum and the little Russian will probably get a game again, although I personally don’t agree with playing him just because we have him and think that Gervinho is the better choice all round. In days gone by players would happily put in 60-70 shifts a season and whilst I understand that the game has changed, I think that the players are also much fitter than they used to be too. Rotation for rotations sake just doesn’t make sense to me, but there you go.
Gibbs is still out, the most career-threatening stomach muscle injury in the history of the game putting paid to his chances of playing until at least after the international break. Chamakh is out, thank Dennis. Diaby has had another setback and will probably be fit by the morning of April 1st 2015!
I have to say the Gibbs situation is slightly upsetting. It has been blatantly clear over the past three or four seasons that he simply cannot get a run of fitness going at all but it also seemed clear that he wasn’t actually good enough to play for Arsenal either. The few games he has managed to appear in this season have shown that, far from not being good enough, he actually has all the potential to be a top quality left back. Again, the faith Wenger has shown in his ability could indeed be well founded, but his ability to actually stay fit long enough to make an impact is still in question.
I think that Ramsey and Arteta will also keep their places, along with Theo Walcott, another player doing his best to confound his critics! Seriously, Theo was looking more and more like a lost cause until the purchase and, more importantly, introduction to the side of Oxlade-Chamberlain, but it seems that the added pressure of having a back-up that may actually be a decent player who could even threaten his place in the team has worked wonders. His work-rate, his desire, his all-round game have improved since the Ox put in a a couple of great performances in the Carling Cup and Champions League. Yet more proof that competition for places is something that has been severely lacking in recent seasons.
With all that in mind, I expect the team to look something like this:
As for West Brom, they are missing midfielder Paul Scharner and striker Shane Long, both influential players for the Baggies. At the business end of things, so to speak, goalkeeper Ben Foster will be hoping for one of those “games in a lifetime” that he, like so many other “b-list” goalkeepers, seem to have against us! I have to say, I like Foster and I think that, given the chance at a top club, he would shine. The biggest problem he has is being left exposed so often by the fairly limp defence in front of him.
And that leads us on to the key to today’s game, our attack and its ability to actually create chances. Against this West Brom defence we should really be looking to put a few goals away, but that all depends on which attack turns up. The one against Marseille would struggle to open a can of beans if left to it for a fortnight, whereas the attack that showed up for the Chelsea match could probably eat the beans without even opening the can, if you see what I mean!
I am going to plump for the fact that the players were tired in mid-week and thus the blunt attack that we presented was merely a blip and not a return to old habits. Thus, the cutting edge that was so clearly lacking will return and a few goals should be expected. 3-0 is my prediction with a defensive performance that will compliment the attacking one.
And on that positive, goal-laden note I shall leave you.
Come on you Solid Defence, Thrusting Attack, Midlander Destroying Gooonnnnnnneeeerrrrrrssssss!