Arsenal vs Everton Preview: Road to the FA Cup Final
Arsenal now faces the biggest game of their season: an FA Cup quarter final draw against Everton. Success means a trip to Wembley and our best chance at a trophy this season. ManchesterCity is the only team that should be capable of beating us of those left in this competition. Meaning one of our potential final or semi-final fixtures should be fairly easy. Getting past Everton will have a reward at the end. COYG.
This fixture last time:
Last time we played Everton was a 1-1 draw at the Emirates with Deulofeu scoring a late equalizer. It was a close game and we can expect another close one today.
Here is my expected line up for tomorrow:
I predict us to start a line-up with lots of pace, which is why I’d exclude Arteta from the line-up and include Chamberlain. It’s a risk, but Wenger is a risk taker. I also think Gnabry and Sanogo will start to compliment Ozil. Everton’s back line is fairly slow and with our pace, plus the advantage Ozil gives us, we shouldn’t have a problem getting in behind them. We just need to take advantage of our chances and be switched on from the minute we step on the pitch.
Sanogo vs Everton Defense: Based on my predictions, I see Sanogo starting tomorrow. And therefore, he will have to have a good game. His pace will compliment Ozil, but he will have to make use of this advantage and punish Everton’s slower back line players.
Gnabry vs Composure: We have seen a lot of Gnabry this season and he looks great. His main issue however, is that he seems to take shots from range a lot and doesn’t seem to be able to calm himself before attempting at goal. If he can stay calm and take some composed shots at goal, he could become a real goal threat for us.
Mertesacker vs Everton Wingers: Everton have incredibly pacey wingers in Mirallas and McGeady. Mertesacker will have to watch for diagonal runs made by these wingers in behind him and make sure he’s not chasing back, as his lack of pace might be exposed. However, if Mertesacker can be watchful and position himself and his fullbacks wisely, Everton will have very little goal threat from close range and will be reduced to shots from range.
Casualties of War:
Arsenal: Arsenal continues to be injury stricken. Ramsey and Kallstrom are both still out. Wilshere has also been hit by an Agger shaped injury bug and Koscielny has had a scare, but we pray he will be ok.
Everton: Jagielka is the only recent injury for Everton. He is however, their captain and a major part of their defense. This is a huge loss for Everton and will give us a major advantage.
I predict a good old 1-nil to the Arsenal. A hard fought victory with a surprising goal scorer. Perhaps Gnabry or Sanogo; perhaps Ryo off the bench. Either way, I predict lots of drama and a good game between two top quality teams with two top quality managers. This could be a game we look back on and say: this is where the trophy was won.
Arsenal vs Spurs Preview: Road to the FA Cup Final
It has only been a few days since our breathtaking last minute surge against Cardiff. Now we face a big test: a North London Derby. In a cup no less! A loss here is far worse than any normal loss in a NLD, as it means elimination from a cup that we really have a shot to win this season. We need to win here. We just need to put up a strong fight and play without fear. We are the better side and deserve to win. This game is for bragging rights and progression in a cup that we want to win.
This fixture last time:
The last time this fixture occurred was earlier this season. It was a massive turn around after a terrible loss to Aston Villa. It was a simple 1-nil to the Arsenal. Giroud scored a cheeky outside of the foot, near post shot against Lloris. Walcott swung in a great cross for him and Giroud took his chance well, on the one touch finish. Sadly we are missing Giroud this time, but we do have Theo and a strong squad.
Here is my expected line up for tomorrow:
I think Gnabry and Zelalem will be making a huge start. Theo will fill in at striker, seeing as Podolski wasn’t great there against Cardiff. Podolski will then slide back on to the wing and Santi will take up his best position in the center. Monreal will fill in for the injured Gibbs at left back.
Sagna vs Eriksen:
Eriksen is an incredibly creative player (a player I wish we’d bought), but due to Spurs new two- striker system, they don’t have room for a true CAM. Therefore Eriksen is being played in more of a Santi role, as a CAM playing LW. He could punish us, as he did Manchester United, if we’re not careful. However, I have faith Mr. Reliable will shut him down.
Podolski vs Walker:
Walker is a class right back who will do everything in his power to shut down our service from the wing. Podolski will have to be 100% and ready to run his socks off to beat Walker’s work rate. He will have to be prepared to dribble around Walker and swing in quick crosses to avoid being shut down. I think Podolski will struggle with this for a while, but if Santi begins to drift to the left more, he will have the support to break him down.
Zelalem vs Expectations:
I don’t know about everyone else, but I have huge hopes for Zelalem in the future. He just has to make sure that he doesn’t screw up and become a scapegoat on his debut. Debuting against Spurs could put him in the history books. If he just focuses on not losing the ball and taking the opportunity to try the occasional tricky ball, he might just get an assist and put his name in our history books.
Casualties of War:
Bendtner, Gibbs, Ramsey, Diaby, and Ox are all definitely out. Ozil and Giroud both face late fitness tests, and Wenger says it is likely both will be out. It’s unfortunate that we will be without our two out and out strikers, who are both in great goal scoring form, but we do have Theo, Poldi, and Gnabry who can all play striker. I’ve wanted to watch Gnabry play there, but it’s unlikely as Theo is in incredible goal scoring form. If Ozil was fit, I’d actually be tempted to try him there and see if he could really be like Bergkamp, but that’s unlikely.
Vertonghen, Paulinho, Kaboul, and Sigurdsson will all be out. Holtby, Defoe, and Townsend are all just returning from injury and are unlikely to play. Adebayor also faces a late test, but claims he is fit to face us. Let’s all secretly hope he’s not fit so he can’t score against us.
I predict a shock 3-0 to Arsenal. We will come out firing on all cylinders and Spurs will be cocky after their away victory over Manchester United. I think Walcott will score a great goal, as he has been in fine finishing form. This goal will likely be assisted from Lulu on the left. Next, I think Gnabry will score a simple tap in from a one on one, assisted by Zelalem. Finally, in the dying minutes Zelalem will score a self-assisted screamer, and put his name in the hearts and memories of Gooners everywhere.
I know I bang on about using the kids more often, but quite frankly, I think that time has past. We have a core of players that are going to have to carry us until January at least. And even with any signings, most will get their introductions in the first couple of rounds of the FA Cup. Even the best players are going to need an adjustment period. So, for at least two months we are likely to be using a pick from 15 or 16 players. That is providing those who do come back from injury don’t suffer any relapses?
The key period is this coming month, while there are still mid-week games to be played. So here is a player-by-player guide of how to navigate our way through this difficult fixture list.
Goalkeeper – Szczesny. No need to rotate except in the Cup matches, or for injury.
CB – Mertersacker. Again, a seasoned professional who will happily keep going through all the serious stuff, barring injury.
CB – Koscielny. Solid player, but if fatigue is creeping in, he needs a break. The next two games could be ideal for such a break?
CB – Vermaelen. Needs playing time, alongside Mertersacker preferably. Play him the next two games and he will be nice and sharp for the four games that follow, in case of injury or suspension.
LB – Gibbs. Just had a bout of ‘flu, no need to rush him back. Let him sit out the next game, and do a half game the next one. Then play according to who lines up ahead on the left – see earlier comments.
LB – Monreal. Excellent game last time. Keep him in to prove he can do it against a side that provides a sterner test, which I am sure he will. I would also be tempted to play him in the away leg at Napoli, keeping Gibbs fresh for the league games that follow.
RB – Sagna. Difficult one. Needs to play unless he has a fitness issue. Perhaps taking an early breather in games we have under control?
RB – Jenkinson. Just at the moment he is a bit of a gamble to play from the start, as he has a tendency to get forwards, and get caught out, partly because opposition in the league have realised he is easy to gang up on and get a turnover. Self perpetuating, not playing, not getting into games in good form. Needs a solid back up ahead of him in any game he starts, but maybe use him ahead of Sagna for the last 25 minutes?
MF – Arteta. No problem. Can play when needed.
MF – Flamini. No problem if he keeps out of the card game?
MF – Ramsey. Should need a break, but physically shows no sign of slowing down … until he gets a thigh or groin problem. Best solution is to do some first hour, last 20 minutes, rotation. The next six games look too important to miss out unless he has a physical problem. However, the odd game, perhaps against Hull, could refresh him against mental fatigue?
MF – Wilshere. Looked in the last game to have relaxed a little, and let his talent do the talking. Ideal timing to come into form before these crucial matches. Also, ideal player to alternate with the above for mini breaks of not playing the full 90 minutes every time? Not forgetting the ankle tapping that will go on, without, it seems, much support from referees?
That is the defensive side stretched to the limit, but with luck they may just see it through?
Bench support could come from Yennaris and Hayden, but neither are getting any first team game time. One or the other should be on the bench, just in case?
MF – Rosicky. Needs to pick his games where he is absolutely needed, or to be the ‘go to’ sub in every game when tired legs and minds are flagging?
MF – Cazorla. Could play most games, but I would prefer he sits some out to be the Ozil back up, and not start when the above does, unless there is an injury crisis.
MF – Walcott. Could be about to be the most important player in this whole midfield set up … if he stays fit. Certainly start him against Cardiff, possibly bench against Hull as they are likely to be a PTB side that will not give him space to work in until late on? Therefore keep for the big league games, and bench at Napoli. They need the win, so space in the second half could open up nicely for him?
MF – Podolski. Will be useful if he is ready before the New Year.
ST/MF – Gnabry. I think we have seen enough of him to know he will be a player in this period. Much will depend on how the midfield is shaping up. He will not play at the same time as Walcott, unless he does have to step up for Giroud. Personally, I do not see that as a major problem, and can easily be tried out at the back end of the next two games if we have the scores under our control. However, he will more likely alternate with Walcott, unless we have the double pivot running, and the AMF’s are playing wide. He does need some playing time, so from the bench with this next match against Cardiff, and the full hour or so against Hull. Then take it from there, as required, but play him regularly.
ST – Giroud. Big problem if he gets a long term injury. He seems to be able to take the physical game okay, but there were signs of mental fatigue during the last intensive spell? We have a few players who could step in, but all have a ‘but’ about their suitability. So he plays until he drops. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that?
The alternatives are:
Bendtner – the most ‘like for like’ player but unlikely to get a good fan reaction.
Akpom – Inexperienced, but has been in good form at the lower level.
Sanogo – Struggling physically at the moment, but has the potential to be good next season.
That leaves: Walcott, Podolski, and Gnabry. The latter gets my vote, preferably with the other two in the line up.
A; What position? i.e. to replace who? in the short/medium/long term, and with that comes B.
B; Do we really need somebody if we have someone in the academy ranks that could do that role in a year or two years time?
We, as intelligent supporters tend to stick with the A, often without the secondary thoughts of how well they might fit in with the team? And then, later to whom it might affect?
I will run through a few names from the academy, who in the near future could develop into our main squad/first 11:
GK – No real problems here, imo. Martinez is out on loan and will be an able deputy long term. Plus Iliev, and the new guy from Bristol, Macey who from reports is big and commanding despite his age, just 19. So unless we are replacing our current Number 1? I doubt we will be buying anyone?
CB – Only one name in the frame here. Isaac Hayden. He must be a very good listener as AW is clearly rating him highly, but not necessarily in this position? But he is versatile. That could leave an opening for Ignasi Miquel, currently out on loan. If that is successful, he could be a useful back up? While Boateng and Fagan’s turn is probably a little way off, should they be of such quality?
So I think new blood here is pretty certain.
LB – Again, one name that has blossomed recently, Brandon Ormonde Ottewill, aka BOO54.
Seriously good prospect in the period beyond Monreal’s tenure.
Position covered in the short and medium term. BOO54 could be such a talent to take us beyond that?
RB – No question, Bellerin is the one. …. (if he stays in this position? – personal note!). Recently injured in the Dortmund junior game, after playing well. He looks like overtaking Jenks especially when/if Jenks goes out on the loan which would give regular games to get more varied experience? That may be harsh on Jenkinson, but the alternative would likely mean a transfer in? We just need Sagna to sign up for another 3 years – I year playing at top level. I year as mentor/rotation. 1 year back up. Not to mention usefulness at CB throughout?
Essential note to management – Do it!
Midfield: sub division; Defensive; Isaac Hayden looks to be the one at the present time to take over or cover for Flamini? He needs to be guided, but as I said earlier, he must be a good student. He is also the marker for the younger ones hoping to make it one day. Not unlike many a young player, prone to try too hard to impress, but he has all the attributes to become a great DM.
Not forgetting Nico Yennaris. Alas his progress has been stalled by injuries at crucial times. If he can secure a decent loan deal where he can play week in week out, and stay out of the treatment room, then you could be looking at Arteta’s natural successor, although he can play RB too. Very few deserve it more, but sadly, it may not happen? Such is the pressure for the here and now? It is likely a new face will be brought in that will change the whole dynamic in this area. We shall see?
Other areas of midfield are so competitively covered it is hard to see who can break through, or where? However, such is the talent brewing, that current players, and those on the fringes may need to improve just to keep their places in a year or two?
The candidates are plentiful, but perhaps not all will make it at Arsenal?
Attacking/creative midfielders: Eisfeld looked nailed on to force his way into the first team squad, yet has hardly made the bench this season? Niggling injuries, some criticism of his ‘team play’, and others breaking through, all seem to have contributed to him slipping out of contention. He probably needs a loan spell to develop his undoubted talent further? His position, or where he performs best, is probably the one that Podolski plays most often: near the main striker, where he can ghost into the box and shoot with either foot. That is strength, and his weakness for a future here?
If ever we do sign a second striker, his potential is at most risk? In the deeper role, Ozil seems to have the only other option, and that position looks secure for some time to come?
Zelalem surprised many on tour pre-season, and showed he lost none of his flair in the recent Dortmund game. Again injury halted his progress so he missed the COC matches, but he looks destined to play, despite his young age, in that all round creative role that Ozil or Cazorla play? In the short term, he will find opportunities, longer term he could be the real reason why Cesc does not return …. as a player at least?
Jon Toral is another who made a comeback from injury in that Dortmund game. Made one goal, scored another, missed two easy chances. Rosicky mark 2 by any other name? I would go so far as to say, he is the only player at the club that is closest to the TR7 in style. When he breaks through into the squad, and with enough mentoring from the same TR7, he will be an absolute star. Not only that, he can play anywhere behind the strikers.
Positions covered – In spite of my tendency to covet another young player in the short term, it will have little effect on young Toral’s advancement into our list of great players.
The deeper lying Kristoffer Olsson has also claims on the box to box role, but has several young players ahead of him already in the squad, and he too, may need to go out on loan to get game time. Then we might see how he fits in at a later stage? Quality player none the less, and should any of the senior player fall by the wayside he could be ready to take on that role seamlessly.
That is all the midfield positions covered. Re-read this list in two years time, and tell me I am wrong?
Striker/Front line? The most talked about roles in terms of transfer in news presently.
Mostly because it is thought the young players are not enough like Giroud to lead the line, or not experienced enough to either support him in the second striker role, if we should ever demand that starting position. Alas, all of this is true, with the exception of Gnabry, who is gaining experience, and adding width to our play. The others have yet to experience this.
I will put Gnabry in this category, because, although untried, he could be a contender for Giroud’s understudy? If anything, he has more claims than Walcott for example, given he can shoot with either foot, he can dribble, has pace, above all has the physical build to bully his way past defenders. But like all of these young players, close support around them in the early stages will be necessary, whilst they fully learn their skill to do it alone? None are at the stage that can take on the Giroud role in the way he does, but Gnabry is just one who could do a job there if called upon?
Akpom heads the queue of those outside of the current squad, and although is different in style to Giroud, I believe he is not far behind Gnabry in skills and build, to command a leading role? It is whether the team can adjust to his style of play? He is a ball player, rather than a hold up guy. You play the final pass to him in and around the box and he will work a shot away almost every time. Expecting him to hold off two or three defenders near the halfway line, take a ball down with a deft headed touch, and you will be disappointed. Play a ball to his feet and watch him twist away for a couple of one-two’s and he’s your man. He is your RVP replacement far more than Giro is, but he needs playing time to get to that level? In the meantime, he would be your Podolsksi deputy ..if only Podolski held a regular spot in the team? Or playing with Podolski would be equally interesting for him and Gnabry?
Sanogo has all the attributes to be a top class striker, except the physical body to match. I believe physically he is a late maturing type, and his injuries have held him back considerably. He is going to be a slow, long term project that I hope the club persevere with. If he follows the Gibbs line and develop his core strength through exercise, whilst gradually getting the confidence to withstand what is the norm in the EPL we could have a real star on our hands. Ignore stories of him going back to France, or out on loan. What he needs is right here, and Gibbs has shown it can pay off in a big way, that what you do off field will bring all you deserve it you want it badly enough. I hope he sticks with it and achieves his goal for himself and the club. It may take another year before he blossoms, so providing that space has not been filled by some big name transfer, we should see the benefits for years to come?
A similar type of player to the above is currently on loan, but may well return next season? He is the slightly in and out Joel Campbell? He would bring a Thierry Henry type flair to the team. Skills to burn without a doubt. Hopefully he is learning all the time how to put it all together. The big problem with these players is they need playing time. I think he might like the regular game at a lesser club rather than irregular games here? No disrespect to him, but for visa issues he has not been able to ‘associate’ himself with the club. That needs to change if we are going to profit from his undoubted talent?
He has got the Walcott position very much in his sights. A striker who can play out wide, and cut in and score goals from the most unlike of angles. Not bad at developing his assists to his repertoire either?
Should Walcott fancy a move to where he got married, then we need look no further than this lad to fill his shoes, as long as he continues on this upward curve?
Austin Lipman has been prolific in his scoring recently, and is the other name that has the potential to develop further, and could be considered down the line, but he has to displace a lot of others to get there?
Sadly, any signing will knock the prospects of all back a little, and in football, timing is everything. Most of these strikers are a year or so behind the club’s need, and need that time to break into the squad to develop? But if nothing happens in the forthcoming windows, next season could change our view of who we need?
I am caught in the middle of my own argument here, as, like many others, I see a young striker of huge potential and think, Yes, he’d be great in an Arsenal shirt … and then I look up this list and think, yes so would these in a year or two? I am hoping that Arsene Wenger will make the right decisions and we get to keep the best from those I have outlined above, and at the same time can secure players that will get over the line in the short term. But quality is essential.
I will not name players, but from the above I think we do need a DM for when the going gets tough, and our current small squad is stretched beyond its limits.
A CB, beyond what we have in the squad at the moment.
Sagna’s signature at RB, a priority.
The luxury of a Rosicky back up, as well as his signature on an extended contract, also a priority.
Main striker, who can also play alongside Giroud, and be a model for those I named above?
The one signing I will name, Dennis Bergkamp as coach to these fine prospects would be the icing on the cake?
Very short Crystal Palace v Arsenal pre-match today, as I am knackered.
The Eagles could either put up a proper fight tomorrow and like savages throw everything at us, or they might crumble from the first minute of the game. Hard to tell, but whatever they do Arsenal’s quality should shine through and three points should be taken home tomorrow.
We need to rock on and play with discipline and focus and once the game is won, I hope the boys have mercy with their wounded opponents.
I reckon Arsene will start with a strong as possible side, as he will really want to win this and not leave anything to chance tomorrow. Many of the first teamers can have a rest during mid-week, so every reason to start with our strongest eleven at Selhurst Park. For me, that would include Jack Wilshere, but it looks he might be rested tomorrow to allow his ankle to recover further. If there is no Jack, then I reckon Gnabry will get another game on the right.
And who will play in the double-DM pivot? Flamini is back and should play, and I reckon Arsene will play Ramsey next to the Frenchman in order to give him a boost to his confidence after a rare mistake by the Welshman in last week’s CL encounter with Dortmund. For me, Aaron is a natural B2B and Flamini will allow him to express himself again. It could also be that Arsene will play FlamTeta in the pivot, as that would give him the more solid defensive structure he seems to prefer in away games. We will have to wait and see.
Defence should remain the same, but maybe Fabianski gets a rare start tomorrow….?
I just hope we will play with a high tempo from the start and try to win this game as quickly as possible, and not give the opposition a change to get into it. A nice and quiet Selhurst Park is what we want. I am also hoping for a rare clean sheet as we need our defence to start building some momentum now with some big games coming up soon.
Tomorrow’s game against the Baggies is another tough one, but we like them tough, we do.
It is a blessing in disguise that West Brom deservedly beat the Mancs last weekend; it will make us focus and not underestimate them one iota. I always feel we are most vulnerable after the team received bags of praise for a fine performance, and we are about to play a so called easy opponent. We know now that West Brom, despite our recent League Cup success against them, are not to be taken lightly.
I like West Brom, and I especially like Steve Clarke who has done a fantastic job since taking over from Hodgson. Beating the multi-million pounds earning stars of MU with the starting eleven of Myhill, Jones, Olsson, McAuley, Ridgewell, Yacob, Mulumbu, Amalfitano, Sessegnon, Sinclair and Anichebe, and that at Old Toilet, is a phenomenal achievement.
Clarke knows his football, knows about systems of football and individual coaching, and how to get the very best out of a set of decent to good footballers. I will always have respect for managers like him; those who can work magic with a limited budget, and I predict the 50 year old Scotsman, and former Chav, Clarke to go places in his carefully build up managerial career.
Tomorrow, we can expect a good game of football as I don’t expect WBA to sit back too much. They will want to play football and their and our 4-2-3-1 systems will fight for dominance in midfield. If we can win that battle, our superior fire power up-front should make the difference. Luckily the team had a relatively long break – from Tuesday till Sunday – and everybody should be fit and up for this one.
Another away win will be a new record: nine straight PL away wins in a row. It would also be a strong statement of intent to go into another inter-lull with two points clear at the top of the PL table. Today, After his team’s win against Everton, Pellegrini said they needed to win in order to try and close the gap of five points with Arsenal: how long has it been since we have been referred to as the one to make up ground on…? Long may it continue! 🙂
Can Arsenal do it? Yes we can, but as always, only with hard work and focus, and taking our chances when they arrive.
I reckon Wenger will not change much to the team that just beat Napoli so emphatically. Sagna has, as 17HT likes to call it, a Wengury and so Jenkinson should get a chance to prove himself; unless Kozzer is moved there and Vermaelen takes up the vacated CB position, which is unlikely.
It could be Jack instead of Rosicky, but I reckon SJW will get a break till the smoke is cleared; and it could be Gnabry instead of Ramsey, although AR16 has simply been too good to be left out. Gnabry is likely to come on later in the game, though.
I am also going for FlamTeta in the double DM tomorrow, but it could well be that either the Flame or Zorro get a break and Ramsey AND Gnabry will start – with the former playing in the double DM again.
Really hope we can win and set a new record tomorrow and the boys will do us proud once more.
After a tough penalty win against West Brom midweek in the Capital One Cup, Arsenal faced a trip to Wales today to take on Swansea City.
The game today saw Arsenal have a very slow start. Swansea dominated the early game, swinging in crosses and taking long shots. However, with our tall defenders and determination, we managed to keep the Swans out.
Arsenal had an unchanged line up from last week’s Premier League game against StokeCity. I found it interesting that Gnabry kept his place, despite playing 120 minutes and a penalty shootout midweek.
The first half was very open and it was very much a back and forth affair. The one major scare of the first half came when Szczesny came way out of his box, on the goal line, only for Michu to keep the ball in and for the Swans to swing the ball into the box. However, I believe offside was called and no resulting goal would have counted.
The rest of the first half was a rather boring, albeit, open game. However, in the last minute of stoppage time in the first half, Serge Gnabry had a fantastic penetrating run from just beyond half field to the edge of the 18 yard box, laid it off to Giroud, who dragged it wide. It was not the best finish, but an excellent demonstration of Gnabry’s potential. Gnabry seems like the type of player who can play either wing or in a CAM type position, and I’m very interested to see how he develops.
Overall, the first half was tense, but at the same time, there was not much to talk about. Both sides went about their business and played their trademarked beautiful styles of football, with each side frustrating the other.
In the second half Arsenal came out much stronger. They seemed more determined and ready to win. Speaking of Gnabry, he would get Arsenal’s first goal of the day. Arsenal broke down the field and some smart passing got the ball to Rambo just outside the box. Aaron then slipped Gnabry through on the right of him, without looking. Gnabry took a calm collected touch, and then blasted a cool finish past Vorm in to the lower right corner of the net, in the 58th minute. Seeing Gnabry score his first senior goal for Arsenal was exciting and he really was a standout player today. His movement and passing was excellent and he’s starting to demand a place in the squad, maybe even a consistent place in the starting 11.
Not long after, in the 62nd minute, Arsenal would score again. The man of the match, Aaron Ramsey, would score his 8th goal in 8 games. Arsenal broke down the field again with some absolutely incredible passing, including a heel flick out to the sideline by Ramsey. In the end, Giroud reversed the ball to Rambo, who took a touch and slammed the ball into the roof of the net. I was really impressed with Rambo today, not just because of his goal, but also his physical strength, tempered with some smart tackles in defense.
After this goal, Arsenal seemed to settle down and become a little complacent. We tried to possess the ball and pass it around and it worked, until the 82nd minute when Arsenal’s complacency cost them. Ben Davies of Swansea made a run down the field, played the ball to Bony, and Bony put it back over the top of our defense for Davies to poke into the net. Mertesacker tried to get a tackle in, but he couldn’t reach it and Davies poked the ball past Szczesny. I blame our players for switching off, they really should’ve had more focus, but they were excellent the rest of the game so I will forgive them.
The rest of the game was a tense affair, with cards flying and tough tackles being put in by both sides. Jenkinson, Monreal, and Arteta came in to shore up our defense, and it worked. Arsenal was strong enough, physically and mentally, to hold on to the lead. Another winning goal for Rambo and another away win for the Arsenal. 8 away wins in a row, tied for the club record. This team really is something special.
An excellent 2-1 away win to the Arsenal and we are top of the league once more! Let’s hope we can keep this winning streak up and keep our number one spot. This team looks willing to do anything to win every game in every competition and that’s what any fan of any club loves to see. The team seems to be together and willing to fight for the badge and fight for each other.
For now I’ll leave you with some questions:
What did you think of today’s game?
Does Gnabry demand a spot? If yes, in the starting 11 or on the bench?
That’s right the Stoke City Orcs have landed at Ashburton Grove, and this time it’s without their goblin manager Tony Pulis leading the charge. Under Pulis, Stoke played some absolutely deplorable football, so much so that their FIFA 2013 controls looked a little something like this:
This would be very annoying to any Stoke fan playing the game because an attempt at a low through ball would result in a sky ball hoof up to Crouch. But when you kill one, another equally evil manager, grows in their place…Mark Hughes. Mark Hughes has got them playing better football which would please the Stoke supporters. It’s something that should please Arsenal supporters as well because their old approach was our Achilles heel (RIP Delap’s towel). They are still a very dangerous team so Arsenal will need to be at their best today if they want to come away with the three points.
Bear with me here, now my theory is Santi is not in fact injured but he has been given time off. It’s not the first time Arsene has done something like this in the past. It is strange that Santi played the full 90 minutes against Chile and showed no sign of injury. It was also very strange that nothing was said about him until after the Sunderland game. Santi had a busy off-season with limited time off, so perhaps Arsene is being cautious and doesn’t want to run him into the ground this season. Arsene is also renowned for suggesting certain players are injured, in an effort to shelter them from reports suggesting they’ve been dropped. Now call me a conspiracy theorist all you want, but it does seem awfully coincidental that Santi goes missing right when Jack is fit and Ozil has been signed. Arsene would prefer the ‘injured’ story over endless stories and questions about Jack or Santi being ‘upset’ about dropping to the bench. I think if Ozil or Jack picked up an injury, Santi would make a miraculous recovery. Rested or injured? You decide!!!
Stoke City: Whelen (Hamstring), Muniesa (Groin/Pelvis), and Ness (Hip/Thigh) will miss this fixture.
I’m a bit torn for this game to be honest. We’ve got a good thing going at the moment but I’m a bit worried about some of our players entering the infamous ‘red zone’. Gone are the days where you could rotate your squad a little against lesser opposition. You can’t really get away with it anymore because every game is tough in the premier league. Gibbs has been in red hot form this season but based on his previous injury record (coupled with the ferocity of Stoke), I’d go with Monreal at left back. I’d give Jack a rest and put Gnabry out on the left. It may be a drop off in quality but that boy can play and could be an unknown quantity for Stoke. He scored a double midweek playing as a striker; add that to the match winner he scored last week and he’s in blistering form. I wouldn’t change much else though (partly because we have that many injuries so our options are limited, and I wouldn’t want to unsettle the squad too much.)
Arsenal v Stoke 1-0
It took a deflected free kick from Lukas Podolski to see us over the line in this fixture. Although we were dominant in periods, Asmir Begovic denied us numerous times thanks to some brilliant keeping. We saw the emergence of newly signed LB Nacho Monreal, and based on the hype HH created from his excellent post Nacho did not disappoint. Shawcross did his best to intimidate the ref in an effort to overturn the goal (also thought he would have a go at Arteta to show just how big a w*nker he really is), but he did not succeed.
We were held to our second consecutive goalless draw. We defended well but despite taking over the game for large parts we were very toothless in attack. Santi was mesmerizing and Giroud nearly pinched it late with a magnificent lob attempt. You can see the highlights below:
We’ve won 5 in a row now and seem confident in getting results when the heat is on (quite the change from previous seasons). Arsenal will be in a confident mood for this one.
Stoke have had a good start under Mark Hughes. They were unlucky to lose against Liverpool, they beat West Ham away, and they held ManchesterCity to a goalless draw.
This week I’ve dipped into the Arsenal Archive and pulled out this video clip. It’s the 1970-71 FA Cup semi-final against stoke city. Those old enough to enjoy it saw Peter Storey drag Arsenal back and force a replay (which we eventually went on to win!!!). Have a look at this article detailing how Arsenal denied Stoke FA Cup success in the 70s
Former Blackburn midfielder Steven N’Zonzi. I’ve found him officers; he’ll be at the Emirates on Sunday. Those who haven’t heard N’Zonzi is ‘being hunted by police for his connection with a roadside altercation with a cyclist.’ You can read all about it here:
I for one am glad I will not be at the Emirates for this one. The thought of getting mugged in the stalls by Pennant or N’Zonzi haunts me in my sleep. Those going to the game should jump on Arsenal direct; they’ve got a special on now for this game, here’s an image below:
In all seriousness though, N’Zonzi is a bulldog in midfield. Although he handed in a transfer request in the summer, he’s put his head down and stuck to the task. He won man of the match honours against both West Ham and ManchesterCity this season. He shackled Yaya last week…this week he has Ozil to deal with!
This week’s one to watch has to be AARON RAMSEY. I can’t say anything more about his season thus far that hasn’t been said already. He’s a menace all over the pitch thanks to his endless gut running, and more importantly he’s becoming a constant danger to the opposition. His importance to this squad can’t be exaggerated enough at the moment. With Giroud in top form (5 goals from 6 shots on target this season) and World Class Ozil on the pitch, we could fall in to the trap of becoming too over reliant on them. That sort of over reliance can easily be targeted by opposition managers. Aaron Ramsey isn’t allowing that to happen. Both he and Walcott will not allow opposition players to double or triple team Ozil. Bring in Santi and you have a nightmare scenario for any opposition manager. It’s the sort of situation which could see more and more teams drop off in the second half (good prediction midweek Alcide) as their press is stretched all over the pitch by Walcott, Ozil, Santi, Giroud, and Ramsey. We all know Ramsey’s history with Stoke so there is no need to explain why Aaron will be fired up for this one…and he’ll have a crowd full of supporters backing him every step of the way!
Arsenal vs Asmir Begovic
Before Begovic signed from Portsmouth in 2010 he was a keeper I wanted to see playing for Arsenal. While I am very happy with Szczesny, but Begovic is a top quality goalkeeper (probably not well liked in England considering he’s keeping Butland out), and he has proved it time and time again against us in the past. If he makes a couple of good saves early on, you’re going to have to pull something special out to get past him for the remainder of the game. Begovic could be the difference between a win or draw so let’s hope he’s having a bad day.
This week’s finger goes to penalties!!! Like Szczesny they are getting on my nerves! It’s as though the umpires guess their decisions half the time because they aren’t in the correct position to be 100% certain. Please for the love of Christ (Dennis) get some 3rd umpire technology. It’s not like it’s going to the slow the game down that much (some games you won’t even need to use it). Plus if you are going to overlook players rolling around on the ground and diving…it’s the least you can do! It’d kill two birds with one stone because we’d be almost 100% certain on the decision, and the refs can decide whether or not the person involved dived. It’s not fair that commentators can say “every forward does it”…it’s CHEATING!!!! The game should be doing all it can to cut it out and strengthen its image. I’m sick and tired of hearing “Man U won because player X went down in the box and player Z was sent off”. I don’t want to hear fossils whinge about the game changing either…it’s an improvement! The technology is there, USE IT!!!
Pre-Match pat on the back:
This week’s pat on the back is going to Arsene Wenger. It may be early days but he’s got the squad looking in tip top shape again. I don’t think there has been a manager in recent history that has copped as much flack as Arsene has. Once upon a time Arsenal fans adored Arsene, but as trophies dried up the supporter base began to turn. He’s not perfect, he’s not without fault but he’s still got his magic hat! He deserves to go out on top, and I hope this Arsenal team can start delivering for him!
‘Ask the opposition’ returns again this week. It is designed to get some friendly banter from our opposition fans and get their insight for the match ahead. This week the answers were kindly provided by Jowlermonkey and Waddos_Legends (both from the StokeCity board on www.not606.com . Let’s see what they’ve written for us this week:
1)You cleared out quite a few players during the transfer window. How do you rate your transfer window (ins and outs)?
JOWLERMONKEY: Glad to see the back of some players, fantastic that we now have a left back, needed to buy another striker.
WADDOS_LEGENDS: Our transfer window was quite good with the exception that we did not address one of our weakest positions and that is we needed two fresh young fresh strikers. Marko Arnautović was a great signing and he looks a beast so I’m really looking forward to what he can do in front of goal. We have another one coming in January from the USA, Juan Agudelo but we needed another sooner as we cannot score goals.
I was pleased to see a lot of the “Pulis Deadwood” players moved on and also pleased we at last bought in a recognised left back in Erik Pieters. Stephen Ireland was another great signing and the retention of Jermaine Pennant was another good piece of business. Loaning out Cameron Jerome for me to Crystal Palace was a mistake.
2)How is Mark Hughes travelling? Will he take you places? Better than Pulis?
JOWLERMOONKEY: I didn’t want Mark hughes, but said i’d give him his chances to hang himself. much better than Pulis.
WADDOS_LEGENDS: Early days yet to see if Hughes will take us places but we are certainly playing better football under Hughes than we ever did under Pulis. i actually feel confident going into certain games now especially away from home as before I looked on all away games as we were going to lose. Our current league position and points tally does suggest we are on the up!
The football under Tony Pulis was dire and towards the end he lost the Stoke crowd. The attendance is still suffering now and it will take a few seasons to change this back.
3) What player/position is your weakest?
JOWLERMONKEY: Strikers, neither good or hungry enough.
WADDOS_LEGENDS: As mentioned above our weakest position is in front of goal and Jon Walters as probably cost us 4 points so far this season so I would have to say him. Missed a 88 minute penalty at Liverpool this season away and 2 clear cut chances on Saturday against Manchester City.
The player just loaned out to Wigan Ryan Shotton is Stokes worst player now that is still technically on the books!
4) Which Arsenal player would you like and why?
JOWLERMONKEY: Wilshere, fast dynamic, good feet.
WADDOS_LEGENDS: The only Arsenal players I would like to see in the Stoke shirt would be either Ozil or Santi Cazorla, as I don’t think any other player would slot into our style of play and these 2 players are top players.
5) Which player/position do you feel is our weakest?
WADDOS_LEGENDS: I feel Arsenal are weakest at the back, can’t name one player in particular but this is definitely an area you struggle in hence why you brought in the ex-Stokie and old school friend of mine ” Steve Bould”.
6) Özil, will he live up to the hype?
JOWLERMONKEY: Fantastic player. Will need to be protected but has always produced the goods.
WADDOS_LEGENDS: Ozil already is showing his brilliance and will definitely live up to his reputation as a class act!
7) What is your prediction for the match?
JOWLERMONKEY: Hoping for a draw but you should beat us comfortably.
WADDOS_LEGENDS: Stoke have yet to get anything from the Emirates in the duration of our stay in the premier league. Again as i have said above I’m more confident this season and I predict a close game with 1-1 being the outcome and us picking up our first ever points there. No doubt Ryan Shawcross will be booed from start to finish as per for the “Ramsey Incident” but this helps him to lift his game and fire up his sparring partner Robert Huth!
Stoke have had an impressive start to the season but I do not see them troubling us at home. We’ve beaten them 5/5 at the Emirates, and Mark Hughes has lost his last 6 games at the Emirates (in that time he’s managed Blackburn, ManCity, Fulham, and QPR…how on earth does he keeping getting jobs??). Crouch will be isolated up front so they’ll only get joy out of set pieces (we’ll have to lift our game in this department because we let Marseille have a couple of cheapies midweek). A comfortable and assured performance should see Arsenal victorious 2-0.
For this week’s psychic prediction I contacted ‘Eagle Star’ for the third week. He better lift his game though otherwise I’m going to have to consult our very own Jgc-damus. Here are his responses:
Oz: Will Arsenal beat the Stoke City Orcs?
Eagle Star: Hmmmm 1-1 I feel.
Oz: The way they play it wouldn’t surprise me if they went for the draw. Will we concede from a set piece?
Eagle Star:Dangers…yes, score…no!
Oz:Can you please put a curse on Ryan Shawcross. I’m not sure what but maybe some Paranormal Activity type scares when he’s at home.
<insert Shawcross Scared pic>
Eagle Star:That’s not my area of expertise Oz but I can contact someone who is.
Oz: You’re a star Eagle…get it????
Eagle Star: <disconnected…and blocked>
What is your prediction?
Theo or Giroud…who will score?
Will we shut down their set piece game?
Written by: Oz Gunner
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Quick thoughts on a game that was easy on the eye, against a weak but hard working opponent.
Today, Arsenal played a lot better than expected, given the heat and it being the first game of the season. A lot of youngsters were given a chance in this game, although Arsene opted for a solid defence with only Miquel, and Jenkinson to some extent, as non-regulars. He also started with the so familiar double-DM pairing of Ramsey and Arteta which gave the team structure and balance from the start. Fabianski was preferred to Szczesny, but I don’t think we can read much into this (yet). Up-front, Ox played in the hole, with Gnabry and Theo on the wings; and the biggest surprise of the day, Akpom held the line.
Arsenal played with a relatively high tempo from the start and passed the ball round well. As a team, they looked a bit rusty at times, as a number of combinations of passes were not completed and did not lead to a chance in the first half.
It was good to see us using the wings well, and especially Walcott looked sharp. Gnabry looked lively, and reminds me a lot of Ox, but especially in the first half he lacked a bit of patience and composure at times. In the second half he improved, and the assist for the second goal showed what he is capable of when he opts to go to the by-line and produce a fine assist for another attacker, rather than go inside and try to score a wonder goal.
Ox played quite well in midfield, and his interception in our own half and subsequent run with the ball led to the only goal in the first half. Ox remained calm and pulled back the ball to Theo, who took his chance really well from the edge of the box.
Arteta was solid and demanding, and Ramsey was very active and driven and one of the best players of the half. Really nice to see him up for this game and trying to make things happen.
Gibbs and Jenkinson did have little to do as defenders but their forward play was below par in the first half. A number of crosses were inaccurate or weak, and they looked rusty in general, although they did worked hard to support our attackers.
Akpom struggled to assert himself on the game in the first half: he did not make himself available and was not anticipating the game / be at the right place at the right time enough. However, just like Gnabry, he improved significantly in the second half, and he did everything right for the second goal. He is still very young, but is showing real promise.
Arteta, Mertesacker, Fabianski , Koz and Sagna did not have to do much defensively, so I cannot pass much judgement on their performances today. Sagna was very effective going forward, though, and he produced a couple of assists in quick succession.
I was a bit disappointed in our young, Spanish CB today. Miquel made some fine interceptions and produced a very nice long ball, but he was at fault in defence a few times and this could have led to a goal – stronger opposition would have pounced on his mistakes today.
Once the second goal went in, and with Arsenal bringing on Giroud, Podolski, Rosicky and Sagna it became a really easy game for us. Good chances were created and our players took them well. Zelalem and Olsson made good first impressions, and the latter converted Rosicky’s superb cross into the box really well.
It was great to see Giroud sharp from the moment he came onto the pitch; especially his second goal was a fine finish. The same goes for Podolski who took his chance well.
However, the goal of the match for me belongs to Eisfeld, who impressed me once again very much with his composure, reading of the game and effectiveness/directness. He was given great service by Giroud for his goal, but he still had a lot to do. He finished in a ‘Neymar-esque’ style, with a vicious and well-placed shot that left the half-decent Indonesian goalie with no chance whatsoever!
We cannot take much from this game, as our opponents were too weak to give us a proper game, but I liked our energy and appetite, the tempo with which we played and the many chances we created AND converted.
It was also great to see so many fellow Gooners supporting our team many thousands of miles away: they did our club proud! And luckily none of our players got injured.
I am looking forward to tomorrow’s friendly against ‘Indonesia Dream Team’: nothing is a better antidote against the poisonous Torture Window shenanigans than watching a game of football involving our boys. It will only be temporary relief, and as per the nature of early season friendlies, it probably won’t be much of a game to watch, but at least the ball will be rolling again and we can watch eleven Arsenal shirts in action for the first time in two month.
This is the 24-man squad for the Asia Tour (thanks JM for providing the data): GK: Lukasz Fabianski, Wojciech Szczesny, Damian Martinez
DF: Kieran Gibbs, Carl Jenkinson, Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker, Ignasi Miquel, Bacary Sagna
MF: Mikel Arteta, Ryo, Aaron Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky, Jack Wilshere, Serge Gnabry, Kris Olsson, Thomas Eisfeld, Chuks Aneke, Gedion Zelalem
FW: Olivier Giroud, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lukas Podolski, Theo Walcott, Chuba Akpom
The following players did not travel to Indonesia:
i) Santi Cazorla and Nacho Monreal (extended rest due to their involvement in the Confederations Cup)
ii) Yaya Sanago (still with France at the Under-20 World Cup)
iii) Thomas Vermaelen, Abou Diaby, Emmanuel Frimpong (injured/recovering)
iv) Gervinho (announced as “sickness” … or something more ?…. Linked with Marseille, Roma)
v) Joel Campbell, Wellington Silva (no work permit to play for Arsenal yet?)
vi) Chamakh, Bendtner, Santos, CY Park (on sales)
I have not got a clue which team Arsene will select for tomorrow’s friendly, which will be shown by ESPN at Sunday 2.45 p.m. If I had my way, I would start with a strong team, but give at least some of the youngsters a chance to show us how much further they have developed last season. I would love to see more of Gnabry, Miquel, Eisfeld, Olsson, Aneke, Zelalem and Akpom during this tour.
I don’t think Arsene will add more than two or three top players to the team this summer, and with a number of players who were regarded as surplus to requirement now departed – with more to follow – there is a good opportunity for some of the above mentioned youngsters to play themself into the squad for next season.
Your guess is as good as mine as in who is going to start in tomorrow’s team. This is a time for experimenting and it will be interesting to see how we line up, in terms of formation, and who will start/ play where. No doubt, Arsene will make many substitutions and it will be hard to pull any big conclusions from Sunday’s encounter.
I expect us to be in with the familiar 4-2-1-3 (4-2-3-1) formation and would like Arsene to start with the following players:
How would like Arsenal to line-up for tomorrow’s friendly?
Enjoy the game fine fellow Gooners! 🙂
Written by: TotalArsenal.
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