Santi Returns | Giroud to Lead the Line? Sunderland v Arsenal Preview/ Line-Up

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At 12:30 pm Saturday early kick-off, our team will line up against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. It will be a confrontation between the joint table toppers Arsenal and the team firmly rooted at the bottom Sunderland. The result looks a fore gone conclusion, but that’s on paper only. This is the Premier League where nothing is ever assured. Nine games have been played and Sunderland stand at 2 pts: 1 pt at home, the other away. The team has scored a total of 6 goals, conceding 16 with an average possession of 41.7%. They also average 9.6 shots per game.

One thing these stats tell us is that this is a team that sits deep counting on counters for their goals.  Even more loudly, the stats tell us that the team is not very proficient in these tactics. On the other hand, our stats show also a clear lack of proficiency on our part at unlocking ‘parked buses’, as we were able to score only 1 controversial goal in 270 minutes of football against Middlesbrough, Burnley and Leicester where we enjoyed our most possessions of the season so far (75%, 67% and 61% respectively). Such high possession ratings indicate games against ‘park the bus’ teams, and so toothless has been our displays on such outings. It might be apt to note that we banged in 6 goals where we had the least (43%) possession of the season in our game against Ludogorets. We love playing against teams that love to play. The other way, not at all.

Is the stage then all set for a stalemate?

It is this threat of another stalemate against a PTB team that brings the big question of who leads the line: Giroud or Sanchez? That is assuming we are able to shackle the duo of Jemain Defoe (4 goals) and Patrick van Aanhole (2 goals) who between them have scored 100% of Sunderland’s epl goals.

If Giroud is selected, Walcott would cease to drift inside as Giroud is now there. Instead, Walcott hogs the wide areas for whipping in crosses for Giroud to attack. With Walcott that wide, Bellerin’s overlap is largely stifled. Ozil would have no need to again push up as Sanchez, aka false 9 or is it aka double 10, is no longer there to suffocate Ozil’s #10 spaces. Instead Sanchez has moved wide-left, seconding our best vertical ball carrier Iwobi to the role of bench warming.

Nacho or Gibbs would have to bump up the field more frequently because Giroud in the box is excellent when feeding off crosses. Coquelin would be asked to keep an extra eye on the space vacated by ‘wing back’ Nacho or Gibbs and the rippling effect of Giroud for Sanchez continues, affecting the entire structure of play. Your guess is as good as mine, whether the great ripple across the whole of our play would improve or lessen our fortunes. Poor Wenger, this is his headache. All we care for is that Sunderland will be trounced.

To be or not to be is the question for Mr Wenger. Nacho or Gibbs? Iwobi or Ox?  Should he risk Santi, the brain box, who has been seen training since last week or does he play the exquisite but safe passer Elneny? Is it Ox in place of Walcott who has a hamstring alert? Ludogorets away looms on the horizon also? And our eternal enemy Spuds soon after? Questions, questions and questions all poised delicately on the knife edge of us wanting Sunderland trounced.

  1. S. Eliot maybe was making reference to this conundrum when in his ‘The Love-Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ he wrote:

“And indeed there would be time

Time for you and time for me,

And time yet for a hundred indecisions 

And for a hundred visions and revisions

Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go

Talking of Michelangelo.”

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The assurance I can give here is that by the time Wenger gets his line up ready for submission Saturday morning, he would have poured himself another cup of tea because the first one is gone cold. Dead cold.

Predicted line-up:

submit football lineup

Bench: Ospina, Gabriel, Gibbs, Elneny, Ramsey, Walcott, Giroud.

Score: 0-2 (Arsenal win). Alexis and Iwobi to score.

COYG!!!

By Pony Eye

Arsenal best 11 in 2017: Szczesny in goal, Jack in the hole, Stones CB, Akpom CF?

Two great guys, but will they still be at Arsenal in 2017?
Two great guys, but will they still be at Arsenal in 2017?

Eight questions for you to answer.

I have been to three matches this season – Liverpool at home and Newcastle United and Sheffield Wednesday away – and have watched most other games on TV. I reckon we have a good chance to win silverware again this season, and our main focus should be on winning the title.  I also believe that Wenger is not finished developing this team further and will add quality if and when possible.

It is clear, though, that a strong first eleven is coming to the fore: Cech, Bellerin, Nacho, Koz, Coquelin, Santi, Ozil, Alexis, Rambo are all top quality first team players. When all are fit, Arsene can pick from Giroud, Theo, Ox, Wilshere, Ospina, Gibbs, BFG, Gabriel, Debuchy, Rosicky, Flamini, Arteta and Welbeck to complete his team and rotate players when necessary. That is a pretty fine squad to pick from right now, and let us hope the medical team will get on top of the injury issues rather sooner than later so we can make full use of these players during the remainder of the season.

But what will our team look like in two years’ time?

We have the money now to keep our best players and to add top quality international players as well as good, experienced PL players, annually. I reckon we have a fine squad right now that can win us silverware. But, as you will have noticed, I think we have two positions for which we are likely to seek new players: CB and in attack. Furthermore, the likes of Rosicky, Flamini, Arteta and the BFG will probably have left the team by the summer of 2017, and will also need replacing, either from within (youth) or through buying experienced PL/European players.

I have no doubt that Giroud and Theo will still be at Arsenal in two years’ time, but I am less sure that Welbeck will make it. In fact, I would be very (pleasantly) surprised if Danny would really make it at Arsenal, but that is for another time/post.  Both Theo and Giroud are important team players, and Alexis is a versatile attacker who can play anywhere up-front, but Wenger will in likelihood reinforce our attack with another star player during the coming summer.

Furthermore, I am a big fan of the BFG but don’t think he will be a first choice player anymore in 2017. There is a good chance that Wenger will make Koz and Gabriel our preferred CB pairing, but part of me believes Wenger will go for another ‘organiser of defence’ rather than two full on CBs ala Koz and Gabriel.

I have some ideas who Wenger should go for but do not want to influence the discussion too much, so will keep these to myself for now.

So, for just a bit of fun, my eight questions to you are:

  1. What will be our best eleven in 2017 from the currently available players (assuming everybody is fit and nobody is bought between now and then)?
  2. Being able to spend about £45m in 2016, and then again in 2017, who would you try to buy to add to our strongest first eleven and why?
  3. Where would you play a fully fit Jack Wilshere?
  4. Will Wojciech Szczesny be our nr.1 goalkeeper if it is up to you?
  5. Which ex Gunner, if anyone, would you love to be back at Arsenal?
  6. Is Steve Bould the best man to be Arsene’s right hand man; if not, who should replace him?
  7. Do you want Arsene Wenger still to be in charge in 2017?
  8. Do you think Chuba Akpom will make it into our best eleven by 2017?

By TotalArsenal.

Four Points behind Chelsea? Barcodes v Gunners Preview & Line-up

Newcastle – Arsenal  Match Preview

 How does Arsenal respond to coming up short in Monaco?

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From the glamour of Monte Carlo and European nights, Arsenal must travel to the furthest reaches of its own league and (somehow) get back to the more mundane task of trying to wrest 3 points from the always stubborn Magpies of Newcastle. 

In the return leg of our Champions League round of 16 tie in Monaco, Arsenal played with spirit and determination and scored two goals, but it was not enough.  We can debate about the away goals rule or whether Arsenal was naive (or just wasteful) in the first leg or whether English football just isn’t at the requisite level to compete with the best of the continent.  In the end, however, the only way to get back into the Champions league is to finish in the top 4 back home in the Premier league.  It may not be as exciting as an elimination match in the world’s biggest club competition, but going to Tyneside and replicating the effort and performance we saw on the Cote d’Azure–and bringing back full points from our trip to Newcastle–is probably, in the end, just as important.

Somehow we have to see what happened in Monaco not as the massive disappointment it is but as another gritty win in a tough away stadium.  Before that match we did likewise at Old Trafford in the FA Cup quarterfinals and we’ve had other good road wins, most notably on the other side of Manchester at the Etihad Stadium against Manchester City.  In fact, with the exception of the very disappointing loss to a team just up the road (and the new year’s day loss at Southampton) Arsenal have been perfect on their travels in 2015.   Our form even has some wondering if it’s possible to close the 7 point gap (plus a game in hand) on league leaders Chelsea.

Personally, I think that gap is probably too large, but I’m certainly open to seeing Chelsea drop points, come back to the chasing pack and open up the title race.  They dropped a pair of points a week ago vs Southhampton after their own exit from the Champions league, and now have to travel to relegation-threatened Hull City, so why not?

More realistic, and probably more to the point, is our own path towards getting back into the big tournament.  Our good run of league results has us well positioned in 3rd place just a point behind (last year’s league champions) Manchester City, but other teams are queuing up for the run-in.  Manchester United sit only a point behind us, but they have to travel to Anfield and face down the most in-form of all the English clubs, Liverpool, in a real 6 pointer.  Their hosts only trail them by 2 points and could thus leapfrog them into the CL spots.  We can only play our own match, of course.  As such, if we can win at Newcastle, all looks good heading into the two week international break.   If we drop points up there, however, we drop into the fray and the time away goes from a nice respite to (our more usual?) Arsenal angst.  With our next league match at home vs Liverpool, things could get even more uncomfortable.

As such, the importance of putting our disappointments into the rear view and giving our very best in Newcastle is extreme.  Luckily the opponent is struggling with injuries, suspensions and a run of bad results.  Moreover, sitting in 11th place, they can afford further bad results without dropping into a real relegation battle.   Still, it would be wise to beware the wounded animal and Newcastle teams (and their supporters) always offer a prideful effort.  Underestimating them would be a mistake.

Hosting Arsenal with all the circumstances they currently face, in fact, should allow Newcastle to play in an unfettered, attacking, nothing to lose manner.  Papiss Demba Cisse and Fabricio Coloccini, the (spitting) head and tail (and hairstyle) of their outfield spine will be missing through suspension.  Additionally, defenders Paul Dummett, Massaido Haidara and Steven Taylor are out injured, along with midfielders Rolando Aarons, Mehdi Abeid, Siem de Jong and Cheick Tiote.   Interim manager John Carver is suggesting, in fact, that he may not even be able to fill out his bench, claiming that he has only 13 outfield players (and two keepers) fit enough to wear the barcode kit.

Even if true, I’d still expect Newcastle to offer a game plan based on resistance but with a stronger urge to attack and a hope to simply outscore us.  In other words, we cannot take them too lightly or hope to ease into the match.  Players like Moussa Sissoko and Ayoze Perez are fine attacking players who can score goals if given the chance.  Remy Caballa is a very tricky ball handler and Yoan Goufran, while not as flashy, is a player who always puts in a shift, as does Jack Colback.  Gabriel Obertan and Emmanuel Riviere, on their day, can also be a handful for any defender; Sammy Ameobi may not be as stout as his older brother Shola (recently transferred to Crystal Palace) but is tall enough to present a target for crosses.   Their back line will be makeshift, but at least they have Argentine international Jonas Gutierrez back from his battle with testicular cancer.   The balance of the team is heavy in attack, so, just as we might ask Jonas himself, will one ball be enough?

Cancer jokes are probably a step too far, but Arsenal must fight a disease of their own–complacency.  Can the group cope with their European disappointment, get back to business and beat Newcastle?  Focus and determination would seem the best prescriptive antidotes, but will we bring them?  Who will Arsene Wenger use to fight off any sense of self-pity amongst the collective and move us forward?

My guess is that we will see a largely unchanged squad from Tuesday night.  Luckily, nobody took more than psychological knocks in that match but certainly many looked tired and Wenger will have to have a keen eye for those who seem more hungover than others.  Tomas Rosicky who missed both the Monaco and West Ham matches due to illness, is back, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he plays at least some role on the day.

Here’s my best guess for a starting 11.

ars v new March 15

Subs: Szczesny, Gabriel, Gibbs, Cazorla, Flamini, Rosicky, Walcott

That’s only one change from Tuesday (Aaron Ramsey for Santi Cazorla) but then again I’m not privy to watching the lads in training and trying to note who might really not be up for another big effort.  Many pundits are noting that Alexis has not played as well in the new year and has only scored a single goal in his last 11 appearances.  Even off the boil he presents such a threat that I cannot see sitting him ahead of the international break.   (If he were to get a bench seat, would his spot be taken by Walcott or Rosicky?)  It’s also possible that Giroud rests.  Wenger brought him off the bench the last time we traveled in England, in the FA Cup match at Manchester United.  I don’t see that particular change but, by the same token, it seems harsh to suggest a bench place for Santi Cazorla given his great play in a slightly deeper role.  Ramsey’s recent goals, however, would seem to merit a place in the team. along, perhaps, with the greater physicality and excellent workrate he offers.  Maybe Welbeck (or Alexis and/or Giroud) sits so both Santi and AR can play, which perhaps is a more defensive scheme and a wise thought in light of so many attackers in the Newcastle squad.  As always, what (the f**k) do I know?

Not too much probably.  What do YOU know?  What do others think about this match and the larger issues about this Arsenal team–our exit from the Champions league and our chances back in England?  At this point we only have 9 league matches remaining–and the adventure(s) at Wembley in the FA Cup.  How far can we go (up or down)?  Does it matter?  Comments on the blog have really dropped off, perhaps due to our fearless leader (Total Arsenal) being pre-occupied with real world responsibilities (aka a job…) and not posting.  Are we bored with our club, with football, or (maybe) with life?  What’s up people?

Personally, I’m glad we’ve got a match (and I rather dread the International break), but that’s just me… Hopefully our Gunners (and you Gooners) feel likewise…

By 17highburyterrace

Santi and Coquelin in DM-pivot, Welbeck and Alexis on wings: Line-up & Preview

Arsenal-AS Monaco  

Champions League Round of 16, First Leg

No Changes from Saturday?

The past and present are coming together for Arsene on Wednesday night.
The past and present are coming together for Arsene on Wednesday night.

There’s something about being a supporter of Arsenal which is strange.  Maybe it’s the same with all football clubs and all teams in all sports, but I would doubt it.  For Gooners, there’s the game, but there’s also what it means.

Nothing means more than the elimination rounds of the Champions League, the biggest trophy (literally and figuratively) in all of club football.   Arsene Wenger, the longest serving manager of an English club by approximately a factor of 10, has gotten his teams to this stage of the competition every year since the second group stage was eliminated.  It’s a feat which represents an amazing consistency and, as they say, if you’re not in it, you can’t win it.  Still, as so many of Wenger’s detractors might argue, we haven’t won it, so what’s so great about always being in a competition we DON’T actually win?

The answer, of course, is money, but that’s a topic that (ideally) will not be on our minds as our supporters take up their (most-expensive-in-all-of-Europe) seats to watch their team play AS Monaco tomorrow night.  Those same fans will know that just about anything can happen.  Four years ago, in this same round and in memorable fashion, Arsenal came from a goal down to beat FC Barcelona on the strength of goals from Robin Van Persie and Andrey Arshavin.  More recently, in the group stage last Autumn, Arsenal blew a three goal lead vs Anderlecht FC, and, with it, the chance to win our group.   “Anything at Arsenal,” (or it’s converse, “No Such Thing as a Sure Thing…”) maybe ought to be our mantra…

Drawing that latter match meant coming 2nd in the group and a possibility of drawing the three tough Spanish clubs (Atletico and Real Madrid and Barca) or Bayern Munich (for the third straight season) or AS Monaco–clearly the most promising option for progressing further.  For once, a bit of luck came our way.

Ah, Monaco…the tiny principality on the French Riviera which conjures up so many images.  For people from the States like me (of a certain age) it will always be the home of actress Grace Kelly who became Princess and later died tragically in a car crash.   Marry that to the image of James Bond playing Baccarat at the Monte Carlo casino and the romance of the tiny tax haven is extreme.  It is this tax-exempt element which has allowed the football club to punch above its weight.  It was a launching point for our manager some 25+ years ago and for one of our greatest players, Thierry Henry, not long after Wenger had departed.  More recently, it has been a gathering place for some very talented (and expensive) footballers.  This past Summer saw the exodus of Colombians Rademal Falcao and James Rodriguez, but Monaco still boasts pedigreed players like Joao Motinho, Ricardo Carvalho, Jeremy Toulalan, Martin Steklenburg and Dimitar Berbatov.  These players are attracted by the relatively higher salaries (or amounts they–and their agents–can keep due to lower taxes) as are younger prospects like French U-21 sensation (and the defensive midfielder many wanted at Arsenal) Geoffrey Kongdogbia, Portuguese mid-fielder Bernado Silva and the exciting Belgian speedster Yannick Ferriera Carrasco.

With players like these, Monaco didn’t win their group with luck alone.  And, even though manager Leonardo Jardim insists his team is not all about defending, surely they will set out to limit our offensive threat and play on the break.  Why shouldn’t they, given that they came only a single goal shy of keeping a perfect record of 6 clean sheets during the group stage of this tournament and are unbeaten in their last 17 matches in all competitions having conceded only 3 goals?   In their most recent match, despite playing with only 10 men for over half the match, they kept a clean sheet and prevailed over Cote d’Azur rival Nice, poaching the winning goal with pressing from the front.

Breaking down such a formidable opponent will not be easy even if Monaco may have to shift personnel due to injury and the suspension of Toulalan.

Arsenal, by contrast, in recent matches at least, have been scoring early and then defending those leads with somewhat mixed results.  In our own league the clean sheets have dried up and a one goal lead at Spurs was not enough.   Against teams closer to the bottom, Leicester City and Crystal Palace, scoring twice in the first half has been a recipe for success even if we haven’t appeared fully convincing defending those leads and seeing them halved as the matches wore on.

Perhaps the best blueprint for this match was the last time we played against a team from another league.  Against Middlesbrough, leaders of the English second division, Arsenal played its most beguiling football of the season and two goals (scored in the space of just a couple of minutes) were enough to add punctuation to a pattern of dominance.  Our reward is a big quarterfinal match-up at Manchester United in the FA Cup.  Monaco tomorrow night represents a big step up in competition, but with the away goals rule in place (a clean sheet being the first priority for the home side) it may also suggest how Arsenal wants to approach our play in these cup ties.  A platform of strong defence, aggressive play from our full backs and dominance in midfield (to carry into return legs) will be the priorities.  As they say, you cannot win the tie in the first leg, but you sure can lose it…

Fitness news suggests all who played at Crystal Palace are available for this one and there are no new injuries in the squad, except that Jack Wilshere (an unused sub at the weekend) will be “short” for this match, even though “he did not have a setback.”  Hmmm.  Amongst the several languages Wenger speaks, “injury news” is the only one which does not have a translation dictionary.  My guess is that Wenger will not change much, if at all, from the weekend.  Here then is my best guess at the line-up.

arse v Monaco Feb 15

(Subs: Szczesny, Gabriel, Gibbs, Flamini, Rosicky, Walcott, Akpom)

Keen observers (those still reading…) will note that this is an unchanged line-up from Saturday with the only change being Flamini in Wilshere’s bench seat.  Boring. boring Arsene…

Of course, what (the f**k) do I know?  I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Theo out there instead of Welbeck or Gibbs (who was very effective, especially in attack vs Boro) in at left back.  Has Hector Bellerin been dropped or is he truly carrying a knock?  His experience with continental referee styles might be helpful.  There was some suggestion that Szczesny might come back in for Ospina, who seemed hurt in the Palace match before carrying on, but I cannot see that happening as long as the Colombian does enough to keep winning matches.   We have matches coming thick and fast (after this we play Everton on Sunday then QPR next Wednesday), but exerting full dominance in this home leg, including, ideally a clean sheet plus a goal or two, might allow for more rotation in the future.

What do you guys think?  Will Wenger go for the same line-up or is this a chance to ring in the changes?

Regardless, this is as fine a chance to get off on the correct foot in the elimination rounds as we’ve had in several seasons.  The squad seems healthier, deeper and stronger even if the names of the clubs in the final 16 appear as daunting as ever.

Can we get past this round (for the first time in 5 seasons)?  How far can we go in the tournament?  So many questions and the answers start tomorrow night.  Go on, then…

By 17highburyterrace

The Future is Bright – The Future is Red and White!

Steve, one of Bergkampesque’s favourite regulars and a recent Ozil-convert lol, posted a number of key questions late last night. I like to invite you all to respond to his questions, and in order to get the discussion going, I have added my responses.

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Question 1:

Do we start the next season having retained both our loanees on the wing (Campbell and Silva) and let them fight it out for the chance to become a first choice sub, or do we grab the money and run choosing instead to replace them for one of the supposed transfer targets (Dybala, Draxler, Reus etc)?

I reckon Arsene will sign one to two super quality players every summer, as he started to do so two summers ago. This is what we always wanted: hold on to our key players and add quality gradually. This will also allow us to have a bit of space for new talent and youngsters into the team.

Campbell did not get many opportunities to show us how good he is, but when he was on the pitch he was underwhelming. I have a feeling this will be another Carlos Vela situation and he will get sold eventually. Wellington is harder to predict.

Not sure whether we will buy a (super) quality winger this summer. It depends on where Wenger wants our width and wing play to come from. A super quality left back with a great assists ratio could also be an option… I would love Reus, who can also play centrally I reckon, but the young Dutchman Memphis Depay is the one to go for I reckon.

Question 2:

Do we buy one more CB to partner Gabriel and provide complete top choice cover in every position within the team (Kos and BFG could both be injured at the same time, crazier things have happened just look at this season) or do we leave the position vacant for one of the youngsters to fill after all Chambers didn’t do himself any harm there this season?

I reckon Wenger will have a good look at his internal options in the next few months. With Bellerin developing so strongly and Chambers having had such a strong start as well, he might look at Debuchy as cover for the CB positions. The Frenchman reads the game well and could be a good organiser and leader of our defence. I also feel that Chambers could become a solid CB but this will take time as he is still so young.

Question 3:

Do we make every effort to grab the one that got away this transfer window and sign Schneiderlin to replace our captain as the first choice DM and in doing so probably resign Arteta to a fringe role?

Arsenal have, apparently, been in the market for a DM for a few years now. Yet we never sign one. I don’t know what to think about the Schneiderlin rumours but would love to see him in red and white this summer. You would say he is exactly what Wenger would want in a modern DM and he would combine well with Coquelin as well, if and when we need steel and ingenuity in front of our back four. Arteta will keep playing a role in our team and the captaincy seems to mean little to Wenger. Only time will tell how it will work out exactly, but if Coquelin does indeed sign a new contract we might not see a new DM at the Groove for quite a while.

Question 4:

And who will be left in the fringe player group come the start of next season, will it be the mass culling that a few think it may be or will Wenger continue his unwavering faith in the surplus resources he has, Coquelin has surely shown the benefits of this approach to player management evolving from surplus to requirements into absolutely vital?

The core group, which will be about 18 players, will stay the same other than the addition of a super quality player. Some will be let go off, both old and young, and Wenger might sell one of his creative midfielders to make a bit of room for up and coming talent. But this will not be dramatic at all and just business as usual. The formula of: 1 to 2 SQ players (like Ozil, Alexis) + 1 to 3 young players breaking through + 1 to 2 solid quality additions (like Debuchy, Monreal) and letting three to six players go from the squad, is likely to continue imo.

Question 5:

Do we selfishly hoard the young stars we have at our disposal providing excellent cup match options and injury crisis cover or will most of that team be loaned out for proper game time gaining the experience they need to continue up the Arsenal conveyor belt of talent to the first team?

A mixture of both. Loaning out players is a brilliant way of fast-tracking a player’s development or testing them properly, so we will see more of this. Some players need Arsene’s and the coaching staff’s direct attention and will be ‘nurtured’ at home. Just look at Jenkinson and Bellerin: one is developing fast at West Ham and the other one is doing so at home…. Another example is Sanogo and Akpom: one is getting a chance under a manager who believes in him, Pardew; the other is now given a proper chance at home. It is all about making the right developmental decisions and at the moment we seem to be getting it right.

Strengthening the team bottom upwards and with quality buys, whilst holding on to our top players, is a great strategy of building the best team in the country, and hopefully, Europe.

The Future is Bright, The Future is

Red and White.

COYG!

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Written by: Steve and TotalArsenal.

One Hull of an Important Match! Arsenal v Hull Line-Up & Preview

Arsenal's English midfielder Jack Wilshe

Let’s get in to it shall we:

Missing in Action:

Diaby sick bay

Not surprisingly this image still doesn’t need changing.

Arsenal: Jack (ankle), Arteta (calf), Welsh Jesus (hamstring), Flamini (groin – doubt), Ozil (knee – doubt. I think he’ll be on the bench for this one. If things are going well he might get a little run out), Welbeck (thigh – doubt), Giroud (suspended – last match), Sanogo (hamstring/going on loan – doubt), Podolski (groin strain/going to Inter), Diaby (calf strain/figment of our imagination).

Perhaps we can purchase a soft tissue specialist this transfer window.

Hull City: Rosenior (hamstring), Robertson (ankle), Dawson (hamstring), Diame (knee), Snodgrass (knee)

Predicted Line-up:

Football team Hull

Some pretty big question marks over who starts. We know Ospina will start (I can sense BJ doing cartwheels from here. He has it on good authority that Ospina’s feet don’t actually touch the ground and he saves shots with his mind).

Thanks to our rather extensive list of injuries it’s going to be hard to rotate the squad too much. We are down three strikers and Podolski; therefore, Sanchez may have to lead the line again. I wouldn’t mind seeing Akpom given a go. With all the media attention he’s been given this week it wouldn’t surprise me if he was given a run out. Campbell is probably the better option given his stage of development.

In defence Debuchy is likely to be rested. Chambers or Bellerin? Let’s give the Spaniard another go. Then again Chambers may have to start because he’d be in big trouble if we conceded a set piece…land of the midgets. Kozzer or Monreal? I think Kozzer still isn’t 100% and Monreal was doing a good job, so I’d like to see him line-up for this encounter.

In midfield we could go with Chambers and Le Coq again. In my opinion that didn’t work against Southampton. Flamini could come back in but I’d prefer to see Rosicky and Le Coq given the opportunity. The young Frenchman has performed admirably since coming back on loan, so I’d like to see him prove his worth once again. Ozil will make the bench. In a perfect world he could come on at around the 70th minute mark when we have the game in the bag…unfortunately we are Arsenal and that just doesn’t happen.

Walcott is the biggest question mark for me. Does he start? Is he ready? He hasn’t started a match since January 3rd 2014 and he only had 7 touches in 31 minutes against Southampton. I’d prefer a fully fit Campbell to start on the wing so that Walcott can come on for a little run out with Ozil.

Previous Encounters:

Arsenal vs Hull 2-2

After going ahead early thanks to a good finish from Sanchez we left it til late to scrape through with a point.

One of the worst pull backs I’ve ever seen lead to their first goal…shocking non-call. Mertesacker should have showed more intent for their second. A great run from Sanchez setup Welbeck to grab the equaliser.

You can see the highlights below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8FWlYzTiwo

Form Guide:               Arsenal:  : WDWWL            Hull: LLWLW

What form? We haven’t won three in a row all season and I honestly don’t know what Arsenal team is going to show up. In the league we are 13 points off top spot. 33 points from 20 games and 12 points behind where we were this time last season. Thankfully, this isn’t the league and we are currently the cup holders!

Hull haven’t had a good time of it this season. They’ve snapped a 10-game winless run by winning 2 of their last 3 games. They are safe from relegation for now.

Arsenal Archive (1)

This week I’ve dipped into the Arsenal Archive and pulled out this video clip. It’s not really an archive…more of a ‘we won a cup so let’s re-live it again’ type of clip (Their first goal was ridiculously lucky). What a goal by Santi!!!! Thank you Welsh Jesus. Enjoy! 🙂

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7K5j4mMfBK0&app=desktop

One to watch:

Alexis Sanchez…because he’s a ripper and gets it done. What tough transition? He’s slotted into the premier league and our team seamlessly

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zx741asQ6es

Former Everton striker Jelavic. Hull’s leading scorer and can be a handful at times.

Key-Match up:

Arsenal midfield vs Hull City midfield

IMG_0328

I have no doubt Bruce will pack the midfield for this encounter. Southampton did it really well against us and without Giroud we tend to lack shape in the oppositions half. We can’t let the ex-spuds Livermore and fat-boy Huddlestone get a stranglehold otherwise we might find the going tough. Flamini and Le Coq need to break up their attacks and the midfielders need to transition the play well from defence to attack. If Alexis is playing up front we can’t afford to have him providing the link-up…he needs to be on the end of it. For this reason I think we need Rosicky to partner Le Coq, just so we have more attacking potency.

Pre-Match Finger:

kid finger

Now I haven’t been around for a while so I’ve got a lot of fingers to hand out. This week’s finger goes to José Mourinho. Jesus Christ he’s a miserable sod. Just because he’s not getting his way at the moment he’s whinging about every little thing, making excuses for everything. His players don’t win penalties apparently…Hazard is being kicked out of the league (he’s diving over a lot of those tackles)…unfair treatment from the refs. Perhaps he’d have better luck if his players didn’t go down with relative ease. Drogba has done it his whole career; Hazard does it on a regular basis; Ivanovic (despite being built like a brick shithouse) flops whenever he gets around the box; even Cahill dives…Tell your players to stay on their feet and the refs might start rewarding you again. It annoys me that he has the wood of Arsene. Nothing would please me more than seeing him whinge and complain about us too.

Frick it, I’m handing out another! My right finger is going to Liverpool manager Rodgers. He accused Alexis of diving when the two teams met recently. First of all I find it very rich that he’s accusing one of our players after he defended Suarez on a regular basis. Secondly, Sanchez doesn’t dive. Thirdly, it was a long way outside the box so it’s not like the free-kick resulted in a penalty. Finally, look what that cheating twerp Sterling did moments later. He handled the ball to get past an on-rushing Szczesny. P*ss off Rodgers…you too Skrtel.

Pre-Match pat on the back:

pat on the back

This week’s pat on back goes to Santi Cazorla.

santi short

He’s really stepped up recently when we’ve needed him too. He’s had midfielders drop off all around him but little Santi has found his first season form. The only thing missing is his shooting foot but that’ll come. Teams have really started to choke us in midfield so players like Santi, Ox, Sanchez and Rosicky are worth their weight in gold. They get the ball and drive forward causing opposition players to gravitate towards them creating space for others. Good job Santi.

Ask the opposition (7)

‘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 we’ve got a big group taking part (friendliest bunch I’ve spoken to thus far). The answers were kindly provided by Quill, Brady’s Love Triangle, Mr Hat, John Ex Aberdeen now E.R, Chazz Rheinhold (all from not606) and Ryan from the official Hull supporters club. Let’s see what they’ve written for us this week:

1) How can Hull turn their season around?

Quill: I believe we can, but only if we keep Bruce. Of course, injuries haven’t helped, with Snodgrass being out for the season, and Diame and Dawson also having spells out too. On paper, our team should be comfortable, but paper never won a football match. I think if we get a couple of results go our way, we’ll be fine. We only have to look at Sunderland and Poyet last season for a great example.

brady’s love triangle: Playing forwards when it’s needed, bruce played the perfect game against sunderland but then played the same team at home to leicester.. until the 60th minute when we had all our forwards on we dominated them.. it’s up to bruce really, and if we get diame and dawson back fit and ready, diame has been a huge miss

Mr Hat: Sack Cushionface

John Ex Aberdeen now E.R: We just need to get our bigger players back and a consistent team. With Huddlestone, Dawson, Diame and Snodgrass out, we as a club don’t have the depth of squad to lose these players.

Chazz Rheinhold: Get the players back fit and from suspension. Buy a strong championship centre forward. Deeney would be my choice, if we go down, he’ll be the top scorer next season if we do.

Ryan: As Steve Bruce keeps saying, getting our injured and suspended players back is one big thing but I think he also needs to be a bit more adventurous in attack and make better use of the strikers we have. In our recent home defeat to Leicester we started without a striker and intitially struggled to create chances, but once we brought some strikers on in the second half, we suddenly looked like scoring. That game summed up the rut we’re in really.

2) Which player/s would you like in this transfer window?

Quill: Someone to bridge the gap between midfield and attack. We don’t really have a proper playmaker at the club – Ramirez is alright, but lacks pace, and Ben Arfa was just an idiot. Ironically, we do have that type of player already in Snodgrass, but he is out for the season as mentioned above. 

brady’s love triangle: difficult, we spent a lot in the summer, how much will our owners want to dish out? i’d like cattermole from sunderland and danny ings from burnley, neither are likely to happen though

Mr Hat: Messi, Ronaldo or Bale

John Ex Aberdeen now E.R: I don’t think we need much, maybe Lennon to replay Ben Arfa, and Cattermole to stiffen up the Midfield

Chazz Rheinhold: Troy Deeney. Not sure we need anyone else.

Ryan: We’ve spent a lot of money for a club our size recently and I don’t think we really need to keep splashing the cash. The squad is a lot better than the one that stayed up and got to the cup final last year, so the problem lies elsewhere. That said, the one position I think we lack is a bit of pace up front to get in behind teams. We let Shane Long go for a really good offer, but we didn’t have much time to replace him. We got Abel Hernandez, but he hasn’t been anything like as good as long so far and doesn’t seem to have the pace we need.

3) What player/position is your weakest?

Quill: Quite a similar question to above. I wouldn’t say any player in particular is our weakest, but if I had to pick an area, it would be the attack. Bar Jelavic and Hernandez, we don’t have strikers who look truly threatening. The Leicester game highlighted our need for more attackers or at least a more creative threat.

brady’s love triangle: centre midfield and forwards, hernandez has yet to spark into life despite being our most expensive signing in our history, livermore and huddlestone don’t have that ‘kick’

Mr Hat: Every position as Cushionface pulls names out of a hat.

John Ex Aberdeen now E.R: One in midfield and one up front.

Chazz Rheinhold: Centre midfield. We’ve got ex Spurs in there!! Bit lightweight (no Hudd jokes) and too nice. Shouldnt have bought Livermore, gets through lots of work but not enough bite or drive going forward. Always wants to pass to Hudd.

Ryan: We have reasonably good cover all over. I’d say up front is the weakest. Jelavic is great, but we haven’t got anyone else up to his standard to play alongside him.

4) What tactics are you likely to employ against Arsenal?

Quill: Very likely our 3-5-2 formation. It’s our best formation from a defensive standpoint, and is our best chance of keeping your lot at bay. We’ll likely play very similar to how we did in the 2-2 draw earlier on in the season.

brady’s love triangle: probably a 3-5-2, hoping to dominate arsenal in midfield and get you on the counter.. but bruce who knows?

Mr Hat: Concede at all costs

John Ex Aberdeen now E.R: 352 as we did in the league game solid defence and counter attack.

Chazz Rheinhold: I hope Brucey doesnt sit back. He’ll go 3 at the back i reckon. We’ll be out on our feet by Sunday it could be a drubbing for us, we’re running out of players.

Ryan: It’s impossible to say with us. Being an FA Cup game Bruce will probably mix it up a bit meaning fringe players get a game. We play a few different formations at different times.

5) Which Arsenal player would you like and why?

Quill: 100% Alexis Sanchez. The man is awesome. He has been, for me so far this season, the best player in the Prem. Both his ability to score and create, alongside his pace and trickery is exactly what we need at the moment. 

brady’s love triangle: sanchez, world class, being a huge fan of his for quite a while , he could play at any team in the world, he bossed the world cup and ozil, I’ve followed him from his young days, he has the quality, he doesn’t have the forwards to work with though

Mr Hat: Diaby because Bruce manages to have so many players out injured all the time that Diaby will prove the exception to the rule in a fitting twist of ironic comedy

John Ex Aberdeen now E.R: The Ox, he has pace, skill and power, though a toss-up with Ramsey.

Chazz Rheinhold: Obviously Sanchez but if not Welbeck. 

Ryan: Easy, Danny Welbeck. We were tenuously linked with him in the summer before he signed for you, it seemed very unlikely at the time and so it proved, but I did think he was exactly what we were missing and would have been an ideal foil for Jelavic.

6) Which player/position do you feel is our weakest?

Quill: Defence. I’m including the goalkeeper in that too. Your defence doesn’t look strong enough, both from a physical standpoint and also a mental one. Even Wenger himself admitted that your defence doesn’t talk enough, which is a massive problem.

brady’s love triangle: well, depends on what level, to compete for the premier league/europe, i’d say, a forward and defender

Mr Hat: London, because you pick up a fan base of Piers Morgan’s

John Ex Aberdeen now E.R: Centre back and defensive midfielder.

Chazz Rheinhold: The back four, it seems. Corners free kicks are our best chance of scoring.

Ryan: I don’t know a massive amount about Arsenal but from the outside it always seems like you spend big on attacking players but only get cheap, French youngsters to play in defence. It seems to me that a bit of physicality from teams like Stoke or West Ham is still a weakness for you. I’d say the defence in general is your weakest area.

7) Who should Arsenal sign in the transfer window to improve the squad?

Quill: Again, similar to above, you need a new central defender, someone like Mats Hummels, who has a great technical ability as well as a tactical nous.

brady’s love triangle: martinez of porto

Mr Hat: Messi, Ronaldo or Bale

John Ex Aberdeen now E.R: Not sure which person, but the above 2 positions, then you would be a threat in both League and Europe.

Chazz Rheinhold: Sissoko (sp) from Newcastle. He looked fantastic last time i saw him on TV and was a beast against us last season.

Ryan: Based on my previous answer I’d say a powerful, dominant centre half who already knows the PL. He’d need to play the Arsenal way, so maybe Ashley Williams from Swansea. In fact better yet, our very own James Chester is a very under-rated player in the Rio Ferdinand mould. He’s young, rarely makes a mistake, good on the ball and a brilliant tackler but hardly ever has to slide. I’d hate to see him go, but I reckon he could play for a big club one day.

8) What is your prediction for the match?

Quill: My heart says a 3-2 win after coming from 2-0 down just for revenge, but I’m going to be realistic and say 3-1 Arsenal.

brady’s love triangle: 2-1 to arsenal L

Mr Hat: 9-1 Hull city win.

John Ex Aberdeen now E.R: Depend what team Arsene puts out, if 2nd string we may get a draw, if you put out a first team squad, I fear we will lose 2-0

Chazz Rheinhold: Could be 5-0. It’d be good to fluke a draw and get you back up here for a night match.

Ryan: I can’t see anything other than a City loss. I imagine both sides will play a weakened team, but your reserves will be stronger than ours. If it was a league game I might be hopeful we could knick a result again, but I’m not confident for this one. I was disappointed with the draw really, after last year’s cup run whet the appetite!             

Prediction:

I really don’t know to be honest. With the form we are in and against a team that knows how to expose our weaknesses. I think our saving grace is their small squad. Their players would be tired after the packed fixtures. God I hope we win because we need to go on a winning run and it’d be fantastic if we kept the Cup this year. 2-1 to the good guys.

What is your prediction?

What team line-up would you go with?

Who will be our best player on the day?

Who do we need in the transfer window?

Podolski…a flop or not?

Enjoy the game Arsenal fans.

arsenal vs hull

By Oz Gunner

Fine Fellow Gooners: Let’s Be Having Your Predictions!

cropped-henry-dog-008.jpg

I just watched the short BBC Stiliyan Petrov video and it was a humbling experience: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/30067565

Petrov has been through so much, and yet, his passion for football is a big part of what drives him on. He clearly has a great joie de vivre and sense of humour, and he should inspire us all to accept and appreciate what we have – to be gracious about it.

Reading comments by a number of fine, and not so fine, fellow Gooners on BK and other blogs, I reckon they should take a leaf out of Petrov’s book. Yes our team has been disappointing and Wenger can be criticised for a number of his decisions, but it really is not a big deal. The season is long and there will be many twists and turns, and good football to watch in the process. Yet, it sometimes feels that some believe the world is about to end…

For real football lovers, the calender year can be divided into three sections:

  1. Start of the season till end of last international break period: typified by ‘stop and start’ of the club football season;
  2. Mid November till March: Full on club football without any interruptions, with the conclusion of the CL group stages and a large number of PL games (and start of the FA cup rounds as well);
  3. The remainder of the club football season, once again interrupted by international football, and possibly followed by the Euros or WC for nations.

Finally, the last international break is over and we can now enter the best period of football for us club-football junkies.

I asked in the last post how we can get some excitement back at Arsenal and the responses, although not bad, have not inspired many of us. For some, it is all about going full out on attack and not worrying about our defending any more. They want Flamteta replaced by either the untested and exhausted Chambers (on his little ownie) or the defensively soft and partly out of form duo of RamShere. It could of course work a treat, but I don’t see these as the answers to making us stronger right now.

For me, there is always just the next game to get excited about. Formation and available players play a big part, and so are the instructions and decisions of the manager. But the beauty of the beautiful game is that there are always elements of luck, bad luck and unpredictability that will determine the outcome of the game: the ball is round as the Dutch like to call it. The past is a fact, but the future is uncertain and therefore (yet) exciting.

I reckon this is a good moment to do some predictions. For most of us the glass is currently half-empty rather than full, which should lead to more realistic/balanced predictions.

So hear are my questions:

  1. How many points will we get from all our PL games between now and 2 January 2015 (games to play are: MU (H), West Brom (A), Southampton (H), Stoke (A), Newcastle (H), Liverpool (A), QPR (H), West Ham (A), Southampton (A))?
  2. What will be our position in the PL come the second of January?
  3. What will be Arsenal’s top-three of goal scorers by the second of January (all PL games of this season)?
  4. What will be Arsenal’s top-three of assist producers by the second of January (all PL games of this season)?
  5. We have conceded 13 PL goals (only three teams conceded less this season): How many goals will we have conceded by the second of January (all PL games)?
  6. Who will be in Arsenal’s top-three of official PL Man of the Match awards by second of January (all PL games of the season)?
  7. Just for fun – everybody! is fit: what is your favourite eleven?

Written by: TotalArsenal.

Line-Up against MC: Rosicky to start, FlamShere in midfield, Sanogo or Welbeck?

Is it time for Rosicky to start a match?
Is it time for Rosicky to start a match?

Over the last few days, many a Gooner has given us their predicted/preferred line-up for the game against Man City on Saturday. As I far I can tell, nobody has predicted exactly the same line-up, which tells us both that we have a lot of players ‘to play’ with and are still undecided about our best eleven this season.

This is one of the nice things of blogging: predicting and dreaming about line-ups. I have predicted the line up many times but seldom got all eleven correct. This is partly due to Wenger often doing something unexpected AND my inability to keep the personal preferences fully out of the equation.

It looks like Ramsey’s twisted ankle is not too bad, and he might even play on Saturday. As others have noticed, Aaron is not firing on all cylinders at the moment, despite the goals he has bagged already. But he scored the all important second against the Northern Oilers during the Community Shield game in August, and if he is fit, he should play in my opinion. On the other hand, we have a big game in and against Dortmund midweek, and maybe it is better to rest Aaron for that bruising encounter.

It is also not clear whether Ozil is fully fit again. He missed both the Germany games but I have a gut feeling he will play on Saturday. Mesut is another player who has been struggling for match fitness and form a bit, and after two weeks of rest, this is the one for him to shine in and ‘re-launch’ himself.

Many predict a start for the Basle Brace hero, but I am not so sure. I reckon Wenger will start Sanogo as this game might just come a little bit too early for Welbeck. It takes time to settle into a team and get to know your team mates, and there would be a lot of pressure on Danny. I feel he might start against Dortmund instead, away from the home crowd and with some more days of practising with his fellow attackers under his belt. It would also be typically Wenger to persevere a bit longer with Sanogo and place Welbeck on the bench.

Many have Santi starting in the hole, as they assumed Ozil would either not be fit yet, or be played on the left. I am not a big fan of Cazorla in the hole, as he stays too close to the box and does not track back enough. Our midfield and attack are often too disconnected when he plays there, and he has not got the thrust that, for example, Jack or Rosicky have. These two are also better at bossing the midfield, whereas Santi’s strength is playing just outside and inside the box (an ideal formation for him would be 4-4-1-1 with him behind the striker). Personally, I would play Alexis in the hole in each and every game: he is the perfect mix between an attacking midfielder (Cesc) and a nr.10 (Bergkamp) and I would love him to take that role as our first choice; but that is unlikely to happen on Saturday.

I reckon the back five will be unchanged and both Flamini and Wilshere will be played in the ‘2’ of the anticipated 4-2-1-3 formation (rather than 4-1-4-1). I am a big believer of playing Jack in the hole, but he is not ready for it as yet (as we need regular goals from this position, and his final pass needs to improve a bit further). I also liked what I saw of him in the deepest midfield role in the ‘diamond’ against the Swiss: there is a potential Pirlo in Wilshere. So, in order to provide a solid, no nonsense double DM pivot, I reckon we will see both Flamini and Jack ready for battle on Saturday.

That leaves us with the wings. If Ozil is fit, he will start on the left with Alexis on the right (and Cazorla in the middle). If not, it might be Rosicky on the left and Sanchez on the right; or Sanchez on the left and Ox on the right. Whatever it is, it will be a strong attacking line-up, although I am still not too impressed with Ox’s form to warrant a starting place (and I know that many will disagree with me on this). 🙂

Predicted Line-Up:

Arsenal v MC September 14

Preferred Line-Up:

Ars v MC preferred September

The idealist in me would like Welbeck to start, just for the fun of seeing a new toy in action. I would like us to play with a solid midfield against the Oilers, keeping it tight with our passing and giving them very little time to settle. Rosicky is both so experienced and so passionate that I would love him to start. He had a decent game as captain for his nation against Holland and will want more now. Ozil on the right or left: it does not matter to me, as he will have a licence to roam and help out Welbeck and Alexis whenever possible. And yes Alexis in the hole for me. 🙂

What do you think fine fellow Gooners – and what are your predicted ad preferred line-ups now we are getting closer to Saturday?

Written by: TotalArsenal.

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Enough Gunners at World Cup to make a team, but who’ll make the finals?

eed12ebb-3a76-4c06-8080-d2443ceae155_KUIPVI01_397

Four years ago we had two Gunners competing in the World Cup finals. Both have left Arsenal a few years ago, but only one of them will hold the fondest of memories. Van Persie was not able to make a difference for the Dutch, but Fabregas immortalised himself with an extra-time assist for Iniesta that proofed to be enough to win the World Cup. In hindsight, it happened for the right guy, although at the time I felt quite differently about it.

Thinking back about that final, I started to wonder whether we will see any Gunners in this year’s final in about five weeks from now. The big favourites are the South-American giants of Brazil and Argentina. It appears hard for European countries to win in South-America, although the Dutch came very close in 1978 when Rob Rensenbrink hit the post in the very last minute of the game…. Pure agony for any Dutchman…

I go along with the favourites tag for those two countries, but I have a feeling that it will also suit the likes of Germany, Spain, France, Holland, and even England, a lot to be regarded as underdogs. We have Gunners in the German (Pod, Ozil, Mertesacker), Spanish (Cazorla) and French (Koscielny, Sagna[theoretically] and Giroud) teams, and of course Jack and Ox in the English team. There is also Tommy V in the Belgium squad and Joel Campbell at Costa Rica. I hope I have not forgotten anybody.

We have actually enough Gunners out there to make a team:

Arsenal at World Cup

Unfortunately, we do not have a goalie out there, but the Pod will do. 🙂

Now, of all these fine Gunners – and what a nice team it is! – who will get furthest, and who might make it to the final? Could it be Germany v France with six Gunners on display? Could it be Jack v Ozil, or Tommy V v Giroud?

Let’s do some predictions, just for a bit of fun:

  1. Which countries will make it to the semi-finals?
  2. Which teams will make it to the final?
  3. Who will win it?
  4. Who will be top scorer (all players)?
  5. Which Gunner(s) will make it furthest in the tournament?
  6. Which Gunner will score the most goals?
  7. Who will be picked in the tournament’s top eleven team?
  8. How will England do?
  9. Who will score most goals for England?
  10. And finally, not a prediction: Who would you like to win the World Cup and why?

Written by: TotalArsenal.

Time to end the drought! Arsenal vs Hull City FA Cup Final Pre-Match & Line- Up

Intro:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEINxpUf8MA#t=88

Big big game this one. Both teams know what’s at stake. Every Arsenal supporter will be on the verge of ecstasy…or complete rage depending on how this one ends up. I’m a nervous wreck, and I have been ever since we knocked Wigan out in the Semi. I’m certainly not getting ahead of myself, especially after our last cup final heartbreak (not to mention the Chelsea 06/07 League Cup and the 05/06 Champions League final). We have won our last 3 FA Cup finals so fingers crossed. I really hope we don’t take Hull too lightly and we are ready for battle. Podolski’s comment of “Who is he?” when asked about a Hull City player doesn’t comfort me. Then again he’s as frank as they come.

Let’s get in to it, shall we:

Missing in Action:

Diaby sick bay

Arsenal: Vermaelen (knee) and Oxlade-Chamberlain (Groin) both face fitness tests. Both are likely to make the bench. Walcott (knee) and Gnabry (knee) will miss this one.

Hull City: Pretty much have a full squad to choose from. Strikers Long and Jelavic are cup tied leaving them a touch short up front (pardon the pun). I’m glad Long isn’t playing, he’s a bit of a menace, plus he just has one of those faces that makes you want to punch him. People probably say the same about me but I don’t deliver cheap shots on the pitch like he does. Plus he makes a lot of money so he couldn’t give a shit. Long, if you’re reading this and want to sort me out, my name is Prince and I live in Sydney. I can be found at any local entertainment store purchasing a TV (sent a remote through my last 12) or at any worksite with my Hampton nailed to the floor. Chester will miss with a Hamstring injury.

Predicted Line-up:

starting line-up HULL

Some pretty big question marks over who starts, perhaps none bigger than which pole starts in goal? Fabianski deserves it because he got us to the final. However, it is more beneficial for the team if Szczesny starts. My reasoning is: Szczesny will be with us next season…Fabianski will not (unfortunately). The experience Szczesny would gain from such a big match would be very beneficial in the future. I also think Szczesny is a better keeper over all. Szczesny was rested against Norwich, so does that mean he’s finished off the season early? Or does Arsene want him fresh as a daisy for the final? Was Fabianski starting the final fixture his chance to dust off the cobwebs? I have no bloody clue, Martinez could start and I wouldn’t be that surprised given Arsene’s record in big matches (Sanogo – Bayern. Coquelin, Szczesney and Song – United). Vermaelen and the Ox face fitness tests, but I don’t think either will start. Santi or Rosicky is another. Both deserve to start but Santi will most likely get the gig. My preference would be Rosicky. Arteta, Ozil and the Welsh Jesus will man the midfield.

Previous Encounters:

Hull City v Arsenal 0-3

The Ramsey-Podolski show! A double by German gun Podolski and a tidy finish from Ramsey was enough to dismantle Hull. Ramsey showed just how much we had missed him as he played a part in all 3 goals. The home crowd moaned after the second goal but Jelavic clearly flopped on the ground looking for contact. It amazes me that so many supporters whinge about players diving on the pitch, yet when one of their own isn’t rewarded it’s the biggest injustice in the history of time.

You can see the highlights below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcHfojyFdV8

Arsenal  v Hull City 2-0

Goals from ‘The Greatest Player to Have EVER lived’ and Ozil were enough to keep Arsenal on top of the table. That cross from Corporal Jenks was delicious. You can see the highlights below:

Form Guide:               Arsenal:  : WWWWW        Hull: LLLDL

We’ve finished the season well after a bumpy run. The team was in danger of losing 4th place to a determined Everton outfit. Fortunately for us Arsenal has faced these pressures before and the team rallied. Arsenal should be in a confident mood for this one, but the players and Arsene will be under immense pressure.  The pole in goal and Koscielny will remember what transpired last time. It’s time to get this monkey off our back.

Road to the final:

Arsenal vs Wigan 1-1 (4-2 on penalties)

Arsenal vs Everton 4-1

Arsenal vs Liverpool 2-1

Arsenal vs Coventry 4-0

Arsenal vs Tottenham…Not sure. Can you help us out Theo?

walcott_2_0

Thanks Theo. See you soon mate.

Can’t say we didn’t earn our spot in the final. A very tough lot of fixtures.

Not the sort of form Hull would have liked going in to a final but form is largely irrelevant in this one. Anything can happen in a final…something we know well.

Road to the final:

Hull vs Sheffield United 5-3

Hull vs Sunderland 3-0

Hull vs Brighton 2-1 (replay after 1-1 draw)

Southend vs Hull 0-2

Middlesbrough vs Hull 0-2

Arsenal Archive (1)

This week I’ve dipped into the Arsenal Archive and pulled out this video clip. It’s the 1970-71 FA Cup final against Liverpool. The colours could be something of a good omen. Enjoy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6nO8hCbqG4

Key-Match up:

Ramsey and Ozil vs the Fat ex-spud Huddlestone

welsh jesus

On the outer at Spurs, Huddlestone moved over to Hull in search of more minutes. A move that has certainly payed off for both Hull and Huddlestone. Not only has he been a rock in their midfield this season, but he’s also offered them plenty going forward. He has a good range of passing, an eye for a goal and he’s not too bad with a dead ball. Expect him to play out of his skin in this one as I’m sure he’d love nothing more than to give his spud friends something to cheer about on Saturday. There is another spud out their too…he goes by the name of Livermore. Like rats the spuds appear to pop up everywhere.

Ramsey and Ozil…oh what could have been eh? Ramsey was on his way to winning player of the year until his injury. While the rest of us can sit here thinking “could we have won the title if he stayed fit?” Unfortunately we will never know. I’m just very happy for the kid. What a turn around. Many labelled him as deadwood. Now he’s the second coming. I know I can sit here smugly and say “yep. I had the faith and never bagged him once”. For shame the rest of you! If he and Ozil gel together…this one is in the bag!

Pre-Match Finger:

kid finger

 

This week’s finger goes to every bloody media outlet and opposition supporter. Yes, we haven’t won a trophy in a while. Yes, we know you like to rub it in our faces every bloody day. Hopefully a win in this one will result in you finding some new material…not likely but a man can dream. Up yours!

Pre-Match pat on the back:

pat on the back

This week’s pat on the back is going to Arsene Wenger and all the players that have been involved in this campaign. It has been another long season with many ups and downs. We’ve seen glimpses of what we have threatened to deliver for quite some time. On the other hand we’ve also witnessed some truly shocking moments (the Liverpool first half will haunt me for years to come). I guess upon reflection it’s been a typical Arsenal season.  We were decimated by injury. We had good victories. We had bad losses. We even sat on top of the table for quite some time. However, it’s all in the past and now we have a chance to end the season on a high. Well done to the players for getting us this far.

Ask the opposition (7)

‘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 SM. A top notch Hull supporter from Oz. Let’s see what he’s written for us this week:

1)What got Hull this far in the FA Cup?

What got us this far was sheer determination. A couple of times now we’ve looked down and out and the players have dragged us across the line. And not just the regular starting players, but fringe players like Yannick Sagbo and Matty Fryatt.

2) What would winning the Cup do for Hull?

Winning the Cup would literally be the biggest moment in this club’s history. It would eclipse the first ever promotion to the Premier League, and the achievement of staying in the Premier League. Winning the Cup would etch forever this Hull City team into the city’s consciousness. It’s hard to explain in Aussie sporting terms, because there is no comparable situation. The closest is the 05 Swans team, and even that club had won a flag 72 years prior.

3) What player/position is your weakest?

The left side is definitely our weakest, with Figueroa horribly out of form and Brady injured. Rosenior is decent cover, but we’re still not strong in that position.

4) What tactics is Hull likely to employ against Arsenal

I would hope to see us play quite cagey early on, and try and keep the score 0-0 until about the half hour mark. If we can do so I think Arsenal supporters will get on the players’ backs, and it will work to our advantage, and we’ll then look to make pacey attacks on the counter.

5) Which Arsenal player would you like and why?

I think my most valuable Arsenal player would have to be Cazorla. Ozil has a great range of passing, but we have that with Huddlestone. Cazorla is that dynamic attacking threat from midfield that we don’t quite have; that links your strikers with your midfielders.

6) Which player/ position do you feel is Arsenal’s weakness?

I think your weakest position is your strikers, and if we can exploit that by giving our defence license to roam, then we may be able to exploit you on the counter.

7) What is your prediction for the match?

Honestly I keep to-ing and fro-ing about the match. I’ll have to say a gutsy 3-1 loss for us if I go with my head, because Arsenal will be too determined, but it would be the match of my lifetime if we were to get up.

Prediction:

It will be a nervous start. How could it not be after the Birmingham final etched in the players’ minds? After some early jitters we will settle in to our groove and prove too strong for a determined Hull outfit. I don’t think they have enough fire power up front to worry us. I predict a FA Cup 3-0victory to the good guys.If we lose…we’ll I can’t bear the thought of it. The world may implode!

What is your prediction?

Szczesny or Fabianski? (BJ…you don’t have to answer this one mate 🙂 )

What team line-up would you go with?

Who will be our best player on the day?

Will victory be enough to propel the team to a new era?

Enjoy the game Arsenal fans. Wherever you are around the world be sure to savour every moment of it.

2005 FA Cup win

Written by: Oz Gunner