Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Newcastle v Arsenal match preview - it's all about the squad

Picture courtesy The 'Arris'
The press are going on today about how Arsene Wenger is now taking the Carling Cup more seriously because we haven't won a trophy in five years and he's desperate, but in trust his selection policy hasn't changed.

The policy has always been to select players that didn't start the match the previous weekend and aren't likely to start the following weekend. We have on occasion in the past selected teams in the early rounds that have included none of the first team and none of the subs, but that has only been when we have been drawn against lower division opposition and as Wenger has said many times he 'picks a team that is capable of winning the match'.

The reason our Carling Cup teams are stronger now is that our squad is much strongerand we have less injuries. Assuming that our first choice eleven is as follows...

Fabianski; Sagna, Squilaci, Vermaelen, Clichy; Song, Wilshere; Nasri, Fabregas, Arshavin; van Persie

...there are some impressive players who will only make the bench when everyone is fit: Almunia (I know!), Koscielny, Eboue, Diaby, Rosicky, Walcott, and Chamakh. Even more impressively, there are some very good players who won't even make the bench: Szczesny, Mannone, Djourou, Gibbs, Frimpong, Denilson, Lansbury, Ramsey, Emmanuel-Thomas, Vela and Bendtner.

It could be argued that we need to have a few injuries occasionally to keep everyone happy. Either that, or we give them a match in the Carling Cup. With that in mind, I expect tonights line-up to be:

Eboue, Djouou, Koscielny, Gibbs
              Denilson, Diaby
       Walcott, Rosicky, Vela

Arsene Wenger has been talking up Emmanual-Thomas and Henri Lansbury this week so I expect them to be on the bench. One or both may even start.

I'm calm and relaxed about tonight's match. Partly, this is due to the fact that we look like we have a strong enough team out to beat a weakened Newcastle United, but also, although it would be nice to win the Carling Cup, I won't be heart-broken if we don't. That said, it is about time we won a trophy and Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal under George Graham have all won the trophy in the pastas a stepping stone to going on to win better things.

Also, it will shut the press up about 'not won anything for five years'. Although it will probably change to 'haven't won anything bar the Carling Cup for five years' until we win something proper.

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Sunday, 3 October 2010

Chelsea v Arsenal - match preview

Didier Drogba - the man Arsenal must stop

I said before the Partizan game that I hoped Lucasz Fabianski had a great game, regained his confidence and then went on to have a fantastic season. I don't claim to be Nostradamus based on one lucky prediction, but Fabianski duly came up with the goods to complete Part I of The Fall and Rise of Lucasz Fabianski and I'm hoping today he can begin start of Part II. The Partizan match should have given him confidence and that, in my opinion, is all that he has ever lacked. Arsene Wenger said that we finally saw the real Lucasz on Tuesday the one that he and his coaches see in training every day. Still, confidence is a fickle thing and Chelsea can be very intimidating. Fab will need to get a few good touches early on.

Certainly we need Fabianski to be confident. Chelsea have won the last four meetings between the clubs and haven't lost in the last seventeen matches against Arsenal in all competitions.

To make matters worse, we go into today's match in pretty average form and with Fabregas, Vermaelen, van Persie, Walcott and probably Diaby (to name but a few) unavailable. That means that the team virtually picks itself unless Arsene Wenger throws us a curve ball by leaving out Arshavin or something. The only question mark is which of our attacking midfielders starts in Fabregas' position, and I think that Nasri will get the nod. Rosicky will be on the right and Arshavin on the left.

Likely Arsenal line-up

Sagna, Squillaci, Koscielny, Clichy
              Song, Wilshere
      Rosicky, Nasri, Arshavin

Subs: Szczesny, Djourou, Eboue,Denilson, Diaby, Vela, Lansbury or Emmaunuel-Thomas

I've had a couple of little bets on Arsenal to win (4-1) and Nasri to be the first goalscorer (12-1). I'm not saying I'm confident of either happening, but the odds seem very generous on both, so I thought it was worth a pot..

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