Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Arsenal v Stoke preview and a monumental c***-up

Picture courtesy Ronnie MacDonald

It goes without saying that tonight's match against Stoke is crucial. Pretty much all our matches are crucial at the moment but ManUre have some very difficult fixtures coming up (including away matches at Chelsea and Liverpool) and we have a very good chance of at least closing the gap on them. The result should be a foregone conclusion but we all know how Arsenal have a knack of making it hard for themselves.

With that in mind, I expect Arsene Wenger to pick a pretty strong line-up despite the upcoming Carling Cup final at the weekend. Unfortunately Robin van Persie and Laurent Koscielny have picked up slight knocks but apart from that (and long-term absentee Vermaelen) I expect Arsene Wenger to pick his strongest team. However, it is also possible that he might rest one or two with Arshavin, Denilson, Gibbs and Eboue being strong contenders to start.

The much maligned Sebastien Squillaci will come in at the back and Chamakh will probably get the nod over Bendtner in place of RvP.

Tonight will be a good test for Chesney as we know that Stoke like to hoof high balls into the box.

Arsenal probable starting line-up


Sagna, Squillaci, Djourou, Clichy

              Song, Wilshire

      Walcott, Fabregas, Nasri


Subs: Almunia, Eboue, Gibbs, Denilson, Rosicky, Arshavin, Bendtner

Fixtures correction

It seems that I may have made a bit of a cock up. It was bound to happen. In my last post a couple of days ago, I suggested (in a desperate attempt to find a silver lining in the fixtures cloud) that a draw against Leyton Orient was a good result because it would mean we would now have to replay Orient on Sat 12 March (the weekend after the second leg of the Barca match) instead of ManUre and we could therefore play our 'B' team instead of the first team.

However, I was making quite a big (and incorrect) assumption and the match with Orient has been scheduled for Wednesday 2 March, meaning that we will still play ManUre on Sat 12 March. D'oh!

To be fair to the FA and Premier League they are now running out of free dates to schedule our fixtures - it seems they had not envisaged that any team could still be in all four competitions at this stage (which I'm taking as a compliment).

This all means that our next few fixtures are as follows:

Wed 23 February: Stoke City (H) [Barclays Premier League]
Sun 27 February: Birmingham City (N) [Carling Cup]
Wed 2 March: Leyton Orient (H) [FA Cup]
Sat 5 March: Sunderland (A) [Barclays Premier League]
Tue 8 March: Barcelona (A) [UEFA Champions League]
Sat 12 March: Man Utd (A) [FA Cup]

However, In a final desperate attempt to find a silver lining in the fixtures, I should point out that ManUre play Chelsea and Liverpool (both away) in the week leading up to the match against us and a potentially difficult Champions League match against Marseilles immediately after playing us. So it's not all bad.

Fingers crossed for tonight!

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