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How The Drama Went Down – Full Review.

@bosunescobar said “Arsenal will chop two, just watch” and we did. But I damn well am glad we gave West Brom three to chop… and Kieran Gibbs must surely have a place in Heaven after that aptly executed stoppage time tackle. Trepidation ‘whelms me at the thought of “had that gone wrong… “.

Francis Coquelin turned 19 on the day, Yossi Benayoun performed well for us again in what likely is his last game for us, anxiety got the better of monsieur Wenger and who better to cling on than Pat Rice, lifted by the players after the final whistle to an ovation from the visiting fans; in tribute to the end of his long service to the club.

It was a tense way to wrap up our season, Arsenal somehow always ensures of the drama. After Fulop flopped to let Yossi give us the lead after four minutes, two goals in four minutes meant we had work to do.

How the first wasn’t chalked off for offside leaves my being perplexed. How the second was scored left my emotions numb at our defensive movement, with Graham Dorrans making light work of Kozzer and TV5 there.

All that happened in the opening 15 minutes and our ‘noisy’ neighbours were at the time, ahead against Fulham by a lone Emmanuel Adebayor goal.

It wasn’t the ideal scenario for a week 38 fixture as far as any gooner was bothered. Any form of goal was craved and Andre the boss Santos duly obliged to get our gays back on level terms just after the half hour mark.

A tinny bit of skill before lashing one into the bottom corner and the Brazilian ensured we’d go into the break at 2-2 with the Sillywhites still leading by Adebayor’s goal i.e. they = 69 and us = 68… *shudders*

We showed some urgency at the start of the second half. Rosicky got replaced by Theo Walcott at half time, leaving Yossi with the task of pulling the midfield strings.

Jermaine Defoe doubled the Tiny Tots’ advantage just past the hour mark and we were on our way to 1) another nervy affair in the Champions League final qualifying round or 2) the Europa Leag… God forbideth!!

Marton Fulop obliged yet again. Making to punch away a van Persie corner but jumping into his (better placed to clear) defender and fumbling his attempted clearance instead, gifting Laurent Koscielny the goal to scramble in the ball.

No amount of goals scored at the Shite Fart Lane could help them now. Ramsey came on for Santos and Benayoun returned to the left wing after Gervinho went off for Kieran Gibbs.

Inspired substitution, the latter, thanks to that tackle I mentioned earlier. Made Gibbs my man of the match, along with the industrious Yossi while van Persie came a close third.

And though he did say in his pre-match note that he’d trade all his goals for a win at the Hawthorns, finishing dead on 30, just one behind the record number 31, had me feel a tad bit of “damn” for captain vantastic.

Nonetheless, he’s the PFA and FWA Player of the Season, Arsenal.com’s Player of the Season (yet to be polled but really, it’s not a contest) and the league’s ‘golden boot’ as well as Europe’s bronze boot behind “Angel” Messi and the oiled one, Ronaldo.

Summarily, it was a bipolar season for the Gunners. A good season thanks to going from fourth bottom to third from top in Wenger’s 900th league match for us. A bad season no thanks to making it seven years without a trophy… take the figurine out of Arsenal’s abode already -__-.

Curtain Calls
We missed Jack Wilshere gravely. Alas, Mikel Arteta would likely not be a gunner now if Jack wasn’t injured. A silver lining to carry into our campaign next season.

Lukas Podolski is a gunner, most imperatively alongside van Persie. Would be interesting to see if we adapt to a 4-4-2 formation or play the German from the left wing. Certainly hope he’s not a ‘replacement killer’ for you-know-who.

And finally, two more arrivals and no departure of players other than the Squillacis and Shishas will have us being real title contenders next season. M’Vila? Vertonghen? Biglia? Belhanda? Time will tell.

Congratulations to Kolo Toure, Gael Clichy and (from some corner of my heart) Samir Nasri along with their title winning mates at Manchester City. Thoroughly deserve to be champions and what a breathless way to pip the Red Devils to it.

Take a cue Tiny Tots, that’s what you call a noisy neighbour!

Match Preview: Drogba Doubtful for Arsenal Trip + Other News

Arsenal will look to complete a Premier League double and also get a third successive win over Chelsea when the Blues visit the Emirates in Saturday’s early kick-off.

Roberto di Matteo’s side will be without David Luiz and suspended Branislav Ivanovic while according to a tweet by @BornGooner, Didier Drogba will miss the encounter as well, after picking a knee injury in the lone goal win over Barcelona on Wednesday.

Arsenal will be without Mikel Arteta who is out for 6-8 weeks with a sprained ankle that thankfully does not require surgery, while Yossi Benayoun is ineligible as part of the loan deal from Stamford Bridge.

Serial cold table patient Abou Diaby will likely be in the squad as a result of the above absentees while Laurent Koscielny returns from his two-match suspension, relegating Djourou to the bench and Squillaci to gunner-oblivion.

Possible line-up
Szczesny. Sagna, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Santos. Ramsey, Song, Rosicky. Walcott, Ox/Gervinho. Van Persie.

With Diaby playing a half of the lone goal win over Oman’s Olympic team during the week, he won’t be ready to play from the onset. Fellow Frenchman Francis Coquelin is back to full training as well but will miss the match due to match fitness.

Variables
A win for us is crucial for, other than local bragging rights, getting closer to sealing third spot in the league and a place at next season’s Champions League group stage.

With Chelsea (boldly) harbouring hopes of making next season’s Champions League through winning this season’s, fourth place in the league would become a ticket to the Europa League in the (un)likely event of that.

It either way keeps alive hopes of finishing third for the Sp*ds and Newcastle United; both on 59 points from 33 matches, in fourth and fifth respectively, consequently serving a good incentive for both to put pressure on Arsenal with 64 points from 34 matches played.

Other News
Former Arsenal forward Tony Woodcock has joined the queue of voices imploring on captain Robin van Persie to remain at the club beyond the end of his current contract.

According to Woodcock, “With somebody like Robin, it cannot be a financial thing at this stage in his career. Players want to win things and he is not far from doing so at Arsenal”.

The forward who spent four seasons with the club in the 1980s stated further that Arsenal is close to ending the trophy drought and though finishing third should be considered a success in lieu of our start to the season, the fans do want to see the club winning trophies again.

Elsewhere on a lighter note, captain of the Arsenal Ladies Faye White has called time on her international career while also contemplating her future at the club after revealing she is expecting her first child, due October.

White has spent 15 seasons at the Ladies with 27 honours to show for her long service and according to her, would wait for the feeling (for football) to “switch off” in her head before deciding to retire from the club as well.

We extend our best wishes to her, just as we hope a repeat of last season’s 3-1 win last time Chelsea visited occurs. Share your thoughts ahead of the encounter below and have a great weekend.

Positive Injury News + Thoughts on Wigan loss and PFA Nominations.


Morning to you. Feels worse than a hangover this no thanks to the loss coupled with the news on Jack Wilshere.

I’d say it’s a good thing this is just coming up otherwise it would have been a real mess of a post.

Match Report
Wigan Athletic had two goals in just over a minute very early in the first half to thank for a memorable 2-1 win at the Emirates.

It which pushes them five points clear of the relegation zone while at the upper end, allows for the Sillywhites and Newcastle as well as Chelski to close up on us in the race for Champions League places.

Franco di Santo helped his former club’s cause, eventually getting the ball in the net after a precise Wigan break from a poor corner at the other end.

We hadn’t recovered from going behind when Victor Moses made light work of Sagna and his deflected cross to the box was pounced on by Jordi Gomez who made it to the ball just before Szczesny to poke home a second.

Both goals came just as Mikel Arteta was being treated on the sidelines so the sight of Aaron Ramsey replacing him soon after.

This leaves us sweating over how bad the Spaniard’s ankle injury is with resurgent Chelsea coming up for us in Saturday’s early kick-off.

Thomas Vermaelen did pull one back after 21 minutes with a good header off Tomas Rosicky’s cross and you just felt then that sure, we still got this! No we don’t got this (bear with my ebonics) as Arteta’s calming chi was sorely missed by Song, left Ramsey exposed per se and rendered our wingers wingless, Walcott especially.

Walcott was on the field? Apocalyptic! Sagna could’ve done much better, Santos missed a good scoring chance in the second half, Gervinho brought nothing after replacing Benayoun, so too the Ox when he came on for Djourou.

Then Arsène Wenger made some noise about the impressive Ali Al Habsi’s time wasting on the night. Well, we’d be elated to see Szczesny do same for us with a similar score at a place such as the Nou Camp or Old Trafford… I’m just saying.

Player Ratings
Szczesny6

Sagna5

Djourou7
He has deputised pretty well for Koscielny, just unfortunate to be on the losing side tonight.

Vermaelen7.5
Another goal and he’s certain to end the season as the league’s top scoring defender, well ahead of the likes of Fernando Torres and Andy Carroll.

Santos6

ArtetaN/A

Song4

Rosicky6.5

Walcott3
Blimey!

Benayoun6.5
He had two headers well saved by Al-Habsi either side of the goals we conceded. Just shows how differently the night could have turned out for us.

RvP6

Substitutes
Ramsey3
My word…

Gervinho3

Oxlade-Chamberlain5

Summarily, we let ourselves down yet again as we were flat for large periods of the encounter with the exception being early in both halves.

Like at QPR, this is just a blip and there will be no need to raise ‘unnecessary dust’ about this.

Hopefully we’ll respond to this defeat just as well as we did against Man. $hitty and effectively end Chelski’s Champions League ambitions from the league end of the business, we’ll see how they fare against Barcelona either side of their visit to the Ems.

Wilshere out of Euros
And to cap a generally bad day at the office, 20 year old Jack Wilshere tweeted last night after the game that he will miss out the rest of the season and consequently the European Championships to be held at Poland and Ukraine.

“My ankle is good, I just have a few niggles and having been out so long I will not be fit enough for the Euros!” tweeted Wilshere who was civil in his frustration in a previous tweet that read

“Gutted, sad, devastated..its been a test mentally for me this season and it will continue to be tough until I am back out on the pitch.. “.

This was soon after le boss made known at the post match what we all along have feared for the lad.

“Jack will not play again this season and he will not go to the Euros, that is for sure.” said Wenger.

The manager went further to say “He is not ready to practise today or next week. He is devastated and you can understand that. What kept him going was that he still felt that, if it was not with us, he would have a good chance to go to the Euros but that is over now.”

Wenger however reckons Wilshere could make the Team GB squad to the Olympics later this year though he would much prefer that Stuart Pearce doesn’t invite Wilshere for that, to avoid a recurrence of what has been a mentally challenging year for the midfielder.

Here’s wishing Wilshere good and timely recovery from this.

The news on Arteta is not too good either. Wenger had this to say:

“It is an ankle problem…but it doesn’t look a little ankle sprain. It is a serious one.”

The Spaniard faces up to 3 months on the sidelines if our worst fears are confirmed. He was seen leaving the game in crutches, with his right foot in a protective mask.

If it’s any consolation, it comes late in the season. There are only 4 games left and surely we can keep our place in the top 3 in his absence.

There is some good news on the injury front for us though, with Francis Coquelin due back in training this week, while Per Mertesacker will fly back from Germany in the next two weeks, having travelled to his homeland for surgery and rehabilitation on his left ankle.

A decision is also expected this week on Abou Diaby, who has been building his fitness up in training, and is in contention to be in the squad for Saturday’s clash with Chelsea. Surely he can do better than Ramsey who has been unconvincing of late.

RvP nominated for Player of the Year
Captain Vantastic has been nominated alongside five others for the PFA Player of the Year award. Van Persie also is firm favourite to get the award ahead of Wayne Rooney, Sergio Agüero, Joe Hart, David Silva and I’m sorry… Scott Parker?

Why not just put Nicklas Bendtner in it then? I can feel the Dane being gutted by this ‘gesture’.

Agüero meanwhile was nominated also for the PFA Young Player of the Year seeing as he is still of age as the case here is. Our own Oxlade-Chamberlain made the shortlist as well along with Wale’s Bale, Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck and Kyle Walker.

Apologies for the long post but last night’s victory left a sour taste in our mouths. What went wrong? Even Arsene doesn’t seem to have answers which is very unusual. Was it physical fatigue? Mental stress? Or just overconfidence?

Do share your thoughts with me in the comments.

Remember to follow us on twitter @goonermemoirs

Have a pleasant day nonetheless!

Wolves Preview + Club News & Clowny FA Decisions

Good day wherever you read from. Last night was proof that the established routine can be broken when ten-man Liverpool actually managed a win, more so shocking that the winning goal came courtesy of Andy should-rather-runway-model Carroll.

It’s the sort of scenario Wolverhampton Wanderers will (however absurd it may seem to the world) hope for, to break the established routine when we visit Molineux tonight in a Premier League encounter.

I’m always wary of stats when they’re in our favour and the ones for this fixture is an avalanche that’s heaped pitifully on Wolves. Just a point won in the seven matches manager Terry Connor has overseen so far to add to the club losing the last five matches at home to Arsenal in all competitions.

And while we have kept a clean sheet in three of our last four matches, our hosts have failed to keep one in 15 home matches. Then there’s our run of eight wins in nine league matches compared to Wolves’ quite appaling run of six consecutive league losses; the worst such run in the top flight in three decades.

Without the rest of the overwhelming stats, we should win this outright, yes? Sure. Same way the three points looked assured going into the QPR encounter. Coupled with the fact that Wolves held us to a 1-1 draw t the Ems earlier in the reverse fixture only makes tonight’s encounter potential banana skin for Arsenal.

In light of this, Wenger said “Believe me, they don’t know much better than you or me and the result of every game is just a consequence of your performance on the day.” adding that, “Nobody can really predict that (team performance) because your performance on the day depends on you, but also depends on the other team as well.”

Therefore the team must avoid complacency in our quest to open a five point cushion between us and the chasing pack in the race for the lucrative Champions League places, for which we occupy the final automatic qualifying spot.

Boss Arsène Wenger therefore cannot afford to toy about with the starting line-up though some changes will inevitably be made from the team that started against Man. City.

Possible line-up
Szczesny. Sagna, Djourou, Vermaelen, Santos. Arteta, Song, Rosicky. Walcott, Ox/Ramsey, van Persie.

Johan Djourou will start thanks to Koscielny’s two-match ban for receiving his 10th yellow card against City, while Gibbs will likely make way for Santos after picking a slight knock on Sunday. And in attack, it is obvious we’d prefer the Ox started but… you just never know with the boss, could even start Gervinho for all we know after the ‘Eddy’ didn’t even make the bench on Sunday.

Club News
With Abou Diaby and Francis Coquelin still on course in their recoveries, the big surprise is the big f**king German Mert4 apparently coming back from his ankle injury sooner than expected, much sooner that he’s expected to resume training later this week.

And in the reserves’ league, our January arrival from Borussia Dortmund Thomas Eisfeld yesterday evening scored the lone goal; his first for the club, as the Arsenal Reserves defeated the Newcastle Reserves in its penultimate match of the season.

Finally, the English FA, that just always have a way of reinventing themselves in the black book of world football following its acutely contrasting decisions on incidents involving Ivanovic, Wigan’s and Mario Balotelli, with the latter to only serve a ban for his red card without the addition of being charged and banned for his stamp on Alex Song’s knee on Sunday.

Consolation is in Song being available anyway and here’s to going a step closer to sealing third spot in the league with a much needed win tonight.

COYG!!!

Keep from Derailing; Aftermath of QPR Loss

Good day from wherever you read this from. Steadily, the tense, edge of seat moment of the league has come upon pretty much all the teams in the Premier League with QPR helping their cause at avoiding relegation last time out at the expense of our Gunners.

The boss could’ve blamed a lot of other factors such as the pitch but it’s refreshing that he laid it on the team for a performance that wasn’t “up to scratch”. Alas, it hopefully serves as a silver lining of sorts in our quest to end the season in third to thus bag a group stage ticket at next season’s (lucrative) Champions League.

Adel Taarabt’s “rinsing” of the Verminator for the first along with the below par performance of him and Koscielny on the day should be a “get your sh** together” call to the duo and indeed the rest of the team going into the final seven games of the season, starting with Man. $hitty’s visit this Sunday.

“At the end of the day the result does not lie. The focus was missing a little bit” said Wenger of the QPR loss, adding that :

    “We have been consistent recently and you have to give credit to the team. But in this game we were poor and we were not good enough.”

So yes, it was a blip after going nine matches unbeaten but it being a blip can only be proven with a decisive victory this Sunday and after watching what Sunderland nearly pulled off at the Etihad honestly, we can get those three points and effectively hand the Red Devils their record making 20th league crown.

In all the above, I’ve not conveniently left out the fact that we have three teams right behind us; Newcastle United being the only one worthy mention, but purposely done so.

Other News……

In some other bit of news, eccentric goalie Jens Lehmann believes the Prince of Köln Lukas Podolski would synch in nicely at Arsenal though highlighted that Poldi will have to adapt to the pace of the Premier League along with expectations of winning.

Over at Spain meanwhile, Carlos Vela continues to invoke smirks from me after netting yet again in Sociedad’s 4-0 thumping of Rayo Vallecano. Not that he’s been prolific but you just wonder if he’d make a better option on the bench than, say… Chamakh?!

I’ll let it rest at this point and avoid going on a rant that would wind down to an abyss of pointlessness. Do share your thoughts in the comments though and have a fulfilling April ahead.

Follow us on twitter @goonermemoirs

“We’re Going All Out!” says Wenger – the Milan Preview

Media about AC Milan’s Champions League visit to the Emirates on the back of a solid 4-0 first leg lead has been waxing mostly on famous comebacks in Europe and it just so happens that AC Milan features in most episodes, the defeat to Deportivo la Coruna in 2004 being the pick of the pack along with Liverpool’s triumph a season after.

That said, Arsenal go into the tie on a bit of a high with comeback wins over Sp*rs and Liverpool and… I’m thinking to myself, are we practising for a comeback against the Rossoneri? Huge task.

The task is even more so with the boss ruling Mikel Arteta out of tonight’s encounter, “Arteta has no major problem but he has to rest for a week (no thanks to Henderson’s rush of blood moment) so he will be available against Newcastle but not Milan.”

And with Diaby right back with the medical team where he holds a starting shirt down, Benayoun out with illness, Ramsey still a week from fitness and Rosicky a doubt with a minor groin injury, wonder how the midfield will be.

Predicted line-up: Szczesny. Sagna, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Yennaris. Song, Ox, Rosicky/Gervinho. Walcott, Chamakh/Park, RvP.

Pretty make shift yes and we’ve also got Coquelin out as well as Kieran Gibbs. That leaves Song as our only fully fit first team midfielder at the moment… only at Arsenal *sigh*. Still hoping for a comeback? Don’t mind me, miracles happen.

Finally on the issue of resting players seeing as a third place finish is now realistic and particularly on the issue of having a go at overturning the four goal deficit, the boss had this to say, “Yes. I would not be very credible telling you we want to score five goals and then I leave Robin van Persie out”.

So there you have it, the team’s going for the seemingly impossible and we here are going to be with them through the entire 90 tonight, or an extra half hour as the case may turn out to be.

COYG!!!

Milan Hit Four Past ” Pathetic” Arsenal + Player Ratings

We all saw the game so this is going to be a rather brief post. No one said it was going to be an easy tie, but no one expected the horror show that we the fans were put through by both the coach & the players. Everyone is culpable for what happened to be our heaviest European defeat EVER.

AW tinkered with his formation and put up a five-man midfield to combat the Milan side, a formation we haven’t used in a long time. Even if it was the right formation, it was deployed with the wrong personnel.

Ramsey’s cameo at Sunderland deceived him & thus he handed the Welshman a start in the middle with Rosicky shunted out wide. Then there was Gibbs in for his first game in three months in place of Mertesacker.

Milan before then had damaged both wide areas of the pitch in an effort to fight our speedy wingers, a tactic which worked to perfection as a result of lazy play by our ‘speedy’ winger.

The game was a dull affair and we had no rhythm and no pace, it was like all the players were playing with blindfolds. The first goal was typical, a cross into the box for KP-Boateng which left Vermaelen (his marker) for dead before rifling a magnificent strike into the top corner.

Robinho got himself a brace either side of half time to put the game beyond us on the night;the first of those coming from a Ibrahimovic cross after poor defending from Sagna.

And to cap a nightmarish display, Djourou; on for Koscielny no thanks to a knock, couldn’t resist holding on to the Swede who deservedly dispatched the resultant penalty and put the tie as a whole beyond us. Be kind to yourself and not hope for a miracle at the Ems.

CULPRITS : Szczesny & Vermaelen.

PLAYER RATINGS

Szczesny- 5

Koscielny 6

Vermaelen 3

Sagna3

Gibbs5

Arteta5

Song4

Ramsey0

Walcott0

Rosicky4

Van Persie6

SUBSTITUTES

Djourou0

Henry5

AOC5

When the final whistle went, I was more than happy, we as fans are used to Arsenal ripping out hearts but at least they would play well or fight to the end, but this was different. A lot of poor individual performances, no cohesion, no heart & drive from the players.

All that made even more disheartening with the fact that the defeat marked Henry’s ‘farewell’ from the Ems. It’s february, the month where we always drop out of every competition every year. How long is this decline going to continue?!

AC Milan vs Arsenal : Champions League Preview

Good day to you wherever you’re reading from, hope you painted the town red yesterday as the occasion called for it? Or did you spend it alone at home and pretend to be having an amazing time? Well if you did the latter, today presents you with the chance to do the former(get it?).

MATCH PREVIEW……

The Champions league is back and in full effect and like they say, this is where it gets real and where champions are made. We travel to Italy to play Milan in a stadium where we boast a 100% record, two wins, 7 goals scored and 1 goal conceded so on paper we should expect another win right? Let’s go on and get it.

Arsene Wenger has issued a rallying call that we must get away goalS not just one as it will put us firmly in the driving seat to progress. Even Ramsey says we should shoot on sight and who can blame him? He did that with his first touch on Saturday and he found the net besides Abbiati(milan GK) is the Italian Almunia/De Gea. I fancy an Arteta goal (so long its not from a dead ball situation) and the pace of Walcott & Oxlade to trouble their full backs.

AC Milan are not to be taken lightly, do so and suffer, they sit atop the Serie A and are in good form despite the loss to Lazio a few weeks back and its going to take a lot to leave the San Siro with the perfect result. Like Arsenal, they came back from a goal down to win against Udinese so trust me, on our toes is how we must be the entire 90.

TEAM NEWS……

ARSENAL
Arsenal are going to be unchanged from the squad that went to sunderland with the only changes coming to the first XI, the game comes too soon for Gervinho but Gibbs is likely to return. Mertesacker is out for a month if you believe reports and Ramsey or Arshavin might themselves starting after the impact they had off the bench. This is how I would line up….

Szczesny-Sagna-Vermaelen-Koscielny-Gibbs-Song-Arteta-Arshavin-Oxlade-Walcott-RVP

Strange right? You were expecting to see Ramsey/Rosicky but for once I’d love to see Arshavin start in the hole behind RVP not out on the wings and he can regularly switch with Oxlade/Theo.

MILAN
They welcome Boateng & Pato back into the team after early reports that they would miss out through injury, Ibrahimovich should start as his ban is a domestic one. So expect a full strength milan side.

Prediction : Milan 1 – 2 Arsenal

Well there you have it, see you back here tomorrow and hopefully we’ll have great news to share. COYG.

Escobar

Follow us on twitter @goonermemoirs

Injury- strewn Arsenal welcome Olympiacos + Other News

When preparing to write this post, I realised four days in football is quite “more than four days in reality” but good thing is those four days that seemed like a fortnight are up, as Arsenal come up against Greek champions Olympiacos Piraeus at the Emirates in the Champions League tonight.

Last time out, we were minutes away from snatching all three points at Borussia Dortmund and we’ve gone on to win two matches from three since then with the backline improving steadily from three goals conceded at Blackburn Rovers to none on Saturday against Bolton.

That improvement will come under real scrutiny against the Greek visitors with news that Laurent Koscielny will miss the game with a slight injury. That would see Per Mertesacker likely being partnered at the back by Alex Song. Kozzer’s not the only one out of tonight’s match though.

Walcott hasn’t recovered well enough from the knee injury picked up against Bolton to feature tonight and Gervinho has also been ruled out of the encounter. Both attackers though, along with Kozzer, should be back in contention to face the sillywhites on Sunday.

Arsène will also serve the last of his two match touchline ban from UEFA leaving  Pat Rice with the chance to manage once again; and hopefully get a win under his belt while le Professeur has to watch on from the  Directors’ Box.

In Olympiacos, we come up against Kevin Mirallas, a striker who has quite a good return on goals on the domestic front. There’s also experienced Swedish defender Olof Mellberg who coincidentally scored the first competitive goal at the Emirates while with Aston Villa.

For us, it will be the Champions League home debut of Mikel Arteta and he will likely have Aaron Ramsey and Emmanuel Frimpong with him in midfield while Andrey Arshavin looks set to start on the flanks in the absence of Gerv and Walcott. Second person to be on the flanks behind in-form Robin van Persie is anybody’s guess really with one of Rosicky, AOC and Park gunning for a start, just as starting Andre Santos at left back and pushing Kieran Gibbs forward remains an option.

Predicted line-up: Szczesny; Sagna, Song, Mertesacker, Gibbs; Ramsey, Frimpong, Arteta; Arshavin, Rosicky, van Persie. I’d rather have Song drafted to CB  than endure 90 mins (if he lasts that long) of Djourou craze. Whatever happened to the confident/calm defender that ruled our back line early last season? Only God knows.

To “off field” issues, Wenger believes two years is quite an a lot of time in football, so for RvP to not be in a rush to renew his contract isn’t such an issue. He also quelled the hype surrounding the run up to his 15th anniversary as manager of Arsenal coming up on Saturday, stating he “is not one for anniversaries”.

Not one for such he may be, but we’d certainly would love for the matches before and after October 1st to be won, just to make it a sweeter 15th anniversary for him and more importantly pick up from where we left off against Shrewsbury and Bolton… winning!

There is a game to be won tonight though, anything less than three points and the press will be on our case again. Not like we care or anything; it’s just amazing how no one seems to be bothered when almighty Man City were outplayed by and lost to Germany’s 3rd best team, but when Arsenal draw with the Champions, we are in a crisis.

Have fun wherever you watch the game from… should be fun. My money is on RVP to start a new century of Arsenal goals and 3 nil to the Arsenal!

Any Predictions? Let us know in the comments!

Match Preview: Arsenal vs Bolton Wanderers + Other Happenings

Well we’re up against another club from the Lancashire area but unlike with Manchester United and Blackburn Rovers, Arsenal will be home to Bolton Wanderers on Saturday afternoon in a Premier League encounter.

Ahead of the match, manager Arsène Wenger insisted that the club is doing all it can to improve on the defense, which has conceded fourteen goals already in five league matches. “We work on it every day and practice… there is a lot to improve in our defensive consistencies” said Wenger, making reference to a solid defensive display at Dortmund followed by an abject opposite at Blackburn days later.

And according to stats from Opta, Bolton’s three goals against Arsenal last season were headed goals hence the need for the first team defense, marshalled by Koscielny and Mertesacker, to recover from that horrid display at Ewood Park when the Trotters visit the Emirates along with long time target Gary Cahill – whom Bolton manager Owen Coyle seems resigned to losing come January after stating there’ll be a number of clubs bidding for him then.

Yossi Benayoun will miss the match no thanks to a “strain” but should be in contention for the midweek Champions League match against Greek side Olympiakos. Otherwise we should have the usual faces lining up against the likes of Jussi Jaskkelainen, Tuncay, Kevin Davies, Martin Petrov, Chris Eagles and David Ngog.

Possible line-up: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Santos, Arteta, Song, Ramsey, Gervinho, Walcott, van Persie (c).

If you ask me I’d prefer having Frimpong and Song supporting Arteta in midfield seeing as Ramsey is not assured on the ball while Arshavin remains… one cocky Russian on the ball.

In matters off the pitch, club chairman Peter Hill-Wood has denied the club was at any point close to bringing Joey Barton to the Emirates contrary to the QPR captain’s revelation couple days ago that he came close to signing for Arsenal… whatever guys, let’s just get ourselves sorted in the league already!

And it was rather heart wrenching to learn that midfielder Jack Wilshere’s injury may take longer to heal after the club and the player (in tweets last night) revealed he would have surgery on his ankle on Monday after his bone there failed to respond well to being in a caste in the last month.

This development will see Wilshere sitting out on the sidelines until Christmas at least, a bit as Vermaelen was initially meant to last season. Hopefully in Jack’s case, he’ll be fully fit from January like van Persie was… complete with the sort of form the Dutchman came back with.

So, what do you make of our opposition this weekend and what do you think the outcome will be? Shout out to FolabiPojo for being spot on with his prediction of the League Cup win over Shrewsbury Town. Same result against Bolton perhaps?

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