Much as Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey will want to believe Arsenal are not underdogs going into Sunday’s north London derby, Tottenham Hotspurs hold the upper hand ahead of the crucial Premier League encounter at White Hart Lane.
Arsenal have won three successive matches since losing at Blackburn Rovers, scoring eight and conceding just two. Those two goals however came as a result of some poor defending and against a potent Spurs attack comprising Jermaine Defoe, Roman Pavlyuchenko and the not so loved Emmanuel Adebayor supported by Rafael van Der Vaart, Gareth Bale and the industrious Luka Modric and Scott Parker, such moments of defending must be avoided otherwise.
Unfortunately, Laurent Koscielny is likely to miss the encounter while Gervinho and Theo Walcott face late fitness tests with Walcott more likely to feature on Sunday. Israeli midfielder Yossi Benayoun is fit as is French defender Sebastien Squillaci though Arsène Wenger would starting Alex Song at the back with Per Mertesacker.
The manager received timely boost from majority shareholder Stan Kroenke who stated the club is fully behind Wenger and trust in him to bring more success to the club. And le Professeur himself reiterated his passion for the club as today marks his 15th anniversary as manager, going further to say he has no problem going another 15 years with the club.
Another at the club just off a milestone is century of goals man Robin van Persie. Having made a substitute’s appearance in the midweek win over Olympiacos, he will be fresh for the clash. And it would be great to have him build on the 26 goals he has scored in his last 32 matches for Arsenal and what better venue to do so than at White Hart Lane.
Possible line-up: Szczesny, Sagna, Song, Mertesacker, Santos, Frimpong, Ramsey, Arteta, Walcott/AOC, Benayoun/Arshavin, van Persie (c).
A win over Spurs would not only give us some bragging rights, but also provide a much needed confidence boost to the team to spur the team on for the rest of the league campaign! Come on you Gunners!!
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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?
On loan Israeli midfielder Yossi Benayoun will miss Saturday’s visit of Bolton Wanderers after picking up a strain in the 3-1 League Cup 3rd round win over Shrewsbury Town.
Hopefully, it’s just a “strain” that does not go on to become a recurring injury as our Belgian Thomas Vermaelen is prone to falling victim for. Otherwise, it’s a clean bill of health ahead of the Premier League match with Owen Coyle’s men; including summer target Gary Cahill.
And what do you know, menace of English football Joey Barton admitted to being close to joining Arsenal from Newcastle United and reckons the incident with Gervinho may well have dashed any deal of that sort coming to life.
The very outspoken midfielder, now captain across London at Queens Park Rangers, revealed having conversations with manager Arsène Wenger regarding a move to the Emirates after being placed on Newcastle’s transfer list following his rant about how the club was being run.
“I’d like to think I’d deal with it differently” reflected Barton as regards the incident that got Gervinho sent off on his league debut for Arsenal. “Things happen for a reason and there’s a lesson to be learned from it” he continued, hoping his eventual move to QPR that currently is above the Gunners on the table will see his club finish the season so… cheeky one Mr. Barton!
I’d promised to go ballistic on the club heirarchy should Arsenal lose the 3rd Round League Cup encounter at home to Shrewsbury Town and for half an hour into the match… I was preparing my nerves for the vent I would have to unleash.
The visiting Shrewsbury, playing three tiers below Arsenal in League Two, took the lead after 16 minutes through James Collins’ header. Before then Mark Wright had seen his shot go off the post as the Gunners were put on the backfoot early on.
Collins’ goal brought to fore a need to have a critical look at defensive movement of our players as the lads were on pause mode in the moment of the goal, summing up their performance in the opening minutes of the Cup match.
Nerves calmed when Kieran Gibbs scored his first goal ever for Arsenal with a well taken header off Carl Jenkinson’s cross. The latter and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain combining well in the run-up to Gibbs’ goal.
And fifteen minutes into the second half, the club’s most expensive summer signing (AOC) showed more of his potential when he got the ball from 25 yards out and struck very well to give the Gunners the lead on the night.
It also was his first goal for the club and soon enough, he and Gibbs would be joined on a night of first timers by Israel captain Yossi Benayoun who rounded a good move upfront to sweep home the third off Ozyakup’s final pass and complete Arsenal’s passage to the 4th Round.
There, no rant but… it was a win over a League Two side. Good solid win expectedly but still some room for improvement needed at the back.
Away from field matters, the club’s worst start to a league season in some 50 years has in no way convinced the Arsenal board to as much as consider relieving Arsene Wenger of his job with club Director Ivan Gazidis stating le Professeur is only frustrated at the club’s present predicament but not broken by it.
The South African club executive also reiterated that Wenger remains one of the game’s finest managers and contrary to growing speculation, his job as Arsenal manager is very much safe.
With that said as we prepare for Saturday’s visit of Bolton Wanderers in the Premier League, is Wenger really still the man for the job? And what do you feel can be done to sort our defensive frailties?
Just a quick one! It’s two games and we are gradually exorcising the ghosts of that loss at OT. A hard fought 1-1 draw at the home of German Champions is not a bad result by anyone’s standards. So we can be happy we have that one out of the way. Being the optimistic type, it was one point gained rather than 2 lost.
The boys have been doing a lot of talking after the game at Dortmund, stressing the importance of team spirit and belief. The boys look prepared to prove doubters wrong, we can only hope their legs can cash the cheques their lips have been writing.
Starting with Mikel Arteta; who credited former captain Cesc Fàbregas with helping him in settling to life at the club, the former Everton man has urged for a bit of patience from the Gooners for the team. Said He,
“I talked to him the day after I signed the contract and he advised me on two or three things,” said Arteta. To be honest he was really nice to me. He advised me on the areas to live, about the team-mates, about the Club and how good it is and the people here. It was very good.”
According to our Spanish midfielder (the new one that is), the players will be working hard to attain the high expectations (of us) of them and went further to state the club has the quality players that can see the club genuinely challenge for titles, though admitting the team would have to ensure it kept itself in contention to challenge for such trophies.
Israeli captain Yossi Benayoun shared same sentiments with Mikel, he believed signing for Arsenal was an easy choice.
“It was agreed between me and Chelsea to wait until the last day so see if they bring in another player. I knew I had a few offers and when Arsenal came it was an easy choice. For me, it was great opportunity for me to play in a great club and in the Champions League.”
He also opined that the club does have very good players in addition to himself and the other new faces at the Emirates, and it only is a matter of time before there is a marked improvement in performances “not just with Arteta but with the whole team”.
Meantime, Arsène Wenger’s right hand man from memoria Pat Rice believes the club have certainly “turned the corner” in lieu of our last two matches against Swansea and Borussia Dortmund.
Rice also had special praise for Per Mertesacker whom he is confident can continue his good start to his Arsenal career, as the number of times he has featured for the German national team only means “he cannot be a bad player. It is impossible”.
So with a trip to Blackburn Rovers coming up for us in the Premier League, we need to build on our performance in the last 2 games; play good “efficient” soccer or win ugly if we have to!
Some fans believe Rice may have jumped the gun in declaring that we have turned the corner? Do you agree? How can we know if truly we have?
Do let us know what you think!
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Transfer deadline days generally see a number of deals struck but yesterday’s was particularly edge of seat stuff with the club finally springing to life and completing four signings before the 11 o’clock deadline; the last beating that time by mere minutes.
With a squad of names linked to the club over the last 48 hours of the transfer window, below is a quick load down of the quartet that arrived on deadline day; as well as a ‘steal’ a day before, with their squad number against their name where available.
CHU YOUNG PARK (9) – On the very brink of becoming a Lille player, Chu Young Park signed from Ligue 1 side AS Monaco for £2.6m on Tuesday much to the Lille management’s anger… pretty much dashing any chance of a certain Hazard coming our way.
Anyway, the 26 year old South Korea captain has played at two World Cups (2006 and 2010) and featured in 91 matches for the Principality club over three seasons, scoring 25 goals along the way. He is known to be a dead ball specialist and his crucial free kick in the 2-2 draw against Nigeria at the last World Cup qualified his country from the group stage.
PER MERTESACKER (4) – The imposing 26 year old arrives for £8.8m from Bundesliga club Werder Bremen where he made 142 appearances in five seasons, scoring a dozen goals and contesting a Europa League final in 2007.
The 6ft 6in German international comes highly rated with a record of just one yellow card and one red card in his last four seasons at the Bundesliga and has appeared at two successive World Cup semi-finals with the German national team where he has 75 caps so far.
ANDRÉ CLARINDO DOS SANTOS (11) – A bit of a surprise arrival as he only came up on the rumour mill monitoring Arsenal’s transfer movement on Tuesday evening, Santos’ arrival is a very welcome one in light of how weak our left back position is at the moment with Armand Traore now (thankfully) gone and Kieran Gibbs still unproven.
For a fee in the region of £6m, the former Fernabahce left back has 22 caps for the Selacao of Brazil to his name and 10 goals in 52 league appearances for Fernabahce. He has won two Brazilian Cups, a Turkish league title, the 2009 Confederations Cup and also played all four of Brazil’s matches at the last Copa America.
YOSSI BENAYOUN – The 31 year old Israeli’s arrival on a season long loan from Chelsea stirs mixed reactions among Gooners based on him making just a handful of appearances in his time so far at west London coupled with the half year injury lay off soon after arriving there from a successful spell at Liverpool where he scored 18 goals in 92 appearances.
Hopefully he is over his injury troubles and can impart his intelligent play across the attacking midfield end of the pitch, perhaps wake the dulling football spirit of Andrey Arshavin while at it.
MIKEL ARTETA – At 29, he may be five years older than he-who-has-finally-returned-home and may also not have a single cap with the Spanish national team but he is no doubt a quality signing from Everton at a fee believed to be £10m.
He will certainly fill in as the creative feet in midfield and hopefully, Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott will no more be short of the much needed assists from the middle of the park with the Spaniard now around.
Arteta has played in the Premier League since 2005 and made 174 appearances with the Toffees, scoring 28 goals during his spell at Goodison Park. He, by the way, was a Barcelona trainee but I don’t reckon we’ll be having such episode with him.
All that said, it was a busy day on the outgoing section of the transfer window for Arsenal with out of favour striker Nicklas Bendtner off to Sunderland on loan for the season after being reportedly rejected by Stoke City.
Armand Traore has also left the Emirates though is still around in London after sealing a three year deal with newly promoted Queens Park Rangers. Henri Lansbury also remains in the capital after going on loan to Championship side West Ham United.
New signing Joel Campbell will be at Ligue 1 side Lorient on loan for the season and Gilles Sunu will be at the French club with him though the U-21 French international joins Lorient on a three year deal.
Not the marquee signings everyone craved but very good signings in the most important areas.It certainly will be a refreshed atmosphere in the dressing room when first team players return from national team duties and Gooners certainly are glad of the steps taken to correct a dearth in depth brought to skeletal bare in that gruesome defeat at Old Trafford.
Thank you Sir Alex for bucking le Professeur back to life (at least I hope it has) and I hope never to have to be a position to do so again.
Follow us on Twitter @goonermemoirsand stay the cause, there’s a whole season ahead of us still.