Category Archives: Match preview

Arsenal’s biggest test yet

Another week, another titanic, end of the universe type clash with some ugly rich kids. Chelsea is the name of the game today as the European champions (get used to it, they’ll be sure to remind us) make their way to the Emirates.

After having to prove ourselves against the domestic champions last week, away from home, there’s a different vibe for this week’s challenge as we get to do it in front of our own fans. The place is buzzing at the moment with the fans getting behind a proper team for once – one that is as exciting in its approach play as it is in defence. Despite this being history’s most expensive football game ever, I’m expecting a full house with wildly enthusiastic crowd, getting behind their own team for once.

We’ll be coming up against a team that has rediscovered its creative flair with the signings of Oscar and Eden Hazard, but are still not that solid in defence. Racist convict John Terry (sounds like a South African migrant living in Australia. Lulz) will hopefully command their back line like he’s wearing nylon socks on a tiled floor.

Nevertheless, we come up against a side that are playing much better than City are, and justifiably (for now!) sit top of the table. This is arguably an even more difficult fixture than last week’s, even at home, so nothing short of our top effort will do. Continue reading

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Arshavin and Giroud must finally let loose

Arsenal’s League Cup campaign kicks off under the Emirates Stadium lights tonight against Coventry City. The usual press about Arsenal not taking the competition seriously continues apace, but ask any Gooner what they’re excited about tonight, and it will definitely centre around the latest crop of talented youngsters at the club.

The goalkeeper could be anyone between Vito Mannone, James Shea or Damien Martinez. As third-choice keeper (despite his run of starts for the first team), it would still be of value to give Mannone another start against Coventry. Yet the nod could easily go Shea’s way, with the Irishman having been on the bench for Arsenal’s one Champions League fixture this season, ahead of the much vaunted Argentinian Martinez.

Andre Santos should be a given for the left back berth while Djourou and Miquel could make their first starts this season. Nico Yennaris should also feature as Carl Jenkinson gets a well-earned rest.

It’s much more difficult to speculate who will feature further forward, with a number of combinations presenting themselves. The likes of Francis Coquelin, Thomas Eisfeld, and Serge Gnabry will all be champing at the bit to feature, while Emmanuel Frimpong should make an appearance from the bench after his very long injury lay-off. Continue reading

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Mancini fears Djourou and overhypes Arsenal

Holy fudgebuckets, I’m psyched for this one, ladies and gents. A chance for this team, developing on a very encouraging trajectory, to take on the Premier League champions on their own patch.

I’m up for it. You’re all up for it, and I’m sure the team is up for the chance to well and truly announce themselves in the title-chase proper.

We’re coming up against a Man City side that is no doubt dangerous, very capable and very intelligent (more so with the loss of Samir Nasri to injury, nyuck nyuck) that could potentially pummel us into the ground with their megabucks signings.

Or, they could be swept off their feet by the Arsenal¬†possession¬†game. When this team gets it right, not many can withstand them, and we’re all hoping that is indeed the case at Middle Eastlands.

Man City have been defensively suspect in the early stages of the season so far, and I’m hoping that with our added discipline, we could steal a very memorable result. We’re not favourites by any means, but this is football. You just never know.

City manager Roberto Mancini isn’t writing us off either, going the whole hog to big us up as the greatest team to ever play the game. It’s an obvious tactic to 1) soften us up with compliments and 2) snap any complacency out of his own side. So you can guarantee both the Sky Blues and their home fans will be raring to go tonight. Continue reading

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Montpellier scratching our complacency itch

Once again, Arsenal embarks on yet another (ill-fated?) Champions League campaign. That’s 15 consecutive qualifications under Arsene Wenger. The naysayers will point to the fact all it has yielded is one runner-up gong, but all you have to do is look at how robbed Spurs felt with Chelsea stealing their entry from them, or how hard they celebrated on the one occasion they did qualify.

As an opening fixture, we have French champions Montpellier (pronunciation guide!) to contend with. It comes before we take on English champions Man City this weekend, followed by European champions Chelsea soon after. Rotation will play a factor in selection, but given there is a five-day gap until the following fixture, I anticipate only minor tweaks. The first team will be pushed to the limit in the league, before getting a small break in our first League Cup match against Coventry.

The team will have arrived in France ahead of our first Champions League clash with Olivier Giroud’s former club, and you can expect our new striker to start on his old hunting ground. The pressure on him to score has been enormous, possibly more than other new arrivals over the years given the player he was replacing. Nevertheless, almost no-one in the Arsenal camp is buying the ‘flop’ label opponents have dished out, given he has only started twice and come off the bench on two other occasions. Tonight, against his former club with whom he won Ligue 1, will be the perfect opportunity to banish a few gremlins. Continue reading

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Dangerous Saints await as real football returns

Twelve days without blogging seems a little lazy to me, so it’s about time I penned something in time for our important date with newly-promoted Southampton tonight. The last time I had the pleasure of writing for you was fresh after our excellent win at Liverpool, but since then, the international break has sung its soporific song for a good week-and-a-half

At the risk of becoming a preview-review blog, there was not one iota of news that really compelled me to blog about. Abou Diaby enjoyed an excellent showing for France before tweaking a thigh muscle (more on that later); Gervinho scored for Ivory Coast, and Bacary Sagna had a whinge about Alex Song departing Arsenal.

In other news, Ivan Gazidis gave a gushing interview about Arsene Wenger’s DNA being sewn into the Arsenal fabric, or something poetically akin to that.

So that’s the wrap of the boring fortnight that was. Real football can finally backtrack to where it was in the conversation before its idiot friend International Matches interrupted with one of its many unfunny jokes.

Today’s match is an exceptionally important fixture, especially given the potential banana peels presenting themselves to our rivals. Man City play Stoke at the Brittania and Chelsea travel to Queens Park Rangers. Man United should win at home to Wigan, but you just never know with the Latics.

So it makes it imperative we follow our first win of the season against Liverpool with another three points against Southampton. Straight from the Championship they may be, but easy-beats they are not. In Gaston Ramirez they have a very accomplished winger, and a dangerous forward in Rickie Lambert. Both he and midfielders Adam Lallana and Morgan Schneiderlin will prove tricky customers at set pieces for the Arsenal defence and will be just as dangerous on the counter. Two goals in their opening game against Man City shows all you need to know about their potential in attack.

So Arsenal will have to fight just as hard as they did against Stoke and Liverpool to get anything out of this match. Southampton look like a team that isn’t afraid of anyone and is willing to throw the dice in attack. 100% concentration required, methinks. Continue reading

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