Manchester United preview

I’ll start with some of the news from the past days. Arsene Wenger says he wants to add three more players to the squad:

“It is important [to strengthen] because we will lose players in January with players going to the African Nations Cup,

We lose Gervinho and Chamakh together so, first of all, it is important to strengthen up front. It is important that we find one midfielder and one defender as well. So we are still short of three bodies.

My time has been taken up [by players going out] and it was a very difficult summer on that front because we had to face adversity, negativity, but it had to be done. Overall, we tried to do as well as we could.”

It’s good to hear that. But, yes there is a big but, I have to say Arsene’s got it wrong this summer. He knew Cesc and Nasri were leaving, he said long ago that Bendtner will leave as well. He’s had all the time in the world to bring a centre back, which he didn’t do. He sold Cesc a while ago and had a lot of time to bring in a creative midfielder. Yes, these things aren’t that easy, but with enough money it can only take a few days to complete a transfer. And we have the money. Whether it’s the board that’s restricting our manager, or Arsene himself doesn’t want to pay too much above the price he thinks is realistic, we’ll never know.

What we know though is that we have no new players for the game tomorrow, which is disappointing. Considering all our injuries and suspensions, we are extremely short of bodies and I was convinced we’d see a new player come in before the game. That didn’t happen and I have to say I’m really worried about tomorrow. The players who won’t be able to take part are Abou Diaby, Gervinho, Alex Song, Kieran Gibbs, Emmanuel Frimpong, Nicklas Bendtner, Squillaci and Jack Wilshere. Thomas Vermaelen is also a little doubt.

Firstly, Carl Jenkinson needs to have the game of his life at right back. He did well when he was called in over the past few games and I have faith in the youngster. His Champions League performance against Udinese should have given him a lot of confidence and I hope he plays well tomorrow. Bacary Sagna needs a good game on the left too. United are extremely dangerous on the flanks and our full backs must play well if we want to keep a clean sheet, and that will be vital.

Now on to our midfield. That is the real worry for me. The boss will play Aaron Ramsey and Tomas Rosicky, but who will the third player be? I can’t see us playing 4-3-3 with the current players. Maybe he’ll revert to 4-4-2 with a midfield of Arshavin, Rosicky, Ramsey and Theo with Chamakh and Van Persie up front. I suspect Henri Lansbury, Ryo and Alex Chamberlain will be on the bench and those will probably be our only options should the manager decide to change things. We may as well see Armand Traore at some stage of the game, probably as a left-sided midfielder. It’s hardly something to give you confidence, is it?

Not much else going on. We’ll face Shrewsbury Town in the Carling Cup, but there’s still enough time until then.

Let’s focus on the game tomorrow now. We’ll need to be on top form if we want to beat United. I’ll be quite happy with a draw, to be honest. I can’t see us winning this one. I’m usually optimistic, but this time I’m really, really worried. It’s the first time in a while that I’ve been that nervous before an Arsenal game. I’ve always thought that we’re strong enough to beat any team, but right now, with so many absentees, I can’t help but be scared.

But who knows. Arsenal can surprise us sometimes and hopes high that tomorrow will be one of those nice surprises from the boys in black and blue. I may be worried but I can’t wait. Till Monday.


Posted in Arsenal | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Champions League here we come!

We’ve done it the hard way, but we’re in the Champions League! Falling behind so early in the game was a good test for the team’s mentality and they did very well. We had a young side out there and the character and determination they showed in the second half was outstanding. It was by far our best performance in the season so far and hopefully it’s a sign of things getting better. I’ll start with some of the positives.

  • Tomas Rosicky: Outstanding. Came on at half time and changed the game completely. Arsene said the team lacked a bit of creativity in the first half and Rosicky played brilliantly. It was a glimpse of what the Czech was before his injury and hopefully we’ll see more of the same from him. We’ll need creative players in the lack of Cesc and Nasri, and if Rosicky can keep this level of his game then he’ll be a big part of our campaign.
  • Carl Jenkinson: What a game for the young Arsenal fan. When you imagine that just a few months ago he was playing League 1 football and he was watching some Arsenal games from the stands, as every other normal fan, and compare that to him being a starter in a Champions League game for his favourite club, that’s a massive achievement for him. And he played very well. He looked a bit nervous in the first few games, maybe that was still down to the excitement of playing for the club, but last night he was superb. Let’s hope that’s no longer a factor and he’ll keep impressing with his performances.
  • Wojciech Szczesny: Brilliant, as usual. He’s really getting a grip on that No. 1 spot and I think Arsenal fans all over the world can be happy with the goalkeeper’s position now. The penalty save was a turning point, and what a save it was. Let no one fool you, this was a good penalty from Di Natale. He got just one hand on it but that was enough to keep the score level. We’ve got a quality goalkeeper in the young Pole and let’s just hope he’ll stay at the club for a long, long time.
  • Gervinho: The other new signing did a great job as well. He was always dangerous regardless of where he played and I think he’s been a good buy for Arsenal so far. He had a few shots at goal which didn’t really threaten that much, but his overall movement and dribbling caused Udinese a lot of problems. He also provided the vital pass for Van Persie’s goal which got us back in the game and that moment was the other turning point in the game, apart from the penalty later. It’s a real shame that he lost his nerves at Newcastle and we couldn’t use him against Liverpool and won’t be able to use him on Sunday either.

There were plenty more, Thomas Vermaelen was dominant and had a fantastic game, let’s just hope he’s not injured and will be ready for United on Sunday. We’ll need him.

Bacary Sagna had another good performance at left back and it’s nice to see that he plays well in both positions.

Theo Walcott was dangerous and his finish for the second goal was exquisite. He exchanged a couple of passes with Bacary Sagna and Theo’s pace was the decisive factor. The Udinese defenders had no chance of catching him and he had a cool head right when it mattered most. Game over.

Aaron Ramsey did okay as well. I think he excels when he’s got a more creative player around him. Aaron isn’t a real playmaker for me. He needs someone like Wilshere or Rosicky around him to shine. You could see that right from the moment when Tomas came on, Aaron started to play better. And I don’t think that’s a coincidence. That’s why he formed such a good partnership with Jack Wilshere in pre-season.

All that said, our first half wasn’t one to remember. Yes, we had a few chances and we started brightly, but after that we gave a lot of chances to Udinese. Di Natale was their most dangerous player again and our defense looked shaky. Johan Djourou didn’t have his best game in an Arsenal shirt and it was his mistake that led to the goal. Di Natale was left unmarked and his finish was perfect. He also hit the post at one stage and overall Udinese looked more dangerous in the first 45 minutes. Whatever happened at half time certainly changed the attitude of the lads and the way they were playing. Let’s hope that the defensive issues from the first half last night were just a one-off and they won’t be repeated against United. Because the champions aren’t going to be as generous as the Italians.

We shouldn’t focus on the negatives, though. During the second half there was only one team out there, and that was Arsenal. We finally started to see bits and pieces of our fluid passing game and we can only improve. We’re not at our best yet, but we’re getting closer. We still need a couple of additions, but I’ll leave that for another day. Today we’re in the Champions League draw and that’s all that matters.

Till Saturday.

Posted in Arsenal | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Udinese preview

It all comes down to tonight, doesn’t it? Who would have thought that we’d be so nervous about a Champions League qualifier? Who would have thought that Arsenal may not participate in the Champions League group stage?

We used to stroll our way through over the past few years when we had to play a qualifying game. I don’t remember one single time when we really had any problems. Every time we were approaching them as “difficult games”, but we knew we were going to win before they even started. Tonight is a little different. Udinese have shown last week that they are a decent side and they are ready to exploit any weakness in our team. We played very well defensively that night and we’ll need an equally good performance at the back tonight.

We’ve not been playing our best football recently and, considering the players out, I doubt we’ll see it in Italy this evening. We still hold the upper hand though, and we must try to protect and extend our advantage, as Arsene Wenger said during his press conference yesterday:

“So overall we need a good solid defensive performance but we have experience in the Champions League and it is a good chance for us to use it tomorrow.

We have won the first game without conceding a goal, that is quite a good result, and we will go there to score as we always do.”

Let’s not forget that last week our squad was considerably weakened. Robin van Persie is back for tonight, as are Tomas Rosicky, Johan Djourou, Alex Song and Gervinho. Here are the 18 men that have travelled to Italy:

Wojciech Szczesny
Lukasz Fabianski
Carl Jenkinson
Bacary Sagna
Thomas Vermaelen
Johan Djourou
Armand Traore
Ignasi Miquel
Andrey Arshavin
Emmanuel Frimpong
Aaron Ramsey
Alex Song
Theo Walcott
Tomas Rosicky
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Marouane Chamakh
Robin van Persie

I think we’ll line up like this:

Szczesny – Sagna, Djourou, Vermaelen, Traore – Song, Ramsey, Rosicky – Walcott, Gervinho, Van Persie.

This is a team capable of beating Udinese. Yes, we lost Nasri and Cesc, yes we haven’t really strengthened so far, yes we still miss a few players but this is a strong Arsenal side. I hope we finally start to show bits of our flowing football and quick passing game and if we do I really think we can tear them apart tonight. They need goals and we have quick players in our side who can punish them on the counter. We have to score. We know how costly away goals are and if we go 1-0 up they’ll need 3 to go through, which is nearly impossible.

In other news, Arsenal have finally agreed terms with Man City over the transfer of Samir Nasri. I’m glad it’s over, to be honest. The sooner it ended the better and now we have another 24m in the bank. I’m going to miss Samir. He’s a tremendous player and I’m not happy to see him leave. But life goes on, Arsenal goes on and we need to focus on ourselves now. Arsene needs to spend now and he needs to do it very, very quickly. I suspect if we qualify for the Champions League the deals won’t be that hard to make and there is exactly one week left of the window. Let’s hope we make the most of it.

Arsene Wenger’ ban is temporarily lifted, which means he’ll be on the bench tonight. Oh. That doesn’t sound right, does it? Well, we are short of players… Yeah, whatever.

It’s a massive game today. The Arseblogger summed it up perfectly:

“It’s massive for the football club, for our standing, our reputation, our confidence, for our ability to bring in players before the transfer window closes, and for the manager himself. The damage done if we don’t qualify for the Champions League would be enormous. Like the Liverpool game the only conclusion you could make is that our ineffective summer will have been the overriding factor and the consequences of that … well, I shudder to think.”

I don’t think there’s anything more to be added. We can do it and I’m confident we’ll get through. More from me tomorrow.


Posted in Arsenal | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Poll results – Are Arsenal fans satisfied with the team’s defense?

Are you satisfied with Arsenal’s defense from what you’ve seen so far?

The majority of you think it’s finally starting to look positive. 28% still are not convinced by what they’re seeing and a fifth of you think that we need more signings. Just 6% are completely satisfied with what we have.

Answer Percent
It’s looking positive. 44%
Still not convinced. 28%
No, we need more signings! 22%
Yes, it’s what I want to see! 6%

My opinion on this is that our defense is better than last season. It’s certainly a step in the right direction and I feel we are much more solid at the back. Wojciech’s performances are encouraging, while Vermaelen and Koscielny are forming a good partnership. I still think we are a bit short in the center though, and one more player would be welcome. We also need a left back, Kieran Gibbs is far too injury prone to rely on and Armand Traore hasn’t convinced me he’s a good back up. Moving Vermaelen to the left is a waste and is considerably weakening our center, so one more addition on the left would be nice. Sagna and Jenkinson are doing alright at right back so I have no complaints there.

You can now vote in the new poll on the sidebar, more tomorrow when we preview our game in Italy. Keep the faith and stick together, Gooners!

Posted in Arsenal | Leave a comment

A season-defining week for Arsenal

Statue of Arsène Wenger

Image via Wikipedia

Good evening everyone.

Here we are at the start of one of Arsene Wenger’s most important weeks as a manager of our club. I think it’s fair to say that this is a week that could define our season. This is a week in which he’s got to do most of his transfer business. This is a week in which we’ll fight for a place in the Champions League group stage and a week in which we’ll face champions Manchester United. And we better be ready for it.

There are exactly 10 days left of the transfer window and while it won’t surprise me if we see some last second movement, I would prefer things to be done before United. A decision has to be made about Samir Nasri and soon. The Frenchman clearly doesn’t want to sign a new contract, but I think Wenger won’t sell him if he can’t find a replacement. Roberto Mancini said yesterday that he hopes to have Nasri in his side in the next 24 hours. He also said that if Samir plays on Wednesday for us it would be “a big problem”. Of course, that would mean he’ll be cup tied and City won’t be able to use him in Europe.

The 24 hours have passed, more or less, and the number 8 is still an Arsenal player. We’ll see what happens on that front, maybe Arsene can convince him to stay? I guess we’ll know the answer before Wednesday. If he plays then that for me is a clear sign of what will happen. I would be happy to see him stay, I’m not going to lie. He’s a quality player and we need to keep him. Losing both him and Fabregas in one summer is just too much.

Arsenal have included Nasri in the A List for the game in Italy, but that doesn’t really mean anything. Remember that Cesc was also included in our Premier League squad before he got sold. The rest of the squad can be found here.

Why is it such an important week for Arsene?

I said above that this week could define our season. Firstly, we must qualify for the Champions League. Failing to go through on Wednesday is equal to a disaster and I don’t even want to think about what the consequences of that might be. I don’t even want to imagine the reaction that it’s going to trigger from some sets of fans. A defeat would be a massive blow and I hope the players realise what they’re playing for.

I think we have what it takes to win in Italy, but what really worries is what we are going to do in the Premier League and all the other competitions. I have to say, as big an optimist as I am, I don’t believe that the current squad can win us a trophy this season. The basis is there, we don’t need any major changes, but we need some minor tweaks here and there and if we want to challenge for anything alterations have to be made. Wenger must act, and he must do it quickly. Time is ticking away. Chelsea confirmed the signing of Juan Mata last night and that really is a chance missed for Arsenal. I don’t know how big our interest has been, but we certainly could have taken him more than a month ago if we had matched the transfer fee required by Valencia. He is now a closed chapter and we must look elsewhere.

I trust Wenger’s judgement and I’m sure he can find the right players. There was a rumour about Kaka joining our club from Real Madrid. I remember what Kaka was at Milan, but we never saw him at his best at the Spanish club. I don’t think he’s the player he once was and while his name may excite a lot of people, I’m not so sure we really need him. Anyway, that’s just speculation so we don’t know if there’s anything in it at all. I’m not going to list any names, let’s just wait and see what happens. One thing is certain for me – Wenger wants to make changes and is looking. He knows that without a few new faces in we simply cannot be a contender this year and I sincerely hope that he and the board take the required actions.

In other news, UEFA have given the manager a fresh two-match ban following what happened last week at the Emirates.

“Today’s decision was taken in relation to the Arsenal manager not abiding by the decision of the Control and Disciplinary Body during the English club’s UEFA Champions League play-off game against Udinese Calcio last Tuesday, 16 August. Wenger is therefore suspended for Arsenal’s second-leg match against Udinese in Italy on Wednesday and then the next UEFA competition fixture for which he would be eligible.”

They’ve also fined us €10,000 for improper conduct. Bollocks. The decision will be appealed by the club and quite rightly so. I think UEFA need to stop being so petty and focus on the bigger issues in football. I didn’t see anything wrong with what Wenger did the other night. He’s been told not to communicate with Pat Rice and not to enter dressing room. He’s also been told that he could speak to Boro Primorac who could then pass things on to the bench. From what we saw Arsene did just that. I’m a bit sceptical about us winning the appeal though. Anyway, it’s not such a big deal, we should be able to beat Udinese without Wenger on the sideline.

Finally I suggest you check this out. According to the article Arsene Wenger and the board are in disagreement over how much the players must be paid. It says that both the board and the manager realise the need for signings, both agree that big money must be spent, but their opinions differ when it comes down to how much they have to pay the players. It’s certainly an interesting read and it may be the answer to many of our questions over the summer. I don’t think we’ll learn the truth any time soon though, maybe in someone’s biography in a few years time. I highly doubt the credibility of this information, to be honest. With the “unknown source” and all that, but who knows. I for one don’t believe it. Go check it out.

And also, for those of you that have subscriptions to Arsenal Player I suggest checking out the new Talking Tactics video with Stewart Robson. He does make some good points about our performance on Saturday against Liverpool and I think it’s worth a look.

So that’ll be it for today. We’ll see what destiny has in store for us over the next couple of days. Tomorrow I’ll be reviewing the results from the poll, you still have time to vote. Question is on the sidebar. And on I’ll be back on Wednesday morning too previewing the Udinese game. Until then, have a nice week.

Posted in Arsenal | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A painful defeat, changes have to be made

It’s difficult to write about what happened yesterday at the Emirates Stadium. That’s if you’re an Arsenal fan, of course. I have to say I was quite optimistic, having seen the team line-up ahead of the game. This was a team more than capable of beating a Suarezless and Gerrardless Liverpool, especially at home. I’ll start with some of the positives.

The only real surprise for me was Sagna at left back. The decision makes sense though, considering Carl Jenkinson’s inexperience, it was maybe better to let him play in his preferred position and put a more reliable Bacary Sagna on the left. You could see that our number 3 was a little uncomfortable at times, but he coped with it brilliantly and young Carl did a decent job on the other side of the pitch. Of course, switching full backs meant we won’t be able to fully use them in attack, but I feel defensive solidity was more of a priority.

Thomas Vermaelen had an outstanding game. The way he organized his defenders was fantastic and he gave Andy Carroll no chance, beating him for every long ball and leaving him on his arse all the time. You could see just how important the Belgian is to Arsenal and let’s hope that last season’s horrors are behind him. Wojciech Szczesny showed he is top quality once again with several vital saves, one that comes to mind was Andy Carroll’s only header on goal in the first half. He needed a full stretch to get to that and overall Wojciech literally kept us in the game and I don’t think he’s to blame for any of the goals.

In the middle Emmanuel Frimpong was impressive. He got a harsh booking very early in the game and he needed to be cautious for the rest of the 90 minutes. Martin Atkinson is the ref who sent more players off than anyone else in the Premier League last season and you could see the red coming for the youngster. His lack of experience was probably the main reason for him to go into that challenge with Charlie Adam the way he did. Studs up and foot high off the ground, Frimpong was lucky not to be shown a straight red by the official. It was a stupid, but he’s still raw and will learn from it. Other than that he showed a lot of energy and passion which was nice to see. He even came close to scoring in the first half when he struck one from long-range just wide. He’s got talent, Emmanuel Frimpong, and I think he could really challenge Song for his place during the season.

Samir Nasri was good as well and the crowd was supportive to him and that was nice to see. Whether he’ll leave or not, I don’t know, but he gave his best yesterday. He had a few attempts on goal but none of them really troubled the goalkeeper. Samir is a winner and I will be more than happy to see him stay. I know what he’s said, I know what happened during the summer but we need our best players to remain at the club if we want to achieve something. Samir could be a vital part of our campaign and I hope the Boss manages to keep him. Strangely enough, when asked about Nasri’s eventual transfer to City, Arsene Wenger said “I don’t know”. We’ll see what happens there.

And that’s about where the positives end. It was a strange performance by Arsenal. I don’t remember to have seen Arsenal play so defensively in the past few years, except when we played Barcelona. At times I even thought we were playing for the 0-0. Theo Walcott didn’t have the best of games and was kept quiet by the Liverpool defenders. He didn’t get much of the ball and there were no spaces to exploit with his pace. When he did get the ball he lost it and when he managed to cross it into the box there was no one there. Robin van Persie couldn’t do much either. He had one fantastic chance, the Dutchman, shortly before Frimpong’s red card when he received a great ball on the edge of the six-yard box only to hit it straight at Pepe Reina. That was a real opener and it could have changed the game, but Robin’s finish wasn’t accurate enough. I can remember one run by Theo Walcott through the center and he had a completely unmarked Andrey Arshavin to his left but chose to pass it to the captain who had all the Liverpool defenders around him. Another bad mistake in the final third. Aaron Ramsey was absent for the most part of the game as well.

It was strange to me that we couldn’t get our passing game going all game. We had a few moments but nothing more than that. The lack of off the ball movement was shocking and with no one available to pass to, it was hard to see how we could turn things around. Frimpong’s deserved red card killed the contest and we were massively unlucky shortly after. Ignasi Miquel  tried to clear a dangerous through pass to Luis Suarez but the ball rebounded of Aaron Ramsey’s head and looped over our goalkeeper. Nothing anyone could have really done about that and the game was over. For the second we were torn apart by Liverpool and Meireles was left uncovered, he then squared the ball to Suarez and the Uruguayan passed it into an open net.

We’ve also added to the injury list. Laurent Koscielny limped off midway through the first half with what seemed to be a problem with his lower back. There was no one around him, I didn’t see anything that could have caused him this injury either. Just how serious that is we’ll have to wait and see but the early information is that he’ll be out for the next two games. It happened out of nowhere and Ignasi Miquel was brought in for his Premier League début. Credit to the young Spaniard, in my opinion he played quite well. Strangely, Sebastien Squillaci was not even in the group and there were some reports after the game that he’s not in the manager’s plans for the season. I sure hope so.

It was a poor performance by Arsenal’s standards, but we still had our chances and I think we could have won that game. It hurts, but we’re still early in the season and there’s plenty of time to put things right. Calling for Wenger’s head though, is madness. I’m convinced that the Frenchman is the right man for the job but some changes have to be made. There are issues in the team and they need to be addressed before the end of the month. We need a center back, possibly a left back and someone in the middle, especially if Nasri leaves..

We need experienced players. Carl Jenkinson is a promising lad but he’s not ready yet. We’re yet to see how Ryo and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will do in the Premier League, but they’re still pretty raw and it’s a little early for them, in my opinion. Joel Campbell is an exciting prospect too, but we need complete and experienced players now, not in five years time.

Finally, have a read at Gunnerblog‘s post match blog post. It’s a quality piece, worth a look.

Whatever happens Arsenal will go on. It’s a difficult period for the team, but I’m convinced that they have more than enough in them to get themselves out of trouble. Now the focus must turn to Udinese. We’ve got a vital game on Wednesday and we have to go through. It’s as simple as that. More from me tomorrow.

Posted in Arsenal | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Liverpool preview + a bit of optimism

It’s been a week full of speculations and rumours, but it’s time to stop with all that crap. At least for a day. Liverpool is the game at the Emirates and it’s an early kick off, meaning we won’t have to wait too long. That’s the thing I love about 12:45 games, they come quick! Anyway, straight to football.

It’s never easy when you play against Liverpool and this game will be no different. They are a much stronger side than last year and with players like Suarez and Carroll we need to be at our best if we want to get a result. Steven Gerrard is missing for them and we have to take advantage of that. Unfortunately for us, our team is seriously wounded. Alex Song and Gervinho are banned, while Jack Wilshere, Armand Traore, Kieran Gibbs and Johan Djourou are all injured. You can add Abou Diaby to that, who has spent the entire pre-season in the treatment room and I haven’t heard any news on him getting closer to playing again. Tomas Rosicky will be rested, and Wenger says he’s carrying a knock:

“We will give Tomas a rest tomorrow. It is not a bad injury and he should be back with us on Monday but he is rested tomorrow. “

It does sound quite amazing at first that he needs a rest just two games into the season, but if he’s having some problems then it’s probably better to give him a break. We wouldn’t want to lose him for a longer period and from this perspective Arsene’s decision makes sense.

The real surprise came when the manager announced that Samir Nasri is in the squad and Wenger insisted he won’t hesitate to pick him if needed. Now that is unexpected. Just 48 hours ago he was reportedly on the brink of joining Manchester City, yet we may well see him playing for Arsenal today. One thing is certain – we are down to bare bones in midfield at the moment. Whether that has had any influence on Wenger’s decision to put Nasri in the squad or on the player’s eventual transfer, I don’t know. I suspect the Boss just had to stall the move for a few days, simply because there is no one else he can play there at the moment. If that is the case and if Nasri does start, then that’s a good step from him. As Matt Barlow from the Daily Mail said on Twitter, he could easily have faked some sort of injury or illness, which he hasn’t done, so fair play for that.

Let’s see if he plays and if he does, I urge Arsenal fans not to boo him. I know many don’t like him after everything that’s happened over the past few months and I agree that he should have kept his mouth shut about some things, but booing is the last thing that we need today. As long as he gives hundred percent I would have no complaints. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way defending him, but we’ve got an important game later and we all want Arsenal to win. And in the current situation, having Samir Nasri on the pitch would help massively. Abuse is never something pretty, but please show him some respect when he’s on the pitch for Arsenal. If he leaves then fair enough, do whatever you want, but while he’s still wearing the red and white shirt he’s part of our team and, as such, he deserves our support.

We’ll see what happens there, but one player who will play is Emmanuel Frimpong. He’s practically our only option in the absence of Song and this is a massive game for the lad. It is a big step up from the Reserves league to the top flight and we’ll certainly be able to see what he’s made of. What I’ve seen so far in pre-season has been promising. He’s physically strong, good on the ball and has the energy and commitment you would want to see from a player. He won’t be intimidated by the opposition and there’s no better stage than that for him to show what he can do. Let’s wish him luck and hope that he can play well.

What worries me is our back four. Wenger hinted about playing Carl Jenkinson on the left:

“Jenkinson did really well at left-back the other night [against Udinese]”

I have to say I’ll be surprised to see young Carl start the game tomorrow. Moving your best defender in Thomas Vermaelen to left back is a massive gamble though, considering the only replacement we have is Squillaci. Liverpool will be dangerous and we will need a big performance from Jenkinson, provided he gets the nod. He did okay against Udinese, but he had a few shaky moments in my opinion. Maybe the pressure of the Champions League got to him, but let’s hope he’s over that now.

A clean sheet will be important, but we’ll be looking to win that game and we have to be sharp upfront. Our new captain Robin van Persie will lead the attack and I wonder who he’ll have around him. If Nasri plays in the middle then I guess Walcott and Arshavin will be on the wings. He’s got to play Arshavin, hasn’t he? The Russian loves playing against Liverpool and here’s an interesting stat. Out of only 6 shots on target against the Scousers, Andrey Arshavin has scored 5 goals*. We also have the options of Ryo Miyaichi, who’s got his work permit and paperwork sorted, Marouane Chamakh and new boy Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Considering our injury situation and all the players missing I think we’ll line up like this: Szczesny – Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Jenkinson (?) – Frimpong, Ramsey, Nasri (?) – Arshavin, Walcott, Van Persie.

That’ll be it for today, I’ll be back with another post tomorrow. The game is just a few hours away now and I’m starting to get really excited. Looking at the team now, I don’t think it’s that bad. Yes, it could have been better, but it is what it is and if some players are able to find that extra gear then we are more than capable of beating Liverpool. I can’t help but be optimistic.

To everyone going to the Emirates today, please don’t boo Nasri if he plays. Focus on supporting the team, they will need it.


*For more Arsenal related stats follow this guy on Twitter.

Posted in Arsenal | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment