Chelsea vs Arsenal Preview: Muted Performance or Goals Galore?

After yet another predictable and uninspiring performance in the Champions League, against Zagreb, we jump back into Premier League today against Chelsea. As we know, Chelsea have just come lost back to back games and we were looking the more threatening team, but after the mid-week games it feels like they may have some confidence back.

I feel this game will go one of two ways. It will either be a game that neither team wishes to lose and will be content to sit, be patient and possibly play for a draw if they can’t nick a win. Or it will be an explosive game and goals will fly in from both sides.

We all have grown accustomed to Wenger’s traditional excuses when we lose and the ‘mental strength’ cliché but in yesterday’s press conference he said he will not use the tired from travelling excuse:

“Chelsea play as well and it is part of our job. I don’t think it will be a massive problem for us, but we will see. I think we have gone down the way where we have to accept that television decides when you are going to play. We have to accept that.”

 

After the baffling team selection against Zagreb we should be back to full force today. Petr Cech returns for his second match against his former club, replacing Ospina. Bellerin, Monreal and Ramsey will come back into the team. I know people complain about Ramsey on the right, I am one of them, but Wednesday’s performance by Chamberlain demonstrated why he has been played ahead of him. When he has an off day then Chamberlain gives the ball away far too much, but on his good day he is superb.

Wenger has also commented on Cech starting against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge for the first time:

I just want him to focus on this game and not be influenced by that. You can’t go there and wonder if you’re standing in the right goal or not. He is so experienced that I don’t need to talk to him about that. Our individual performances will be more important than what he knows. There is no massive secret in that.

 

I think Wenger will start Theo Walcott ahead of Olivier Giroud. The Frenchman’s head is down and his confidence is shot. He has the French fans, Arsenal fans and the media on his back and it clearly showed on Wednesday that it is affecting him. But then if it was constantly being drilled into you that you are not good enough to lead the line for Arsenal from all angles, especially from Thierry Henry, then it will have a detrimental affect on your mindset.

The lineup I would love to see us play eventually would be:

my perfect Arsenal

But Theo Walcott only seems to want to play as striker currently which, in my opinion, is not his best position. He scores far more goals from coming inside from a wide position as there is more space to exploit and, most importantly, his back is not towards the goal. Of course you could swap Walcott out for Chamberlain but Walcott is the more established player at this moment in time.

I just hope we don’t kick-start Chelsea’s season with an embarrassing performance. Previous to the midweek game I would have thought we could win the game, and we still could, but currently I would take a draw before kick off. Let’s hope it is the former though.

Arsenal vs Burnley preview: who is fit?

Today we should be looking at getting 3 points and nothing less. I know you can’t take any game in the Premier League for granted but after our string of results recently we really need to up our game. Especially against teams we should be beating.

Kieran Gibbs, who picked up a hip injury, is most likely to miss out. The club will probably hold a late medical test for him but I would err on the side of caution, considering how thin we are at the back and a Champions League match mid week.

With this in mind, I expect to see a back four of Bellerin, Chambers, Mertesacker and Monreal. This is a good match for Bellerin to get some more game time under his belt and impress us further. The young Spaniard has impressed me in the matches he has started his season, especially against Hull where I thought he was one of the best players on the pitch.

Theo Walcott will be on the bench today and could get a run out with ten minutes to go. As much as we would like to have him back in the team and frightening defenders with his pace, we need him fully recovered rather than aggravating his injury again.

I think we’ll see a midfield of Arteta and Ramsey, with Chamberlain and Cazorla on the flanks in front of them. You could even opt for Campbell, who done well in his brief cameos this season, but may be saved for the second half if we are looking comfortable.

This is assuming we stick with the winning formation of two deeper midfielders. Ramsey, in my opinion, plays better when deeper as it allows him to get more involved in the match and forces him to simplify his game. When he plays further forward he seems to try and force the ‘hollywood pass’ and tries too many flicks. Yes he is capable of doing them but far too often they go astray and we are at a point where we need consistency and systematic wins.

Up front will of course be Sanchez and Welbeck, but watch out as Sanogo is back and fit. The Chilean has just won Arsenal Player of the Month and for good reason. He doesn’t stop running and never gives up. A trait I wish would rub off on a few more of our players. Welbeck should bag a brace today, if given the supply.

I’ll leave you with this fond memory of a fan favourite who suffered a horrific injury at the hands of a thug. The last time we played Burnley was in the FA Cup and who scored? None other than our old Crozillian, Eduardo. The striker we yearned for who was extremely clinical, up until his injury. The ball was floated in, by Alex Song (who made it a habit in future seasons with RVP), and finished sublimely by Eduardo with a volley using the outside of his foot.

Arsenal vs Hull preview – time to bounce back

Morning all. I took a break from blogging through the international break as there wasn’t really too much to cover that you haven’t read already. I also didn’t bother covering the AGM, although I should be going to next years, because it’s the same old spiel every year.

Today we take on Hull, who we of course beat in the FA Cup final after going 2-0 down fairly quickly. We haven’t had the best start to our league campaign but starting today we have a much more winnable run of games. Not that we couldn’t or shouldn’t have won some of our previous games, because we should have, but compared to them they should be winnable given our squad’s quality.

We are still completely ravaged by injuries, especially our back four, which will most likely consist of Bellerin, Mertesacker, Monreal and Gibbs today. As long as they get the protection in front of them then there should be too much of a worry. Bellerin has been knocking at the door this season and should slot into this team seamlessly. Isaac Hayden is a possibility but I expect Wenger to opt with the slightly more experienced players to re-kickstart out campaign.

With Theo Walcott, Arteta and Serge Gnabry back in full training, I expect to see them on the bench with a second half appearance from the former. Flamini had a fairly decent game against Chelsea and the extra rest would have done his ageing legs good. It would also do Arteta good to get some extra rest to help with the full recovery from his calf strain. The last thing you want is a player to get injured as soon as he comes back…….isn’t that right Diaby.

Theo played 45 minutes for the U21 team against Blackburn, which ended 0-0. Wenger had this to say on the Englishman:

I honestly don’t know. I think it’s important to recover and I have to be a bit patient. The manager will choose to play when he wants and it’s not something that’s going to happen overnight. I need to just be calm and not get too excited right now.

 

So envisage Flamini in the holding role with Jack Wilshere and Cazorla sharing the creative role. With Ozil, most likely, not playing then the Spaniard is the most likely candidate to take up the number 10 mantle. This allows Jack to get stuck in with his combative nature and drive forward from midfield and Cazorla to do what he does best and create chances for the runners. In light of the recent Ozil rumours, about him and his girlfriend cheating on each other, you can’t help but think this has affected his game and could be the reason for his lacklustre displays. Or it could be totally unrelated, who knows?

The front three, for me, has to be Welbeck, Chamberlain and Sanchez. There is so much power and pace in that trio that it should scare the living daylights out of the Hull defenders. There should be plenty of options presenting themselves to Cazorla and it will be his job to spot the runs and openings created by these three players. It will be interesting to see if we have taken on board the criticism for our set pieces, mainly corners, and come up with a new approach yet, but it may be too soon to tell.

Not much else to say prior to today’s match apart from we need to start getting some wins together and today should be a great opportunity to begin a run.