Arsenal vs. Celtic Second Leg: Fabregas out, expect rotation – Ramsey?

Fabregas is out for the CL Second Leg Qualifier tonight against Celtic with a hamstring problem. The injury is not serious according to Wenger though.

Fabregas was taken off at half time against Portsmouth, and went for a scan afterwards which showed that the muscle was not strained. I expect he will be back for the game at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon, but if he needs more time then the club should allow him to recover.

Wenger said that he will be rotating the squad, as we saw in the Portsmouth game with several changes in defence and midfield. The players who need a rest will be rested but Wenger insisted that his selections will not be influenced by the Man Utd tie on Saturday.

“I will rest the players who need to rest. “Some players have played many, many games; if I feel they need to rest, I will do it. It is not as a result of that game [against Manchester United on Saturday], it’s just if you have a player tired, you play the player who is fresh. I will play the team who I think is most efficient to win the game considering the level of some players.”

Expect a 4-3-3 formation yet again, with Ramsey stepping up to replace Fabregas. He already has the passing quality to fit into the first team, and his goal on Saturday was well taken. What Ramsey lacks is experience so tonight will be a big test if he gets the chance.

Wenger knows that we will have to be on our game tonight, Celtic have spirit, but their awful European away record, and our 2 – 0 lead away from home definitely give Arsenal the advantage.

“I thought Celtic did well in Moscow, it makes us more on alert, we know they had a very good away performance. To be strong at the Emirates is vital for our season. Any time you show weakness at home can have consequences for the game and also your season.”

Highlights on Arsespeak after the game!

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Arsenal Injuries ahead of Portsmouth and Man Utd

The Arsenal squad has been living under a plague of injuries this season and this week has been no exception.

Eduardo is out for the next three weeks with a groin problem, which means his season is basically over.

Silvestre, who I thought performed ok against Man Utd also has a groin injury as does Van Persie. Gael Clichy is still ruled out with a back problem too.

Central defence is now down to the bare bones – Toure and Djourou will have to start in central defence against Portsmouth, with Alex Song the next choice.

In midifled we are ok, but Wenger will rest some players ahead of the Man Utd game on Wednesday.

Fourth place is almost ours, and the Champions League is the biggest competition for us by far this season.

It is a huge challenge to go into this second leg 1-0 down. The strikeforce is also looking thin, although Arshavin can obviously play in the league.

Diaby can play against Portsmouth, but he shouldn’t play on Wednesday – he doesn’t contribute a great deal to the team, and until his attitude changes he will always be a liability in my eyes.

Expect changes this weekend, but I hope we have the quality to see off the Portsmouth team this weekend.

Villarreal 1-1 Arsenal. Good result served with injuries

Villarreal 1-1 Arsenal: Senna 10, Adebayor 66. Highlights here.

Arsenal came away with a valuble away goal against Villarreal last night, which places us well for the Quarter final second leg at home next week.

adebayor-villarreal-bicycle-kick

Adebayor scored an amazing bicycle kick in the second half to equalise after Senna had scored a long range goal in the fist half. The fact that we got the goal is most important – I will take the result, even though we could have finished them off in the second half.

The Fabregas/Adebayor partnership again provided crucial goals – making it 3 in 2 games for Ade, with Fabregas providing every assist!

I didn’t see the game, I downloaded highlights after the match – and I was disappointed to see us go a goal down. It hurt to lose Gallas and Almunia, and as Wenger said – this meant he couldn’t change things around at half time.

Gallas has knee ligament damage – so he may be out for the rest of the season – a blow seeing as our defence has been very stable since December. Almunia is out for a few weeks with an ankle injury – so we will have Fabianski in goal for the next few games which will define our season.

I think Fabianski will do good – but he has made rash decisions at times during games this season – this is his chance to prove himself – he made some good saves last night.

Overall a good result – some annoying injuries – but this looks promising. The fact that Porto got two away goals at Old Trafford means that they have a good chance of going through – no British team has ever won at Porto – and they have the advantage!

What do you think Arsenal’s chances are? Leave a comment below.

Internationals throw up three more injuries + Rocky7 Anniversary

As expected the first round of international matches have provided us with an extended injury list. It doesn’t make for good reading:

  • Robin Van Persie – Groin
  • Abou Diaby – Hip
  • Nicklas Bendtner – Knee

Bendtner’s injury may be serious enough to make him return to London, but Denmark seem to be trying their best to rush him into Wednesday’s game with Albania. Denmark assistant coach Peter Bonde:

“If he is ready then he is ready. We cannot be thinking about Arsenal. We treat players well, but we will play them if they are fit.”

So basically it doesn’t matter who owns the player – we need him to play against such top quality teams as Malta and Albania. This is a joke – for players to be injured playing games of such little quality, and returned to their clubs crocked.

We have seen this many times, and now Diaby has been withdrawn with the hip injury and RVP – our best striker this season is out too. The teams they were playing – Lithuania and Scotland.

There will be no end to this saga – international football is at the centre of FIFA and UEFA’s plans – I don’t mind internationals – but when they interrupt the club season at random intervals and cause injuries it doesn’t make sense.

It would be better to introduce a winter break in the UK like in many European countries – and play internationals then.

At least one player has returned from injury – Adebayor – after several weeks on the sidelines, during which we have regained our form. Ade got a goal for Togo against Cameroon, and although he is unpopular he is a dangerous player when on form. If he comes back into the squad plaing well then we may not miss Van Persie.

Finally, a mention for David Rocastle, a true Arsenal legend, who played for Arsenal from 1984 – 1992, winning the League Cup and two League championship medals, including the famous 1989 season. Today marks the 8th anniversary of his death, RIP Rocky. Arsenal Insider has a great tribute and interview with his sister Karen here.

Image Courtesy of wonker

Rocky7 Website

Van Persie has his say on remainder of season ahead of International weekend

There are several ways to look at it, but many believe that the International weekend has come at the wrong time for Arsenal. There is a chance that the momentum of 16 games unbeaten in the league could be hindered and there is a chance that several important players could come back injured.

This would be the last thing that Arsenal need considering the importance of the remaining few weeks of the season. The Champions League and the FA Cup are still up for grabs and then there is the small matter of making sure that a top four place is achieved in the Premier League.

Referring specifically to just that, Robin van Persie has claimed that Arsenal’s superior experience of handling pressure should ensure that 4th place is achieved ahead of Aston Villa.

The Arsenal striker believes that the team are going from ‘strength to strength’ in terms of their performances, meaning that ‘things are looking good’ for Arsene Wenger’s men at this moment in time.

As for the challenge of Aston Villa, van Persie says that the Arsenal players ‘can handle pressure better’ than Martin O’Neil’s team. This means that he is ‘confident’ that 4th place will be achieved with some to spare.

The Dutchman has even suggested 3rd place could be a realistic option for his team because ‘anything is possible in football’. He pointed out the fact that Arsenal are only six points behind Chelsea. This, combined with the fact that they still have to play them, means it could happen.

Overall, van Persie knows that Arsenal need a ‘really good run’ towards the end of the season to create the best possible chance of success. As for arguably the biggest prize, he seems certain that his team can win the Champions League this season.

The Gunners will face Villarreal in the quarter-finals next month and this is a draw that van Persie admits he was ‘quite happy with’. He then went on to say that Arsenal ‘want to win’ the competition and they won’t be satisfied unless they do.

Quite an optimistic young man isn’t he? It’s really good to hear though as it is clear that he is very happy at the club. He believes in the team’s ability and he is positive about what the future may bring.

If there were more players and characters like van Persie in the Arsenal squad, the ‘unbeatable’ tag would be set for an unprecedented return. Come back injury-free from Holland duty please Robin.

By Thomas Rooney

Cesc out for 4 months. Is this a bad dream?

The latest news on Cesc is that his medial ligament damage is going to keep him out for up to four months.

This is just about the worst thing that could have happened at this stage of the season. We are already struggling, and losing our best player and captain till April is going to hurt us.

Our inexperienced midfield desparately needs strengthening in January, or 4th place could be very unlikely.

Diaby isn’t up to the task, and Song and Denilson is not a pairing with enough quality to compete at this level. We have so many injury troubles at the moment it is becoming extremely frustrating, Rosicky, Walcott, Fabregas, Eduardo, these are all first team players.

Bringing anyone with a little experience in January would be fantastic, we now need two midfielders in the next window. Wenger must be a little worried today.

“It is more likely but we also have internal solutions and we are not desperate,”

“The news is not good. It will take three to four months, we count four,”

“We will miss him, of course, but how much is difficult to say. We have to find a way and we want to find a way to compensate the fact that he is not on the pitch to give everyone a bit more.

“I’m sure we can deal with it.

“When he comes back he can help us get over the line in the final months. I believe we are able to do it.”

It looks like Wenger will be going into overdrive to sign a midfielder, but I don’t know if I can agree with his positivness.

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Eduardo close to return as Arsenal prepare to host Wigan

This is a guest post by sports writer Thomas Rooney

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has revealed that Eduardo could soon be back in first-team action after making a full recovery from the broken leg he suffered in February. The Croatian endured the horrific injury after being challenged by Birmingham City’s Martin Taylor.

However, ten months after the incident, it is thought that Eduardo is closing in on a competitive return. Wenger has said that the striker is ‘joining in full training matches’ and that he will make his first-team return ‘as soon as possible’.

The Arsenal boss wasn’t putting a time frame on when Eduardo will play again, but I imagine that as long as he comes through a couple of reserve team games – we could see him before 2008 is out and that would be a great boost.

During his 31 appearances for Arsenal to date, the Croatian found the back of the net on 12 occasions. There was no doubt that he showed his fantastic finishing ability and the Arsenal fans really began to warm to him before the injury. I just hope he can come back as the same player because ten months out is a long time.

Eduardo will get a heroes reception when he returns though and this should give him a huge confidence lift. He should know that no Arsenal fans expect him to be back to his best straight away. As long as he can start producing some of the quality he showed before the season is out – that would be excellent.

The former Dynamo Zagreb man won’t be involved in tomorrow’s clash against Wigan the Emirates though. The Gunners take on Steve Bruce’s men looking to follow up their previous Premier League victory against Chelsea last weekend. As we all know, it is vital that Arsenal pick up the three points and start to string some results together.

We have said all this before, but this time it is an absolute necessity. The result against Chelsea is worth nothing if the Gunners don’t brush aside Wigan. Even though winning the title is still unlikely, for the sake of the season – in terms of momentum for the FA Cup and the Champions League – Arsenal need to hit some form now.

Wenger agrees with these sentiments by saying that the team ‘cannot afford to drop any more points’ and that they must ‘go for it’ in the coming weeks.

In terms of the team news ahead of this one, the senior players are likely to return to the starting line-up after the midweek Carling Cup defeat at Burnley. Injured duo Emmanuel Eboue and Kolo Toure should be amongst the squad as well.

However, William Gallas will miss out because of a calf injury as Arsenal look to record their first home win in the league since the Manchester United game back in early November.

By Thomas Rooney – A sports writer who blogs about football betting

Arsenal vs. Hull City – Injury Update, Wenger criticizes unlawful tackles

The latest on the injuries ahead of the Hull game.

Gael Clichy has recovered from the bruised shin Kevin Davies inflicted upon him. He should start tomorrow. Wenger has criticised tackles with the intent to hurt opponents.

“It depends what you call a tough tackle,”

“A defender has to be tough and committed, for me if tough is committed I don’t have a problem with it. If tough is the desire to hurt your opponent it’s not acceptable because that’s not the game.

“The beauty of sport is to win in respect of the rules. If us as managers start to say we don’t have to respect the rules then it can’t be accepted. That’s in boxing, in football, in every sport. You have to respect the rules.

“It’s like you play tennis and the ball goes out but you say because it’s me it’s still good.”

This comes after Kevin Davies’ tackle on Clichy at Bolton saw the Frenchman taken to hospital, and Pogatetz’s rash tackle last night in action for Middlesbrough.

Phil Brown, the Hull City manager has defended Davies’ tackle – he thougt there was nothing wrong with it, meaning we might be in for some ‘in yer face’ style play from Hull tomorrow.

Wenger hinted that Silvestre may get a chance against Hull in Friday’s press conference.

“We have Silvestre in the squad for the first time but Nasri is not back, neither is Rosicky, Diaby or Eduardo.” “Everybody else is available. Clichy is all right and he will play.”

Expect Nasri and Diaby back sooner than Rosicky or Eduardo though.

Arsenal Injury Update: Rosicky, Eduardo plus Nasri, Diaby, Silvestre

Here’s the latest injury news at the Arse:

Tomas Rosicky may be playing matches by Christmas says Wenger.

Tomas has been out with hamstring problems since January, and had surgery in May. He was training and expected to return sooner, but according to the Czech international coach he had suffered some ‘set-backs’.

Wenger told the press:

“The recovery process is slower than we expected at the start. It doesn’t look worrying but the delay is longer than expected.

“He had a re-attached tendon that was loose in his hamstring, and that demands a lot of time to re-coordinate the movements of the hamstring. That makes it very difficult to predict exactly one week more or less how much time it will take.

“But I am optimistic that before Christmas you will see him in a good shape.”

Rosicky said:

“Everything went well, according to the schedule. When I was running long distances, it [the hamstring] gave me no problems at all.

“But when I started on the ball and tried to change directions of running and changed pace, the knee reacted badly. So far it does not allow me to go on in the recovery so it has stopped my training for some time. I am not resting completely, though.

“I can lift weights and do other exercises. The knee simply must get down. It does not mean at all though that I have to end my career.

“Every such treatment can bring unexpected problems with it. That is what has happened now so my return will be delayed.”

So it sounds like there are still problems, but nothing which can’t be fixed. It would be great to see Rosicky get a good run of games and come into some form. He really adds a different dimesion to our game when he’s on the pitch.

Also Wenger says Eduardo is a little ahead of schedule in his recovery, he sounded optimistic, so we may see Eddy back sooner than was expected!

Nasri, Diaby and Silvestre are all still out too, but we have no new injuries, Wenger commented:

“For Diaby, I would say two more weeks [until he is fit], Silvestre and Nasri should be available for Hull [at Emirates Stadium on September 27].”

So if all goes to plan we should have something resembling a full squad in within the next week. But no-one will be back for Bolton away tomorrow, expect a few players to be rested for that game.

Arsenal Injury News: Rosicky, Nasri, Silvestre

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Just a quick injury update:

More bad news for the injury-prone Tomas Rosicky, the Czech international team coach Petr Rada reported to the press:

“Tomas has started another stage of recovery, including training with the ball,”

This is another problem in a long line of injuries, the worst ting is that he would be an amazing player if he wasn’t injured all the time.

I don’t know if it is worth keeping him at the club if he continues to have setbacks like this. But lets wait and see.

Also Nasri is doubtful for the Blackburn game tomorrow, but he’ll have a fitness test today to see whether he can make the team.

And Mikael Silvestre may be fit enough to make his debut tomorrow too, if reports are correct. But his spot isn’t guaranteed.

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