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.

Arsenal – Middlesbrough. Champions League prelude

It’s a gorgeous day in London, great day for football.

I’m making my way to the Grove for an old fashioned breakfast before the game. It looks like we may rest a few players ahead of the Champions League game against Man U. They are looking like they will win the Prem after yesterday’s 5-2 win.

Meanwhile we have nothing to play for except the CL, so Wenger should focus on that. We only need 5 points to secure CL qualification, and it looks a little late to make up the ground to 3rd place.

The team should be up for it to day, we still need to retain focus, after all we have conceded sloppy goals to weaker teams at home this season. Middlesbrough are fighting for survival, so those who are picked need to give their all this afternoon!

Arsenal can still show what they’re made of against Liverpool

We face Liverpool at Anfield tonight, 20 seasons on from the momentous 2-0 win in 1989 and the situation is rather different. Wenger spoke about the game tonight:

“I feel it is always better to win your big games because it makes you stronger for the next one.

“So we will have nothing to do with ‘favourising’ Liverpool or Manchester United because we want to win.

“It’s a big game and we just want to win it.”

After the Chelsea semi I didn’t feel like posting, the result was awful and it felt pretty bad. Luckily we have this game today to get that defeat out of the players minds. Unfortunately it won’t be easy. We still have a rather large injury list – RVP and Ade are both out, and defensively we are missing Almunia, Gallas and Clichy.

Liverpool are just one point behind leaders Man Utd and need to win every game to have a chance of winning the title. We really can decide who finishes where as we play all three contenders in the next few weeks.

As long as we secure 4th place and try our best for any higher then I will be pleased with the league performance. We really must try to win tonight.

“We have not secured fourth place and we can still be third…Wednesday night is Chelsea v Everton and you never know, if Chelsea drop points and we play Chelsea at home we can come back on third.

“We just have to accept what happened on Saturday, to deal with it and not repeat it…We have many big games coming up and we feel we can win them.

“Winning is what we live for. We cannot be happy with only trying to remain fourth.

“We want to get closer to the top and have a good opportunity to come back to six points on Liverpool this evening.

“Third place is important, second place is important and why not first? You never know.

“You do not want to have regrets. We want to win every single game, no matter what competition we play in.

“Of course we are disappointed having lost in the Semi-Finals of the FA Cup, but we want to bounce back quickly.”

That is exactly what we need, a result that will put the team back on the right track. I’m really hoping for a good result, the games at Anfield are always classic so tonight shouldn’t disappoint.

Also check out this article on Five Live’s Alan Green (closet Liverpool fan), it makes a good read.

Highlights and match report after the game!

Almunia points to fear factor as Arsenal look to improve home form against Fulham

This is a guest post by sportswriter Thomas Rooney

As we all know, Arsenal’s form at the Emirates Stadium hasn’t been brilliant of late. Three of the last six Premier League games there have been drawn, with the Gunners only managing to find the net on four occasions along the way.

So, what is this down to? Well, Manuel Almunia has admitted that some of the Arsenal players feel under more pressure playing at home than they do away at the moment.

After last weekend’s draw at home to Sunderland, some sections of the crowd booed, venting their frustration at being unable to break the deadlock.

It is a frustration that comes on the back of Arsene Wenger’s men not being able to manage more than one home goal in a league game since defeating Manchester United 2-1 back in November.

Speaking about the situation, Almunia has said how a number of the players ‘feel under more pressure’ at the moment because the team ‘is not winning’.

The goalkeeper went on to say that because the players know that the ‘fans deserve more than 0-0 scores’; this builds the pressure on the team when they try and break opposing teams down. He says that the attacking players are ‘spending a bit more time’ on getting their shot away.

As for how the team can rectify this, starting against Fulham tomorrow, Almunia believes that they need to find a ‘nice balance’ that results in Arsenal being ‘tight at the back but get the goals.’ That is the idea Manuel, yes!

The next game where Arsenal can search for this balance, as already mentioned, is against Fulham tomorrow. It is a must-win game if the Gunners are going to start closing the gap on Aston Villa in 4th place and another draw simply isn’t good enough.

Roy Hodgson’s side are hard to beat these days though and will fancy their chances of being the latest team to frustrate Arsenal at the Emirates.

Hopefully though, Arsenal will take their chances and cruise to a comfortable win. That would be exactly what the players, coaching staff and fans need right now. How about Andrei Arshavin grabbing his first goal as well? Perfect.

As far as team news is concerned, Abou Diaby will miss the game after injuring his calf against Roma on Tuesday. Elsewhere, there appears to be no fresh concerns for Wenger as his team look to stretch their unbeaten run to 14 games.

Porto vs. Arsenal Build-up

So we head to Portugal for the last game of the gruop stage. It’s not our strongest squad – a mixture of youth and older players, with a lot of key faces missing.

1. Manuel Almunia
21. Lukasz Fabianski
10. William Gallas
18. Mikael Silvestre
40. Kieran Gibbs
41. Gavin Hoyte
27. Emmanuel Eboue
20. Johan Djourou
17. Alex Song
15. Denilson
16. Aaron Ramsey
47. Mark Randall
2. Abou Diaby
43. Fran Merida
19. Jack Wilshere
26. Nicklas Bendtner
12. Carlos Vela
50. Jay Simpson

This isn’t unexpected, we have already qualified, it would be nice to top the group though, a draw would do for that.

Eboue comes back in, Arsene suggests that playing away from home may be an easy way of sliding him back into the squad and regaining his confidence. Any games he gets should help him forget about the Wigan game.

So looking for some points and some experience for the kids, some of whom may soon be on loan, as we don’t have the Carling Cup on the agenda anymore.

It won’t be easy tonight, away in Europe never is.

Dynamo Kiev’s game plan for Wednesday

Yesterday at the Valery Lobanovsky Stadium Dynamo Kiev manager Yury Semin spoke about our upcoming Champions League fixture in Kiev, and revealed some of his thoughts on Arsenal and his tactics.

He has been watching the team closely in the run up to the fixture and had this to say about us:

“Arsene Wenger’s side play an easy natural game, and enjoy their football,”

“They have many young and talented footballers, all very technically gifted.”

He was impressed by the 4-0 win at Blackburn,

The game was totally in Arsenal’s control,”

“Despite the four goals scored they had many other chances. Arsenal’s victory was absolutely the fair result.”

He also mentioned Adebayor, and it sounds like Dynamo will give Ade a rough time:

“We knew very well prior to this, the capabilities of the Arsenal forward,”

“But we will not be putting a man-marker on him. Adebayor plays all over the pitch, and in every zone there will be one of our players to meet him.”

It looks like Dynamo have been watching us closely and know that the only way to stop us is to press us all over the pitch.

Semin will have seen how we exploited the open spaces against Blackburn, and he will be working with the players to stifle our tactics.

Expect Dynamo to be defensive, it’s not going to be easy, we’re playing away and that is always very difficult especially in the Ukraine and Russia. Many European teams fail out East and we have before – Spartak Moscow a few years ago for example.

Wenger will have been studying Dynamo with his staff, and I hope that they can work out a way to get us into the game, otherwise we may be in for 90 minutes of frustration.

Manchester United Vs. Arsenal, Line Ups. It’s Make Or Break Time

Morning all,

Looks like we’ve got:

UPDATE:

Lehmann

Toure Gallas Song Clichy

Eboue Fabregas Gilberto Hleb

Adebayor Van Persie

Lehmann has come in for Almunia and Song replaces Senderos. It is his first start for a long time, and I hope he can replicate some of those excellent performances he put in for Cameroon in January. Eboue again sarts ahead of Walcott, why not put Toure and Gallas in the centre and Eboue at right back, it seems to make more sense to me, then we would have our stringest possible lineup in my opinion. Arsene knows? Pretty standard line up, I think this is quite strong, the only problem is Flamini’s injury. Gilberto I hope can nullify the threat from United’s Midfield, especially Ronaldo when he cuts in from the wing.

Wenger knows that the whole season will now be probably defined by the result at Old Trafford today. Click here.

“It will be the greatest achievement of my career to win the Premier League now because we are swimming against the stream at the moment,” said Wenger.

“For us the game on Sunday is the game of the season. If we do not win this game we have no chance.

“We will fight until the last second of the championship.”

Fighting talk from Wenger and it’s all true. Exactly what yopu want to hear at this stage and I hope he can inspire the players today!

He comments here on the refereeing recently:

“In 11 years [at Arsenal] it’s the worst I’ve seen,” he said. “It is in every game. It is difficult to understand. It damages the confidence of the team and then you become more vulnerable, but it is like that.

It is true that the decisions that we have had go against us have hit the team hard, but we can only fight back, we can’t blame refereeing decisions for our loss of form, and I don’t think Wenger is, but they haven’t helped us.

He knew about the risk with his youth policy he tells Sky Sports.

Theo Walcott has garnered a bit of positive attention after his run against Liverpool, attention which is well deserved.

Cesc says a draw today would be as bad as a loss. That is true and I think we are going out for the win as always.

RVP agrees, saying that we aren’t going to change our style of play today.

So make or break time today. I m pretty cautious about the match, but I know we can achieve if we play right on the day.

Arsenal Vs. Liverpool Champions League. Match 3 of 3

So you all must be getting a bit bored with Liverpool.

I am.

Wenger Benitez, Head to head Part III

Wenger and Benitez Head To Head Part III. Arguably the most important tie of the three too!

CL Quarter Final First Leg 1-1.

Second Leg = Anfield:

We need to win, I don’t want to hype it up too much but this is our best chance of silverware this season and Wenger knows it.

He fielded a weakened team presumably because he wanted to be fresh for this game. Although interestingly did not rest Cesc or the Flamster who really need a break.

I would like to see us go for this line up:

Almunia

Toure Gallas Senderos Clichy

Walcott Cesc Flamini Diaby

Hleb

Adebayor

UPDATE 16:04: I reckon Robin Van Persie will start, after being rested and being included in the squad, Wenger may push Hleb back to midfield instead of Diaby and put RVP upfront.

I think having 5 in midfield with Hleb pushing forward into the hole has given us some good performances in Europe and an attack-minded bench would give us extra options should we need a late goal.

I expect Arsene to go with Eboue on the right possibly though, given recent patterns.

RvP is in the squad, so will probably be on the bench.

Arsene’s Pre-Match comments here:

“We did have a dip recently. But football is strange. Defeat is not unthinkable; you have to accept you might lose. But what is important is that you believe you can win. We have the belief that we can win anywhere in the world. And if I didn’t believe we could win the Champions League, I wouldn’t be here.”

It’s good to hear that Wenger has that belief and I think we all do. We have the ability to go through to the Semis but we need to actually make it happen on the pitch and at Anfield that is easier said than done.

Lets go Gunners.

Who Else Wants To Beat Liverpool? Round Two

Today, Arsenal Vs. Liverpool 12.45pm, Ashburton Grove..

RVP won’t start due to his injury problems…

Mascherano is suspended baecause of his red card against Man U.

Gunnerslive has predicted line-ups here.

He’s hoping Walcott will start on the right ahead of Eboue and so am I because Eboue has really contributed very little this year and I think most people would agree.

Wenger Says:

“There are no problems with Adebayor.”

So that means he will start, fatigued or not, I think that’s our best option. Arsenal-mania reports here that he feels less jaded and ready to go, which is good news!

Wenger also said:

“I believe they will make changes, I am convinced of that. I am not sure whether Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres will play…I believe we can still win the title. Manchester United are an excellent team but they can still lose points… Everything is still possible but the main thing for us is to win our games.”

So optimistic from Wenger, but he knows the position, it is unlikely that we can win the League, but statistically it is still possible.

Some news on Eduardo here from Arsenal Analysis: It seems he is making a better recovery than hoped, and ‘fingers-crossed’ could be back as early as September.

Arsenal Blog thinks Flamini should put pen to paper sooner than later, I have to agree! Click here to read. Insidearsenal agrees here! with a mention of the ticket touts at Ashburton Grove hype that has built up recently in the media.

Arsenal News Review gives some stats analysis here ahead of the game. Interestingly it really proves that we outpassed Liverpool the other night, I just hope we don’t come to regret not taking our chances in the second leg.

But back to today’s game, I will be there, Block 5 Gooners.

Lets get some atmosphere going and get behind the team today!

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