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.

Flamini Out For Three Weeks As Lehmann Rants

Bad injury news today: Flamini will be out for about three weeks Wenger says here.


This is a blow for us. Flamini has been a revelation for us this season and we will miss him. Le Boss says Gilberto will come in. I was hoping Flamini wouldn’t be out long, but it seems Gilberto is going to get his chance. Wenger said:

“It is a big blow but Gilberto has a lot of quality and experience. He will come in. He can help the team recover and focus. Robin van Persie is available. He had two good sessions yesterday and today. He looks to be OK and we’ll see how we go from here. But Bacary Sagna is out.”

So it looks like RVP will start on Sunday, pity about Sagna.

I really think Walcott has warranted a starting place too. He has been really good all season and his inspirational run in midweek really was a big boost for his chances in the first team. His team mates have been praising him here. Kolo says:

“Theo’s run was fantastic, with a great pass at the end. He is a good player and is improving every time. I think he is going to be one of the best players in England.”

Willy Gallas is pretty low after the Liverpool result. Not exactly what you want to hear from the captain before you go into a big game on Sunday. I hope he changes his attitude sooner rather than later. there were doubts about him being captain, maybe these are showing through now we are at a low point in the season. A captian needs to be a leader. Come on Willy..

Lehmann is ranting on about how he would have kept us in the Champions League. Jens is a bit temperamental and after a season fuming on the bench that was probably too much for him. Maybe he was hoping Manuel wouldn’t save the pen. I don’t think it would have made much of a difference anyway, he needs to shut up, pretty soon!

Henry Winter writes here, about how we have to learn to win ‘ugly’. We have heard this before to be honest but it still makes an interesting read.. He also thinks we should have strengthened the squad and I agree to be honest.

Fergie says Manchester United are ready for Arsenal. Ok ok Fergie, blah blah blah.

Alright thanks guys, thats it today!

There Are Some Positives? Wenger, Adebayor, Toure

Morning all,

Thursday, and I’m still really pissed off about the Liverpool result, and the way that wonder run from Walcott counted for nothing!

Clichy thought it was ridiculous..

I guess that’s just football. The reaction has been a little extreme from some fans.

There’s no way Wenger should go, and the players we have are very good, we just need a few more, that’s all.

I’ve read a lot about people calling for Wenger’s head, saying we should get rid of the team etc etc etc, what a load of crap.

Look, at the beginning of the season we were all saying that following from last year this year would probably be similar, the final phase of the ‘transition’. It’s been better than we would have hoped then, just not as good as it was looking a few weeks ago!

Lets look at it this way:

  1. The team has performed amazingly and we have been much more successful than many critics suspected.
  2. We are only 6 points behind Man Utd in the League so maybe we should push on and try and be optimistic!
  3. We know we are good enough to challenge for everything next year.

Wenger:

“We cannot lose our belief now – let’s not forget we played a very good game at Anfield. And if there is a lesson, it must be that we have to concentrate to the very end.”

Good words Arsene. We did play well, and the players know that, but I think they are probably pretty down right now.

Adebayor knows Wenger can put them on the right track:

“He has more experience than anyone here, and he knows the words to use so that we can come back on the pitch, be more successful and want it more.

Toure:

“We still have the chance for the Premier League and we will try to take it. We know it is not over – we just have to look at the next game and try to win.”

Exactly Kolo!

Injury News

Flamini is probably going to miss the Man U game after the ankle injury he picked up, but I don’t think it’s serious.

Arsenal Out Of The Champions League and Highlights

Two injust decisions cost Arsenal a place in the Semis. First Kuyt’s blatant foul on Hleb in the 1st Leg – Definitely a penalty –  not given.

In the 2nd Leg after a wonderful Arsenal goal – Arsenal had just pulled back to 3-3 on agg. (in front on away goals) Toure brushes Babel in front of the Kop, given! Liverpool go on to win the game. The highlights: click here

Match Report:

Liverpool

Hyypia 30
Torres 69
Gerrard 86 (pen)
Babel 90

5-3 agg.

4-2
(1-1)

Arsenal

Diaby 13
Adebayor 84

We started the match very well, good passing play really put Liverpool on the back foot. We had a few close chances where Liverpool managed to escape.

Diaby got his goal after 13 minutes, he took one touch on Hleb’s pass down the side of the penalty area and then placed the ball between Reina and the near post, Reina got a slight touch but it was in.

I thought then that we could do this and by all means we could have.

We then dominated the match, until the 30th minute when Liverpool got a corner, Senderos lost Hyypia who headered towards the post, over Fabregas’ head.

Liverpool back in it.

10 minutes Flamini went off after a knock to the ankle, on came Gilberto, I wasn’t thinking positivily about this! It looks worrying.

Anyway 1st half ended 1-1, Liverpool started the second half closing every ball down, not giving us any time to settle on the ball.

Then a lull in Liverpool’s play and we were attacking, a long ball forward by them was flicked on by Crouch to Torres, who turned and shot from just inside the corner of the penalty area, his shot went into the opposite top corner. Senderos shouldn’t have given him the room.

2-1 Liverpool (3-2 agg.)

Minutes later an attacking change. Theo Walcott and Robin van Persie on. Abou Diaby and Emmanuel Eboue off.

Adebayor came close later, put through by a pass by Hleb, which had slipped trough the Liverpool back line. It caught him by suprise and he sliced it wide. Horrible to watch this missed chance.

Then with just a few minutes to go Theo sets off on a wonderful run. In my head all I could hear was “its up for grabs nowwww!!” as he skipped past four Liverpool players, ran the length of the field before squaring the ball for Adebayor to slot home. Ecstasy!

Then the worst thing that could have happened did…

Within 90 seconds Toure had a penalty harshly awarded against him as Babel fell in the area.

Gerrard slots it away and I know there’s no way back, our moment of magic was over. Theo’s wonderful assist cancelled out.

We pushed forward trying for an 3rd, at a free kick we left it exposed at the back, Ryan Babel broke, held off Cesc’s challenge and put the ball past Manuel.

Game over.

It was sad to see, we had come so close, but victory was snatched away from us. Even Gerrard admitted afterwards that Liverpool were ‘passed off the park’ by Arsenal, and hinted that they were lucky to win.

If it hadn’t been for the penalty I’m so sure we would have won, but it sums up our season, defensive errors have cost us everything this year.

It was commented here on my preview about the line up, and it didn’t work for us.

  • Top marks for Walcott, Adebayor, Hleb
  • Diaby, good, Flamini, good, Clichy good.
  • Fabregas looked tired.
  • Almunia performed pretty good, went the right way for the penalty, the goals weren’t his fault.
  • Eboue proved that he can’t play in the final 3rd of the field, he is not a right winger
  • Van Persie looked lost.
  • Toure has made a few mistakes but was alright.
  • Senderos was also ok, but at fault occasionally.
  • Gilberto was variable as well, sometimes good touches, sometimes poor.

Click here for Wenger’s comments:

“I felt the game was over at 2-2. Then there was a dodgy penalty and we started to lose concentration.”

World of Arsenal is devasted too – click here..

Manchester United on Sunday at Old Trafford.

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!

Almunia & Should Arsene Invest In A Striker?

Two men have signed a new contract at Arsenal.. No Flamini isn’t one.. It’s Manuel and Fran Merida. The man who has taken Lehmann’s spot this season and performed well as the new ‘No.1’ or at least I think so, and our young Spanish prodigy currently on loan in Spain with Real Sociedad.

I said earlier in the season that I wasn’t sure if Almunia was a long term option in goal but the more he plays the more I feel he is a solid part of the team. His deal is long term and Almunia himself said:

“I talked to my wife and I said I did not want to go back to Spain to play. Hopefully I can finish my career here”

Most goals we concede are due to defensive errors and generally this season I think he has done a sterling job. Well done Manny!

Injury news ahead of Saturday is that, Van Persie is only 20% certain to play, and Adebayor also has a slight knock which Wenger will review today.

Recently while reading some forum posts, I came across an interesting post about our strikers, basically saying that we need the chequebook out this summer to sign some strikers. I thought I’d give my own opinions and find out yours.

Adebayor: Works hard all over the pitch, sometimes a little too hard. Has definitely got the talent to perform at the highest level. Scored 19 league goals this season, but has come in for a bit of stick recently. I think it’s undeserved, he has had many different partners this year and has often had to lead the attack on his own. He’s a versatile, pacy player who has a great future.

Van Persie: Well, a man with a lethal left foot and bags of talent, but hasn’t had the chance to shine due to terrible injury problems. I saw his appearance stats and he has only played about as many games as Justin Hoyte, not really a first-team player, in his time here. Flashes of brilliance i.e. volley against Charlton last season, but needs to be injury-free to really be useful.

Walcott: Great potential for the future, pacy, intelligent and able to score goals. He got off the mark, in the League , against Birmingham in that 2-2 draw this year and is certainly a bright hope. I think he has warranted a starting position, at least on the right wing for his recent performances. Maybe not ready for the pressure of being a first choice striker?

Bendtner: Another one with great potential, but he hasn’t lived up to it, occasionally we have seen great things, his aerial ability, great control and touch and a good ability to make space, but he is still young and needs to mature.

Eduardo: He was starting to get into his goalscoring role before his injury and looked like the goalscorer we have been looking for, out for 9 months now after his horrific leg-break, hopefully he will come back with goals, but you can never be certain he will be the same player.

So in summary, Ade, a great player – needs a good partner up front. RVP, injury prone, but could perform. Walcott and Bendtner – great potential but need more experience, and Eduardo is out injured for a long period.

It seems to me that Arsene should consider making an investment in the summer… What do you think? Feel free to get involved, just leave a comment!

Arsenal 1 – 1 Liverpool Reaction

World of Arsenal has a good match report here

It seems like we should have won. 1-1 is not an awful result, but the away goal most definitely gives Liverpool the advantage going into the Second leg at Anfield.

I watched the highlights on the net, click here to see them.

Goals: Adebayor ’23, Kuyt ’26

It seems that we dominated much of the match. Hleb had a good appeal for a penalty denied, and Bendtner blocked Cesc’s shot on the line by accident, but was offside anyway. It’s frustrating that when we play well at home we still draw, and the goal we conceded was pretty weak, Flamini lost the ball, there were a few weak challenges on Gerrard, who managed to get a cross in to Kuyt who bundled it over the line.

Wenger:

“The whole second half we played in one half. I cannot fault the players. We were unlucky under a few circumstances…If you look at the amount of possession we had tonight compared to Liverpool, it is frightening”

Disappointingly Van Persie went off with a thigh strain, Wenger says it was a precaution against a recurrence of his previous injury. Robin really is quite injury prone at the moment. I just hope he gets it fixed. Theo came on for him and did well, he really is starting to make a good claim for a starting position, he has a good impact whenever he comes on for us.

We are still in a good position to go through, this is a mental test for us as Wenger said. Now we face Liverpool on Saturday at home in the Premiership, I think the way this game goes could influence the 2nd leg of the Quarter Final. We definitely have the talent to do well in the next 2 games against the Scousers, but how the games actually go is another matter!

In Wenger’s words:

“Its a little bit a survival battle, you know? The one who is still good after three games is the one who is the better team.”

Arsenal

Arsene’s Anger! Injuries & Transfers

So lets get it started:

Robin Van Persie has returned to full training, and will make the team on Saturday, not sure whether he will start. After 6 weeks out with a ligament injury it will be nice to have him back. Click here for more.

In all probability Flamini is going to miss the Wigan game through injury (not very sure what is going on here though!), ArsenalPies has an article here, Diaby is also injured. This leaves us without Flamini or Fabregas, never fear, we still have Hleb, Gilberto, Diarra, Denilson, and Song.. I’m sure Gilberto and Diarra will be salivating at Flamini’s misfortune, while Diaby curses in front of the telly at his bad luck.

Arsene has had a moan about the Ivory Coast’s “stubbornness” in calling up players for international tournaments. Toure and Eboue will both be called up over the winter for the African Cup of Nations. In 2006 both Toure and Eboue had to be pulled out of the FA Cup tie against Cardiff because they were called up for the maximum period, 15 days before their match! Just to go and sit in a hotel room! Wenger is really hacked off! Read here at the Beeb..

“They are so stubborn that there is no point in even speaking to them.” Arsene Wenger on the Ivory Coast FA..

Transfer rumours..

More sources are backing up the story that we are monitoring the Modric situation, with an eye to sign him, Chelsea are also moving in for a possible £30mill bid according to SkySports. The Telegraph says here he wants to move maybe this winter.

Apprently we are interseted in signing Martin Caceres, according to himself, as well as Juve and Real… The 19-yr old Uruguayan is a promising defender playing for Villareal (on loan at Recreativo). He has been compared to Montero in the Telegraph, click here. Seems a bit of speculation here.

Arsene has said he will not buy anyone unless they are exceptionally good, i.e. no buying for buying’s sake ! But will strengthen one area. Firstly on Caceres this is a rumour and I’m skeptical about it. Caceres would be a good signing for defence which isn’t so well covered especially as Toure and Eboue are both off to the African Cup of Nations this winter.

Luka Modric is seen as a great talent and obviously really wants to come to the Premiership, but we rarely sign players we are linked with in this way and I can see Chelsea snapping him up quite easily, only to assign him to the reserves.

Also on Agbonlahor, he has come out to say that, yes, the rumours about his move to Arsenal were pure speculation.

UPDATE: Seeing as the Mputu post is proving so popular I thought I’d do a bit more coverage on the guy.
Tresor Mputu, 21 years old, Congo striker with 3 goals in 12 caps for his country.

He has played for TP Mazembe since 2004, a prolific goalscorer. See one on YouTube click here check out the goalkeeper’s celebration.

He Scored twice during the 2006 World Cup qualifying campaign. He started the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations well, scoring a goal against Togo, but he was sent off against Angola and was suspended for the rest of the tournament.<

His manager says he is the best young African striker.

He's currently on a 10 day trial at Arsenal, his agent says the transfer is 70% done.

Walcott on wanting to bring his Under-21 form back to Arsenal here.

Also Jol has rejected an offer from Birmingham City for him..

Plus Win a copy of The Arsenal Miscellany signed by Frank McLintock! on Arsenal-Mania.

Flamini Injury? Wenger’s Best Transfer Signings

Morning all!

Setanta run an article about Flamini missing France’s last training session, Domenech says he “suffered a little something”, meaning maybe he’ll miss Wigan on Saturday which means no Fabregas or Flamini, a chance for Diarra and Gilberto?

Arsene Wenger has spoken out against bullying with this Video on youTube, he also says he was “really sad” that Scotland didn’t make it through to Euro 2008..

Who have been Arsene’s top 5 signings, Sportingo.com ask here, the author came up with these as his top 5:

1.Thierry Henry – Who else! Our record goalscorer, winner of countless awards, possibly the best player Arsenal have ever had..

2.Patrick Vieira – Another brilliant Frenchman (or Senegalese..) was the lynchpin in midfield tirelessly working. Sublime.

3.Francesc Fabregas – the future of Arsenal, Barca are eternally bitter that we nabbed him and see him as ‘theirs’. Passing, goals and pace.

4. Marc Overmars – Arsene took a risk in bringing him to Arsenal, he was so fast, really great winger and goalscorer, sold along with Petit for £30mill to Barca.

5.Kolo Toure – Our best defender, totally versatile, he has pace, power, he can tackle, head, pass, shoot, dribble.. I love Kolo…

I reckon that’s pretty good, but it doesn’t even include Pires, one of the best midfielders I have ever seen (remember the chip over Schmichael at Villa!!). What about Ljungberg?? Another one for the future, Van Persie, who I’m sure will prove himself, and countless others. Arsene has brought these players in for meagre amounts of money, transformed them, and also has always sold them off at exactly the right time, look at us without Henry this season, generally at a profit too. He is fantastic in the transfer market and much has been made of our scouting system. It always amazes me, the sheer talent he brings up.. Of course there are always flops – Diawara! Stepanovs! No matter though, Wenger is a fuckin brilliant manager!!

Arsenal.com interview Justin Hoyte, who is frustrated at the lack of chances in the first team this season, Sagna, has played brilliantly, out of the limelight but solid defesivly and great going forward. Hoyte says:

“I want to be an Arsenal player…It is frustrating but I am a professional and need to behave that way and focus on the job in hand.”

He is hoping that injuries and suspensions can help him push his way into the team. Truthfully, i don’t reckon Hoyte is quite good enough to get into the team on a permanent basis, he may leave at the end of the season..

They also have some interesting statistics, only the ‘Invincibles’ did better in their first dozen games, compared to other championship winning seasons. The statistics look good, and we have had a few hard tests, but with Man U playing well and other contenders around too it looks like it will go right to the wire if we can stay in the race the whole way.. Check out their table here, it does look good!

Arsenal Pies talks about Vela here he can’t wait to get back to Arsenal and play, he does look exciting!! Arsenal Pies also has a nice round up of all our players international performances.

Walcott tells SkySports he is finally over his shoulder injury. Good stuff Theo!

Great news here about Arsenal’s season tickets, finally you will be able to resell them through Ticketmaster if you can’t find anyone to take them off you. It has been a problem for years that Arsenal refused to buy back unwanted seats and people would either give them to touts or not use them at all. This system makes so much more sense to me!

On the transfer front more rumours we are moving in for Modric and Jaaskelainen…

Steve Bruce, that lovely man, is back at Wigan and his first game will be against us on Saturday at Ashburton grove.. looking forward to that.. So.. till tomorrow!

Usmanov The Fencer? Theo, Lehmann

Good morning to you all on this most fine Monday, I have to be off by 8.30 so I shall write fast…

The Guardian has done an excellent profile of Alisher Usmanov, the man who desires to gain a controlling stake in Arsenal with Dein through their Red And White Holdings company.. Here’s the summary

There’s coverage about his alleged crimes during the 1980s in the Soviet Union for which he was imprisoned. Usmanov was convicted of financial crimes, but, according to Russian journalists, rape too. In September Schillings, his legal firm, took action to remove similar allegations from the website of Craig Murray, the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan. There are also suggestions of relationships with drug traffickers and questions on his close connections with former KGB. He said:

“You are trying to turn the acquaintance of any Russian with members of the KGB into a crime. This is simply not appropriate.”

Usmanov has investments in a subsidary of Gazprom, owns Metalloinvest and Komersant a newspaper. According to Tom Wise MEP his jail pardon came from heroin trafficker and mafia lord Gafur Rakhimov, apparently his mentor.. Usmanov says he only knew him as he was his parents neighbour!

Then there is the case of the death of the man from the Komersant office building, Ivan Safronov, defence correspondent, which he may be linked to.

He admits he considered buying Spurs, but fell in love with English Football when England won the World Cup 1966!?!

The article suggests that possibly Usmanov is using Arsenal to hedge his bets in case of any sudden decline of fortune in the former Soviet Union countries for him as Putin rounds on oligarchs in Russia.

Also he competed on the Uzbek Fencing team.

All I hope is that he keeps hands off Arsenal and away from England, it would be a bad day for Arsenal. The board have entered a lockdown on selling shares for the next few years, which is good as this prevents him increasing his 23% stake. The slogan goes – Love Arsenal – Hate Usmanov, I couldn’t agree more…

Moving on! Website ‘The Voice’ has an article about Pele being an Arsenal fan saying

“Arsenal are my favourite team right now and I think they are the best performing team in the Premier League.”

Its always nice to get praise, especially from one of the World’s most famous players of the beautiful game.. You just have to hope thought that:

1. This sort of praise doesn’t go to the teams heads and they keep playing well.

2. That the team doesn’t get too much hype too early on in the season..

SkySports report that Lehmann has received praise for his performance in the Cyprus match.. It seems to me that Low really wants Lehmann to be playing first team football at Arsenal so he can justify playing him for Germany. A lot of the debate surrounding the transfer has involved Lehmann’s international career, which he probably sees ending after Euro 2008, so he is probably desparate to play more, having been stuck behind Oli Kahn for all those years.. In any case, fair play to Lehmann, and he did make some good saves.

Duncan White says that Theo is the future for England and that McClaren should play him against Croatia. McClaren has obviously not agreed with this view because the Scum’s £16million, 40 goal a season, world class hitman, flop, Darren Bent has been called up…… Anyway enough of that, the article still makes interesting reading, and some good points about Walcott.

“Just playing has been giving me more confidence. If I get more games, I’m sure I can improve further.” Theo

This is what we want to hear from him, the more he scores and plays the more confident he looks and I think he has a bright future as long as he keeps his head down.. The guy is bloody quick.. Interestingly one of my mates played against him at schoolboy level a few years ago.. He told me that they just got the fastest guy on the team and the harshest tackler to mark him and he ran the show.. Anyway…

It looks like Steve Bruce will become Wigan manager today, so I guess we will see him in charge for the first time against us on Sat…

Also according to the Guardian Willy and his French chums were sharing a glass of champagne as Scotland’s defeat ensured their Euro 2008 qualification.

That’s all, I’m off for a jaunt, enjoy this most grey of Mondays and the cold weather…