No Transfers but some Toffees – Arsenal vs Everton Preview and Odds

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Jan 312011
 

It’s been a particularly crazy day as £30 million is spent on a coke-snorting, tart-sh*gging long haired idiot with only 10 Premier League goals to his name. Sorry, what’s that, there’s a lawyer on the phone. I do apologise Mr Carroll, that’s 11 Premier League goals. Still, we have been afforded some hilarity when news broke of Sp*rs’ interest in Phil Neville. Oh, that made me giggle.

But the serious point for gooners everywhere is that – AS OF 2230 – we haven’t signed anyone, AW instead preferring to consider bringing players back from loan spells. And not just that, he’s sent Kyle Bartley off to Rangers, and Gilles Sunu off to Lorient. I hope they both fare well, and return better, hungrier players ready to be involved with the first team. You couldn’t ask for a better place for a young defender to get toughened up than Glasgow. Good things are expected of young Mr Bartley in the future. I’ll let you know how he gets on from time to time.

I’m all for inspiring confidence in the squad that we have, maturing young players, etc etc, but the sad fact is that we really do lack a decent centre half. I’m not just talking about the next 2 games when Squillaci’s injured, but for the forseeable future. We simply don’t know if Vermaelen’s injury woes are over.

Yes, we should be positive, but it may well turn into an Owen Hargreaves or worse, a Ledley King type of situation. And if that happens we need more on the bench than Ignasi Miquel, a player who has never played for the first team. Let’s face it, Djourou is playing very well, but he’s hardly been Mr Reliable Muscles-Tendons in previous seasons.

So I’m disappointed, but not overly surprised. There is some time left, and we all know that the club keeps transfers very close to their chest. I shall update as and when anything happens.

Anyway, lock up your valuables tomorrow evening as we face Everton in a late kick-off. If I had to speculate, I’d say that the no.1 shirt, as it were, will return to the young Pole after Almunia featured in the shop window clash with Huddersfield. Djourscielny will return, as will our regular full backs Clichgna [stop it, Ed]. I also expect returns for Fabregas, Song, Wilshere and v Persie. I’d like the question of who replaces Nasri to be answered in the person of ‘the Bovingdon Bullet’, as we Hemelites like to call Walcott. He lives up the road from here, you know. Arshavin or Bendtner or Chamakh? Pick two of them, I’d say the Russian and the Moroccan.

As for the odds, I have to consider how wrong I’ve been recently, and how Everton haven’t set the league on fire this year. I’m going for 3-0 at 9s with William Hill (and others). It seems to be our favourite scoreline at the moment, the Terriers aside. I like the look of Wilshere as first goalscorer at 16-1 with Coral. The Arsenally finances are a bit stretched – you would have thought my agent would be earning money today of all days but she’s been strangely quiet – so that’s it for me. The more adventurous, and optimistic of you might fancy my long shot – Theo to get a hat-trick at 66/1 with BlueSquare. Oh go on then, a few pennies.

I’ll levae you with the wise words of the ‘holic:

Name me the players who moved, that we would have wanted to buy, at a price that we would have wanted to pay, and who would have wanted to come to us? You can’t, can you?

Quite. The Verminator will be back, won’t he?

Arsenally Yours,

Will

Have just realised that my team prediction includes 12 players. Walcott – v Persie – Chamakh is what I’d like to see. Sorry, it’s late, and I’ve just been screamed at by some psychopathic nutjob who I’m unhappy to report is my new housemate. I shall return with a review tomorrow night, assuming I’m still alive.

Arsenal 2 – Huddersfield 1 Review

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Jan 302011
 

Huddersfield Town are also known as the Terriers and the played like, well, terriers. The feeling of getting through to the next round of the cup is somewhat marred by the injury suffered by Nasri, and the upcoming suspension of Squillaci after the latter got himself sent off for a professional foul.

After the first twenty minutes I thought that we were going to walk it and that my long-shot punt of 7-0 might even come off. Huddersfield sat back and waited for us to attack, in what seemed to me to be tactical suicide. After a few wayward shots from Arshavin and Bendtner we were soon ahead when the latter took a shot from the edge of the area, and it deflected off Peter Clarke into the net.

But it all changed when in about the 30th minute Nasri chased a ball over the top. He pulled up, and we could all see it was his hamstring that had gone. 3 weeks out, I tweeted. That now look optimistic with the news – albeit unconfirmed – that it’s a bad one. That means it could be about 6 weeks. Fantastic, our best player out for at least one of the two Champions League games against Barça. It’s a real shame for Sammy – just as he was finding some truly scintillating form that would certainly have found him back in his country’s national team, he finds himself out with a serious injury. We’ll miss him badly, I fear. Nonetheless, a chance for young Theo to prove his mettle and push for a permanent spot in the team.

Back to the Huddersfiled game. As so often happens when a player leaves the field with a bad injury, we looked shell-shocked, and Huddersfield could have gone two up before the end of the first half.

And just before the interval, things rapidly went from really bad to much, much worse. Squillaci blocked the impressive run of Jack Hunt, and got his marcfhing orders. When I saw it the first time, I called Mark Clattenburg some pretty terrible things, and won a rebuke from my agent for bad language in front of the Arsenally little one. It didn’t look like the Huddersfield player had the ball under control at all, but the benefit of a replay proved that it was, frankly, deserved. No sooner is he back from injury than the Fritalian defender finds himself suspended. Great.

And so the game rapidly swung in Huddersfield’s favour as they made the extra man count, if you’ll excuse the cliché.

He may be having a bad patch, as is so widely reported, but guess who tracked back to put in a last-ditch tackle to prevent a Huddersfield goal – our little Russian! I was impressed with his work for the team, if not for his finishing.

Huddersfield got their equaliser on the hour when Lee headed home a corner. Cue panic at Arsenally Yours, the tearing up of all my betting slips, etc etc. But I cheered up when I saw el capitano warming up, and was happier still to see him come on to replace the clearly rusty Diaby.

Yet again, he transformed the game. His presence alone seemed to calm the team, and we had chances with Koscielny, Arshavin and Bendtner going close.

As the game came to its close, and I was considering how best to rant about having yet another replay against lower league opposition, Bendtner was hauled down in the centre of the area, about 5 feet from goal, by the last defender. Clattenburg did point to the spot – I suppose we can thank our lucky stars for that – but why no red card? It couldn’t have been a clearer goal-scoring opportunity. Idiot. But I didn’t like seeing our captain trying to get said idiot in black to see sense and send the Terrier’s defender off. There’s just no need.

Up stepped Cesc, and slotted the penalty home. Thank God. Once again he saved our bacon, and we saw out the remaining minutes to win the tie and proceed to the next round. We’ll face Leyton Orient at the Matchroom stadium in the fifth round. Should be a great game, and one the Arsenally grandad would have treasured. The O’s were, if you like, his second team, and he’d also check to see how they got on every Saturday. A mate of mine is a fan, so I may well find myself there.

But that’s not for 3 weeks or so. In the meantime, we face Everton at home after a laughably short rest of 1 day. One day? I know they’re all supposed to be professional athletes, but that’s ridiculous. And, it’s worth pointing out, Everton may not be doing wonders in the league, but they managed to get a draw against Chelski.

Despite the win, it’s all a bit depressing, really. Nasri out for up to 6 weeks, our only reserve defender suspended, and no time to prepare for Everton. But how about this to cheer you up – Fulham 4 Sp*rs 0. That’s much better.

Arsenally Yours,

Will

Huddersfield Preview, Odds, & New CB Rumour

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Jan 292011
 

At noon on Sunday we face Huddersfield in the fourth round of the FA Cup. Clearly, complacency is our enemy here, as it was against Leeds and against Ipswich. Our other enemy, this time an enemy from within, is the dreaded rotation. I was tempted to abandon my usual team prediction, but I’ll give it a go nonetheless.

Here’s the injury news from the official site:

I imagine that the skipper may get a rest, as will young Mr Wilshere. Up front, I’m pretty certain that Chamakh will start. I’ve a feeling that Gibbs might get a place ahead of Clichy. So I’m going for:

Szczesny; Eboue – Squillaci – Koscielny – Gibbs; Denilson – Song – Diaby; Nasri – Chamakh – Bendtner

Odds

That is a team that can easily beat Huddersfield, no matter how well they play, and even with Kevin Kilbane and Benik Afobe, our loanee who AW has allowed to play against us. The best price on an Arsenal win is a laughable 1/7. I’m plumping for 4-0 at 9/1 with Sportingbet, and our loud-mouthed Dane to score first at 9/2 with Bet365. My long shot? How about 7-0 at 66/1 with Sportingbet? I thought so too, to the tune of a few pennies.

Transfer News

Our bully-boy, leg-breaking opponents in the Carling Cup Final, Birmingham City, have signed Curtis Davies and Obafemi Martins is on his way. I don’t really think this makes them much of a tougher prospect – though Martins does have some qualities – but it just brings into perspective our lack of movement in the transfer window so far. As regards our bid for another youngster from Southampton, Alex Oxlade-Chaberlain:

There is no news and I’d be surprised if there will be any.

I’m disappointed about that. Yes, it could be the typical Wenger silence before the signing, but it could be that Southampton are pricing him out of our reach and into the likes of Chelski and Mansheikhster City. He might be worth the money if he’s as good as other former Southampton youngsters like Theo, and dare I say it, the chimp from up the road, Gareth Bale.

As for our defensive issues, we’ve been linked with as many CBs as the press can think of, from PSG’s Mamadou Sakho to Per Mertesacker to Chris Samba. So my bullsh*tometer was on high alert when I heard another rumour. But firstly because I read it first on the rather excellent Young Guns Blog, and secondly because he really does sound like a Wenger signing, I think this rumour might have some legs, so to speak. I’m giving it a 4/10 – certainly possible, but decidedly whiffy.

The player in question has possibly the most unpronouncable name in football I’ve heard yet – Šime Vrsaljko. My agent spent some time in Croatia and apparently it’s Sheemé Vursal(ye)ko, if you catch my drift. I think I’ll call him Shimmy. Anyway, he’s a right back who can play centre back, he’s young, quick, technically gifted, and great on FM. Apparently we’ve sent representatives to Dinamo Zagreb, so we shall see. I’m not holding my breath.

In other news, our favourite nutty Russian, Andrey Sergeyevich Arshavin, has been doing a little introspection and decided that he’s not on form. I’m absolutely positive that I saw this same story on the official site a few months ago. I hope this time he’s spurred on to perform better. He’s not playing badly per se, but he’s clearly lacking confidence. That we haven’t seen any shots from distance from him is a good indicator of this. Let’s hope he puts in a good shift against Huddersfield.

Arsenally Yours,

Will