Huddersfield Preview, Odds, & New CB Rumour

 Match Previews  Comments Off on Huddersfield Preview, Odds, & New CB Rumour
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

Fixture Congestion, Ryo Miyaichi, youth news, and mental fragility.

 Random thoughts  Comments Off on Fixture Congestion, Ryo Miyaichi, youth news, and mental fragility.
Dec 202010
 

Hi folks, have we been saved by the snow? I’m glad the players now have a chance to prepare properly for the visit of Chelski next Monday. But the fact that we’ll have to play an extra match, and one against Stoke, is hardly good news as we approach the season of good cheer. Knowing the way our fixtures always fall at the worst possible time, we’ll probably have to face them two days before we play Barça in February. At which point Shawcross will break Fabregas and v Persie’s legs in an ‘accidentally late’ challenge before doing Nasri’s cruciate as he walks off for an early bath.

We’ve signed an 18-year-old Japanese striking wunderkind, Ryo Miyaichi, who’ll join us in January. Accoding to his wikipedia page, he’s still at High School! I hope he accustoms himself pretty quickly to daily training and life in England, and doesn’t miss his books too much.

You can see some clips of him here, but I have to say they’re meaningless – until we see him against proper opposition, we can’t really say a lot with any certainty about his prospects. He does show some good touches and a bit of pace, it has to be said, and what’s more he did – apparently – get some interest from other big European clubs.

But the cynic in me did raise his ugly head when I saw this in the Guardian:

Wenger, who coached the Japanese side Grampus Eight before joining Arsenal in 1996, also said that “it’s very important that Asia is represented at our club”.

Now I’m all for expanding our global appeal, and I’m very aware of how we lag behind other leading English clubs in terms of our commercial success, but should we really sign a player, if putting him on the pitch is a financial and not a football decision? If he plays a few Carling Cup games, then that doesn’t disrupt our Premier and Champions League standing, but what about the English strikers who are excelling in our academy? Do we need him at the expense of one of the youth players we already have?

On which note, Steve Bould’s youth team destroyed Darlington to move into the fourth round of the FA youth cup a few days ago. Chucks Aneke got a hat-trick, and Benik Afobe grabbed a couple while for me, Özyakup showed some great touches in midfield. Like Miyaichi, the test for our youngsters will come against better opposition. Here’s the highlights:

Cesc has something to say here in the Guardian about our mental fragility against the big teams, and most recently ManUre.

Sometimes we seem scared of losing these big games – we don’t really go for it and we’re tempted to drop back and see what the opposition do.

A worrying thing for our captain to say, but at least he recognises the problem. He should, as club captain, do his best to put a stop to this and try to ensure the lads are confident, and that we play our game, rather than responding to the oppostion’s.

I think a large part of this mental fragility could be down to the Home/Away, divide. Away there’s less expectation on us to play our own game and not respond to the opposition, whereas at home, we’re expected to play our own brand of attacking football. Perhaps this provides some explanation for our contrasting home and away form. We need to be more confident wherever we play, and make others dance to our tune. Easier said than done though.

To get you in the Christmas spirit, here’s a pic of Gibbs and Wilshere looking festive. And this from a gooner on Facebook:

I met a fairy today who granted me only one wish. I said, “I want to live forever.”

“Sorry,” said the fairy, “I’m not allowed to grant wishes like that.”

“Fine,” I said, “I want to die when Sp*rs win the league.”

“You crafty bastard” said the fairy.

Back with more on Chelsea tomorrow.

Arsenally Yours,

Will