Carling Cup Final Preview & Odds

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Feb 262011

Profuse apologies to my legions of couple of followers. My broadband has been down for the last week or so and all the phone calls in the world couldn’t persuade my landlady to pull her finger out. Anyway, I’m back, and have now put in some measures to ensure I can blog from other locations.

I didn’t miss much, only our only victory against Barcelona in my lifetime… no use crying over spilt internet connections. What a game it was. We hardly dominated – they passed the ball twice as many times as we did, but the win puts us in a fantastic position when we travel to the Nou Camp.

Oh and I missed the game against Stoke, which was notable only for the injuries to our captain and to Theo Walcott. According to the Sun Cesc demanded a meeting with AW to persuade him to let him play in the Carling Cup Final tomorrow, but firstly I don’t believe anything I read in the Sun, and secondly, we’d be stupid to risk losing him for the Barça rematch. Thankfully, according to the Offical Site, it looks like Cesc will miss the Final and the FA Cup replay against Orient. Theo, or the “Bovingdon Bullet” as we say here in Hemel, is less fortunate and will be on the sidelines for a couple of weeks minimum, which will see him miss the second leg against the Catalunians, but possibly feature against ManUre in the FA Cup, assuming we beat Orient at home.

What we need tomorrow is for the squad players to replace Theo and Cesc and play their socks off, something we didn’t see when we faced Orient at Brisbane Road. Our ‘B’ team’s collective failure to beat the East Londoners gives us a yet another replay in an already congested fixture schedule.

So which of them will line up against the Brutal Brummies at Wembley? Diaby, Koscielny and v Persie are back after injury, and I think all three will start. I for one hope that we do see Diaby rather than Rosicky replacing the captain; the little Czech has been rather poor this season.

Cesc’s absence means an extra burden on the young shoulders of Jack Wilshere to step up and provide the creativity. That doesn’t concern me. As the boss says:

He’s had very good games. His confidence has grown, his responsibility has grown, certainly. Our game goes naturally through Fabregas. When he’s not there, it will go more through Wilshere. The way of the game is simple: it goes always through the team’s strong points. So that the game goes through Wilshere is a good thing for him because it means the players around him have confidence in him. He will enjoy this game.

I hope he does enjoy the game, and I’m looking forward to seeing hi sleft-footed passes out to Nasri on the right flank, but how he copes with Lee Bowyer is what concerns me. Bowyer will niggle, leave the boot in, go in hard in 50:50s and generally make life difficult for the young man. It takes a great deal of maturity to rise above such things, and the guy’s only 19. Keeping 11 men on the pitch may be more tricky than usual, especially when you add the giant Zigic into the equation.

So the team I expect is:

Szczesny; Clichy – Koscielny – Djourou – Sagna; Diaby – Song  – Wilshere; Arshavin – v Persie – Nasri


The bookies have Arsenal as clear favourites, with the odds of us claiming our first piece of silverware in five years a mere 4/7 at best. I’ve gone for a 3-1 Arsenal win at 12/1 with William Hill. 4-2 to us at 66/1 with Stan James was very tempting, but my Arsenally long shot is 4-3 at 150-1 with Victor Chandler. 7/2 on any player getting their marching orders was too tempting to pass up.

As for goalscorers, you’ve got to go for v Persie to score first, haven’t you? Well I did, at 15/4 with Bet365. The odds of Jack the lad finding the net at anytime are 5/1 and that got a few pennies as well.

So – can we lift the first bit of silverware since the FA Cup in ’05? Of course we can. Will we? The answer to that question depends very much on a mature performance from a very young man.


Pat Rice, Transfers, and a game at Brum.

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Jan 012011

There’s a news article on the official site about Pat Rice’s future at the end of the season:

Arsène Wenger has stressed that he “200 per cent” wants Pat Rice to continue in his role amid speculation over the Assistant Manager’s future.

Wenger’s right-hand man has given more than 40 years of service to the Club, having joined Arsenal as a 15-year-old apprentice in 1964. Rice went on to make 528 appearances for the Gunners, winning the Double in 1971 and lifting the FA Cup as captain in 1979.

It may be contract talks, and “Wenger doesn’t think Rice’s situation bears comparison” [to Ray Wilkins] –

He will be at the end of his contract at the end of the season. He will not go anywhere else. So will he stay or stop? I don’t know. I hope he will continue. Yes [it is Pat’s decision]. In this case I am the Club and I want him to continue. I want to persuade him…He wants to be sure he can be completely 100 per cent committed. He must think as well [about his age]… in fact he’s my age!
From my side, there’s no hesitation. I want him 200 per cent to continue. It’s only a desire from me. I know how valuable he is for the Club and for me, and I want him to go on. He’s not a guy who does half or thinks half. He gives absolutely everything.

At the moment there’s more chance he remains at the Club than he leaves. There’s a 90 per cent chance that he will go on [stay]. It’s important to keep him, as important as keeping a big player.

I’d be gutted if he left; he embodies everything the players need to know about the club, and concerns I have about continuity if he were to go scare me silly.

Here’s a link to the story on the site.


Oh yes, and we might buy someone in January but only in exceptional circumstances; AW says that he’s happy with what he’s got, but that he hasn’t ruled out signings. Totally non-committal in a really annoying way. I really dislike the agent-incited auction that is a modern day player transfer. It’s because we have class that we don’t announce any signings until they’re completed, unlike Citeh for example. Despite this a month of fairly pointless media-driven speculation begins for Arsenally Yours. All transfer rumours will be accompanied by my bullsh*t-meter.


Meanwhile, we’ve got a game to play at St Andrew’s today at 5.30. After the disappointing draw with Wigan, a much stronger side faces Birmingham,a team who last lost at home on the 2nd October. Since then they’ve beaten Chelski, and drew with Sp*rs and ManUre.

I expect Chamakh to return along with the unsuspended Fabregas. Arshavin and Nasri will join the Moroccan, with Jack and Alex Song joinging the skipper. We’ve got to show the determination we showed against Chelski, and we must put any thoughts about management to one side.

As for the odds, I’m on for Birmingham HT, Arsenal FT at 25/1 with BlueSq as my long shot, but also interested by 3-1 to us at 14/1 with the same company. Combo is tempting! I’ll see tomorrow.

Arsenally Yours,