Arsenal vs Wolves Preview and Odds

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Feb 122011
 

It’s very hard to concentrate on the Wolves game, and not to think of anything else. There’s the small matter of the Barçelona game on Wednesday; there’s also a game in Mansheikster at lunchtime. However, AW is focussed on the task at hand:

There is no Barcelona in mind. There is Wolverhampton in mind… [And the Manchester derby] will not influence us.

He might well say that, but one thing’s for certain – all the players will have one or both of those matches in mind when they take to the field tomorrow afternoon. I hope and pray that Citeh win, with Berbatov and Tevez colliding in a freak accident that sees both of them out for the season with broken heads, shoulders, knees and toes. If ManUre drop points, I want the players to be thinking of the ground we can make up; I want them to have the passion to get a result, see it out to the end, and close the gap on the league leaders.

What I don’t want is the Barça game on anyone’s mind. Yes, of course, a certain Catalunian club captain may be looking forward to entertaining his boyhood hero Guardiola and his international team-mates Iniesta and Xavi more than he’s looking forward to the company of Karl Henry and Mick McCarthy, but the Premiership title is still up for grabs, and there’s a job to be done against the bruisers from the Black Country.

And a bruising game is what I expect to see tomorrow. It must be noted that Wolves are the ultimate giant-killers this season, marking victories over ManUre, Chelski and Liverpool. I hope our hunger for the top spot in the league and desire to put right what went so badly wrong against Newcastle prevail in the face of the European distraction on Wednesday night.

While Song and Djourou are potentially available, I suspect they may be granted further time to recuperate. Diaby is injured and suspended so Denilson will be in, while v Persie and Fabregas return from their mystery sickness, and “will be playing” according to the AW on official site. Rosicky is out after a groin strain he picked up on his way back from the bookies the Czech Republic.

So I expect something like:

Szczesny; Sagna – Squillaci – Koscielny – Clichy; Denilson – Fabregas – Wilshere; Arshavin – v Persie – Walcott

I’d very much like to see Chamakh get a start alongside v Persie. We really haven’t seen very much of the Moroccan since RvP came back from injury. Bendtner is also fit but will more likely than not warm the bench. He really works hard to earn all that money, doesn’t he? Please just don’t ever speak again, Nicklas. Every time he opens his mouth he endears himself less and less to me. I’d rather he did this more often, and had his mouth sewn together to prevent any more foot-in-mouth situations.

As for the odds, it’s hard to find value with the best odds on a home win little over 1/5, reflecting the view of my Chelski-supporting work colleague who thinks we’ll “romp away with it”. But I fear for Wolves’ physicality and our players having half a mind on Wednesday night. And I fear for complacency in our ranks. We’ve also conceded far too much at set pieces this term and I can see that trend continuing, especially if Squillaci partners Koscielny at the back. No, I’m not a fan. Being fair, he should only now be completely used to the Premiership. Anyway, I’ve plumped for a 3-1 win at 21/2 with Unibet, but I put a few sly pennies on 6-0 with William Hill at 50/1. As for first goalscorer, I’m going for our bonkers little Russian at 6s with Bet365.

At 1pm tomorrow I’ll be praying for Citeh and their over-priced, money-grabbing w*nkers to get one over their neighbours. At 3pm, I’ll be praying that the team have got Citeh’s 4-0 mauling of ManUre firmly in the front of their minds. Sorry Arsène.

Come on you gooners!

Arsenally Yours,

Will

Leeds 1 Arsenal 3 Review

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Jan 202011
 

Well, my money was on 2-1 or 3-2 to Arsenal. So close. I looked at Sagna to score anytime at something like 50-1, but thought, nah, he’s already scored one this season, he won’t get another. Oh well. The Arsenally wallet may be feeling a little light, but I’m feeling great because we’re still in the FA Cup, thanks to a good performance by a team that was hardly our strongest.

We didn’t have Fabregas, Wilshere, v Persie or Walcott. The trio that had performed so badly against Ipswich – Denilson, Bendtner and Arshavin all started alongside Chamakh, Song, and captain for the day, Samir Nasri.

The little Froroccan played well and was rewarded with a goal on 5 mins. At first view, it looked a little fortunate, with Chamakh, Arshavin and Nasri exchanging passes somewhat awkwardly. But the replay proved it to be a top piece of skill and strength from Nasri. Last season, I don’t think he would have got as far as getting a shot away. Yesterday, he brushed aside two defenders, and buried it with the finish of a man brimming with confidence.

Denilson impressed me last night. Sometimes, it seems all he can do is pass the ball square and behind him. Last night he played some fantastic passes, and despite his slight frame, made his mark on the match. With Nasri playing well, and Song putting in a good shift, we controlled the game for long periods, and the home side were restricted to the odd counter-attack which Djorscielny cleaned up without Szczesny having a save of note to make.

Bendtner, however, did not. His touch was heavy, he found space on occasion but never used it. It was his dreadful first touch that allowed the ball to rebound to Sagna, who cut in and let fly into the top corner. Mini-Schmeichel had little chance, even though he got a finger to it. Good to see Sagna back after suspension; he had a top game all round, despite Bendtner not doing a lot in front of him. Of course, it was his cross that v Persie connected with to score our third, but apart from that, I certainly wasn’t impressed. I have to say, though, that Chamakh didn’t cover himself in glory either. Generally speaking, he was just a bit quiet. I hope having a fit-again v Persie competing with him for a place in the starting line-up will spur him on to better things.

As for Andrey, the butty little Russian, he did have some patches where he was playing well, creating opportunities for others, and having a few shots on target himself. He’s just not hitting the heights that we’ve seen from him in the past. However, as with Denilson, he was focussed and determined, which in my book goes a very long way towards a good, if not great performance. Opposing teams are careful with him; he’s learning that he can use that attention to feed others, and his play in the final third will only get better and better. The goals will come, and I hope he doesn’t start to get a complex about not scoring as much as he’d like. He very nearly scored at the start of the second half, and would have done were it not for the ludicrously named Robert Snodgrass putting in a great last ditch tackle.

Djorou and Koscielny had good games. The goal we conceded was an absolute corker, the only possible thing to say is that Nasri could perhaps have closed down a bit better, but if he did the same thing a hundred times again, I doubt we’d concede one goal in a hundred.

As the game wore on, Leeds pressed more and more, but when we brought on Bat-Cesc and Robin in place of Arshavin and Chamakh, the extra quality brought us a goal when v Persie connected with Bendtner’s cross. 3-1, and a sigh of relief from Arsenally Yours, and AW’s record of not going out before the 4th round left intact.

Ok I was secretly hoping for a last minute consolation for Leeds, but happier to have seen a good performance from some of our fringe-ish players and lose a few quid, than to have seen a rubbish performance and gained a few quid.

I did promise the fruits of my labour in terms of research into Achilles tendinopathy. However, I’ve seen on the website that he’s undergone surgery that I didn’t read about. So have a look, here on the official site, and join with me and fellow gooners in some serious finger crossing for good news in a month’s time.

Arsenally Yours,

Will

Let’s win a cup – Ipswich-Arsenal Preview and Odds

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Jan 112011
 

Hi folks. It’s a busy night for Arsenally Yours so it’ll be a brief preview for tomorrow night’s must-win game.

And must-win it is. The tie is held over two legs, and this first one is away at Portman Road, but we can’t leave ourselves in the same position we are with Leeds, i.e. another difficult game to add to the schedule. A win, and a good win will put us in a strong position when they come here in a fortnight. We’ll want to be able to field a weaker team then. It’s much better to win the semi-final in one game than over two.

I frankly don’t know what Ipswich Town’s team will be and I won’t speculate. As for us, I expect the Djourscielny partnership to continue in defence, with Eboue and Gibbs as before. In midfield, I’d like to see Song, Cesc, and Wilshere, but I imagine we’ll see Rosicky and Denilson in the side. Let’s hope we getter a better performance from those two.

I reckon AW will keep faith with Bendtner, Chamakh and Arshavin. I’d like Theo to start. He hardly starts these days and Ipswich would be a great place for him to have a full run-out.

As for the odds, it’s hardly worth putting money on an Arsenal win. With the best price at 2/5 with Ladbrokes, it’s a bit of a disappointment to be honest, especially after our no-show with Leeds. I’m in for 4-1 with Sky Bet at 20/1. As for goalscorer, I’ve plumped for young Jack to hit the net any time at 9/2 with the same firm.

Shame upon shame upon shame. As if Leeds wasn’t bad enough, our reserves really showed the first team how it’s done by losing 10-1 to Aston Villa. Yes, ten one. Unbelievable. Reserve Coach Neil Banfield has said it’s a disgrace. It’s worse than a disgrace. I’ve lost some matches by some quite heavy margins, but 10-1? Honestly.

Let’s get some more bad news out of the way. Here’s Arsene with injury news on our crocked centre back partnership, Squillaelen.

So Squillaci out for 2/3 weeks, and another set-back for Thomas Vermaelen. Call me pessimistic but I’m not hopeful that we’ll get good news on Wednesday re Thomas. Fingers crossed though.

In some more cheerful news, Thierry Henry is back at the club – although only in a training capacity. I wonder whether there’s more to this; I hope after he’s finished his spell across the pond he’ll come back to us in a coaching role. One can only dream.

There’ve been some rumours that we might sign Sol for defensive cover. That gets a 9 on my bullsh*tometer, frankly, and that’s classified as 95% purest Pamplonian Bull Dung. I really can’t see us using a player that Newcastle released. That said, he’s got experience. But no, I don’t think that will happen.

In the video above, we heard AW says he’s looking around. We’ve got to sign someone, let’s sign another Vermaelen. Just not a crocked one.

Arsenally Yours,

Will