Jumpers for goalposts, Arsenal vs Leeds Preview, Line-ups and Odds

 Match Previews  Comments Off on Jumpers for goalposts, Arsenal vs Leeds Preview, Line-ups and Odds
Jan 072011
 

The FA cup has turned from one of my favourite competitions to one of my least favourite. This is mainly due to two press-induced factors.

Firstly, I can’t stand the clichés that get aired every time FA cup ties come around. “The romance of the cup”, “giant-killing” are just a couple of the turgid excuses for commentary that we will hear. Expect the likes of Andy Gray to trot out as many as he can in his allotted 90 minutes. You half expect a white horse to prance onto the pitch at any moment.

The second thing I hate about the FA cup, no actually, I detest, is the constant, unrelenting, recurrent, incessant, and persistent replaying of THAT goal. You know the one I mean.

Anyway, Leeds. A word of caution. In the third round last season, they beat ManUre. They will be up for this game, their support is excellent, and they have a good young English manager in Simon Grayson. The latter clearly believes the travelling support will play an important part:

It’s a great draw for the fans as well. They will travel in their 1000s and I hope they have a good day out. Last season was different for them as well because of the rivalry and I think that win will have meant more than anything we could achieve on Saturday. We know we’ll have a fantastic support, we always do, and it’s a support that is the envy of every other club in the country. They’ll certainly ensure there is a great atmosphere on Saturday and they are incentive enough to make sure we do our best.

Any assumptions in the Arsenal dressing room that this will be easy must be dismissed, and a serious approach to the game is essential if we want to progress to the next round without any drama. A draw and not only will we have to add another game to our already congested fixture list, but it would be at Elland Road.

In their last game against Cardiff (which they lost), Leeds fielded this side:

Schmeichel; Connolly – Collins – O’Brien – Parker; Gradel – Howson – Johnson; Snodgrass – Paynter – McCormack.

Our own Sanchez Watt (or Herschel Oulio Sanchez Watt, what a name!) has been generously released to play against us and may start if he recovers from a head injury, The team that played against Cardiff looks like a 4-3-3 so we can expect that to become 4-5-1, or we may see at least one fewer forward and at least one more midfielder.

As for our line-up, AW said on the official site:

We will rotate. There are going to be changes, many changes. It will be good to have Kieran back and Eboue will play as Sagna is suspended. I cannot give you the team yet. I have somewhere in my mind that I will make changes but I don’t know who will play. From last night, we have no serious injuries. I believe that Nasri and Van Persie could be short for Saturday.

According to the Guardian, Aaron Ramsey may be back in contention. I think we may well see him on the bench. It’d be great to see him take the field in an Arsenal shirt again. I imagine the captain and Song will get a break (but hopefully warm the bench just in case); I think we’ll see Wilshere and Denilson with Rosicky in the centre of the park. If we do see those three in midfield, they must ensure they’re not bullied or crowded out. I’d be happier with the more physical Song instead of Denilson.

At the back, I expect Szczesny between the sticks, and Squillaci to start alongside Koscielny. I have to say I’d prefer to see Djourou and Koscielny together again. Defensive partnerships need time to gel, and I think of all the Squillaci – Djourou – Koscielny combinations, the Swiss and Frolish together has worked the best. Gibbs is back, and Eboue will be in to replace the suspended Sagna.

We may well see the Great Dane and Theo up front with Chamakh, while (the first choice front three?) Nasri, v Persie, and Arshavin have a breather. Despite what AW has said, I hope to see at least two of those three on the bench, to be used if the plucky northerners are tough to break down.

So for us I expect something like:

Szczesny; Eboue – Koscielny – Squillaci – Gibbs; Denilson – Rosicky – Wilshere; Walcott – Chamakh – Bendtner.

As for the odds, I like the look of 5-1 at 33/1 with William Hill. You can get 66/1 with the same firm for us to score 6 of the best without reply. Very tempting, and I think that will be my long shot. If we play as fluently as we can, we could score that many. I like Theo for first goalscorer, at 17/2 with Victor Chandler. A red card for either side is at fives with Paddy Power.

As much as the FA cup winds me up a bit, I do love the mis-matches, the excitement of the lower league teams when they draw a top side, the fact that it’s on proper TV, the times less good teams get an away draw and and celebrate the home replay, jumpers for goalposts… oh bugger it, I love it really.

Arsenally Yours,

Will

Wellington, Fat Mikey Ashley, and football lunacy

 Random thoughts  Comments Off on Wellington, Fat Mikey Ashley, and football lunacy
Dec 092010
 

Not much of note to report tonight. We’re waiting with crossed fingers and toes for the scan results for Gibbs’ ankle. I hope it turns out to be a minor knock. You can only call young Kieron promising because he’s been so drastically unlucky with injuries that we haven’t seen enough of him to really know if he’s got what it takes to make the left back position his own. Clichy’s tendency to switch off entirely is getting more and more frequent, so some pressure on him and competition for the left back position would be a good thing.

The other Arsenal news is that promising 17-year old Wellington Silva, who we signed from Brazilian side Fluminense, can’t actually come and play for us because he doesn’t have a work permit. Usually the requirement from the UK Home Office point of view is that players need to be regulars for their country. In the case of youngsters this can be worked around by getting a ‘Special Talent’ notice from FIFA. For “getting” read “giving the dodgy gits a brown envelope stuffed with cash, a Monte Carlo appartment and a Ukrainian bride with fake boobs.”

Anyway, FIFA have said “Well we might have said we’d give Welly Silver a ‘special talent’ bit of paper to take to the headmaster Home Office before, but because you didn’t give us wads of cash like those lovely Russians and Qataris, and you didn’t silence your media, we’re not giving you anything.” Or words to that effect. Arsène even apparently flew to see FIFA but got told something like the above.

The upshot is that we’ll appeal. If we’re unsuccessful he’ll have to go on loan to Spain, where after three years some geezer on the Costa del Sol can legally sell you a EU Passport for €250 and a nice new silver Merc, keys in the ignition thank you very much. Maybe he should try Croatia… it worked for Eduardo didn’t it?

On a serious note, it’s a real shame that we won’t get to see a kid in whom AW obviously has a lot of faith. Wenger’s word and record with Arsenal’s academy should be enough for FIFA.

I can’t finish this post without a few words about the lunacy that’s surrounding Newcastle. I truly don’t understand how Mike Ashley can think that Chris Hughton hasn’t done a good job. Or more importantly, how the f*ck Alan Pardew is going to do a better one. What a way to reward the man who won the Championship and has kept a newly-promoted side clear of the relegation zone. We should thank our lucky stars we have a sane board of directors at Arsenal, and don’t have to put up with the sheer lunacy of a nutjob like Mike Ashley. I heard he made Hughton play Football Manager against him to show him what a good manager he was. Nutter.

To end with, some quotes from the chief nobhead that is Patrice Evra, from @younggunsblog, to raise your ire, piss you off, and generally get you psyched for Monday night. We’ll know more about possible team news after Arsène’s press conference tomorrow.

At United, we only watch for Chelsea results.

Arsenal is only a good Academy. They play good football but win nothing. In 10 years we will forget about that club.

Let’s make that arrogant, garlic-munching tw*t eat his words on Monday.

Arsenally Yours,

Will

Some news from the official Arsenal site – it doesn’t look like we’ll appeal the Wellington Silver decision, which is odd. The announcement just says that he’ll go on loan to a European club, which may well turn out to be Salamanca, with whom we’ve had similar dealings in the past.

I’d like to clarify my comments about Evra. Our French players can eat all the garlic they want. Evra doesn’t eat it nicely though. He munches it. All day long. The tw*t.