RIP Danny Fiszman, Arsenal v Liverpool Preview & Odds

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Apr 172011
 

The timing of Stan Kroenke’s takeover of Arsenal was explained by the sad news of Danny Fiszman’s death on Wednesday.

Danny Fiszman

Danny Fiszman RIP

By all accounts, he was largely responsible for pushing throught the move to the Grove. He was certainly held in high estimation by AW:

I will remember Danny as a forward-thinker, a man who was very brave and who did fight until the last minute and was always a very influential person at every board meeting. He was one of the very intelligent men behind this Club and the development of this Club. He was very instrumental in all of [the stadium move] and in all the practical work, all the negotiation work, the relocation of all the businesses, the planning permission. There was a team, Ken Friar and Danny Fiszman, who did all of that. It is very fair to say the Club wouldn’t be where it is today without Danny Fiszman.

What AW couldn’t say was that Fiszman’s last act as an Arsenal director and fan was to sell his shares to Kroenke. He clearly felt that he had to ensure his share of the club went to a good home. I was glad to hear that two of the bridges outside the Grove have been named in honour of Fiszman and Friar, Arsenal fans first and board members second. Lock up your valuables, the Scousers are coming to town It’s truly a rare thing for a gooner to say, and so I take great pleasure in reporting that there is good news coming from the physio’s room at the Grove. Not only are Song, Szczesny, and Djourou likely to return tomorrow, but according to the BBC Sports website, Vermaelen is to play a friendly behind closed doors. If Szczesny, Djourou, and Song return then some steel will be added to the side. Szczesny has shown himself to be a more than capable keeper, and almost more important than his shot-stopping has been the confidence which he exudes. to those in front of him. The defence look, well, like a defence when he plays. If he does start, it will be interesting to see which of Lehman and Almunia warms the bench. I’d prefer the German, if only for his positive presence in the dressing room. And also for the sheer insanity that he brings to the club. Do read this hilarious piece on the bonkers 41-year-old. Djourou has fulfilled the promise he has shown as a youngster deputising for Touré, Campbell, Gallas in previous seasons. His play seemed to follow a pattern of being thrown into the first team thanks to injury or suspension, playing well, and succumbing to a crippling injury. This season, in Vermaelen’s absence he has shown not only that his knees are made of normal-knee-stuff and not Angel Delight, but that he can defend, and defend well. It will be interesting to see what the result will be of the selection dilemma that AW will have when Vermaelen returns – who will partner the Belgian – Koscielny or Djourou? Song’s improvement over the last couple of seasons has been dramatic and most welcome. He allows the rest of the midfield to be creative, and provides solid cover in front of the back four. I’m really looking forward to seeing how Wilshere and Fabregas will combine with him to back them up. The news about Vermaelen is encouraging, but I have had my spirits lifted too many times by too many come-backs that have never materialised to allow myself to be over-excited by this one. Oh, bugger it, I am excited. Even though AW has proclaimed that his season is over, a fit and ready Vermaelen would give us a real boost at the back, and I can’t believe that if he is able to play, AW will leave him out. In Liverpool we face a very different animal to the team that we played in the season opener. Kenny Dalglish has brought them from the foot of the table to the possibility of European football. Suarez and their new boy Carroll will be hard to contain, and that will be the key task tomorrow. I still see his winner for Newcastle in my all-too-frequent nightmares about Arsenal’s defensive failings. The line-up is hard to predict, as whether Djourou, Song, and Szczesny will all start is a question that no-one but AW has an answer for, and even le Boss will only know for sure tomorrow morning. Also potentially returning from injury is Bacary Sagna. That said, here’s what I expect, with alternatives: Szczesny (Lehman); Eboue (Sagna) – Koscielny – Djourou (Squillaci) – Clichy; Song (Diaby) – Wilshere – Fabregas; Arshavin – v Persie – Nasri Stats & Odds Here’s some good stats for you: • Liverpool have won only one of their last 10 Premier League games against Arsenal and none of the past seven, though five of those have ended in draws • Robin van Persie has scored 20 goals in his past 21 Premier League starts • Liverpool have lost five of their last six league fixtures in London • There have been more hat-tricks in this fixture than any other in Premier League history One stat that is worrying is that we have taken just eight points from games against the current top six. In seasons past it’s been the case that we’ve done well against the big teams, but shot ourselves in the foot against poorer opposition. We have to reverse that trend tomorrow. Nothing less than a win will do. Nothing less than a win will do. Nothing… sorry, the record got stuck. I’ve got a few Arsenally pennies on a final score of 4-3, at 150/1 with Victor Chandler, but my more sensible prediction is a repeat of my winning bet of last week – 3-1 – this time at 14/1 with William Hill. I also quite liked the look of the Half-Time/.Full-Time result being Liverpool/Arsenal at 25/1 with BlueSq. As for goalscorers, I’ve plumped for v Persie to hit the net first at 19/4 with Victor Chandler. Koscielny is good in the air and regularly gets on the end of corners, so I thought there was some value in his scoring first at 33/1 with Coral. Only 3 points will keep us in touch with ManUre. We have to take them from a resurgent Liverpool, who beat City 3-0. with Carroll getting a brace. Containing him is key tomorrow. COME ON YOU GOONERS! Arsenally Yours, Will

Man Utd 2 Arsenal 0 – Review.

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Mar 132011
 

In my preview I wrote of what impact of a win would have on our confidence, the rest of our season, and the race to the Premiership title. I also wrote that a draw would also give us belief, and that we’d likely beat ManUre at the Grove to progress in the cup.

Well, we lost, going out of the third cup competition in the space of just two weeks. We didn’t collapse at Old Trafford; we didn’t play terribly badly. We had much more possession than United; we had several shots on target. We just didn’t have enough composure in front of goal, and United were able to catch us on the break.

The team looked jaded. In fact, they didn’t look much like a team at all. There didn’t seem to be a lot of mental strength, and the injury to Djourou robbed us of whatever resilience and fighting spirit we had at the start of the game.

Diappointed Wenger at Old Trafford

Not again!

The manager attributed our lack of oomph to the crushing defeat at the Nou Camp:

Subconsciously I feel the disappointment of Tuesday [against Barcelona] played a part in the game. You could see something has gone, not in our effort or attitude, but confidence-wise.
But I don’t feel like the season is slipping away. I believe we can do it. It is a good test for us now to show we can regroup and show the mental strength and togetherness quickly.
We will have to answer this kind of question in the next two or three weeks. We have to show we have an answer.

Whether or not we do find an answer, whether or not we fight for the title, and whether or not this season ends up like the previous five – trophyless and disappointing – depends very much on our back five.

According to the official site
, Djourou will miss the rest of the season after suffering a dislocated shoulder against ManUre. He will be sorely missed. His performances this season have shown that he has come a long way, and has become the defender that we’d previously only seen in glimpses in seasons past. He’s been solid, and formed a great partnership with Koscielny at the back in Vermaelen’s absence.

Speaking of whom, where is he? I’d been given the impression here on the official site that he’d play for the reserves before the end of February. That hasn’t happened.

Even if Cesc and Robin stay fit, they still need support in the form of a good reliable keeper, a strong defence, and good defensive players in the middle of the park. Assuming Song returns, that’s the latter sorted. But if Vermaelen doesn’t return soon, we’ll be relying on the services of Ignasi Miquel. With the greatest respect to him, I don’t know that he’s up to the job at such a tender age, and with so little first team experience.

Although Almunia played well against Barcelona, he flapped when Rooney scored, and I don’t think he has the confidence and backing of either the team or the manager. Our goalkeeping Poles, both threatening to establish themselves with the No. 1 jersey when they got themselves injured, will be missed. Will James Shea stay on the bench till the end of the season? That doesn’t inspire me with confidence.

Wenger now has a chance to really earn his wages. He must motivate a deeply disappointed squad. He must find an emergency keeper. In short, he must inspire his team to fight for what remains of the season.

We were in a good position at the end of last season. We could have won the title, but defeats to Sp*rs and Wigan allowed Chelski to lift the title as we collapsed with a distinct lack of confidence. It may not feel like we’re doing well, but in terms of the most important competition, we certainly are. Wenger must make the players realise how much we can still achieve. Only 3 points separate us from the league leaders, and we have a game in hand.

We can still win something this season. The title, the most important prize of all.

Arsenally still believing,

Will

Newcastle vs Arsenal Preview and Odds

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Feb 052011
 

A mate of mine asked me today what my prediction would be for our game at St James’ Park tomorrow. He suggested that I could expect a romp, a mauling, a stroll in the park; that Newcastle have lost their best player, haven’t replaced him and have a long injury list. He also pointed out that the fat idiot in charge has replaced a successful manager with, well, Alan Pardew.

All valid ponits, and I agree with them all. However, I’m nervous about the game tomorrow. I read today that Arsenal have scored the fewest, and conceded the most goals from set-pieces this season in the Premier League. I had a think about Newcastle’s midfield and names like Nolan, Barton, and Tioté fill me with unease not just for the safety of our players’ tendons, bones, and muscles, but for the nature of the contest. Those are three players you could describe as ‘battling’ midfielders. Without Alex Song, who’s out for this game with a dead leg, I fear that our midfield will become overwhelmed by their strength as we were at the Grove.

Song’s likely replacement is Diaby, though Denilson is certainly a possibility. When we signed the former he was announced as our new Vieira. He hasn;t quite lived up to that billing, and I for one don’t feel that the defensive side of our midfield game is strengthened much when he’s on the pitch. Another thing about Vassiriki Abou Diaby (love the first name!) is that he blows hot and cold. Some days he’s strong in the tackle, accurate with his passing, and makes good driving runs. But other days he’s anonymous. I hope he starts in place of Denilson, but I’ll qualify that by saying that I’d rather an average Denilson performance against a poor game for Diaby. Come on Vassiriki!

I was surprised to see Rosicky start against Everton. I know Nasri’s form would make comparison with any teammate difficult, but for me the little Czech hasn’t had a single game this season – nor a substitute appearance – where you could say that he played well. He’s a great player to have to come on and add a measure of control to midfield passing when we’re ahead, and when he is on form his creative forward passing can be excellent. But he’s hardly on fire at the moment, and I’d rather see him warm the bench, with a midfield three of Wilshere, Fabregas and Diaby.

As I mentioned in my review of the Everton game I was happy to see Arshavin get on the scoresheet. Some say when he has off days that he’s supremely lazy, and doesn’t seem to care. It’s a classic example of the psychological phenomenon called the fundamental attribution error. It’s easy to assign character- and personality-based motives to someone for behaviour that is more likely caused by physical and situational factors. In other words, if he looks lazy and not interested it’s more likely that he’s just having an off day, and just not playing as well as he can, than that he’s actually lazy and not interested. Fickle fans are always quick to slag off a player they perceive as underperforming by labelling him lazy. I don’t think he is, simples as that. He’s now back among the goals, and I hope to see him get another to wipe the idiotic grin off that fat tw*t Ashley.

We’ll have the same back 5 that faced Everton, so I’m expecting:

Szczesny; Clichy – Koscielny – Djourou – Sagna; Wishere – Fabregas – Diaby; Arshavin – v Persie – Walcott.

Odds

In making my predictions and putting my money where my keyboard is, I’m bearing in mind what I said above about the the strength of their midfield, no Alex Song, and their performance at the Grove. It’s reassuring to hear AW say:

They had a fantastic game against us at the Emirates, where they did very well collectively…But they are still a good side, Newcastle. We expect [them] to be up for it against us and so we prepare ourselves to meet a good team.

I should think so too. I just hope that this message is passed on, inwardly digested, and borne out on the pitch by the players, and that we don’t have any complacency drifting into the back of any player’s mind. That would be fatal.

In the face of such pessimism, I’ve plumped for 2-1 at 15/2 with SkyBet. My long shot is the complete opposite of such negativity. When I saw both 7-0 and 7-1 at the very tempting 500/1 with Paddy Power, I couldn’t decide between the two. With the best odds of 6-0 a comparatively measly 175/1 I had to place a few pennies on both those scores, didn’t I!

As for goalscorers, I went for Cesc to score first at 13/2 with Bet365. Never forget he usually takes the pens. Having defended Arshavin in this post, I feel obliged to back him with the odd quid to score first at 7s with Bet365.  If you’re feeling bold then how about Clichy getting his name on the scoresheet first at 66/1 with Coral? Having gone for two polar opposite scoreline wagers, I thought I’d better back that with some spare change. Money down the drain you say? I say “Come on Gaël”.

With ManUre a shoe-in to beat Wolves, let’s hope that Liverpool continue their resurgence, Suarez gets a hat-trick against Chelski and Torres breaks several bones and does both cruciates. But on a more serious note, only 3 points will keep us close on ManUre’s heels. Let’s take ’em from the Toon.

COME ON THE ARSENAL!

Arsenally Yours,

Will