Arsenal have won every single game in which Koscielny has not played. When he has played, we’ve won only 41% of games. Compare this to Fabregas – when he’s played we’ve won 61% of games.
When Fabianski has played, we’ve lost 28% of our games. when Szczesny has played, we’ve lost just 18%. The only player with a worse percentage of games lost when played is Diaby, at 19%.
The player with the highest percentage of games won when they’ve played is… Eboue (!?!) with a massive 75%. We’ve won only 45% of our games this season when Sagna has started. Furthermore, we’ve won 80% of the games in which Sagna didn’t feature [but I don’t think he would have given THAT penalty away… ]
Our average points per game is 1.82 this season. With Djourou playing, we’ve got an average of 2.31 points per game; Squillaci playing – 1.79 points per game; Koscielny playing – just 1.59 points per game.
With Djourou NOT playing, we’ve come away with 1.59 points on average; with Squillaci out, 2.00 average points per game; and Koscielny out, 3.00 average points per game.
Looking at the average number of goals per game for and against does not make for better reading for Koscielny – quite the opposite, it’s even worse. Taking the team as a whole, we’ve scored on average 1.82 goals and conceded 1.04 in each game this season. With the Frolish centre-half, we’ve scored marginally fewer at an average of 1.81, but conceded more with an average of 1.22. That might not sound like a lot, but we’re conceding 18% more goals with him on the pitch. It’s without him that the real difference is shown: we’ve scored a whopping 2.57 and conceded just 0.43. That’s a massive difference. It’s almost like the stats breathe a sigh of relief when he’s off the pitch.
There’s a strange mix of good and bad news before this West Brom game. Some bookies have us favourites to lift the title, with ManUre preoccupied in other competitions. We have a better run in to the end of the season than that Northern lot. We have a game in hand, albeit against Sp*rs.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that we’ll miss two defenders and two goalkeepers until the end of the season. Szczesny may return right at the end, but it’s unlikely. Djourou is out till September, despite the best attempts of the Swiss FA to defy reason.
The really bad bit of all that really bad news is that Thomas Vermaelen will not feature for us until next season. And even that, by the sound of it, is not certain at all:
I relapsed six times. Every time I had a goal to come back, but that was then broken again and again. At first they said I would need four or six weeks after the operation. But it soon became apparent that it would last longer.
I feel no trouble in the Achilles tendon itself, but the muscles around it still need to be made stronger. I do not know when I will be back.
That’s bad news. Really bad news. He suffers from the same problem that Owen Hargreaves has. Need I say more? There’s a real possibility that he will not play for us again in any meaningful way.
That terrible news is made even worse by the fact that the player who has stepped into the breach, showed his qualities and begun to perform at the level we all hoped for, Johann Djourou, is also out for the season with a dislocated shoulder. Our season now rests squarely on Squillaci’s shoulders. And that does not fill me with confidence.
But before we can even consider thinking about the end of the season and titles, there are some baby steps to take in the form of West Brom away. Baby steps? Hardly. I respect Roy Hodgson hugely, and I reckon we’ll be in for a tough afternoon at the Hawthorns. Apart from the back five, we’ll be without Song, Fabregas, and Walcott.
Regular readers will know that I’m not a big fan of Rosicky, certainly not this season anyway. We’ll need him to put in a big performance alongside Diaby and Wilshere in midfield. Up front we have Bendtner back – err… hooray? – but much more importantly, v Persie will be leading the line. I expect:
As long as Diaby and Rosicky have fair-to-middling games, then the combination of our front three and Wilshere should ensure that we create and convert chances. We must prevail. Our season depends on it.
The emergency goal-keeper signing was a bit of a surprise. At 41, no one can say that Lehmann doesn’t have experience. I can only speculate about how the dressing room will be affected by his relationship with Almunia, which we all know was about as sour as it can get in football.
The German is a complete nutter, but in his prime, a great keeper. He’d make sure that the opposition strikeres knew he was there, all right, usually by standing on the toes, if not, with the occasional karate kick.
I hope he turns out to be a positive influence on the squad. They could learn a thing or two about getting underneath an opponent’s skin. To celebrate his return, here’s a video of his finest moments:
The bookies seem to think that we’ll recover our form and beat the Baggies, with us at 17/20 and them at 4/1 for the win. I’m aware that I’m well down for the season, and so I’ve plumped for 2-0 to the Arsenal at 9/1 with Unibet. BoyleSport had 4-3 to us at 150/1 so that got a few pennies.
As for goalscorers, v Persie to hit the net first at 4/1 with Coral was too good to miss, as was Squillaci to get one anytime at 14/1 with Bet365.
Tomorrow, ManUre are at home but without several key players against Bolton. I’ll have my fingers crossed that Owen Coyle does us a favour.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that this game defines our season. If we play to our potential, then we should walk it, and send a message out to United that we’ll be chasing them all the way. We need confidence, and we need it now. A good win, even a scrappy win on the back of a good performance, and we’re in with a chance at the only title that matters.
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.
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.