Newcastle vs Arsenal – Preview, Teams, and Odds

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Aug 132011
 

Yaaawwwn! I’m still a bit sleepy from my off-season-long coma, but I was rudely awoken from my slumber with the news that we have signed yet another pacey winger/striker. No, really. Yes, we have. No, I’m afraid he can’t play centre-back.

The player in question is Joel Campbell, a 19-year-old Costa Rican who has played well for his country, but who has not played for a club outside his native land. Hmm. But still, any signing should be applauded and welcomed, and I have genuinely heard good things about this lad. I do envisage a lengthy period of acclimatisation while he gets used to the Premier League pace and occasional brutality, but I’ve seen a few clips on YouTube and I’m looking forward to seeing him play.

Speaking of brutality, we may well line up against that criminal nutcase whose tweets have revealed him to be, well, a nutcase. Completely bonkers. But let’s not forget the nasty side of Barton’s game, which resulted in Diaby completely losing it in the 4-4 disaster earlier this year. I hope he doesn’t feature.

According to the official site, Vermaelen is fit (woo!) and so is RvP (double woo!). These two players will be absolutely crucial to our season, and every game I will say a little prayer that they finish the 90 minutes with all of their limbs intact.

Interesting to see the list of shirt numbers on the official site. Those two midfielders who will not be named were on there, which strikes me as complete denial. The slightly more interesting bit is that Szczesny has the number 13 shirt, and Alex OC has the number 15. Gervinho, somewhat strangely, is way down with 27. I know little should be read into these numbers, but you could reasonably assume that Szczesny will be ahead of Fabianksi, and that Alex OC may pay more of a part this season than I for one expected him to.

Wilshere’s ankle injury sounds extremely worrying. He’s been “put in a boot. He has an inflamed ankle and it is difficult to set any specific date on his return, but we hope he will be back soon,” according to the official site. I know he’s quite small, but that’s still got to be a pretty massive boot. Well anyway, I hope he get’s better soon, because without the two who shall not be named and young Jack, we’re somewhat short in the creative department.

Team Line-up

So I expect something like:

Szczesny; Gibbs – Koscielny – Vermaelen – Sagna; Song – Ramsey – Rosicky; Arshavin/Walcott – v Persie – Gervinho

I’m very curious as to who we’ll see on the bench, as it may give us an indication of how much we’ll see the likes of Alex OC this season.

Odds

Having made some significant wins but an overall loss last season, I’m going to be quite choosy about my bets. For first goalscorer, it’s got to be Gervinho on his debut at 6/1 with BlueSq. 2-0 to us looks good with William Hill at 10-1. My long shot of the day has to be a v Persie hat-trick at 25/1 with William Hill, and a few pennies have gone on Vermaelen to mark his comeback with a goal anytime, 8/1 with Coral.

We’re all disappointed about Cesc and Nasri, and more so that we haven’t signed a good replacement for either or a decent centre-half. But tomorrow there’s a team out there that need our support.

Come on you Gooooooooners!

Arsenally Yours,

Will

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

Arsenal 2 Everton 1 / Offside rule review

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Feb 032011
 

Apologies for the tardiness of this post, I wasn’t murdered in my sleep but cut down in my prime by a poorly set  up internet connection. There is much to discuss, and sadly little is about the football itself, but rather referees, rules, and reactions.

The game was an exciting one for a number of reasons. There was the fact that Everton seemed to have the opinion that if they attempted to break legs then that might interfere with our free-flowing football. But, and I’m very happy to report this, we stood up to them, and gave as good as we got.

It was after about 25 mins that the game became truly exciting, thanks to Mr Lee Mason. Here’s the “goal”:


Well, it’s just offside isn’t it? I’m certainly no expert, and I’ll leave it to others to discuss the finer points of the offside rule, but there is no argument to the facts that:
a) when the ball was played through to Saha he was in an offside position.
b) Djourou touch was not a pass back to the goal keeper.

In the light of those two points, it seems fairly clear to me that the “goal” and Mason and his henchmen’s “decision” was a farce.

Now, what interests me more are two points. Firstly, Cesc’s reaction, and secondly, the team’s reaction.

For the first point, and we are only having this discussion because David Moyes brought it up, Cesc asked the fourth official / referee / linesman (depending on who you read) how much he’d been paid to make the decision. I understand it was the heat of the moment. I would rather that his passion ran hot rather than cold. But if true, it’s really not good for our club captain to say such things. I may be approaching “old fart” territory here, but I was always taught that the referee’s decision is always right. It might not be correct, but it’s always right. And last week Cesc tried to get the Huddersfield player sent off. He defends his alleged comments on the official site here. As AW points out, if he was guilty of such an offence then he’d have been charged. The fact still remains that he represents the club on the pitch, and haranguing the referee is not what the Arsenal is about.

Don’t get me wrong, I agree with Cesc, in that both decisions were ridiculously bad. But it is up to the manager to raise these issues with the FA, and no player, especially the club captain, should be saying such things to the referee. We need to direct our feelings of injustice towards the ref or the opposition into playing well, playing hard, and scoring goals.

Which is, thank God, what happened anyway, bringing me on to my second point of the team’s reaction. Which was positive, and encouraging. Arshavin came on for the anonymous Rosicky and volleyed coolly past the Toffees’ keeper. Great finish, especially when you consider the pressure that he’s under after such a barren spell. One thing that interested my, though, was how the team celebrated the goal. It’s alwas interesting, as you can see who’s mates with who, and who doesn’t get on with other players. It seems to me that he’s a bit isolated. I could be reading too much into this, but if you compare the team’s reaction to Arshavin’s goal with the goal that Koscielny scored, you’ll see that the former is far more muted than the latter. Hmm.

It has to be said that our second was only down to poor defending by Everton. Not picking up the opposition’s centre-half is just a schoolboy error, and they paid dearly for it. After Koscielny’s goal went in, the fight went out of Everton, and we saw out the rest of the game with ease. We may not be so lucky on other occasions.

Speaking of luck, our older Polish keeper hasn’t got any, as he’ll miss the rest of the season after having shoulder surgery in Germany. I wish him well, and hope he returns full of confidence, and ready to challenge Szczesny for the number one shirt. It’ll be interesting to see who starts the next game between the sticks. With Fabianski injured, Almunia’s assumed move away couldn’t happen, and now we have a young keeper vying for the first team spot with an older, more experienced Spaniard who wanted to leave by all accounts. Watch this space.

So we face Newcastle on Saturday. Bring ’em on. This team is building up a head of steam, and long may that continue. Injuries aside – and we did miss Nasri – we’re on a good run, and if we can keep it up then who knows where we’ll end up. One thing’s for sure though, we need ManUre to drop a few points, and Rooney’s return to goal-scoring form worries me. Taking 3 points from St James’ Park will relieve my concern – it’ll be a test of strength and will in front of a cauldron of some of football’s most passionate fans. Preview to follow tomorrow.

Arsenally Yours,

Will