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

Arsenal 1 Villa 2 Review

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May 162011
 

I’ve just watched the Villa highlights again, and it’s hard to know exactly where to start. Vermaelen’s studs. That’s a place to start. Our players and staff are paid a fortune to be the best, and when you’re a player coming back from a long term injury, you shouldn’t be slipping and sliding around, risking another year out with a nasty injury. Unbelievable. Apart from that, it was fantastic to see him back after such a long time, and it was interesting to see that he set his partner in defence in deep contrast.

Speaking of which. Squillaci. I’ve rarely seen a worse performance. He looked like a fish out of water on a bicycle. For the Sun, that bastion of reliable comment, to give him 0/10 really is quite an indictment on what was a very poor performance. I expect to put in a much better shift  next time around, should he feature against Fulham.

Actually, I have seen a worse performance than Squillaci vs Villa. Firstly the entire Arsenal team (except v Persie) against Stoke. And secondly, Mike Oliver, the FA’s new ref, who managed to miss Ramsey’s blatant, obvious penalty from about one-and-a-half yards away, and contrived to give penalise Chamakh for scoring a goal. Unbelievable. If that’s the FA showing us a young ref with a promising future, gawd help us all.

It’s all quite preposterous and one thing is clear to me. Major surgery is needed on the rotten, gangrenous, pustule-filled wound that is the current Arsenal squad. There will be no Fabregas next year. We must replace him with a proper centre half, and a decent striker.

It’s far, far too early to be talking names, but watching the ‘Ammers go down, one can’t help but think that we could do with a certain Matthew Upson, once the promised Tony Adams reborn of Arsenal of yore. I wouldn’t mind Scott Parker either. Demba Ba would be better than Bendtmakh, or whatever useless combination of frontmen those two have transformed into.

As you can tell, dear readers, I’ve had a weeny little bit too much to drink, and proper comment should not be made at such emotional moments. Suffice it to say that I will always love the Arsenal, even if we finish fourth. Against Fulham it’s time for those who wish to have an Arsenal future show that they can play not just for medals, not just for fame, not just for money, but for pride and love of club as well.

Yours emotionarsenally,
Will

West Brom v Arsenal Preview & Odds.

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Mar 182011
 

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:

Almunia; Clichy – Koscielny – Squillaci – Sagna; Diaby – Wilshere – Rosicky; Arshavin – v Persie – Nasri.

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:

Odds
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.

Arsenally yours,

Will