Arsenal v Crystal Palace – Predicted Line-up

The distraction of the transfer window is over and whilst many people will be disappointed we didn’t bring in a striker or Julian Draxler, we just have to get on with it and support the players we have for the rest of the season.

One player we did bring in is Kim Källström. It was a bit out of the blue, the boss mentioned in his early morning press conference that he wanted to bring in a midfielder and about 10 hours later he had signed. None of the media or the “ITKs” knew about it until it was almost done. The deal is somewhat of a strange one, Källström is an experienced player by all accounts but he hasn’t played since November. He currently has an injury which raises the question why he was brought in if he cannot contribute straight away whilst we are short in midfield. Anyway I’m sure we’ll hear more from the boss on the deal tonight.

In other team news, Mathieu Flamini begins his three game suspension, Jack Wilshere remains out while Tomas Rosicky is back in the squad. Gedion Zelalem should replace Carl Jenkinson on the bench after only playing 45 minutes for the U21s the other night.

The team I expect to see is as follows;
Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Arteta, Rosicky, Cazorla, Özil, Podolski, Giroud

Gibbs is likely to regain his place after Monreal’s below-par performance last week. It’s great we have two players of such high quality in the same position that can get the best out of each other and can fit in seamlessly.

Either Oxlade-Chamberlain or Rosicky will start alongside Arteta, I believe it will be the latter. The Czech has been in terrific form this season and his turn of pace is much needed in the team after missing midweek through illness. If Rosicky starts I don’t see ‘The Ox’ being risked as he’s our only other midfielder fit.

Podolski deserves a start and the only way I can see that happening is if Cazorla or Özil shift out to the right and Podolski plays on the left wing. Gnabry’s youthfulness has been refreshing of late but he has played a lot in the last few weeks and perhaps will be rested today.

When we met Crystal palace earlier this season we found it very difficult. Now with Tony Pulis in charge, we know it is likely to be even more difficult. They’re likely to play 4-4-2 which will mean we will dominate possession but I think it could be a frustrating day at the office where an odd goal will win it. A win for us today is essential with Manchester City hosting Chelsea tomorrow night. Victoria Concordia Crescit. 

Arsenal target on his way to London

Paul-Georges Ntep who has been linked with Arsenal this week is on his way to London. The 21 year old Frenchmen predominantly plays on the left wing for Auxerre but can also play upfront. He announced this evening on his official Instagram account that he is on his way to London on the Eurostar. The player has also been linked with Newcastle and Gladbach this window.

Arsene Wenger when asked about Ntep previously on French TV program Telefoot, said “Paul Georges Ntep has the potential to have a great future. Whether he will or not all depends on his mind”

 

photo

 

A former teammate of Yaya Sanogo, Ntep has scored 4 goals in 8 league games this year. Below is a video of Ntep in action.

Arsenal v Southampton – Projected Line-up

The Inter-lull is over and The Arsenal are back. Although Tuesday night’s International football did provide some entertainment, club football is a different kettle of fish.

We welcome a strong Southampton team to the Emirates today, who find themselves third in the league. A win for them and if Liverpool fail to win, will see Southampton top the table. From Arsenal’s point if view, after defeat at Old Trafford last time out its important to bounce back with a win today.

In terms of the team news, Theo Walcott is in the squad, fit again after a lengthy enough lay-off. The players who were struggling with the flu seem to all be recovered and Aaron Ramsey has shaken off a knock picked up on International duty. Mathieu Flamini  will miss the game due to suspension.

I’m actually quite pleased Flamini will miss out today, not because I don’t rate him in the team but because it forces the boss to name a more attacking line-up. We played 2 holding midfielders against United and while it restricted their number of shots, we failed to produce many opportunities. Playing 2 holding midfielder is a good option away from home but when we play at home we should bring the game to the opposition.

Theo returning is a huge boost, not only does he score goals and provide assists but he stretches opponent’s defences and creates space for our other midfielders. A starting position might be out of the question as he is eased back into first team football so Serge Gnabry, who was rested for the U21s midweek could start on the right.

Projected line-up: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Arteta, Ramsey, Gnabry, Özil, Cazorla, Giroud.

The only real decision to make, assuming Walcott starts on the bench is whether to start Wilshere or Gnabry. Jack looks to have his sharpness back and I think we’ll see him back to his best coming up to Christmas. His link up play with Özil and Cazorla is a joy to watch but Gnabry offers a different option. Like Walcott he will run in behind the defence, and also take on players and put in crosses.

This Southampton team will be hard to break down, amazingly they’ve only conceded 5 goals in their first 11 league games this season. We’ll need to be at our best to beat them and after the International break that can be tricky. Luckily for us some of our players were rested in midweek so hopefully they will be sharp today. We are top of the league, so let’s keep it that way.

West Brom v Arsenal – Projected line-up

Hello all, I haven’t posted for a long time, I’ve just moved house and I’m settling back into college life. Since I’ve last written, we have won every game and now find ourselves in second place in the league with a game in hand on Liverpool. A win today would see us regain the top spot.

 

We played West Brom away in the Cup a couple of weeks ago and needed penalties to progress but both teams today will be very different to the teams that started in the Capital One Cup.

 

West Brom beat Manchester United at Old Trafford last week so will be full of confidence. They had they week off while we had to play a Champions League game in midweek. The first half performance against Napoli was as good as I’ve seen us play in a few years. Prior to the game, looking at our line-up I was skeptical about our lack of width. A couple of minutes in, any worries I had were dissolved, our midfield interchanged passes and positions with such fluidity that Napoli couldn’t get near us.

 

In terms of team news, we’ve lost Sagna from the Napoli game and nobody else will rejoin the squad until after the International break. Jenkinson will replace Sagna at right back and I think the only other change we’ll see to the starting 11 is Wilshere replacing Rosicky.

Projected Line-up: Szczesny, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Arteta, Flamini, Ramsey, Ozil, Wilshere, Giroud. 

This is the sort of game that is a must win if we wish to challenge for the league this season. Our next two league games after this are against Crystal Palace and Norwich so 9 points from these games would put us in a very strong position before we meet Liverpool and Manchester United.

 

If we can replicate our Napoli performance I have no doubt we’ll win today but West Brom will not allow us the space Napoli afforded us in midweek. Hopefully our good run will continue. Come On You Gunners!

 

Fulham v Arsenal – Projected Lineup

Good morning everyone, the early kick off today means we’re doing an early team prediction. We travel to Craven Cottage today to face a decent Fulham side.

From the game in midweek we’ve lost Laurent Koscielny to a head injury, he’s suspended for this game anyway. There were whispers that we might sign Mathieu Flamini in time to face Fulham but that appears not to be the case.

I think we’ll line up as follows;

Szczesny, Jenkinson, Sagna, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Ramsey, Wilshere, Rosicky, Walcott, Cazorla, Giroud.

Nacho Monreal should again be on the bench as he continues his rehabilitation. He’ll most likely be joined by either Hector Bellerin or Isaac Hayden to provide defensive reinforcement on the sidelines.

Playing Jack Wilshere for the third time in a week is risky stuff but we have little alternative in the centre of the pitch. I’m sure he’ll be rested in midweek when we play the return Champions League leg, so it’s very likely he’ll start again.

Cazorla was much improved against Fenerbahce, and with an uncertainty over Lukas Podolski’s future you’d expect the Spaniard to keep his place on the left hand side.

Fulham began their league season with an away win over Sunderland, while we all know what happened in our first game. A win is essential today, the north London Derby is next week and we don’t want to be heading into the match 6 points behind ‘those lot down the road.’ I’ve been confident heading into our two matches so far this week, and I’m confident again today that we have enough quality to beat Fulham. Only time will tell.

Fenerbahce v Arsenal- Projected Lineup

A huge match awaits us tonight and after the calamity of Saturdays match there is even more pressure on Arsene Wenger and his team to get a positive result tonight.

Since the loss to Villa we’ve lost Alex Oxlade Chamberlain to injury, there were some doubts about some others but they have all made the trip to Turkey. Nacho Monreal also returns to the squad after missing pre season due to injury.

The line up should be pretty similar to Saturday I think we’ll start with the following;

Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs/ Ramsey, Wilshere, Rosicky/ Walcott, Podolski/ Giroud.

We have very little options at the back and whilst Sagna is a doubt I think he starts ahead of Jenkinson if fit. Wilshere and Ramsey is a work in progress partnership in midfield but we’ll  have to go with it again because Frimpong is the only other option there. At the moment Cazorla doesn’t look match fit and with Podolski playing all of one minute at the weekend, he should start on the left.

The game gives us a good chance to bounce back straight away and the team will be eager to do that. I have a feeling some of our transfer deals are determined on whether we qualify for the Champions League so I don’t want to think of the consequences if we fail to beat Fenerbahce over the two legs. I can’t help but feel confident about the match but it’s never easy with Arsenal! Hopefully our season gets a kick start tonight. Victoria Concordia Crescit.

Arsenal v Aston Villa – Prjojected Lineup

        The first game of the season is finally here with Aston Villa coming to the Emirates today. I’m writing this on Friday evening as I will be working all day today and will miss the match so apologies if there is any last minute team news I have missed out on.

Last season Villa struggled for large periods, eventually finishing 5 points above the relegation places. I think they’ll do a lot better this year, they have a very young squad, they’ve managed to keep hold of Benteke and unlike Arsenal they’ve actually bought players this summer!

As far as the team news goes for today; Vermaelan, Diaby, Monreal, Arteta and Ryo miss out through injury. This leaves us light in the defensive midfield area and especially in defence. As a result we are likely to see the likes of Gedion Zelalem, Serge Gnabry, Isaac Hayden and Emmanuel Frimpong on the bench.
The team I’d expect to see is;

Arsenal v Aston Villa Aug 2013

At the moment our back four picks itself and you would expect Szczesny to get the nod in goal. Ramsey is most likely to start in the ‘Arteta’ role and with Wilshere playing 45 minutes for England in midweek, I think the Ox might start beside Ramsey.
Tomas Rosicky didn’t play against Manchester City last weekend nor did he play midweek so he should be fresh and ready to start. Cazorla traveled to Ecuador and played with Spain on Wednesday so he may be rested in favor of Lukas Podolski on the left hand side. Meanwhile Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud are fit and pretty much automatic starters at this stage.

Looking at that potential starting 11 we look very strong, it’s the bench that looks a bit weak but we can only bring on three subs so if Wilshere, Podolski and Zelalem were to come on the 11 wouldn’t be much weaker.

The game gives us a good chance for three points, pre season has gone pretty well bar the Emirates Cup and we look in good shape. I know us fans are frustrated about the lack of additions to the squad but tomorrow at the Emirates is not the time and place to voice our concerns, it’s the time to get behind the team and the players on the pitch. Here’s to 3 points! Victoria Concordia Crescit.

The Revival of Ramsey

On the 27th of February 2010, Aaron Ramsey should have been celebrating a hard-fought victory over Stoke with the rest of his team. Instead, whilst his teammates expressed their joy and relief after scoring 2 injury time goals, Aaron Ramsey was on his way to hospital with a broken leg.

Unfortunately broken legs have not been an uncommon thing at Arsenal in the last 7 years. Both Abou Diaby and Eduardo have been on the wrong side of leg breaking challenges in their time at the club. In their cases, since their respective injuries, their careers have gone downhill. Diaby has been plagued with injuries and Eduardo has never reached the goal scoring ratio he had prior to his double leg fracture.

Thankfully Aaron Ramsey’s situation is different. He, like Diaby
suffered his leg break at the age of 19. Three years on, the Welshman is showing no ill effects, after making 91 appearances for the club over the last 2 seasons, he is now becoming the player he once promised to be and is now considered one of the first names on the team sheet.

However it hasn’t been an easy journey for the player nicknamed ‘Rambo’.  Around this time last year, I wrote the following;

“Aaron Ramsey has had a mixed season to say the least making his most appearances in a season with 44 in all competitions. The injuries to Wilshere and Diaby meant that Ramsey played more games than Wenger had planned. And from the turn of the year it was apparent that Ramsey could not sustain the level needed to play central midfield twice or even three times a week. Myself along with many others called for him to be replaced by Rosicky and that payed dividends in the run in. Rosicky’s tempo along with work rate helped turn our season around. When Ramsey was playing in that advanced midfield role he didn’t have the tempo of passing needed to hurt the opposition.

However further injuries to Arteta and Coquelin meant Ramsey was needed to play back in a more withdrawn role alongside Alex Song. Low in confidence he misplaced many passes but it wasn’t for this reason that he drew my criticism. It was what he did when he lost the ball that angered me, failing to track back and letting his head drop hurt us on a number of occasions. There’s talk of a loan move to Fulham on the cards, I don’t know if there’s much truth to that but I’d rather he stay at the club this season. We can’t possibly have the same bad luck with injuries this year which will allow Ramsey to play more in rotation. Hopefully if he increases his work rate and gains back a bit of that confidence, we’ll soon see that player that is an international captain.”

Reading back on this now, this couldn’t sound any more different to the Aaron Ramsey we have in our first team today. Lack of effort is certainly not something he can be criticised for now. His work rate in the central midfield role is nothing short of top class. Even during pre season he showed his desire to give everything for the team, running from box to box with a determination to make things happen.

 

There are three things that I attribute to Rambo’s change in fortune; fitness, positioning and confidence. Two of these are down to him, the other is down to the manager, who, at the start of last season used Ramsey on the wings at times. Although at the time I was unsure of deploying a central midfielder on the wing, the benefits are there for all to see today. When you play in a different position it helps you understand the game more, you discover the space that is available and the passes needed to exploit that space. The Ramsey diagonal ball from the middle of the pitch to the wing is something we are now accustomed to seeing a couple of times a game.

At 22 years old, Aaron Ramsey has the best part of his career ahead of him. Comparing him with 24 year old Tom Cleverly, Ramsey has appeared in 59 more first team games. When you add the additional 19 international caps the Welshman has over Cleverly, you can see the experience he brings to the team at just 22 years of age. All Ramsey is missing from his game now is that decisiveness in the final third. If pre-season is anything to go by, the goals and assists will flow for Rambo this season.

With Jack Wilshere returning to fitness and the possibility of Arsene Wenger adding two new midfielders to his squad, there is plenty of competition for places. One thing is for sure, Aaron Ramsey won’t give up his position without a fight. Form is Temporary. Class is Permanent.

Arsenal v Manchester City- Projected Line-up

Hello all, we complete our pre season preparations with a game against Premier League rivals Manchester City in Helsinki today.

It’s our final game before we take on Aston Villa and the boss has a chance to asses where we are in terms of fitness against a top quality opposition.

In terms of team news, Isaac Hayden, Hector Bellerin, Gedion Zelalem and trialist Remy Bensebaini all trained with the first team yesterday.

Zelalem and Hayden have traveled to Finland whilst it remains unclear if the other two players have made the trip. Tomas Rosicky has stayed at home due to injury but should be available next weekend. One man that was on the plane is Colombian trialist Sebastian Perez. He is a defensive midfielder, highly rated by some, so it will be interesting to see what involvement he has today.

Arsene Wenger hinted in his presser yesterday that the starting team today should be close to the one that will start the premier league season in a weeks time. For that reason I think our starting line-up today will be;

Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Arteta, Ramsey, Cazorla, Walcott, Chamberlain, Giroud.

With the exception of Rosicky for Chamberlain, I think this is our strongest starting line-up. The game is a welcome distraction from all the transfer madness so hopefully we can watch our team produce a good performance today.

I know the lack of transfer activity is a big problem, but people who want us to lose today just so we’ll be forced to bring in reinforcements soon are truly naive. The only thing a loss will do today is, be a blow to the teams confidence. The manager knows where he needs to invest and I don’t think the result today will change that.

The game will not be televised live in the UK but it is on Setanta Ireland and various other foreign stations if you are looking for a stream. That’s all for now, lets show City we mean business this season! Victoria Concordia Crescit.

Sunday Summary, transfer update.

Good afternoon from an unusually sunny Ireland. Yesterday was the first day of action from the Emirates Cup, which saw Galatasaray take on Porto whilst we hosted Napoli in the later game.

Although we were losing 2-0 at halftime we fought back in the second half to force a draw. Both the goals we conceded came from individual errors, which in pre-season is only to be expected. Our goals came via the on form Giroud, (deflected off Sagna’s back but you can’t take that away from him!) and the excellent Koscielny.

Regular readers will know I’ve always been a huge fan of ‘Lolo’ but every time I see him, he just impresses me more. Yesterday he produced an absolute beast of a performance which was topped of with an equalising goal. At the moment, I honestly don’t think there’s a better central defender in the Premier League.

In other news, it looks as if Gervinho’s time at the club is coming to an end very shortly. All reports suggest that he should complete a move to AS Roma this weekend. I think it’s unfortunate it never really worked out for him here. He’s a player with fantastic ability but poor confidence levels meant he never really achieved his potential here. Best of luck to him in the future, I think £8m is a good price for all involved.

In terms of incoming transfers, The Sun claim we have agreed a deal for 19 year old centre back Matthias Ginter. There seems to be some substance in our interest in the player but whether a deal has been agreed remains to be seen.

We get another chance to see the Arsenal today, this time against Emmanuel Eboue’s Galatasaray. We’re likely to see Szczesny and Cazorla start whilst it’s our first chance to see Yaya Sanogo upfront. I’m also looking froward to seeing how Gedion Zelalem deals with playing against a better quality of opposition. That’s all for now, you never know we could have a trophy by the end of the day! Victoria Concordia Crescit.