Category Archives: Match Preview

Everton Preview: Team News, Injury Updates And Predicted Lineups

If you told an Arsenal fan in November that a time would come this season when the team would be scraping for a fourth place finish, you would think that person is delusional. As we step into the business end of the season, the Gunners horrendous form in the league that has seen them take 13 points from a possible 30, coupled with Everton’s hot streak has seen the toffees close down on the Gunners for that last coveted Champions League slot.

Everton’s home record this season have been very impregnable with just one loss in all competitions but Everton have not tasted victory against the north London side since March 2007 and they were well-beaten at the Emirates Stadium four weeks ago, with Arsenal winning 4-1 in the FA Cup quarter-finals.

Everton are four points behind Arsenal with a game in hand and, if Arsenal avoid defeat in this game, then they will finish fourth and they can go and concentrate on the FA Cup. Arsenal’s fixture list is ‘less challenging’ than Everton’s and a positive result will spur them on for that FA Cup semi-final encounter against Wigan.

I still think Arsenal will finish fourth because they have better fixtures than Everton, but this will be a hard game for them. They can’t afford to lose it and I think they will get a draw – but Everton will know that this is their chance.

The last three league meetings between the two sides have ended in draws.  Arsenal have not lost to Everton in the league since May 2007 and they are unbeaten in their last six trips to Goodison Park.

Everton are without a win in their last 14 matches in all competitions against Arsenal
Everton have now won five consecutive Premier League games, their longest winning run since November 2002 and Romelu Lukaku has scored four times in his last six games, including Everton’s goal in their 4-1 FA Cup defeat against Arsenal on 8 March.
Arsenal.

Arsenal have only taken 13 points from a possible 33 in their games against the current Premier League top seven this season and the Gunners have only won three of their last 10 Premier League games (W3, D4, L3).

However, the Gunners can take solace in the fact that only Manchester United (30) have earned more points away from home than Arsenal (29) this season.

To injuries, Everton will be without Darron Gibson (knee), Arouna Koné (knee), Bryan Oviedo (broken leg), Lacina Traoré (hamstring), Steven Pienaar (knee), Phil Jagielka (hamstring). Ross Barkley would face a fitness test for his calf injury.

For Arsenal, the regular suspects, Abou Diaby (knee), Theo Walcott (knee), Jack Wilshere (foot), Mesut Özil (hamstring), Laurent Koscielny (calf), Serge Gnabry (knee) are out. Kieran Gibbs (ankle) is a doubt but Nacho Monreal is fit.

enjoy the game wherever you are.

Sayonara.

Swansea Preview: Team News, Injury Updates and Predicted Lineups

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After the debacle at Stamford Bridge, the Gunners have a chance of setting things right against a struggling Swansea side in front of their home fans. The club had set a media lockdown in the wake of their embarrassment in West London but the vice – captain, Mikel Arteta, has come out from his shell to share his thoughts,

“It hurts deeply inside. It’s embarrassing to be on a football pitch in that situation. I promise everyone that we have that hunger to put it right. On Tuesday we have an opportunity again at home and we just need to bounce back.”

Arteta alongside his teammates were piss poor to say the least and watching them get tossed around the pitch was a horrific sight. However, the game against Swansea offers a perfect platform to put that defeat behind them and see if the Gunners can resurrect their dying title challenge. A lot of things can happen in eight games but the Gunners need to win their matches and hope for favors elsewhere.

Wenger had also voiced his opinions on the disaster, labelling it as an ‘accident’,

“An accident has happened, that doesn’t mean that you’re not a good driver. It just means that we have played about 40 games this season and it’s not what happened on Saturday that reflects the quality of this team.”

In Wenger and the team’s defense, there have been a lot of positives this season. The extended contracts of key playing personnel as well as good great performances on the pitch. This is the same side that has a date with destiny when they take on a Wigan Athletic side in the FA Cup semifinal and there’s still a chance that they can go all the way in the Premier League.

The Gunners also appealed to the FA in regard to Andre Marriner’s moment of refereeing madness and the suspension to Kieran Gibbs has been rescinded. However, the Ox might be suspended if the FA decides to transfer the punishment to him. Marriner was tipped to be demoted to the Championship for his horrid performance but I’ve been notified that he’s going to officiate the Newcastle game.

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For the stats lovers, Arsenal have won five of just nine league meetings with Swansea City with three wins in the last three games against Swansea in league and cup. (PL2, FAC1).

Swansea won on their last trip to north London in December 2012, Michu scoring twice in a 2-0 win and there have been eight goals scored in the last 10 minutes of the last five meetings in all competitions between Arsenal and Swansea.

Arsene Wenger’s side have won all three of their games against the top flight’s Welsh clubs in the Premier League so far this season and the Gunners have not conceded a first-half goal in any of their last 11 Premier League matches at the Emirates.

However, the Gunners are in a poor run of form, winning just three of their last eight Premier League games (W3 D2 L3). Swansea on the other hand, have lost seven of 11 league games since the turn of the year (W2 D2).

Their floodgates open easily as well, as Norwich, Cardiff and Fulham have conceded more goals in the Premier League than Swansea this season.

To team news, Laurent Koscielny’s calf injury rules him out of tonight’s encounter, so he’s odds on to be replaced by the club captain, Thomas Vermaelen. I’d also expect to see Mathieu Flamini coming into the heart of the midfield and with Olivier Giroud struggling for form, he might be replaced by Yahaya Sanogo.

Arsenal needs to win this game to restore some confidence ahead of a mightily important clash against Manchester City this weekend.

Let’s hope for a better response tonight.

Sayonara

Tottenham Preview: Team News, Injury Updates and Predicted Lineups

13/14: Arsenal 1-0 Tottemham Hotspur - Olivier Giroud

The Premier League showcased its unpredictability yet again with Aston Villa grabbing maximum points against the table toppers and with Manchester City getting a favorable result against Hull, the onus will be on the Gunners to secure the victory that would be absolutely vital to their title challenge as any result bar a victory would make the Gunners lose further ground on the leading pack.

Both teams didn’t fare too well in Europe with the Gunners earning a creditable draw in Germany but the damage done in the first league was more than enough to send them packing from the Champions League in the Round of 16 for the fourth season in a row. Tottenham on the hand, were gazumped by SL Benfica and it seems very likely that they would be beaten in the home of the Champions League final when both sides clash again.

Arsenal’s form in White Hart Lane is rather disappointing with the Gunners failing to win in their last five encounters (W0 D2 L3) on this ground. Funnily enough, Tottenham has gotten the upper hand in this fixture at home and last season, two quickfire goals from Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon were enough to hand Spurs victory.

However, Tottenham’s last result in the Premier League was a 4-0 trouncing in the hands of Chelsea in a game marred by school boy defending. Jan Vertonghen and Sandro were culpable for horrendous mistakes in the game and the Gunners would be hoping for more of the same, I guess. Tottenham have suffered four defeats in their last six outings in all competitions, will also be aware that the likes of Manchester United and Everton sit within touching distance just below them and harbour ambitions of snatching continental football for next season.

Tottenham are in a poor run of form

For those interested in stats, Tottenham have kept four clean sheets in their last five Premier League games at White Hart Lane. One goal in this game will see it become the joint-highest scoring fixture in Premier League history, level with Liverpool vs Newcastle (126 goals). Emmanuel Adebayor is the highest scorer in the history of North-London derbies with eight for Arsenal and two for that lot down the Lane.

To injuries, there would be doubts of the fitness of Kyle Walker (groin), Moussa Dembele (hamstring) and Emmanuel Adebayor (ankle) but they’d be odds on to face late fitness tests ahead of such a crucial encounter. However, Tottenham will be without the services of Vlad Chiriches, Erik Lamela, Etienne Capoue and most recently, Michael Dawson. At Arsenal, the usual suspects, Abou Diaby (Diabytes), Aaron Ramsey (thigh), Jack Wilshere (foot) and Theo Walcott (knee) will be joined by Mesut Ozil (hamstring).

My expected lineups will be,

Tottenham Hotspur 4-4-2 football formationArsenal 4-2-3-1 football formation

With Kieran Gibbs and Nacho Monreal still having difficulties staying fit, Thomas Vermaelen can be given another chance to deputize in their stead. This would be a fixture the Verm would want to put up a good show because it was after a horrible performance in the North London Derby he lost his place to Laurent Koscielny and the French defender never looked back.

The Ox put up a great shift through the middle against Bayern Munich but I suspect that the manager would opt for the Mikel Arteta – Mathieu Flamini combo to offer more protection to the back line. This ultimately means that Lukas Podolski would miss out as I see the Ox, Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky playing behind Olivier Giroud.

This would be an epic encounter. Enjoy the game wherever you are.

Sayonara.

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Bayern Preview: One of Those European Nights

It’s fair to say that we have seen a different Arsene Wenger this season. While playing his usually breathtaking football with intricate passing and technique at its peak, Wenger has shown a different perspective this season with some games were he goes all out to defend a lead and win ugly – a trait not usually characterised with Arsenal. There was even a game when the Gunners tore a script from the Stoke booklet to score three goals against the Potters through set pieces.

I’ve also been surprised to know that Wenger has learned a lot from his mistakes in the past and he has passed on that mentality to his players. There have been countless seasons when Wenger was faced with the dilemma of a domestic Cup fixture just before a European knockout clash and he’d inexplicably choose to ‘rest’ some his first team lads with half an eye on the European encounter.

The Gunners failed to top what proved to be a tough group and their rewards for that was a double date with arguably the best team in the world. With the Bayern clash around the corner, Wenger picked a strong team in the FA Cup fifth round clash with Liverpool and his team were victorious on the day, giving themselves a measure of revenge for the spanking they had received from the same club a week earlier. They went on to lose to Bayern in a game marred by Mesut Ozil’s missed spot kick and Wojciech Szczesny’s red card.

Last weekend, the Gunners had a classic case of deja vu as they faced another Merseyside opponent in the FA Cup before the daunting second leg against Bayern. Wenger was spot on with his selection, and even better with his substitutions during the game as the Gunners booked a semifinal berth against Wigan at Wembley.

With the FA Cup done and dusted till April at least, Arsene Wenger and his hordes are going to the Allianz Arena to play a Bayern Munich side in a rich vein of form and they are firing on all cylinders in the Bundesliga, creating records on the go. The Gunners have already been written off by journos, pundits and nay sayers. ‘A two nil loss at home against a side like Bayern is a step too far’, they say.

But I love these sort of odds. Nothing to lose and nothing to play for but pride.

Funnily enough, the Gunners were in the same exact situation last season after losing 3-1 at home to ‘almighty’ Bayern. How did they respond? A spirited away performance that saw the German juggernauts resort to time wasting to save their bacons as the Gunners ran the show in Munich. Unfortunately, the 2-0 victory wasn’t enough for qualification but that win was a catalyst in the Gunners surge for a fourth place finish as they went on to claim eight victories in 10 games.

Some people say that ‘lightning can’t strike twice’ but football footballers should look at the underdogs, Wigan Athletic, that beat the overwhelming favorites, Manchester City, in the same competition. I can bet that Zeus sent the same thunderbolt twice.

I’m not taking anything from Bayern – they have been awesome this season and the prospect of playing them sends chills down the spines of the opposition players. But at the end of the day, it still boils down to what happens after 90 minutes.

To team news, Lukasz Fabianski is about to play back to back games for quite some time with Szczesny’s suspension in the first leg. There will be an alteration in the defense after the devastating news that Kieran Gibbs won’t be available for this clash. I don’t want to fathom the prospect of playing Nacho Monreal to face the red-hot Arjen Robben so I’m hopeful that Wenger would deploy the Verminator on that position while Mertesielny continues in the heart of the defense.

In midfield, Mikel Arteta has served his suspension and he will be available for selection alongside the Flanimal. This game would be an interesting one for Mesut Ozil and he would want to kill the ghosts that haunted him against Bayern a fortnight ago. In attack, I expect Santi Cazorla and the Ox to maraud the flanks but the major change would be the return of Olivier Giroud to his rightful place ahead of Yaya Sanogo.

I trust my club and I believe this is gonna be one hell of a game. However, I take solace in the mere fact that my team has performed admirably in some European grounds like San Siro, Santiago Bernabeu, Signal Iduna Park and most recently, the feared Allianz Arena.

Let’s just hope that it would be one of those European Nights.

Sayonara.

Stoke Preview: Team News, Injury Updates and Predicted Lineups

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After my “sabbatical” leave thanks to some activities related to work, I’m back to doing what I love best. I love Arsenal to the extent I write about the club but I also have a job as a Process Engineer in an Oil and Gas compnay and when work calls, a brother has to answer.

In my absence, a lot hasn’t been missed as my club faltered yet again in the hands of Bayern Munich but they responded brilliantly against Sunderland at home. Vito Mannone has been getting all the plaudits for his good goalkeeping displays but Arsenal left no prisoners as they dispatched Sunderland in ruthless fashion.

Today, the Gunners take on a Stoke City side struggling for form in the Premier League and many Arsenal fans will be hopeful that their team grabs all three points to keep up the pressure on Chelsea. Stoke has been on a transition from playing pathetic football under Tony Pulis to actually playing some decent football with Mark Hughes in the helm of affairs. However, they are five points worse off were they where under the Orc and they’re just three points above relegation-threatened Sunderland.

Stoke’s form has been so appalling to the level that they have won just one of their last 10 games in the Premier League, which was a 2-1 win over this season’s surprise underachievers, Manchester United. The once reliable Asmir Begovic has let the floodgates open, conceding 26 goals in his last 14 games.

Stoke City vs. Arsenal Premier League Preview: Cue the Battle of the Britannia

The Gunners have half an eye on Peter Crouch, a player that has scored them on seven occasions. The lanky forwards finest hour against the Gunners came when he donned the Liverpool jersey where he scored a “perfect” hat-trick

The Arsenal has to also be mindful of the fact that Stoke has conceded more fouls (360) and has picked up more cards (58 yellows and three reds) than any other team in the Premier League this season. The Britannia Stadium brings bad memories of Aaron Ramsey’s horrific leg fracture in the hands of Ryan Shawcross and funnily enough, that has been the only time the Gunners defeated Stoke in their home ground. There was the FA Cup exit of 2010, a Jonathan Walters-inspired victory in 2011, the boring 1-1 draw in 2012 and the goalless stalemate at the start of last season.

However, the Gunners can take some pride that they have the second best away record this season (amassed 26 points on their travels) and they also have the best record playing teams in the bottom half of the table with a record of 13 wins from a possible 15. In Mesut Ozil, the Gunners have one of the most creative forces in the top five European leagues as he has created 73 chances this season.

To injuries, Stoke’s January signing, Peter Odemwingie would face a late fitness test ahead of today’s home clash with Arsenal after he sustained a calf problem. Jon Walters has been ill and missed a couple of days of training this week due to illness but is expected to be available, and on-loan Manchester City striker John Guidetti is eligible once again after sitting out last weekend’s defeat at his parent club.

Robert Huth suffered a nasty knee injury in November and has been recuperating from knee surgery, successfully came through 45 minutes of a behind-closed-doors friendly on Tuesday but is not yet ready for a competitive return. On-loan Liverpool winger Oussama Assaidi (knee) remains sidelined.

At Arsenal, Meanwhile, Mesut Özil will return after hip trouble and a two-day rest for Arsenal. With Kieran Gibbs and Nacho Monreal doubtful, Arsene Wenger might be forced to deploy Mathieu Flamini as an auxiliary left back with Bacary Sagna playing alongside Per Mertesacker, if Laurent Koscielny doesn’t recover on time. Thomas Vermaelen has finally decided to be fit but I don’t see the manager rushing him into action.

My predicted lineup would look like this,

Stoke City 4-2-3-1 football formationArsenal 4-2-3-1 football formation

With the Gunners playing Everton in the FA Cup while Chelsea plays in the Premier League next week, victory is paramount.

Enjoy the game wherever you are. It’s good to be back.

Sayonara.

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