Filed: Friday, 29th October 2010
By: Preview Percy
Preview Percy has only just got home from Wednesday night's extra-time win over Stoke. Unfortunately, he had his laptop with him so here's his look at this weekend's visit to Arsenal....
Next up it's a visit to the new library for a 3.00pm kick-off at Arsenal in a match that isn't being moved for TV for anyone, which means that some of us will get home on the same day as the match for a change.
Our hosts currently lie in second place at the head (on goal difference) of the three team group on 17 points, the other two teams being the Manchesters. The trio are five points behind league leaders Chelsea. Their last six games in the league have seen them win three (4-1 at home to Bolton, 2-1 at home to Birmingham and 3-0 at Man City) drawn one (1-1 at Sunderland) and lost two (3-2 at home to WBA and 2-0 away to Chelsea). Their most recent run out saw them beat Newcastle 4-0 at SJP on Wednesday night in the League Cup.
They are, of course, managed by Arsene Wenger who, famously, has a bizarre medical condition affecting his eyesight. He is able to spot the slightest infringement on one of his players from the other side of the world whilst looking the other way whilst having major difficulty in spotting any offences committed by his own little angels, even when they happen right under his nose. One of the funniest things seen on tv in recent weeks was the sight of him having to admit that Jack Wilshere's tackle on Zigic in the Brirmingham match might just have been, possibly, a foul. Of course he reverted to type when the subject of Chamakh's dive in the same match was brought up. Chamakh didn't dive apparently. Wenger's thoughts on Eboue's scissor tackle on Ridgewell in that match are not recorded but Eboue himself brushed off criticism by claiming that he “wasn't trying to kill” his opponent. Well that's all right then.
There has been much debate about the goalkeeping position at the Emirates in recent months. Fabianski has started the last three league matches with Almunia having opened the season between the posts before injuring his elbow. Neither seem to have overly impressed the home support, a view possibly echoed by the management if Wenger's efforts to sign a replacement during the last window were anything to go by. Fulham's Schwarzer was rumoured to be close to moving across town until the Cottagers' own injury problems put paid to that one - any move would have come too late for them to have signed a replacement.
Elsewhere in the window there were more outs than ins. The most notable signings were the aforementioned Chamakh, defender Sebastien Squillaci, who came in for an “undisclosed” fee, defender Koscielny who came in from Lorient for £10m (that'll please monsieur Barry Hearn) and Kyle Ebecilio who came in for a few bob in compensation to his former child slave labourers at Feyenoord. Arsenal apparently pipped Chelsea for the 16 year-old's signature. And Dave Whelan as well probably. We ourselves were linked with Chamakh for a long while during the summer but I was never confident of signing a player from a French club with Arsenal sniffing around. Call me suspicious but I have memories of the very dodgy dealings that went on when they signed Adebayor a while back so when Wenger was also linked with the Bordeaux striker you kind knew that one way or another he wouldn't be coming to the Boleyn.
On the injury front, promising full back Kieran Gibbs picked up a knee injury on Tyneside the other night and will be out for a few weeks. The ever unsteady Van Persie is going to be out for a few more weeks as he recovers from an ankle problem. Defender Thomas Vermaelen, who proved capable of chipping in with useful goals from time to time last season, is also a few weeks short of fitness in recovery from an achilles problem.
They tend to line up in a sort of 4-2-3-1 formation. This usually involves Song and Wilshere or Denilson sitting in the two in front of the back four. Nasri, Fabregas and Arshavin started as the three behind Chamakh against Man City, though Walcott and Rosicky are other options in that part of the pitch – indeed both were amongst the subs that got on at Eastlands where they had the benefit of playing the vast majority of the match against ten men. Bendtner was a late sub for Chamakh at Man City and started the League Cup match at Newcastle. He picked up a goal and a rather controversial assist in the match, his part in Walcott's first consisting of a rather obvious grid-iron style block on a covering defender. Well obvious to all but the referee, but as we ourselves have seen Mr Marriner isn't exactly the sharpest tool in the already blunt selection of items contained in the refereeing toolbox. Wenger probably didn't see it either.
Ok what of us. Well last week was disappointing in the extreme given the unbeaten run we were in. The bright start was followed by a spell of putting our feet up and watching the world go by – with predictable consequences. The form of messrs Obinna and O'Noble when they came on in midweek was heartening though. We should have some players back from injury this week. Upson and Piquionne both missed the Stoke match as a precaution. My spies suggest that Upson may not make this one, in which case expect Gabbidon to partner Da Costa with Ben Haim continuing on the left. Jacobsen will alto return from wherever it is players go when they are cup-tied.
I have a feeling that Mr Grant will tinker with the formation again for this one. Against Man Utd he tried something that looked like a 4-1-4-1 with Parker sitting in front of the back four and Cole as the lone ranger up front. If he goes for something similar again I'd expect Behrami to come in alongside Noble with, the choice of wide players coming from the pool containing Obinna, Boa Morte and (who knows) Dyer. I'd prefer Piquionne to play as the lone striker if that is the way it is going to be. There again we may all be surprised and he might revert to the standard 4-4-2 that seemed to be working ok before the Newcastle match.
This is going to be a toughy. The opposition are averaging three per game and our defence isn't the first back four you'd pick to dent that average at the moment. Stoke apart, we haven't exactly been prolific in converting chances up front either and I suspect that chances are likely to be at a premium. As optimistic as I like to be with these things the best I can see is a defeat – especially if we sit back and invite them on to us as we did against the Geordies. I'll plump for a 2-0 reverse that will, unfortunately, see us stuck on the bottom for at least one more week.
Enjoy the game!
Last season: Lost 0-2 Denilson's opener included a clear handball. We should have equalised just before the interval when Vermaelen was sent off for bringing down Franco. Almunia saved Diamanti's penalty from the six-yard line helped. Wenger had his usual moan at the ref who, after Cole had hit a post, remembered Wenger's instructions and awarded a dubious late penalty for handball against Upson. Fabregas scored.
Referee: Mike Jones - bottled a couple of big decisions in our home match against Sunderland last season. No doubt the opposition boss will be in his ear all match.
Danger man: Cesc Fabregas - the pick of their squad, though like his team-mates Nasri and Chamakh he dives far too much for my liking.
Daft fact of the week: - midfielder Peter Storey, who played for their 1971 double winning side, has convictions for running a brothel, car theft, counterfeiting, smuggling porn videos and disorderly behaviour, his convictions totalling five years and 8 months of time and £700 in fines. It is possible that the Arsenal player's record may have been, well, a record for a professional footballer. However, he still has a bit to go before catching up with Marlon King in terms of the number of convictions. King's rap sheet contains wounding, theft, fraudulent use of a vehicle licence, credit card fraud, obtaining property by deception, criminal damage, handling stolen cars, assault, assault again, sexual assault and assault occasioning ABH, giving total convictions of 23 months inside, 6 months community service and fines of £1,300. Shame that neither player thought of simply changing his name to Steven Gerrard.
Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.
06:02PM 29th Oct 2010
''It's either you love Arsenal or you really hate them. You seem to write about them more than your own team.''
05:15PM 29th Oct 2010
''I sincerely hope this preview is deliberately provocative. Anyway, seeing as you seem as angry as anyone, I thought I'd take this chance to ask just why everyone hates Fabregas so much? I know he's a mouthy, tough little guy who can rile people, but why the vitriol? Oh, and I've never seen either him or Nasri dive, I hope you say the same thing in previews about Gerrard, Rooney and Ashley Young. Chamakh is a notorious diver, though.''
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