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Arsenal Preview

Filed: Friday, 23rd October 2009
By: Preview Percy

Preview Percy has a butcher's at Sunday's match against Arsenal.....

Next up we entertain Arsenal at the strangely precise time of 4:15pm on a Sunday. The extra fifteen minutes before kick-off are presumably to allow the tv people time to calm down after the Liverpool v Man Utd game which, no doubt, will have the good people at Sky hyperventilating irrespective of how dull the match actually is.

The visitors currently lie in 4th spot with 18 points from their 8 matches so far, one point with a game in hand behind the other lot from North London who lie in third place. They’ve won six and lost two in the league, the two defeats coming in Salford, where they went down 2-1 to Man Utd, and in Manchester in the infamous 4-2 defeat in the so-called “Adebayor match”. Adebayor picked up a deserved ban for his challenge on Van Persie which took the officials somewhat by surprise at the time in that Van Persie’s agony was, for once, genuine.

Their latest outing saw them defeat Birmingham at home. They raced into a 2-0 lead within 20 minutes and it looked for all the world that the library was going to see another goal glut along the lines of that which saw them put six past Blackburn in their previous home outing. However ex-Hammer Lee Bowyer pulled one back and, by all accounts, the home side were a bit edgy until Arshavin’s 84th minute effort knocked the stuffing out of the blues.

They’ve started in goal this season with Vito Mannone, an Italian who was nicked from Atalanta for tuppence at the age of 17 four years ago. He has come into the side this season from third choice in the absence through injury of Almunia and Fabianski. Almunia has since recovered from injury but the myopic one has kept faith with the 21 year-old, who is likely to start on Sunday.

Wenger has been notoriously parsimonious with the club‘s money in recent years, albeit on a reduced budget to that enjoyed by the likes of Manchester City. One player who did come in during the summer was defender Vermaelen who arrived for a fee of €10m going up to €12m based on appearances. I can’t be bothered to work out the exchange rate but with the state of the pound at the moment that’s as near as dammit £10-12m. The Belgian international has 10 senior goals to his credit, five of which have come this season. They haven’t all been set piece centre-half headers either and the midfield will need to be aware of him joining in with attacks from the deep.

On the injury front, reports suggest that the “Croatian but Brazilian really” Eduardo may be available for selection though Rosicky and Bendtner are both rated as only 50-50.

Bendtner’s a strange cove. Apparently, it was his bizarre argument over shoes with Adebayor that eventually led to the latter’s departure to the North West. It seems that the changing rooms at Arsenal have a dress code – like every crappy nightclub you’ve ever been into there’s a “no trainers” rule which, apparently, Bendtner, was prone to breaking at will. Adebayor seemed cheesed off at both Bendtner’s footwear and the single raised digit response that greeted his request that the Danish striker should abide by the same rules as everyone else.

The feud simmered for some time until Adebayor snapped and stuck the nut on Bendtner, choosing the middle of the 5-1 2008 Carling Cup Semi Final defeat to Spurs to do so. Predictably (this is Arsenal after all) the FA decided that the multi-angle video evidence wasn’t sufficiently clear to punish anyone over the affair and, since the kit had been washed, the blood and DNA evidence from the head butt had all gone so, not for the first time Arsenal escaped punishment.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the dispute, it’s fair to say that the Danish striker has divided Arsenal fans as to his usefulness. He failed to impress many people with his drunken “trousers round ankles” antics following their ‘Champions’ League exit last season though he may have gained some ground with supporters by offering to replace the cost of shirts and printing out of his own pocket when he changed squad number to take the, er, coveted no.52 shirt.

Well the few supporters who had bought the no.26 shirt anyway. Perhaps the recent car crash he suffered will have focussed his mind a little. He thanked God for his survival though the more penniless amongst us will suggest the fact that he was driving a £160,000 Aston Martin rather than some clapped-out old banger might have had a bearing on matters.

Behind the scenes things are stirring with US zillionaire Stan Kroenke edging slowly towards the 29.9% of shares that will provoke a statutory bid for the whole club. Stock Exchange rules prevented anyone from discussing the club’s ownership at the recent AGM. However assuming that Kroenke manages to pick up the 646 shares that he needs to provoke a full takeover bid, he will be looking to add the club to a portfolio that includes full ownership of the Denver Nuggets Basketball franchise and the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche.

He also owns the MLS Colorado Rapids franchise and Colorado Mammoth. Award yourself ten points if you knew that “Mammoth” were a Lacrosse team with another ten if you can name another lacrosse team. Hopefully, if he takes over, he will rename the club in a style that satisfies both the American convention for having a nickname and the club’s own traditions. Arsenal Trappists has a nice ring to it.

So what about us? Well last week was a major setback although, not for the first time this season the officials should shoulder some of the responsibility. Van Persie would have been proud of Etherington’s rather obvious dive for the penalty and the three match ban dished out to Huth for his somewhat cowardly attack on Upson is of no help to us six days after the event.

Our problems lie in defence, midfield and attack. Apart from that everything’s fine. Green and Upson have been out of sorts, the midfield seem baffled as to who should be doing what and Cole has been given no support up front. On the plus side, Parker, who missed last week through suspension, will return. He should be nicely rested given that he had his feet up during the international break. Danny Gabbidon may be fit enough for selection though, as ever, I’ll only believe Physioroom’s comments on Kieron Dyer when I see him.

I had hoped that Zola had learned his lesson over substitutions but for the Stoke match we were treated to the same old “too little too late” stuff. Although there were 20 minutes left when we went behind, the earliest sub (Hines) didn’t appear until the 78th minute. Stanislas was given seven minutes plus stoppage whilst the introduction of Franco on 89 minutes was just daft – unless of course one minute plus stoppage time is all the match fitness he has.

Try as I might I can’t see us gaining points from this one. Despite their apparent edginess against Birmingham, their overall form is decent enough even without factoring in their traditional unsteadiness on their feet (and let’s face it if referees fall for an Etherington dive they’ll fall for anything). My prediction therefore is for more doom gloom and despondency as the clocks change and a 3-0 defeat. Sorry.

Enjoy the game!

Last season: Lost 2-0 – A late Faubert own goal and an ultra late effort from Adebayor gave the visitors a somewhat flattering victory.

Danger Man: Van Persie – given space more than capable of scoring. Marked tightly, capable of conning even the sharpest of referees.

Referee: Steve Bennett – last seen during the 0-0 draw against the same opponents at the library in January.

Look out for: See how many Bendtner 52 shirts you can spot.

A word from our sponsors

Five points from eight games may hang heavy with you West Ham supporters but we’re still seeing plenty of interest for the Hammers on the betting front. extrabet’s shrewder punters continue to get with them and with Arsenal looming this weekend once again we’ve seen the money come for the home team at 11/2. Arsenal trade at 1/2, with the draw 3/1 - however it’s the homework crowd who’ve cottoned on to the fact that in the last six games between these two teams there haven’t been more than two goals in any of them. At 11/10 that there will be two goals or less in this game that seems to be where the smart money is.

Also here at extrabet towers we’ve seen plenty of money on our spread betting markets. Total Goals are trading at 2.7 to 2.9 and they’ve been queuing up to sell. Remember Selling means to ‘Go Low’ or in other words punters think there will be few, if any, goals in the game.

Season wise a top four finish might be out of the question but at 9/2 to be relegated the price reflects that West Ham should hit their stride sooner rather than later in this league. Total Points are trading at 41-43 points on the spreads and again we’ve seen plenty of punters keen to buy on extrabet. Good luck for the weekend.
- Chris Shillington, extrabet.com

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.

Your Comments

by William Davies (AFC)
02:55PM 23rd Oct 2009
''I was actually enjoying the article until I happened upon the moan about Arsenal never being punished. Tevez saga ring a bell? Jesus, talk about the pot and the kettle? A player of ours goes down a little too lightly and he's virtually savaged by all and sundry. Has that kind of treatment been met out to any other player? I think you'll find that we're definitely way down on the authorities that be's Christmas lists where as your club are still in the Premiership based on the favour it garners from the FA.''

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