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We all thought Fabregas was going to surprise us with an earlier than expected recovery. But Rosicky! Not a single person on this earth would have expected that!
The Czech international has been out for over a year with a hamstring injury and could be back in just about 3 weeks! Can you believe it! And we had thought we would only be able to see him next season!
As you may have read on Arsenal.com an ecstatic Wenger said:
“Tomas needs three weeks to play in training fully fit. He is still doing special training but in three weeks he will join in with the first team. It will be three weeks to play in the Reserves, touch wood. Rosicky looks very good in training, he looks unbelievably strong. Fabregas looks good, Diaby will come back. Rosicky is three weeks, Cesc four weeks, Theo two weeks.”
This means all of them should be back for the last 6 matches of the Premier League which includes matches against Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United. This season is suddenly taking a u-turn. We all looked down and out with once again nearly no hope of a trophy but suddenly we are on a 12 match unbeaten run, Arshavin is here, Eduardo is back from his long term injury and now Walcott, Fabregas and Rosicky are weeks away from return. I am quite hopeful of finishing inside the top 4 and winning the FA Cup now.
One of Arsenal’s best players this season Samir Nasri is confident Arshavin will make quite a mark at Arsenal. Nasri has played against the Russian during his Marseille days and says he was quite impressed. Arshavin brings creativity and Arsenal have been lacking that lately. But the young Frenchman believes Arshavin will not be the ultimate solution to Arsenal’s problems as Arsenal need their injured players back. Once they are back, Arsenal will soon be fighting for the trophies in the three competitions they are in. Nasri said:
“I played against Arshavin when he was at Zenit St. Petersburg and I was at Marseille, he’s an excellent player. He will give us that little bit more penetration and incisiveness which the team have been lacking recently.
“I don’t think it is a central midfielder that Arsenal have been lacking. What we have really been missing is the injured players and when they come back you’ll see a different face to this Arsenal team.”
The young midfielder also mentioned that Arsenal’s style of play suits more against big teams:
“Arsenal like to play football so when we play against a skilful team who also like to come out and play it is easier to play because there is more space to exploit. When Manchester United came to the Emirates we had the opportunity to play well ourselves. When we are at home to teams who come here and keep things tight we have found things more difficult.”
A lot of people out there feel Arsenal can only win the FA Cup if they don’t have to face Man Utd or even Chelsea or Liverpool for that matter, but they should know how good Arsenal are against big teams. Nasri has said it spot on.
Talking of Arshavin, he has brought his trusted hairdresser to London as his wife doesn’t trust the hairdressers of London! Arshavin’s wife Yuliahas has been quite critical of London’s people and all and before Arshavin joined Arsenal she had critisized English food and that if he moves to Arsenal it will be quite hard finding good food for themselves. Now its London’s hairdressers turn! Their hairdresser to be flown to London from St. Petersburg Volkov said:
“Yulia superstitiously distrusts hairdressers in London and insisted that her husband paid for his personal stylist’s trips to London for his hair cuts.”
Arshavin will be funding the trips for the stylist whenever he needs a haircut. So much for loyalty! Hope Arshavin turns out to be as much loyal to Arsenal too! Volkov said:
“Before Andrei left Russia I cut his hair shorter than normal so that he wouldn’t need me too soon. It’s easy to work for him. So far he liked everything I did. I’ve changed his style from glamorous Vidal Sassoon to simple ‘streetwise guy’ and I had no complaints from him or Yulia.”
Arsene Wenger has finally admitted Arsenal are not in the title race anymore.
This season has been a relatively poor one for Arsenal and they are not only 12 points behind leaders Manchester United but 5 points below 4th placed Chelsea which makes even the Champions League qualification difficult for them But Wenger may be giving up on title hopes, which was quite obvious, he is confident Arsenal can secure the final Champions League berth. Arsenal are on a 12 match unbeaten run which gives Wenger all the hope that if they keep on performing consistently they should finish 4th at least:
“We’re very consistent and on a very strong run. We missed scoring the goals that we’re capable of recently, but are very consistent and promised ourselves that we’ll give everything until the end of the season.”
The Frenchman also conceded Manchester United are too good at the moment and look ‘untouchable’. Like most people out there Wenger also feels it will be United who will end up Premier League Champions:
“Manchester United look untouchable because they’re 12 points ahead and have a game tomorrow against Fulham they’ll certainly win. Their results are very consistent. They win 1-0 and you think during the game that they may drop a point or maybe more, but they always manage to find somewhere the resources to win the game.
“If they win their game in hand they’re 15 points in front, which means they need to lose five games. Say they lose one against us, then they still need to lose another four games. They haven’t lost four games all season yet, but we’ll try. I believe our basic target is to get into the Champions League.”
It may seem nearly impossible for Man Utd not to finish at the top, especially as all the matches against the other members of the big 4 for them are at Old Trafford. But for Arsenal to clinch the fourth place, there are a lot of things in their favour. They are on quite a decent run, their next 7 fixtures are against smaller teams whereas the next 7 fixtures of Aston Villa include Chelsea, Liverpool and Man Utd. So that can help Arsenal to leapfrog Villa. On the other hand Chelsea are going through a bad form and just have a new manager who will hopefully take time to settle in so combine a good form of Arsenal with a bad form of Chelsea and you might get Arsenal overtaking Chelsea! With Dudu back and straight away looking better than he was before getting injured, Fabregas back at the end of this month and probably Walcott back at the same time. Arshavin to make his debut soon so things are looking great for Arsenal at the moment and along with a Champions League place, I am getting hopeful they have quite a chance of winning the FA Cup.
by Zain Shahid
We’re back to Emirates now and once again needing a win. Dropping points now seems unacceptable. But West Ham have always been a tough match for Arsenal. This time around also it might be a difficult encounter as the Hammers under Zola are in hot form and have managed 13 points from their last 5 games compared to Arsenal’s 12. This match will be one to keep the pressure on Aston Villa for the Champions League place. People say its a fight between the Gunners and Villa but I think Chelsea and Liverpool are also in it, especially Liverpool. But in the end with the quality that big 4 have got and the lucky wins Villa are getting week in week out, it will be the same old Big 4 at the top of the table the end of the season in my opinion. Villa should have a tricky game against resilient Wigan, who held Liverpool to a draw in mid-week, at home. Then there is the big Liverpool Chelsea match so a draw in both of the games will be of great help to Arsenal.
Arsenal will look to continue their 9 match mini unbeaten run. To add to that only Arsenal have managed to score in their last 9 league matches. To expect Arsenal not to score is madness! van Persie is in hot form, Arsenal have only not scored 3 times in the League this season and have only failed to score once at the Emirates, which ironically was against West Ham!
The defensive aspect will be very important. I would like to point out here that on the 7 occassions that Arsenal have kept a clean sheet this season, they have won all those times. So keep a clean sheet and win!
I expect the same line up as was in the trip to Goodison Park:
Sagna Djourou Gallas Clichy
Eboue Denilson Diaby Nasri
Adebayor van Persie
But Toure might get a start as he was rested in mid-week. Nasri should drift into the centre quite often and probably end the match playing there with Diaby on the left. Vela is quite surprisingly being played very less often than expected considering his impressive performances from the bench and I would want him to play at least 20 mins. The man to watch will be van Persie, no surprises here. He has scored 3 and assisted 5 of all the goals Arsenal have scored in January.
Arsenal will have to look out for Carlton Cole. The guy is good in the air and very physical. There lies a problem because Djourou isn’t too strong but if he is not played then both Gallas and Toure are not good in the air! I expect Djourou to start though.
A 2-1 win for Arsenal is my prediction.
by Zain Shahid
Another FA Cup weekend is here and as many say FA Cup is the most realistic chance of a trophy for Arsenal this season. People might say it’s another easy fixture for Arsenal after having an easy ride against Plymouth in the last round. Even though no match is too easy, everyone will have to accept that but considering that Manchester United and Tottenham play each other, Everton and Liverpool also face each other so comparatively Arsenal are advantaged in this round.
It has been the case in recent weeks that every Arsenal match has been a virtually ‘must-win’ encounter to stay in contention for the title. In this case too it is a must win match too. It’s the Cup; you lose, you’re out and that is something Arsenal cannot afford because as I mentioned this is Arsenal’s most realistic chance of winning some silverware this season.
Cardiff are a decent side and no doubt they will make Arsenal work really hard for the win. For Arsene Wenger, the fact that it is a Cup tie makes no difference as for him every match has the same importance and he wants to win every single match. Cardiff have the advantage with the home crowd behind them and if Ramsey is to be believed, the fans at Ninian Park are really noisy and are very much behind the team for the 90 mins.
For Arsenal, they have the same old injuries with only Gallas coming back. Clichy is suspended. Wenger is not prioritising any competition so we will see a full-strength Arsenal side with the exception of Fabianski.
The man to watch for Cardiff will certainly be van Persie. The Dutchman is in hot form, arguably the best form of his career so far, and so far this month he has been involved in a goal at least in every match. On the other hand Arsenal need to watch out for Jay Bothroyd. He has been a very successful buy for the Bluebirds and will certainly be looking to inflict some damage to his old club. Arsenal’s weak link will be Keiran Gibbs. He is relatively inexperienced and as he has been transformed from a left winger to left back so there are still some weaknesses in his defending, though going forward he can be exceptional.
The expected line-up should be:
Sagna Toure(C) Djourou Gibbs
Eboue Denilson Ramsey Nasri
van Persie Adebayor
There is still the possibility that Arsene might rest at least one of van Persie, Adebayor and Nasri considering the midweek trip to Goodison Park is of immense importance and he would not want his main players fatigued or in the worst case, injured. There is also a possibility of Gallas returninig to the first team which would mean Toure might be left out and van Persie will wear the captain’s armband once again. But as he has just returned to full fitness so I don’t expect a start for him. Vela and Bendtner might get an important start too if Wenger decides to rest van Persie or Adebayor and I certainly would love to see Vela starting. Bendtner’s, if not started, substitute appearance might be a match-turning introduction if the match is not over already by then considering the form the Dane is in. And this FA Cup tie is another chance for young Ramsey to once again impress the fans and the manager and send a message to Denilson and Song that he is knocking on their door so they’d better start performing well! My prediction is a 2-1 win for Arsenal. Lets once again hope that no matter what the scoreline, Arsenal go through to the next round!
by Zain Shahid
As we all know 2008 was one of the worst years in Arsenal’s recent history under Arsene Wenger. We were cruising at the top of the table with a 10 point lead as the year started but with a new year came a complete form slump. Dropping points again and again, Eduardo breaking his leg, Rosicky out, and we eventually end up 3rd despite leading for most part of the season. We also got unluckily knocked out of the Champions League to Liverpool, and were humiliated 4-0 at Old Trafford in the FA Cup. Then came summer and all we sign is young Ramsey who is not part of our first team as for now and Nasri, who is the only good thing that has happened to us this year (apart from that historic truimph at San Siro!). Apart from those two we signed Silvestre, who himself would not remember the last time he played for Manchester United, and Bischoff, who had hardly played for his previous club and has not played for Arsenal apart from a substitute appearance so far. Then this season started and we lost our second game of the season to Fulham, then got into a bit of form which ended at the Emirates to Hull City. Since then we have seen disappointing performances from the club, with only two standout performances against Manchester United and Chelsea. We have already lost more games so far this season than we did all season last season. We are 8 points behind the leaders, once again finished 2nd in the group stages of the Champions League, out of the Carling Cup to lowly Burnley. Luckily there wasn’t FA Cup this season in 2008 otherwise we would have been out of it too! So to sum it up 2008 was a very unlucky year for Arsenal. But luck is not going to betray Arsenal again and again will it?! I don’t think so. We have started the year winnig dirty…we all know teams come and park their bus against Arsenal and in 2008 they had been quite successful in it. However this year we have already been successful of winning against teams that come just to defend twice (if you include late last year’s fixture against Portsmouth in 2009!). We have advanced to the next round of the FA Cup and are looking all set to sign Arshavin. What a start don’t you think?! Last year we could not win against teams that came to just defend; and could anyone have imagined that Arsenal would buy a big name like they are very close to signing Arshavin! So the start is quite good…and if you believe in Lady Luck then maybe 2008 as a whole was meant to be a bad year and 2009 as the start suggests (though I admit it might be too early to start making conclusions) will be a good and ‘lucky’ year for Arsenal! Ok our best player is out but remember what happened when Henry went?! van Persie and company are really coming out of their shell now. van Persie has been producing consistent match winning performances and so has been Nasri. The defence hasn’t looked this good all this season, Vela is really starting to become an impact substitute, Ramsey is impressing, Denilson and Eboue are much improved, and even Bendtner who was hopeless last year has suddenly scored 2 goals from 2 matches in 2009! Eduardo is also back, and once Walcott and Fabregas return they will be like two big name signings for us after returning from long term injuries. So the signs are looking very good I think. Lets just hope for the best! May 2009 be Arsenal’s year!
Now back to the never ending Arshavin transfer speculation! The Russian star expressed his desire to wear the number 10 shirt at Arsenal and also hoped that he wont have a hard time in adjusting to Arsenal’s style of play:
“In some games last season, we played football which was very similar to that of Arsenal. I would prefer my present No 10 but in the team where I hope to move it’s not vacant. So I’m ready for any number they are going to offer me.
“In some games last season, we played football which was very similar to that of Arsenal. “
So he wants the the no. 10 shirt in ‘the team where I hope to move’! Now that is awesome news! In most cases players who are to be sold end up at clubs of their choice and it seems Arshavin wants to join Arsenal.
Meanwhile Arsenal target Everton’s Mikel Arteta has dispelled transfer rumours linking him with Arsenal and Manchester City and assured his commitment to the Toffees.