So the big day is almost here. A lot of Gooners may be fearing the trip to Stamford Bridge since Chelsea are in hot form. But it has to be noted that Chelsea have played 2 decent teams this year, and lost to both of them. First Manchester United in the Community Shield at the start of the season, and then Manchester City last Saturday. Not to mention losing out to Newcastle United at home in the Carling Cup. For once, Chelsea went for a young team in that competition and went out in the first match providing strong evidence of the difference in quality in the u-21s of the two clubs.

However, it would be a mistake to get carried away with their recent misfortunes. The League is all about whoever is the most consistent team over the 38 games. So far, undoubtedly, Chelsea have been the best. Boasting a superb goal difference of +19 from just 6 games says it all. And the fact that they have conceded just 2 goals so far, none of them being at Stamford Bridge, is worrying for Arsenal since they will be without their biggest goal scoring threats in Fabregas and van Persie.

Arsenal themselves, on the other hand, have had a surprisingly good start to the season. They were just 2 points adrift of the leaders Chelsea but recent hiccups against Sunderland and West Brom has put them 4 points below the summit of the table. Those results, especially the defeat to lowly West Brom at the Emirates, has led critics to question Arsenal’s ability to challenge for the title. But it’s too early to be drawing conclusions.

Last year Arsenal dropped way too many points against the eventual top 5 so they will surely look to make amends this year. The only points they managed against the top 5 was a win against Spurs and a goalless draw against Manchester City.  This is the first real test this season, not including the visit to Anfield on opening day as a ‘real’ test! A win will have plenty of positive effects on the side. It will not only help increase the confidence of this team overall, but on the worrying goalkeeping front a good performance by Fabianski may well be the turning point in his career. The lad has talent. Many refuse to believe that but I’m not one of them. Its confidence that he lacks. He needs a boost. He got one in Belgrade in midweek, another strong performance on Sunday will do him a BIG favor.

As for the team news, Arsenal will be without plenty of first teamers. Fabregas, van Persie, Walcott, Vermaelen, Bendtner, Almunia and Gibbs are all spending time on the treatment table. Not to mention the long term absentee Aaron Ramsey. It will be interesting what lineup Arsene Wenger goes for. Whether he will look to play Chelsea at their own game by using the physical strength of Diaby and Song, or will he go for a team that can outclass Chelsea in their own perfect way of football. I will think it will probably be a mix of the two since we’re without our main creative force, Cesc Fabregas. So, probably, this will be the first 11:

Fabianski
Sagna     Squillaci     Koscielny     Clichy
Nasri     Song     Wilshere
Rosicky     Chamakh     Arshavin

The back two pick themselves. Sagna is clearly the better defender among him and Eboue so I would go for him. Gibbs is out injured otherwise he would have been the better option ahead of the out of form Clichy. The front 6 are clearly the best we have from the little we have available at the moment.

Chelsea have a relatively short injury list. They will only be without midfield maestro Frank Lampard, Yossi Benayoun and Salomon Kalou. In-form Didier Drogba will surely provide the toughest test our new centre back pairing has faced thus far. Chamakh will be key. He has a brilliant record against the top teams during his time at Bordeaux so he is a big match player. Lets hope he continues it in Arsenal’s colors as well.

CHELSEA:
League position: 1st
Points: 15
Goals scored: 21
Goals conceded: 2
Form: WWWWL

ARSENAL:
League position: 3rd
Points: 11
Goals scored: 16
Goals conceded: 7
Form: WWWDL

This match is not a must win, but a defeat will be a huge setback to Arsenal’s title ambitions. Lets hope for the best. 2-1 to the Gunners hopefully!

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Wojciech Szczesny - The Future Number 1

We all wanted a new keeper this summer because we feared Almunia is a liability. We all knew he will cost us points, and inevitably we had the first taste of it last Saturday at the Emirates. You have to wonder why Wenger persists with him. Not only has he never impressed in an Arsenal shirt, except for penalties and the crazy half hour against Barcelona, but we have arguably the best young talented goalkeeper around – Wojciech Szczesny.

The 20 year old Pole spent half of last season on loan at Brentford where he earned rave reviews for his exceptional performances. He kept 10 clean sheets from 28 appearances. Wenger and all Arsenal fans see him as a future number 1. But the question is why future? Why not give him a go NOW? He surely can’t be worse than those who we have ahead of him in the pecking order. How many more points will the hapless Almunia help shed before Szczesny gets his chance? The youngster is an amazing shot stopper, as you must have seen in the video compilation of his performances at Brentford. He has sharp reflexes and very strong, and long, arms. Wenger summed it up himself when he said: “I think he has all the qualities you want in a keeper and his reflexes are absolutely unbelievable. When you think it’s a goal, with him it’s still no goal!”

Wenger is renowned for giving youngsters a chance. Even this season we have seen young Jack Wilshere promoted to the first team and its quite clear how well the gamble has paid off. So there’s no reason why Szszesny shouldn’t be given his chance. World Champion Iker Casillas started off at a very young age too and look what a world class keeper he turned out to be. When you have such exceptional talent, age shouldn’t be a factor in determining your first team place. Majority of the Arsenal fans just don’t get why has he not been given a try seeing the pitiful performances of Almunia and Fabianski. It’s a fact though that Wenger has never had a good eye for keepers. Apart from Jens Lehmann, most would argue he has never managed to buy a top class keeper. Some go as far as to say Wenger’s go it all wrong at the moment. The pecking order is completely opposite. It should be in the order Szczesny, Mannone, Fabianski, Almunia. Can’t say its not worth a shot!

Brentford manager and fans both feel Szczesny has Premier League quality. So does the outspoken youngster, in fact. Andy Scott, manager of Brentford, gave him a glowing reference:

“His (Szczesny) performances suggest that he would not be out of place in the Championship or even the Premier League. It has reached the stage where when he lets in a goal we wonder why he hasn’t saved it.

“I’m not in a position to question Arsene Wenger’s judgement on his goalkeepers and he knows his players better than anyone. All I can say is Wojciech has done everything in his power here. He is a fantastic lad who is desperate for the chance and is mature beyond his years.”

Managers don’t come out and praise players just like that everyday. It takes someone special to deserve it.

We, Arsenal fans, feel powerless seeing the likes of Almunia and Fabianski make high profile mistakes week in week out and then their manager defending them. We can just hope, and pray, that this prodigal goalkeeper gets his chance pretty soon; because he deserves it. And be proud as well. We have the future world’s best keeper at Arsenal. Lets hope he doesn’t make the mistake of leaving since his contract expires at the end of this season.

Here’s a couple of videos of the youngster. Enjoy and feel free to let your views known of the goalkeeping situation in the  comments.

So it seems Fabregas will be staying after all. It has been one of the most pathetic, seemingly never-ending transfer sagas ever. The tapping of our captain by Barcelona has been unethical and surely Arsenal should have had a word with FIFA or UEFA about it by now. Anyway, Barca president Sandra Rosell has finally given up, admitting they will not be able to pay the price Arsenal have placed on their captain; something he should have done long ago since Arsenal had the same stance on this saga from the start.

Fabregas though has reiterated his wish to return to his boyhood club yet again. Now I don’t know about all of you, but I surely have been bitterly disappointed with his attitude this summer. He is the captain of Arsenal for God’s sake. The awkward silences and comments such as those yesterday:

“I make no apologies for the comments I have made in the past. I have expressed my interest in returning and I stand by that, as that is my personal wish.”

It’ll be interesting to see what sort of reception he gets from the Arsenal faithful when he returns. His heart does not seem to be with Arsenal anymore and to have a captain like that doesn’t seem like the best idea. Make him stay to teach Barca a lesson ‘you don’t always get what you want,’ but I would rather have a captain who loves playing for Arsenal only. Vermaelen and van Persie would be good options. But I’m pretty sure Wenger will not make the move. He knows just how important Fabregas is to this club and stripping him of the captaincy now will only make him leave next summer for sure. But one has to say he will most probably be off next season anyway so strip him or not, makes no difference.

What do you think? Have you been disappointed by his behavior as well? Should some bold actions be taken or just let it be?

Hull City visit the Emirates tonight. Last year everyone were expecting a walk in the park for Arsenal but the Tigers stunned everyone with a 2-1 win. This time around again Arsenal are expected to claim an easy win, especially considering Hull have been a shadow of the side they were at this time last year and are lying way down the table at 16th with just 4 wins so far.

But Hull have only lost one in their last 5 games. Though they have won only one in this period as well! Arsenal on the other hand have lost two and won two in their last 5 matches. Not impressive. So the form of the two sides promises a tough encounter but when you consider Arsenal’s home record this season, 12 wins and a defeat, not many will not be expecting Arsenal to take all 3 points from this one.

As for the team news Cesc Fabregas is out, but his replacement Denilson returns. Eboue might make a return as well but Traore remains out. I am expecting the following line-up:

Almunia
Eboue     Vermaelen     Gallas     Silvestre
Diaby     Song     Denilson
Walcott     Arshavin     Nasri

Now that clearly is not a very strong line-up. Most of us hate to have just the two of those midfield three in the same team but we might happen to see all three of them on the same pitch tonight! I would prefer to put in Ramsey instead of Denilson. And Vela up front instead of Walcott. I am not a big fan of Walcott and I’m sure Vela can do far better than Walcott. In the defence Sagna might be rested. He has been playing consecutively for quite a lot of matches now and deserves some rest. Central defence is perfect but Silvestre was a disaster at left back on Wednesday. But then we don’t have a choice. As for Almunia, I don’t want him to play today. He’s had a lot of chances but he’s not shown yet why he is the number 1. Put in Fabianski and I’m sure he will do better than Almunia.

So there it is then. I’m not expecting a one-sided encounter but still Arsenal should come out with the win. 2-1 I think.

Arsenal started the season as well as any fan would have hoped for. But it hasn’t lasted. It’s turning into another season of disappointment. They have only managed to win 3 from their last 8 games; clearly not the sort of form that can win you trophies. Now Arsenal lag way behind the top 2 who seem to be battling for the League title and out of the Carling. A lot of the frustration Arsenal fans are enduring can be attributed to the Gunners’ below par away record so far this season. The record so far is as follows:

Wins – 6

Defeats – 5

Draws – 3

That’s not good enough. Period. Arsenal have refused to turn up in a lot of these games. The last three defeats have been pathetic performances. The draw at Burnley was the nth time Arsenal were complacent. They took the lead at United, then gave it away. They took the lead at West Ham, then gave it away. Same at Alkmaar, at Burnley. Yet after each one of those occasions they say they’ve learned the lesson now. But no, they haven’t. Time and again they have given points away needlessly. One week they make you feel yes, the Arsenal that can win the League is here. And then next week you see depressing performances like the one on Wednesday night.

Ok, Arsenal are still in the title race but how many of you honestly think they can win it? And I mean honestly. Deep down most of you know it’s not possible, not with the players we have available at the moment. Buy more quality in January and maybe, just maybe, we will have a chance. Lets face it, with Almunia in goal we are not going to many keep clean sheets! So what we need to do is outscore our opponents. To do that we need quality finishers. Right now only Fabregas and Arshavin seem like getting the goals. Walcott is hopeless. He’s got pace, that’s  it. Can’t pass, can’t shoot, can’t cross, can’t dribble! Bendtner and van Persie are out. Vela and Eduardo only seem to score for their countries and not Arsenal. Vela looks like he can only score from chips. Eduardo’s finishing has gone to sleep. We need quality and we need it quick! Arsene Wenger admits it and he’s got to open his chequebook. I think even a cup tied player will do because it’s clear we stand more chance of winning the Premier League than the Champions League. Especially since Wenger has so much faith in his current squad just let them continue their run in Europe and buy someone world class to re-start our Premier League title challenge. I don’t usually do negative articles and I haven’t been writing for quite some time but I felt I have to get my feelings out. For now let hope for the best. We’re not out of the title race mathematically so we can win it. Just need better, more aggressive and fighting performances from the players not the uninterested performances that we have seen too many of already.

*This article was supposed to be on Arsenal’s away form but I guess I took out far more frustration than just that!

Firstly, Arsene Knows Best is back! I’ll try to keep up the standard that this site was renowned for but I still might not be updating daily.

I’ll start off with a poll of the quandary that Arsene Wenger is in these days. Who should be the number one. Wenger is a mystery man so you can’t guess what is going through his mind. But who do the fans want as number one? The experience of Almunia or the talent of Mannone? Fabianski unfortunately is out injured again for three weeks so he is not an option right now. Personally I would prefer Almunia. Ok he’s not the world class keeper we should have but he’s the best we have right now. Mannone is really talented but experience is extremely vital in keepers and he doesn’t have much of it. He might put in a few really good performances but his inexperience can cost us matches. What is your opinion? Vote and let us know why in the comments section.

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