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The Super Sunday encounter between Arsenal and Manchester City can rightly be called a battle of ideologies. Cash rich Manchester City have not been shy of spending money. They have made a completely new team over the last year or two spending lavishly. Arsenal, on the other hand, with Arsene Wenger at helm have been the least spending Premier League side. They have persisted with project youth in the past few years with not more than a couple of additions each year. Tomorrow we may well find out how right Wenger is when he says “You can’t buy success.”
We usually don’t term games this early in the season as must-win. But its getting the 3 points especially in big matches like the one tomorrow that help to keep those must win games to a minimum in the final stages of the season.
The trip to City of Manchester Stadium used to be an easy ride for Arsenal till 2006. But since the influx of virtually unlimited money at City, Arsenal have managed to avoid defeat just once in the last 5 trips to Eastlands. Not to forget last season’s 4-2 defeat – a result that was overshadowed by Emmanuel Adebayor’s infamous stamp on former teammate Robin van Persie. Neither of the two might feature tomorrow though. Van Persie, as usual, is out injured and Adebayor has fallen out of favor with manager Roberto Mancini.
What’s more worrying for Arsenal is that they have a horrible away form. They have not kept a clean sheet in their last 15 away games and have won only one of their last eight Premier League away games. It really makes one wonder whether Arsenal can manage to get the 3 points tomorrow. Looks doubtful, honestly speaking.
As for the team news, City have an extremely short injury list. Balotelli, Jo and Toure are the only big names doubtful for tomorrow. Balotelli and Jo will surely not be missed with the form that Carlos Tevez is in. 28 goals in his last 31 Premier League appearances, including 7 already this season, says it all. It is this remarkable form that has forced Adebayor to the bench. But the lanky forward did get a hattrick in the Europa Cup in midweek so he will surely be contesting for a start against the club where it all started for him. New boy David Silva is also starting to fulfill his potential and could pose a serious threat to the weak Arsenal defence.
Arsenal’s absentee list is a lot longer than that of City. Almunia, Frimpong, Ramsey, Van Persie, Vermaelen, Koscielny and Wilshere (suspended) will all be missing. The list has shrunk a lot in the last week or two. Sagna is back, so are Walcott, Bendtner and Fabregas. The captain’s return is a timely one considering the little man running the show from midfield this season, Jack Wilshere, is suspended. The probable line-up will be:
Sagna Squillaci Djourou Clichy
Nasri Song Fabregas
Walcott Chamakh Arshavin
Fabianski is turning out to be a reliable goalkeeper. You don’t have mini heart attacks anymore whenever he’s called into action, and instead you really fancy him to pull out a save or make a good punch. Sagna is back fit and I would prefer him over Eboue because he’s better defender defensively. The back two pick themselves since they’re the only options we have unless Koscielny makes a surprising recovery from his back injury. At left back I wouldn’t mind either of Clichy or Gibbs but Wenger will probably go for Clichy’s experience. Nasri has been Arsenal’s best player this season so he’s an automatic selection. Song is the only holding midfield option we have. Fabregas picks himself. As for Walcott, I think we really will need his pace and direct approach in a big match like this because as Wenger said the first goal decides the game in most big matches so better to start him than bring him on as a super sub. Of course you can’t drop Chamakh. He’s been The Man so far. Involved in nearly everything – tracking back, good link play, assists, winning penalties, scoring goals. And we all know Wenger wont drop Arshavin so lets not argue about that!
League position: 2nd
Goals scored: 12
Goals conceded: 5
League position: 5th
Goals scored: 18
Goals conceded: 10
Lets hope Arsenal can turn their away misfortunes around and turn up with a performance we’ve all come to expect from them at home. With Chelsea getting a win today, not dropping points is all the more important now.
Arsene Wenger can be very happy with his purchase of Marouane Chamakh. The Moroccan striker scored his fifth goal for his new club in the 2-1 victory over Birmingham and he was involved with both his side’s goals as the former Bordeaux man put in an action-packed performance.
Chamakh was brought down by Scott Dann in the area just before the half time interval and Samir Nasri made no mistake from the penalty spot.
For the second, Chamakh snuck in behind the Birmingham defence and was found by Jack Wilshire, before the striker jinked past a tackle to finish nicely. No one had made Birmingham betting tips to win the game before kickoff, but in the end Chamakh’s influence was vital to ensure the home side picked up three points.
The French born striker, who has made more than 50 appearances for Morocco, joined the club on a free transfer from Bordeaux in the summer and has endeared himself to his new fans with a series of impressive performances. Wenger had been a long time admirer of Chamakh, but had never been able to agree a fee with Bordeaux. The 26-year-old forward allowed his contract with the French club to expire and jumped at the chance to sign at the Emirates.
However, the striker’s goal tally this season might have come as something of a surprise to Wenger. In Chamakh’s 230 appearances for Bordeaux, he contributed a modest 56 goals. As with so many players over the years, playing under Wenger seems to be bringing the best out in the Moroccan.
Chamakh’s form couldn’t have come at a better time for manager Wenger, who has been without Robin van Persie, Theo Walcott and Nicklas Bendtner for much of the new campaign. Chamakh’s performance showed his ability to play as a lone front man as well as in a partnership.
Arsenal will need their newest striker to carry on his form into the rest of the campaign. He bagged another goal as the side kept up its 100 per cent record in Europe when they hosted Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donesk, and the Champions League betting suggests they have every chance of pushing on in the competition.
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Arsenal have been linked with highly rated Bordeaux striker Marouane Chamakh this summer even though 14 goals from 42 games last season doesn’t seem like a good enough record to attract interest from Arsene Wenger.
Now Bordeaux president Jean-Louis Triaud has confirmed that Wenger is not interested in Chamakh:
“That is only chatter.
“I don’t know where it came from, but I never heard any Arsenal representatives since (Sylvain) Wiltord, which means almost eight years.”
It’s not a surprise really because Arsene Wenger made it clear Arsenal have enough strikers and don’t need any more of them. Even if Wenger did change his mind, I doubt he would have gone for Chamakh.