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by Zain Shahid

Cardiff City vs Arsenal

Cardiff City vs Arsenal

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:

Fabianski
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!

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by Zain Shahid

Vela - Sheer Class!

Vela - Sheer Class!

Carlos Vela is hopeful he can have more first team opportunities in the coming months. The young Mexican said that his loan spells in La Liga did a lot good to him and have made him a much better player. Credit to Wenger for that. The Arsenal manager has now complimented the youngster’s abilities which has made him full of confidence. He said:

“Of course it’s very important that the manager says these things – it gives you confidence. But I’m still only 19, so I have to keep taking things on board. Hopefully, if I carry on learning, I’ll make it. The Premier League is teaching me a lot. Certainly, in my opinion, it is the best league in the world and definitely the quickest. So to push on it’s simple – I just need to keep working, working, working until the manager decides that I merit a starting place.”

I certainly hope Vela gets to play more often because in my view he has immense talent and I would like to see him start a few Premier League matches too. Hope the guy turns out to be an Henry!

van Persie - Hopeful the drought will end this season...

van Persie - Hopeful the drought will end this season...

Robin van Persie is also full of confidence after his brilliant performance as captain and believes Arsenal’s best chance of any silverware this season is the FA Cup. The Dutch forward is determined to end the trophy drought and has high hopes from the FA Cup. Arsenal’s star striker grabbed a brace against Plymouth on Sunday to spur the Gunners into the 4th round where they have been drawn to face Ramsey’s former club Cardiff away from home. van Persie said:

I didn’t imagine it would take so long to win another trophy. When I arrived at Arsenal they were winning trophies for fun. They were champions when I arrived and in my first season I won the FA Cup. I was expecting that to carry on but it hasn’t really happened like that. But it’s not a reason for me to give up, it’s a bigger challenge to do it this time. We need to win a trophy as soon as possible. We’ve been very unlucky with injuries so we want to do something for the club and the fans.

I hope his dream of winning at the Wembley in May comes true. He will, I expect, be the captain this season in the FA Cup so with his determination and commitment I can see Arsenal have quite a chance as long as his teammates support him really well.

by Zain Shahid

RvP - Scores the 1st

RvP - Scores the 1st

It was an impressive performance at the Emirates on Saturday. Maybe they could have scored 5 or 6 had they taken more of their chances considering they created around 15 16 chances! The 1st half wasn’t the best but they came out really well in the 2nd. Van Persie really showed his class which we expect to see week in week out. Nasri was brilliant. I have always been a big fan of his and he showed today he is a top quality player. Overall it was a good day for Arsenal. Arsene Wenger was all praise for his team:

“We did the job in a serious way and had we not been focused and completely up for it, we would not have gone through today. I give credit to my team for doing the job seriously, and also to Plymouth who had a great game as well. I was surprised how well they were organised and how strong they were in every challenge. They did not die physically and were always dangerous on set plays. The gap between the Championship and the Premiership has been reduced and looking at the FA Cup results today, you could see that. Robin has always been interested in team affairs and wants to help sort things out. He is a big example of how well you can have an evolution, when you consider when he came he and who he is today.”

Player Ratings:

Fabianski: 6.5 – Made a few good saves otherwise it could have been 2 or 3 goals for Plymouth. However he needs to come out to catch crosses and corners with more confidence.

Silvestre: 5 – Played just half an hour and did not look good particularly when going forward. The latest is he is out for three weeks.

Gallas: 6.5 – Did pretty well and was in quite an attacking mood, going forward time and time again.

Djourou: 6.5 – Had a nice game like his partner and he was particularly good in the air which is something Arsenal need desperately.

Sagna: 7 – Yet another good performance for the right-back. Did quite well while going forward also.

Diaby: 7 – Was involved in quite a few of the attacks and did a bit of tidy defending a few times.

Ramsey: 6.5 – Had a good game overall. A bit too selfish on occasions but its justified considering the youngster is looking to make an impact. He can hit the target quite well from long range and made some good runs forward.

Nasri: 8 – Without doubt the man of the match. Had a perfect game. Was involved in nearly all our attacks. 2 assists and he certainly deserved a goal. I have always mantained he should be played in the centre and he pressed my claim quite well!

Eboue: 6 – Had an average game. Better than what we have seen from him recently though.

Bendtner: 6.5 – Did just a bit above average I thought. He desperately needed a goal and got it. Looked very involved in the game. But he needs to do more to prove that he is good enough for Arsenal.

van Persie: 8 – Did extremely well. 2 goals and 1 assist, what else do you want! Maybe for him to perform like that more often. But he has certainly shown yet again how good he can be on his day. A good day as captain for him.

Substitutes:

Vela: 6 – An average day for the young Mexican. And I persist he needs to be played as a forward and not as a left winger. He is much better as a forward.

Gibbs: 6.5 – Had a great day attacking. Needs to work on his defending a bit more I think but overall a very good performance from the young man.

Wilshere: 5.5 – Didn’t get enough time to really get into the game. Tried making an impact straight away though, and on most occasions unsuccessfully. But he is exceptionally talented and has an immensely bright future ahead of him.



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