You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘vela’ tag.

It may have been a frustrating night and an average performance but still a win is a win and that’s what matters in the end.

Gallas celebrates

The game started in disastrous fashion for the hosts. They could not get into their quick passing football at the start and looked uncomfortable when in possession and they paid the price for it. Hull pounced on the first available opportunity. Barmby took a shot that took a huge deflection off Djourou and lofted over the helpless Fabianski. 1-0 to the visitors and it seemed Hull were up for another upset at the Emirates. But Arsenal had other plans. That goal was a wake up call for the Gunners. After that they started to dominate and that continued till the end. But occasional opportunities for Hull remained and they got one very soon after the first goal. A free kick given away by Gallas just outside the box and we have seen Geovanni score from that range before. His free kick was nearly a body blow for Arsenal. Heading for the top corner but Fabianski dived and punched the ball out for a corner. A world class save to deny Hull a dangerous 2-0 lead. After that chances kept falling Arsenal’s way but no clear cut chance. It remained 1-0 at half time and Arsenal needed to improve if they were too keep alive their dream of winning the FA Cup. van Persie was quite surprising in the first half. He looked helpless whenever he recieved the ball and couldn’t do anything noteable. Diaby was as worse. 90% of his passes were to Gallas and Sagna. He looked too hesitant to make forward passes.

Wenger’s half time talk reaped fruit for Arsenal. The second half was sheer domination for Arsenal. They nearly broke the deadlock with a Diaby header from a corner but the ball went wrong side of the post. Then a header cleared off the line came to Song with his back towards goal. The Cameroon international tried an athletic effort but once again off target. The pressure was mounting but Arsenal failed to convert their opportunities to goals. With 20 minutes remaining I feared this is not our day. Visions of Arsenal vs West Ham came to my mind and this match seemed just like it. Chance after chance but they couldn’t score heading for defeat. Even when Nasri and Bendtner came on, the number of chances increased but the goal was still lacking. Eventually substitute Bendtner got away from two defenders inside the box and was at a very acute angle towards the goal. He picked out the unmarked Arshavin at the far post. The Russian instead of attempting a difficult finish from a tight angle found van Persie right ahead of the goal, he too was unmarked, and he did not make any mistake. Lashed it into the top of the net with a first time effort by his right foot. Finally Hull’s resistance had snapped thanks to some poor defending. After that Hull could not do what they had been doing all match – time wasting. So as they tried to attack, Arsenal’s attacks became more dangerous. The winner came with just around 5 mins to go. Once again a substitute was involved. Nasri’s free kick lofted into the box. Three four players and the keeper went for the ball and eventually it landed to Gallas who was expecting the ball to come to him. A simple header to make it 2-1. Hull were furious as they claimed Gallas was offside and replays suggested they were right. But it seemed Myhill could have had the last touch before the ball fell to Gallas. Because of the number of chances they created Arsenal deserved to win!

Fabianski had a very good match. He was not at fault in the goal and apart from it he was brilliant. Sagna worked his socks off. Equally impressive at defending and attacking but it was his poor clearance that set up Hull’s opening goal. Djourou was poor. Gallas was solid. Gibbs was terrific. Unbelievable performance from the youngster. I was particularly pleased with his crossing apart from defending and runs. He is like a young version of Clichy except that his crosses are much much better. He has a great future ahead of him. Arshavin was exceptional yet again. He can pick out brilliant defence piercing through balls out of nowhere. Amazing. Song was good once again, solid. Diaby was very poor in the first half but better in the second. Walcott was great as expected. Vela and van Persie were poor mostly. Vela had a bad day but he is far more capable than how he played today.

Moving to some controversial issues now. Phil Brown accused Fabregas of spitting at Hull’s assistant manager Brian Horton. What a hopeless accusation. I can’t even imagine Fabregas doing such a vulgar act. What a bad loser Brown is. Just because you have been dumped out of the cup by fat better opposition doesn’t mean you put out baseless accusations. Fabregas has immediately denied it saying he hasn’t done it on the pitch even so why would he do it when he is not even playing. Its odd that Brown is the one making the accusation not the victim himself! It kind of shows someone is just lying. Trying to take his anger out on someone! But it’s not proven yet. I sure hope Cesc didn’t do it.

As for Wenger not shaking hands with the lizard-face, it was Brown who rushed down the tunnel first I think. Even if he hadn’t gone down first he looked disgusted and not in the mood of  a handshake so nothing Wenger could have done really. Bad loser Brown.

Advertisements
Hull will look to emulate their historic win at the Emirates last year...

Hull will look to emulate their historic win at the Emirates last year...

Arsenal will look to continue their fight for trophies from two fronts as they face Hull City at The Emirates tonight in the FA Cup. But they will be without the services of Eduardo, Clichy and Almunia for it. Eduardo injured his groin against Roma and is not fit enough to return yet. Almunia is also out injured. Clichy has been rested. Wenger also mentioned Ramsey has been rested because “he is growing in stature and a bit tired”. How come he is tired without even being given a chance to play?! That’s odd. I am a big fan of Ramsey and he surely has a bright future ahead of him but he should be given chances at least in the FA Cup. He must be feeling sitting on the bench week in week out: “Damn, I should have stayed at Cardiff.” But he has to be patient. Wenger knows how to bring up these youngsters to the top level and Ramsey should turn out to be another one of his wonders. Arshavin is a doubt for the match but he is in the squad and his involvement will be decided late on because the Russian is desperate to play. He was annoyed at Blackburn’s physical game and called them the toughest tackling team he has played against. Arsenal’s new recruit’s foot had been cut badly by Ooijer and he is in pain and had eight stitches on it. Regarding his involvement Wenger said: “We will make a decision today. He is desperate to be involved. He just wants to play.”

Arsenal will be looking to continue their brilliant form and march on on the road to Wembley. Even if Arshavin does not start, Nasri is world class and so is Walcott so we shouldn’t miss him much. Walcott really is exceptional. I have a feeling he is going to get an assist or two tonight. Who will play in the central defence is a question. Toure and Djourou were very solid at the weekend but Gallas had some rest and maybe that rest was for this game. Toure and Gallas partnership on their day is one of the best in the world. Song and Denilson are also forging a decent central midfield partnership with Song going through the best form of this life. I expect this line-up:

Fabianski
Sagna     Gallas     Toure     Gibbs
Walcott     Denilson     Song     Nasri
Vela     van Persie

Quite a strong line-up but van Persie will need to improve a lot from his recent performances. Wenger is confident Arsenal can go on and do something special this season:

“Of course there is a burning desire to win a trophy and if we focus on our performances then we can create something special.”

Arsenal will look to exploit Hull’s poor form. Just 2 wins in the last 9 games for The Tigers. But despite coming into this game as big underdogs, Geovanni isn’t at all worried by the fact that they are coming into this game with a poor form and play against a team that is in hot form:

“It is another game where we can prove ourselves. The FA Cup is important because it can help everybody’s confidence. The target is go there and win. It is a big game and Wembley will be important. Everyone wants to get there. My dream is to be at Wembley.”

I think Arsenal should prove to be too good for Hull but they will surely put up quite a fight. It will be a close encounter but Arsenal should come out on top. Hull cannot afford to sit back and defend so that will be of immense help to Arsenal because the Gunners love to play against teams that like to play football and attack them. An early goal for Arsenal could provide a deadly blow and Walcott’s pace is dangerous enough to do that just like we saw against Blackburn. I predict 2-0 to Arsenal.

West Bromwich Albion vs Arsenal

West Bromwich Albion vs Arsenal

Arsenal’s trip to West Brom seems like a perfect opportunity to end their goal scoring drought. Tony Mowbray’s side have lost their last 4 games and Arsenal have a big opportunity to make that 5. To add to that hopeless run, they have conceded at least two goals in their last 7 games.

Arsenal as we all know are on the worst run in Arsene Wenger’s reign as Arsenal’s manager. 5 straight draws have made them drop 10 points. What makes this run hard to digest is that in all of these matches, Arsenal have dominated the game, but yet they drew as they failed to find the back of the net. If Arsenal had won these 5 games, they would have been 2nd in the League, just 6 points behind the leaders Manchester United. But now the 16 point gap has effectively ruled Arsenal out of the title race and even qualifying for the Champions League is becoming more and more difficult. Luckily for Arsenal though, Aston Villa too have been held to draws in their last 2 games so they have not been able to increase the gap between themselves and 5th placed Arsenal.

A defeat tonight, and a win for Everton would send Arsenal down to 6th place. But as Manchester United have won the League Cup so the 5th and 6th placed sides at the end of the season will qualify for the UEFA Cup so even if Arsenal unfortunately end up 6th considering their immensely poor run, they should still make it to the UEFA Cup next season so we don’t need to worry about not being in Europe at all next season!

Talking of West Brom now, their run is much worse than Arsenal’s as mentioned above and they are at rock bottom in the League table. Havent won a match since their 3-0 win against Middlesbrough 7 matches back. So looking at the situation of West Brom, Arsenal should finally end their long run of draws. West Brom have lost 17 matches already this season and hopefully Arsenal can make it 18. West Brom rarely come and just defend. They go for the win in every match which should give Arsenal some breathing space and we all know Arsenal play really well in such situations. West Brom have been hopeless against big teams. They have lost to Arsenal and Liverpool, and to Aston Villa, Chelsea and Mancheter United twice.

Tema news now. William Gallas is out with an ankle injury so Djourou will come in. Bad news there. Gallas-Toure partnership has been working brilliantly. Lets hope Gallas returns soon. He is going through the best form of his Arsenal career. Apart from his no one is back and no one else is out. The team might change though. I don’t expect Vela to get another start. Bendtner might be back.

Almunia
Sagna     Toure     Djourou    Clichy
Arshavin     Diaby     Denilson    Nasri
Bendtner     van Persie

I expect Bendtner to return but he might again be dropped and Eboue might come into the same 4-2-3-1 formation on the right.

Predicting Arsenal’s matches is becoming quite difficult now! They are on a bad run but the bad run is eventually going to end obviously. It wont continue forever. I expect the run to end tonight (my heart says so :p). 1-0 to Arsenal!

Arsenal vs Cardiff CIty

Arsenal vs Cardiff CIty

Arsenal players can now swap their national teams shirts back to the red and white of Arsenal. Arsenal are stuck in the 5th round as first they had a draw in the away game and then the replay had to be postponed due to heavy snowfall.

The FA Cup is the competition that Arsenal have the most realistic chance of winning and finally bringing to an end the trophy-less years. Arsenal are further helped by the fact that all the matches leading up to the semifinals will be home ties for them. That will be quite an advantage.

But leading up to this match Arsenal are going through a bad patch. Way too many draws for them. 0-0, 1-1, 0-0 and 0-0 in their last four games says it all. What is even more alarming is that they have scored just a single goal in their last 4 games. Arsene Wenger is also quite surprised by that run:

“It is completely unlike us, the circumstances are a little bit strange. We played against West Ham who had a very good side, we played at Cardiff which is a little bit special and then we played at Tottenham with 10 men. We are used to scoring goals and we will score goals again, don’t worry. We have always had a good forward line and we were very close to scoring many times against West Ham and Cardiff. At the moment it is difficult for everybody to score but if we keep playing well as a team I’ m sure that will come back.”

Dramatic improvement is needed. But on the positive side. Those are 3 clean sheets from 4 matches and moving a bit more back, it’s 5 clean sheets from the last 8 games.

But Wenger is not worried by the last three draws as when you look at the bigger picture, Arsenal are unbeaten in 11 games and that is quite a run. The Frenchman said:

“We want to prepare well because we know it is a very important game for us and we need to focus. We are unbeaten in 11 matches and want to keep that going in every competition — the longer that lasts, the stronger you will be. If the three draws put together don’t look good, then you must put the whole 11 games together and that looks like we are on a run.”

On the other hand, ironically Cardiff are also on an 11 match unbeaten run. In those matches they are 6 matches unbeaten away from home but it includes 4 draws and have let in 7 goals in these 6 away games. Their last four matches are much better than Arsenal’s: 1-1, 0-0, 2-0, 2-0.

This match is very vital for Arsenal. They need to continue their unbeaten run and by doing so they will stay alive in the competition in which they have the best chance of ending up with the trophy. Wenger knows the importance of the match:

“We want to transform that bit of disappointment from a draw into a convincing victory, and the team is on a good way. I believe we should focus on our way to be successful and not too much on the others. We need outstanding performances until the end of the season and the only way to achieve that is by focusing on our performances.”

Which team will Wenger go for is a very difficult guess. It’s the FA Cup. Maybe Wenger will go for a side with a mixture of first teamers and fringe players or considering the importance of the match, you lose you are out, he might go for a full strength side. I expect the first possibility. Arshavin isn’t available as he wasn’t an Arsenal player at the time of the first leg so there is one player out of contention. Diaby is injured, Eboue suspended and also Ramsey is injured. Eduardo is back and may play a part though I don’t expect him to be handed out a start. I expect the following line up:

Fabianski
Sagna     Gallas     Djourou     Gibbs
_____     Denilson     Song     Nasri
van Persie     Bendtner

Now there is a gap there. Arsenal are out of right wingers at the moment. So maybe Wilshere will be given a start on the left with Nasri on the right, or Vela on the left and Nasri on the right. I would love to see either of them play. But from what I have heard Bischoff can play in the centre and on the right and I would be pleased to see him play. He can score absolute stunners! Eduardo might come on as a late substitute.

Prediction 1-0 to Arsenal.

Eduardo - I can't wait to see him wearing the red and white of Arsenal again

Eduardo - I can't wait to see him wearing the red and white of Arsenal again

According to Croatia’s coach Slaven Bilic, Eduardo is ready and fit enough to return for the Gunners on monday.

Eduardo has been out since last January for Arsenal but made his return for Croatia this week setting up the winning goal for them. Arsene Wenger had his eyes on the Croat and had asked for Bilic’s opinion on him. The Croatian coach feels Eduardo is ready:

“Arsene Wenger asked me to contact him straight after the match and I told him he could use Eduardo without any problems.”

Earlier Arsene Wenger had also clarified that Eduardo is ready for his return:

“He is back and ready to go. I don’t know [about Cardiff]. I don’t want to promise anything. I want the freedom to pick the team I want to pick.”

But now that Bilic has also given a green signal to Wenger on Eduardo’s fitness, we might well finally see the return of our forward and man we need him! Adebayor is out, but we wanted him out anyway! Bendtner hasn’t been good enough and Vela wont be given the chance I am sure so wee sure need Edu. He looked very sharp and did not look frightened at all when going after defenders so the signs are good. Hope he is tried out against Cardiff.

And Happy Valentine’s Day to all committed people and happy independence day to all singles like me out there:P

Adebayor wins another personal accolade

Adebayor wins another personal accolade

Arsenal forward Emmanuel Adebayor has been named Africa’s best player for 2008 by The Confederation of African Football. The Togolese player beat off competition from Mohamed Aboutrika of Egypt and Ghana’s Michael Essien. Adebayor had the best season of his life so far (and probably the best he will ever have) last year and ended up Barclays Premier League’s second top scorer and scored an overall 30 goals in the season. The forward has been rewarded a trophy and a cash prize of $20,000 at the ceremony in Nigeria. FIFA President Sepp Blatter was also present at the occasion. It was an emotional moment for the Arsenal star who , obviously delighted with the achievement, said:

“This is a special night for me. I dedicate this award to my mum, without her, I would have been nothing. My father is no more but wherever he is, he will be proud of me.”

Adebayor had also earlier won the BBC African Player of the year award.

Ironically I had written a critical article of him just yesterday and within less than 24 hours he wins the award! I have written one about Eboue today so lets hope he wins something tomorrow (*laughs*)! In his dreams!

Time for Bendtner to get some first team action

Time for Bendtner to get some first team action

But as Adebayor is injured at the moment, its time for Bendtner to make a mark. And he starts off in typical style with some arrogant comments.

“I still feel that when I play my best, I should start, regardless of who is fit or who is injured. I have the same attitude every time, and each game I try to prove that I should start.”

Haha so he thinks he deserves to play in the first team of Arsenal! Thats hilarious! The Dane though happy as now he will get more chances in the first team with Adebayor injured, concedes that Arsenal need Adebayor back soon:

“Of course, chances for me have improved with someone else out injured, but I still hope Adebayor will be back soon, as we need him in the team.”

He may be as usual very overconfident but I hope he does well in the absence of Adebayor. We all know Wenger too well so we know Vela or Eduardo wont be given the chance in Adebayor’s absence, only Bendtner will be tried so I hope he plays exceptionally well and it turns out be an Almunia story like Lehmann got injured, Almunia came in and impressed and Lehmann never came back!

The closest Arsenal came to scoring

The closest Arsenal came to scoring

Cardiff, Everton, West Ham and now Tottenham. 4 straight draws and Arsenal are now 7 points behind Aston Villa. The Gunners now face an uphill task of  securing the Champions League spot. It seems quite unlikely now.

It was Arsenal who held Spurs to a draw and not Arsenal being held to a draw. Arsenal were dominated for most periods of the match and in the end a last minute save by Almunia saved the point.

The first half started with the hosts dominating. Slowly Arsenal seemed to get back into it and showed glimpses of brilliance, the Arsenal which we all want to see. Eboue looked full of energy but the hype of the ocassion got to him. First yellow carded for dissent for sheer stupidity and then stupidity once again earned him a second yellow and a red. The player let the fans, the manager and his teammates down. Then on Spurs had the numerical advantage and soon after the sending off Adebayor had to go off, injuring his hamstring. It seemed it just wasn’t our day. Half time approached and we did not have a single shot on goal. But we had our chances and we unfairly denied a clear goal by Eboue.

Nasri had a great first half

Nasri had a great first half

The second half saw more of the same, but even more domination by Spurs. Half chance after half chance but no real clear cut chance for either side. Spurs came closest to scoring with a Robbie Keane header just over the bar. Song also had a shot from a corner just outside the post. van Persie’s effort from a corner went wide. Right at the end Arsenal seemed to have given Spurs a big blow but Bendtner’s shot saved by Cudicini. And then on the counter Modric got a one on one with Almunia, only to be denied by a world class save by Almunia. But it was a poor finish by Modric too.

No Arshavin all match seemed very surprising. The Russian wasn’t match fit so Wenger didn’t start him. Fine. But why not give him 20 30 minutes?! Arsenal were looking poor at the end and needed Arshavin if they were to win. But it was as if Wenger was happy with a draw and Arshavin did not come on. We were lucky to get a draw in the end.

Wenger was a frustrated man at the end especially angered at the disallowed goal:

“I feel it is two points dropped because we had the best chances and we scored a regular goal that was ruled out by an illusionary foul seen by only the referee. I watched it three times on television and I still don’t see what was wrong. That is why at the end of the day it’s frustrating.”

Player Ratings:

Almunia – 8 – Had it not been for him, it would have been yet another defeat for Arsenal.

Sagna – 8 – As usual a brilliant performance. Did everything right. Especially when Eboue was sent off, he was the right back cum right winger and yet he did really well. Has amazing stamina.

Gallas – 7.5 – Did not put a foot wrong all match.

Toure – 6.5 – A couple of dangerous mistakes from the Ivorian but fortunately he got away with them.

Clichy – 7 – Did well. His injury was a big blow but he should be back for the next match.

Eboue – 4 – Arsenal did not win because of his sending off. He was after so long looking very good and was unfairly denied a goal. He seemed to pop up everywhere and it seemed it was going to be his day. But his character let him down. He has apologized for the red card but it won’t get Arsenal three points so no use.

Denilson – 7.5 – A nice little performance from him. He is starting to play quite well now. Made crucial interceptions and created a few chances. Just needs to work on his passing so he can provide killer passes. That is something he lacks.

Song – 7.5 – For the first time in quite a long time I was impressed  by him. He can be quite a good holding midfielder. Needs to be a lot more consistent though.

Nasri – 7.5 – Tried really hard all match. But I have been noticing that in the last 15 20 minutes he disappears.

van Persie – 7.5 – Like Nasri, tried to do something all match but in the end did not get too much support as Arsenal had a three man midfield of which Denilson and Song were mostly defending.

How bad will Adebayor's injury affect Arsenal

How bad will Adebayor's injury affect Arsenal

Adebayor – 5 – Could not play for long and the time that he was on, he did not do anything notable.

Substitutes:

Bendtner – 6 – Good movement off the ball, but he just isn’t an Arsenal player I feel.

Gibbs – Too little time to make an impact.

– Can anyone tell me where has Vela disappeared?! I am surprised. He has put up quite decent performances when given the chance, yet of all the praise that Wenger showered on him and his impressive performances in the Carling Cup he has not been given enough chances. I don’t get it.

– Adebayor is out for three weeks

by Zain Shahid

Arsenal vs West Ham United

Arsenal vs West Ham United

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:

Almunia
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

With the form that Arsenal are in, this performance against Cardiff came completely out of the blue. Poor defending at times, gave the ball away on too many occasions and did not create enough chances; and all that against a Championship side!

Ramsey - Below par performance from the youngster

Ramsey - Below par performance from the youngster

The hosts made a bright start and one might say we were lucky it remained 0-0 thanks to some not so good finishing. Gradually we came into the game with Nasri getting a brilliant chance to put us ahead but his shot was saved by the keeper. Apart from that there was a van Persie free kick that flashed just wide of the post and an easy chance wasted by Adebayor. The list ends there and it sums up the performance of Arsenal. Cardiff nearly made us cry but their late free kick hit the bar otherwise we would have been left fighting for just two trophies.

The only positive from the game was Keiran Gibbs, who is becoming a good cover for Clichy; and not to mention the fact that we managed not to lose! Ramsey did not perform to the level he can as probably the occasion got to him and he gave the ball away too easily. Eboue had another hopeless performance. Bendtner looked a bit lost as the striker but played better on the right. Diaby, when he came on in the second half, played quite well but another substitute Adebayor was unbelievably poor. A guy with his quality has got to finish chances like those but on more than one occasion this season we have seen him miss chances like that.

Surprisingly with us needing a goal to win it, Vela or Wilshere were not introduced to inject the vital pace which was desperately needed. I was really confused with Wenger’s thinking on this one. And when he did bring on Wilshere, he got a couple of minutes to win the match! Unbelievable.

Arsene Wenger will surely not be pleased to play an extra game now with the small squad that he has but you have to live with it. If Arsenal manage to win the replay, they will face either West Brom or Burnley at Emirates. Seems easy on paper but like this match against Cardiff, it wont be easy…i.e if Arsenal get to the next round!

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!