Tag Archives: away

Arsenal’s Home Comforts

We know a home crowd has a huge effect on players. We know it changes the course of decisions for referees – home teams are nearly twice as likely to get a big decision than the away team.

Is it truly the 12th man though?

It seems that way for Arsenal right now, and last season too for that matter.

The contrast between our home and away form is quite startling. Since December (this is written in the aftermath of our 1-0 loss to Everton at Goodison) we have won a solitary game away from The Emirates in the Premier League. That victory was at bottom of the table Huddersfield, and we have had five away wins since the start of 2018 – Cardiff, Newcastle, Fulham, Bournemouth and Huddersfield.

Add to that our lack of a clean sheet away from home – the ONLY team to not have one this season – and you have a severe case of travel sickness.

It would be a case of relegation if it weren’t for our impressive home form. Only Manchester City have more home points banked than us, and it has seen us stay in contention for the top four.

Is our home crowd that vociferous that we need it to buoy us? Even Lacazette has twice as many home goals than away. Does our team require the home crowd more than we think?

As good as we can be at home sometimes, our crowd at The Emirates is probably not the answer. So why do our teams come out and play like artists at The Emirates, and yet fingerpaint away from home?

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Losses against West Ham, Everton, Southampton and draws against Brighton, Tottenham and Manchester United have all been games where we have failed to show up, or failed to push home the final blow.

The Hammers, Gulls, Saints and Everton results were devoid of anything remotely Arsenal-esque, and all shared the same fact – Our star-striking duo of Aubameyang and Lacazette didn’t start simultaneously alongside Mesut Ozil. Against United and Tottenham, our attacking threat was enough, but we failed to put away our chances, and it cost us.

When all three start, our results have been staggering, without loss this season. Mesut Ozil took his time to adapt to the ways of Unai Emery but has recently been involved in the starting eleven with increasing frequency.

Ultimately, that is down to the Manager and his selection.

It appears as if Emery favours attack as the best approach when at home, with our star three playing more often at The Emirates. When it comes to away from home though, one of our two strikers is usually selected, with Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Iwobi and / or Ramsey behind them. Emery is going conservative, trying to keep things a little tighter and emphasize the focus on closing down spaces rather than all-out attack.

The thing is though, when we do go for it at home, no matter the calibre of opponent, we create so much that we invariably have enough chances to win the game. We may concede a few – although in 2019 we have conceded less than all but Manchester City – but we seem capable of outscoring the majority.

Our knockout phase wins in the Europa League highlight the disparity of our home and away form.

Away from home against BATE Borisov, we fell to a 1-0 loss – the first English team to lose in Belarus.

Bring them back to The Emirates, we take them apart easily 3-0.

Same with Rennes – 3-1 loss in France, 3-0 win at The Emirates.

Let’s be straight here – these two clubs shouldn’t be able to hold a candle to us home OR away, yet they defeated us and left us to rely on our home advantage.

It seems then, that our malaise is down to a different approach, a lack of confidence to replicate our sizzling home form, and quite simply not playing well.

For this to carry over from last season shows that we need to change something, although there have been plenty of changes since Emery took over. The very fact we are still in with a shout of the top four shows we have improved from Wenger’s last season.

We have to hope we find the answer soon, otherwise it could cost us dearly.

Any ideas?

 

Newcastle Vs Arsenal PL Preview – What You Need To Know

The inane international break is over, and we can now look forward to proper football returning.

 

We travel to St James Park to take on Newcastle, who haven’t enjoyed the best start to their season, and are currently winless.

 

That only tells half the story though.

 

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Rafa Benitez has overseen a horrible run of just one win in nine games, and on paper this is a great chance to pick up a valuable away win.

 

If we want to get a taste of how tough this game will be, we just need to look at their last game – a narrow 2-1 loss to Champions City. The toon were mightily unlucky not to grab a point in this game, and their defence is looking a darn sight tougher than our own.

 

With our defence, even a slightly toothless attack like Newcastle’s have a chance – as we will probably gift them opportunities like we have in every one of our games thus far. In fact, we are averaging an exact two goals conceded in every game.

 

We only have ourselves to blame as we struggle to adapt to Emery’s tactics, but Newcastle will look to hit on the break. If our midfield doesn’t track back, we could open the door for the home team.

 

Team News

 

Sead Kolasinac, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Laurent Koscielny are all ahead of schedule in their fight to start first team training, but are not close to making this game or the next few for that matter. Alex Iwobi is back for selection after missing our win over Cardiff with illness. The question is though, will Lacazette and Aubameyang start together again and strengthen their bond? Or will Emery play it safe for a hard away trip?

 

Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez will be glad to have the services of Jonjo Shelvey again, and Matt Ritchie is also back. These two will likely represent the best chance the home team have of causing us problems, and they will be looking to feed Joselu, as Salomon Rondon only returned from international duty a few days ago.

 

Predictions

 

This game could be a real banana skin for us. Jonjo Shelvey returning could inspire the Toon, and the last time we played them at St James Park we lost 2-1 back in October.

 

Benitez has set his team up to frustrate and the fact that Newcastle have the lowest number of passes this season is evidence of a teak-tough team.

 

We may need a better defensive presence than Granit Xhaka, so Lucas Torreira could come in and mark the England midfielder. Matteo Guendouzi could make way, but it isn’t in midfield that our fans will be looking at in team selection.

 

Will Auba and Laca start? Which one will drop?

 

If Emery is keeping things tight, then Iwobi could come straight in at the expense of one of our star strikers, with an option on the bench to change things should the game get ugly.

 

Either way, we will need our star men to shine if we are to leave St James Park with the points and continue our recovery.

 

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Sokratis, Monreal, Torreira, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Lacazette

 

Predicted Scoreline – 2-1 to The Arsenal

Cardiff Vs Arsenal Match News

Off the mark, but not out of the woods.

 

That would be a fair assessment of last week’s win over West Ham.

 

There are a few negatives to take from the victory last weekend over the Hammers, but there were far more positives to show that Unai Emery’s new regime is kicking into gear, although it is far from the finished article.

 

Our defence is probably the most worrisome point of conjecture. West Ham on more than one occasion took great delight in probing our high line, and while we held firm, Petr Cech saved us on a few openings we should never have had.

 

Still, it is a work in progress, and with a visit to shot-shy Cardiff, we can hold out hope that this game will see our first clean sheet of the season.

 

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To be honest though, three points and a decent performance would suffice for most!

 

Team News

 

Emery revealed in his press conference that Sead Kolasinac, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Laurent Koscielny and Carl Jenkinson are still some way from being fit, with the Bosnian the nearest to returning to first-team training.

 

Mesut Ozil has recovered from illness and will most likely play a part, but will it be from the bench? The refreshing thing about Emery is that he is giving all players a chance, but poor performances are seeing changes – just ask Xhaka, Ramsey and Ozil himself.

 

We could see the much heralded duo of  Lacazette and Aubameyang start together for the first time. With Neil Warnock enjoying two clean sheets from his first three league games, the emphasis will be on our side to break down a stubborn, rigid and packed defence.

 

I have a hunch that Torreira may make his first start ahead of Guendouzi, given the physical edge that Cardiff will exert on us. The Uruguayan will relish the battle.

 

That will be a lot easier with both our French and Gabon strikers on the pitch simultaneously.

 

Our Opponent

 

Warnock has two 0-0 draws and an opening day defeat so far, and midweek saw them humbled by Championship side Norwich. The experienced Bluebirds manager will see that Arsenal still haven’t cemented their defensive style, so set plays will be decisive.

 

He will have to make do without Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, after he was injured last weekend, and the pace he would have offered would have been a valuable outlet. No goals so far, but that isn’t to say they will be without a threat.

 

Predictions

 

Cardiff are looking not only for their first win, but their first goal of this Premier League season, and I’ve got a horrible feeling they’ll get it in some horrible mess of a scramble in our box.

 

I do think we’ll win though, and I think it will be comprehensive.  It all hinges on if we can break them early. Warnock will be keen to frustrate us, so an early goal would change the complexion of Warnock’s tactics.

 

If we score inside the first half – I think a 4-1 win.  If we don’t, then I’m going for a 2-1, and an awkward game for all concerned. It is no coincidence that Cardiff’s opponents in the last two games have had red cards. They know how to fight.

 

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Sokratis, Monreal, Torreira, Xhaka, Ramsey, Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang

The Arsenal Shirt – Part of the Fabric of our Club

Some things go hand in hand with a football club.

It can be their rickety stadium, their vociferous fans or it could be one of their luminaries that changed the sport. Whatever it is, there are things that embody a football club. It is their brand and they should cherish it.

Probably the most iconic thing about a football club is their jersey, and Arsenal’s red and white combo is instantly recognisable the world over. No matter the manufacturer of the kit, the white sleeves and red torso on the Gunners shirts are part of the fabric of the club.

Never has this been clearer, than recently when pictures of next seasons kit were leaked – reportedly.

Arsenal's reported new kit from 2018/19

The outcry on social media was fierce, and it propelled a legend or two to comment on the travesty that is our projected home kit for 2018/19. Ian Wright tweeted and posted on Instagram to decry this planned jersey, and rightfully so.

While it maintains the red and white we so hold dear, the manner in which the design is welded together leaves many to think that a lack of care was put into the process that Puma implemented when they gathered round the table to discuss the Gunners shirt.

The relationship with Puma has been a rocky one to say the least. The designs which have been thrust upon us have split the crowd, and for every hit (this seasons black and pink number is quite fetching) there has been a glaring miss (the abomination that is this seasons away kit).

It has led to many of us musing on whether the kit is actually cursed, the ugly piece of kit may well be doing all it can to put its own bad juju on proceedings.

Stories of parts of the kit coming away in the wash and fading of colours have done nothing to inspire confidence in Puma’s wares, and we have all harked back to more recent successes that our players have worn – the yellow kit from Nike’s last season with us was classic, and faithfully upheld our values in the most fitting way.

Arsenal's away kit from 2013/14 - a beautiful design faithfully upholding our values

Then we see teams like Newcastle United sporting the very same designs that we are now wearing – it gives off a fair whiff of laziness coming from Puma’s direction. We are The Arsenal, and we shouldn’t be sharing designs with anyone.

The shirt should be a form of muse for our players. It should inspire new heights for our men, and instill a sense of awe and fear in our opponents. It should also be aesthetically pleasing enough to push us into forking out the copious amounts of dough to purchase them – it would be very insightful to find out sales figures for our blue kit this season in comparison to others.

The book – The Arsenal Shirt – by James Elkin and Simon Shakeshaft did a fantastic job of highlighting what the shirt means to us all. There were a few amid the outcry recently that questioned the level of response toward what is essentially only a shirt, but if you read this wonderful book, it tells you with every glorious page turn, why our shirt is so important.

Some may see it as trivial, but every part of our club’s history is what makes us The Arsenal. Every strand is woven intricately into what comprises us, what makes us unique. We need to hold our values dear and protect them, otherwise the current hunger for business will engulf the character of each and every club.

The new shirt may well be used next season, and it will still sell, but hopefully, Puma’s social media presence will pick up on our displeasure and go back to the drawing board.

If not, then we can cross our fingers that from the season after, our new kit manufacturers ensure they are well versed in Arsenal lore before they put pen to paper.

It isn’t just a shirt, it never is.

It’s part of who we are.

Newcastle Vs Arsenal PL Preview

Our Premier League match at Newcastle has sunk under the radar after our Europa League exploits in midweek.

Our focus has been on our European adventure, as this represents our only chance – however slim – of redeeming our season.

We squeaked through against CSKA in Moscow on Thursday after an almighty scare, and we played our strongest side in our trip to Russia. Now we have tired legs and the knowledge that if we try that same tactic again, Newcastle will get the better of us.

Newcastle Vs Arsenal Preview

We sat back and were content to soak up pressure, only stretching our attacking muscles when it was absolutely mandatory. This is a familiar approach, which normally sees us concede first and then chase the game. Rafa Benitez will be aware of this, and his players will be primed from the off to go at us.

We need to play our strongest side again, and that means a reprieve for some and a deserved stay in the team for others. Mohamed Elneny had a stormer on Thursday and gives our midfield some balance, and with Granit Xhaka recovering from flu, the Egyptian should start again.

Danny Welbeck has been on fire of late, and starting out wide seems to suit the England man, with only Mo Salah outscoring him in the last five games. With Henrikh Mkhitaryan out for another two weeks or so, Welbeck is the option we need to fill the gap and increase our scoring threat.

Jack Wilshere has hit a patch of awful form, and his last two games weren’t pretty. The midfielder will most likely get another chance to shine though, with Xhaka most likely out for this game. Our defence should stay the same, although there is a chance for Calum Chambers to come into the backline for Laurent Koscielny, who often can’t fight off his chronic tendonitis when playing two games in a week.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will come back into the side after being cup-tied, and Alexandre Lacazette will most likely sit on the bench, unless Wenger goes full throttle and names both in the side, which he has inferred of late.

Newcastle have won their last three games to pull away from the relegation zone and sit comfortably in midtable. They’ve won convincingly too, and with Shelvey hitting some form, they’ve got an enigma that can turn a game if left unchecked.

Then there is our wretched away form in the Premier League – only three wins away from The Emirates all campaign – and this must change quickly. We are pretty much out of the running for the top four, but there is a distinct chance to finish above Chelsea, and also avoid our lowest ever finish under Wenger.

A sixth place finish and no Europa League would be quite clearly our worst season, so there is still much to play for. Our squad need to rotate and play at the maximum, and if we do that then we can perhaps scrape some honour from this campaign.

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Chambers, Monreal, Elneny, Wilshere, Ramsey, Ozil, Welbeck, Aubameyang

Predicted Scoreline – 2-1 to The Arsenal

CSKA Moscow Vs Arsenal: Europa League Match Preview

We travel to Moscow for the second leg of our Europa League Quarter-Final to take on CSKA Moscow again, with a valuable 4-1 scoreline giving us clear sight of the Semi-Finals.

CSKA Vs Arsenal 2nd Leg of our Quarter-Final

The first leg score may be advantageous, but it is not conclusive. The away goal scored by Golovin direct from a free kick was deserved if we are honest, as they caused us problems regularly, usually through the vibrant Ahmed Musa. On a different night they could have had two or three, and it is good evidence that they could score an early goal and heap the pressure on.

With a partisan atmosphere to contend with and the pressure of an attacking team bearing down on us, the night could get messy.

Objectively, we could and should have scored six or seven. We created chances at will seemingly, and our opponents had no answer to the creativity of Mesut Ozil for the majority of the game.

The bottom line for this fixture is that if we attack early on, and we score, CSKA will then need four goals to force extra time.

We need to be on the front foot – especially seeing as the combined age of their defence is the actual age of creatures hailing from the Cretaceous era. We can kill this game off early and then rotate for a tough game this Sunday at Newcastle. We have won three away games in the League all season and we need every resource we have in order to better that.

If we score in Moscow, the game is over.
Laurent Koscielny, Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey are set to return to the side, and with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang cup-tied, Alexandre Lacazette is our go-to Europa League striker. Granit Xhaka didn’t travel with the squad as he is sick with flu, so Elneny or Jack could start alongside Ramsey.

Two players who have played their way into contention are Danny Welbeck and Alex Iwobi. their respective displays against a spirited Southampton side last weekend were welcome returns to form for the pair, and they almost single-handedly rescued us from dropping points. With Henrikh Mkhitaryan out for what looks like the remainder of the season, they both are in with a shout of a start.

David Ospina is still out, so Petr Cech will take the gloves instead of our designated cup keeper. Aside from these changes, the lineup pretty much picks itself. One piece of good news for the coming weekend though, is that the red card Mohamed Elneny received in our win over Southampton last week has been rescinded by the FA, and it dissolves the three match ban the Egyptian was due to suffer.

CSKA will have to attack to salvage anything from this tie, but an early goal changes the whole game. We’ll need to be on our game at both ends of the pitch, but we can cut them to ribbons if we need to. Let’s hope we kill their hopes early and save all of us Gooners the coronaries that normally come with a high-stakes tie.

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Ozil, Wilshere, Welbeck, Lacazette

Predicted Scoreline – 2-1 to The Arsenal

AC Milan Vs Arsenal – Europa League Preview

A loss at home to Ostersunds.

Two consecutive losses to Manchester City, one in a cup final which underlined the disparity between our club and the current top group of Premier League teams.

Then a humbling loss to Brighton.

So a trip to the San Siro is exactly what the doctor ordered.

Our visit to AC Milan pretty much holds our season in its result. The Europa League, however small the chances are, is the only hope of glory in what has been a horrible campaign. The aim, with our confidence levels so low, has to be to gain any semblance of a result that we can pin hope to for the return leg.

An away goal would be handy, but Gennaro Gattuso has instilled a backbone in his side, and two consecutive 0-0 draws versus Lazio recently saw them through to the Coppa Italia final and underlined their defensive merits.

That will be down to the costly but necessary addition of Leonardo Bonucci, who was part of the granite-like triumvirate at Juventus that also had Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli. Bonucci is taking to Milan life quite well, and Milan, while not resurgent, are showing signs of life in Serie A.

We’ll most likely have to make do without the talents of Nacho Monreal, as the Spaniard is nursing a back complaint. He has a small chance of making the game, but Sead Kolasinac stands by. Hector Bellerin is missing out with a knee complaint too, so Calum Chambers will slot in.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is cup-tied after appearing for BVB earlier in the season, and with Alexandre Lacazette injured and making his way back to fitness, that leaves Danny Welbeck. The striker is a great addition to the squad with his endless running, his teamplay and tracking back. His finishing though? Not exactly clinical. Let’s hope we create plenty of chances.

Eddie Nketiah could play a bigger part than normal, being the sole back-up, and the youngster would learn an awful lot with an appearance in such a grand arena as the San Siro.

In midfield, Granit Xhaka has played almost every minute of our dire run and has shown very little change. Aaron Ramsey missed the loss to Brighton and is expected to be involved in some capacity, but will he partner Mohamed Elneny, Jack Wilshere or Xhaka? Previous games say the Swiss midfielder will win this race.

AC Milan rested Fabio Borini during the Coppa Italia semi-final, and his extensive knowledge of the English game could be enough for him to gain a place in the starting lineup, although Suso and Crutone may have something to say about that.

This Last16 tie is an opportunity to gain a little bit of confidence and also to dispel the talk of Arsenal being incapable of going past this stage. Our consecutive losses at this stage in the Champions League have put doubt to our European credentials, and it’s quite simply ludicrous.

Milan could well extend the run though. They have the squad and the atmosphere at the San Siro will be white hot. Can we actually play like the team we’re meant to be, instead of strangers on the pitch? The last month says no.

We need to bounce back now, and if we don’t we could find ourselves in that tired scenario where we have nothing to play for in the second leg.

Game over man, game over.

Predicted Lineup – Ospina, Chambers, Mustafi, Koscielny, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Ramsey, Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Iwobi, Welbeck

Predicted Scoreline – 2-1 to Milan I fear, but that would be enough to give us a fighting chance back at The Emirates.

Brighton Vs Arsenal Premier League Match Preview

After the debacle at home versus Ostersunds, the Carabao Cup catastrophe and our home smashing against City, we now travel outside the M25 to take on Chris Hughton’s Brighton and Hove Albion.

Arsenal have had a horror show recently, and so optimism is thin on the ground right now. The prospect of an away trip, with our quite atrocious record on our travels, and a tie against AC Milan just days away, isn’t exactly filling us with good thoughts.

Arsene Wenger seems to have run out of ideas, but if he did fall on his sword, he has the opportunity to do so by winning Arsenal’s first European trophy since 1994. Before that though, he has to get his team winning again.

The above may be wishful thinking, but being a supporter means holding out for hope, and while we’re still in the hunt, we’ve got a chance. We’ve done our best to extinguish any opportunities that have come our way, but the first step is always the hardest – and that is our trip to the Amex.

The Gulls have only lost at home three times this season, and the winners were the likes of Chelsea, City and Liverpool. for us to become the fourth would require a complete u-turn of recent displays.

We can start in our defence. City ran our men ragged at the back. Bellerin couldn’t cope with Sane, Koscielny got nowhere near Aguero and Mustafi looks a shadow of the man who cost £35m. Koscielny could be rested for Thursday, with Chambers or Holding coming in. Nacho Monreal too, could be rested. They’ll have to cope with a different threat in the form of Pascal Gross and Glenn Murray.

Gross is creative as well as a threat in the box, and isn’t far away from the best playmakers in the league with his number of chances created. Glenn Murray already has ten goals this season, and the two seem the perfect blend. Throw into the mix Jose Izquierdo and Brighton have enough about them to get the points they need to pull away from the relegation trapdoor.

Our midfield could lend a hand, but Granit Xhaka is far from a conventional DM, and thus, is leaving gaping holes in the centre of the park for opponents to exploit – which they are. With the attack-minded Aaron Ramsey as his partner, it means our engine room is non-existent. Our boys at the back could really do with a hand, so using Mohamed Elneny as an extra pair of hands could do the trick.

Our attack will most likely be unchanged, save for Danny Welbeck being rested for Milan. That would mean Alex Iwobi coming in for the England man. Jack Wilshere is back training and fully fit, so could either earn an instant recall for this game, or be saved for the AC Milan test.

Could the game versus Milan mean more changes? This is where it gets even more tricky. Do we rest top players so they’re fit and firing for the Europa League – our last hope of salvaging a god-awful season?

That is what Wenger is paid for – to make those decisions. There will be repercussions regardless of what decision he makes – rest players and our Premier League woes are exacerbated – but play them and our European and last trophy hope teeters even more than it is right now.

Brighton will be a toughie, and with their Premier League stay for next season far from booked, they will be fighting for every ball. We need to fight harder, that’s the only way we’ll restore confidence.

Damn, we miss Santi.

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Chambers, Kolasinac, Elneny, Wilshere, Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Iwobi, Aubameyang

Predicted Scoreline – 2-1 to The Arsenal.

Forest Vs Arsenal FA Cup Preview

With our league hopes suffering a battering of late, we welcome the return of the FA Cup as we take on Nottingham Forest in the 3rd round.





We are the holders, and as we also hold the record as the most successful FA Cup team – ever – we need to make a good stab of defending it. The first hurdle is this tricky tie.


Our recent Carabao Cup tie against fellow Championship outfit Norwich shows that we cannot afford to take Forest lightly, as we only just squeezed past the Canaries thanks to a brace from Eddie Nketiah.


Forest aren’t in a good place however. They recently sacked their manager, Mark Warburton, and it will be caretaker manager Gary Brazil that will oversee their attempt to cause an FA Cup upset.


Their last game was an admirable draw with Leeds United, but they are languishing in the bottom half of the Championship table and even at this halfway stage, they are in danger of either having nothing to play for – or getting sucked into the relegation mire.


They have some quality in their ranks in Michael Mancienne, Eric Lichaj and Liam Bridcutt and they also boast top flight experience, but Gary Brazil could opt to rotate his squad and concentrate on improving his side’s standing in the league, crazy as that may seem.


Rotating is something we must do, after a frenetic run of games recently. It demands we rest some of our men as there are a fair few that have played the majority – and some of our fringe players who have played precisely zero minutes and are gagging for some action.


With Jack Wilshere, Granit Xhaka, Petr Cech, Hector Bellerin, Shkodran Mustafi, Mesut Ozil, Alexis and a few others having the lions share of the many minutes of gametime in offer in December – we played nine games in all – some of our lesser lights with much to prove have a great opportunity to send a timely reminder to Wenger that they are still of use.


David Ospina should come into the side to take the gloves, and in defence there will be changes too. Mathieu Debuchy, Mohamed Elneny and Per Mertesacker are three that could comprise our backline, but it is all dependant on whether we play three or four at the back.


Reiss Nelson could take a full-back spot, and in midfield, Francis Coquelin and Jo Willock could do a job in containing Forest and put out any fires.


In attack, Theo Walcott, Danny Welbeck and Alex Iwobi are suffering from a dip in confidence, so a full game and plenty of chances will do them the world of good.


Make no mistake, we all expect a comfortable win, but however we achieve it will be welcome. If it is another tight game but we achieve safe passage to the fourth round, then I’ll take it.


It’d be great to give players like Ben Sheaf, Josh DaSilva and Eddie Nketiah a good runout, but with our chances for silverware hanging on by a thread and only one bad match from disappearing in each competition, we need to prioritise. Cups need to be put 

in the front of our view, as well as our Premier League position.


Basically then, we need to concentrate on every match. This is what our poor form has done. We have no breathing space, and every game must be given our utmost attention.


Forest must feel the force, and our second string must do the job, otherwise our first teamers will be suffering from exhaustion far quicker than we expect.


Predicted Lineup – Ospina, Debuchy, Elneny, Mertesacker, Nelson, Maitland-Niles, Willock, Coquelin, Iwobi, Walcott, Welbeck


Predicted scoreline – 2-0 to The Arsenal

West Brom Vs Arsenal Match Preview

Our 3-2 midweek win over Crystal Palace was only our third away win of our Premier League campaign. Now we have another away game hot on the heels of this victory, as we go to The Hawthorns to take on West Bromwich Albion.

Our recent record at the Baggies is a poor one. We’ve lost the last two visits there, and we’re sure to find the same tactics this time around, despite the change in manager. Alan Pardew doesn’t normally rely on constricting formations to get results, but he is also aware of how to frustrate Arsenal, so we can expect two rigid banks of four standing in front of our attack for the majority.

In terms of our attack, with Olivier Giroud out until at least January, Alexandre Lacazette will most likely lead the line again. Perhaps though, rotation may come into play with another midweek game on the horizon in the shape of a crunch match against Chelsea. If that is the case, then Danny Welbeck may get the nod to play against the baggies and former teammate, Kieran Gibbs.

Midfield shouldn’t see too many changes, but again with the Chelsea game looming, Francis Coquelin and Mohamed Elneny could relieve either Jack Wilshere or Granit Xhaka so they remain fresh for the blues game.

In defence, we’ll again be missing Nacho Monreal. We have a few choices to fill the gap, and Calum Chambers did his chances no harm with his performance in the win over Crystal Palace. He may have been caught out a couple of times by the trickery of Wilfried Zaha, but on the whole he performed well facing the threat.

Alan Pardew has been experimenting in recent games with his attack and has played two up top on occasion, with Jay Rodriguez and Salomon Rondon starting together. This game will see them play on the counter and rely on set plays to trouble us. After all, why mess with a winning formula? That would most likely mean that Rondon will get the nod. Matt Phillips gives them pace on the break, and they will employ either Claudio Yacob, Grzegorz Krychowiak or a combination of both to sit in front of the backline. Craig Dawson has also recently returned to give them an added threat in the air.

Chelsea and Liverpool both won yesterday, keeping the gap between us and them a healthy one. We need to stay primed for when they do stumble, and the only way to do that is to keep winning. The win over Palace midweek was deserved, despite the close scoreline. If we’re honest though, if we failed to pick up maximum points from Crystal Palace and West Brom, do we really deserve a higher spot in the league?

We need to show we are worthy of a top four spot. Just because it was ours for so long, doesn’t mean we automatically qualify for it or we deserve it. The league level has definitely risen this season, and we need to show we have improved with it.

We do have the return to form of Alexis to help us, although how long this particular service is available to us is unknown. I think we should sell him if an offer comes in, but only if a player of the ilk of Riyad Mahrez or Julian Draxler were to come in to fill the gap left by the departing Chilean. We need to use Alexis while we have him, so he should be playing all the games we have in the league. Let’s put him in the shop window, if he can win us some games in the meantime, then fantastic.

West Brom will be a tough cookie, and the result will most likely come down to one goal. We need to stay patient and keep playing the game we normally do. Spread the play, pass fast and our form players will do the rest.

Let’s pick up the points and then we can move onto the Chelsea game. If we lose this game, then the match against Conte’s Blues won’t matter so much anyway. We need to win them all.

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Mustafi, Koscielny, Chambers, Bellerin, Kolasinac, Coquelin, Wilshere, Iwobi, Ozil, Alexis, Welbeck.

Predicted scoreline – 2-1 to The Arsenal