Tag Archives: derby

North London Derby Preview.

Could this match matter any more than it does?

No, and it amps up every season, especially with our neighbours starting to make a nasty habit of looking down on us.

This current North London Derby is no different, but the ramifications for the loser of this tussle are huge for either team.

We sit in sixth place, and four points behind spurs. If we lose this game,then we’ll have a massive seven point gap to traverse just to get to fifth spot. It would probably signal the end of our Champions League spot hopes, placing even more importance on our Europa League campaign.

So, it is quite obvious that we have a little more to lose than Pochettino’s lot.

They will still feel the burn should we do the double over them this season with victory.

A win for them could see them rise to the heights of 3rd spot, but should they lose, they’ll be likely five points from 3rd, and a mere point above us – with low confidence and a tough tie against Juventus in their midst.

One thing we have in our favour is that they did play in midweek. It may have been League Two opposition, but Newport County gave a fantastic account of themselves at Wembley, and tottenham used more than a few first team regulars in order to despatch their FA Cup opponent.

Toby Alderweireld, Danny Rose, Heung Son-Min, Victor Wanyama and Harry Winks were among the eleven, and should they be selected they’ll be lacking that ten percent of energy that we’ll have after our weeks rest.

In Arsene Wenger’s pre-match press conference, our manager revealed that Nacho Monreal will thankfully be fit to take his place in the side, but the jury is still out on Petr Cech who was injured during our 5-1 win over Everton last week. David Ospina stands by to deputise.

Wenger has a selection headache too.

Aaron Ramsey scored a hat-trick in his last outing and the Welshman is surely a shoe-in for a start in this game.

But who partners him in midfield?

Granit Xhaka has been on point when it comes to his distribution, but wedging him into the DM role that clearly doesn’t fit him isn’t working. We could try fitting in Mohamed Elneny in a three man central midfield, but what of Jack Wilshere? The England man has been one of our best players in recent weeks and with his passion for Arsenal – a start in the NLD is a must, surely?

Then there is our attack.

Our new boys, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, both hit the ground running, and their partnership is a huge plus for us. They start, and obviously Mesut Ozil does too,but that means Alexandre Lacazette could be on the bench again.The Frenchman has so much quality that he should be a guaranteed starter, but our attack already has three, if Lacazette starts alongside Aubameyang, Ozil and Mkhitaryan, then we need a formation change.

Will Wenger change things up after such a handsome win though? Changing a winning team is not something Arsene does often, so Lacazette may again start from the bench.

We need this win for our league hopes, never mind bragging rights. We’ve got enough in our locker to do it, but our 2-0 win earlier in the season showed that we need to have an active press, and attack using the speed we have.

Plus, we’ve got our Wembley record to maintain.

Predicted lineup – Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Aubameyang, Lacazette

Predicted scoreline – 2-1 to The Arsenal

Arsenal Vs tottenham Match Preview

It’s that time in the season again when we battle with our North London neighbours and this season sees a depressingly familiar outlook for the match.




This season and last have seen tottenham enter the respective derby matches as favourites. After over two decades of Gunner domination, spurs can now call themselves favourites to win. Last year was the first time in 21 years that they had finished above Arsenal and the team they now put out is a real equal – or perhaps stronger – than the eleven that Arsene Wenger is capable of assembling.


We do have a strong home record to fall back on and it is this that must fire our boys to a win we so badly need. The last game was a loss to runaway leaders Man City that highlighted the gap now between us and the title challengers.


This game has to spark a revival and a charge up the table if we are to sustain a belief of a Champions League spot.


There will be many tasty battles on display in this game, which can be found in this Arsenal tactical report – and the one that will probably decide the fate of the result will occur right in the centre of the pitch.


Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka have been the preferred duo to marshall the engine room this season, but gelling between the pair has been slow to muster. They have been effective at time, but we will need more if we are to harbour any hopes of victory. Especially if Pochettino goes with Dembele and Winks. This combo is quick to win the ball and just as rapid to offload to a marauding Alli, Eriksen and Kane.


In terms of injuries, Danny Welbeck may be back available for selection if he passes a fitness test and his workrate may give him an instant recall – especially if Alexis’ display in our last game is anything to go by. The Chilean appeared to have already left the club and if selection demanded form, then Sanchez would be out. This probably won’t be the case, but Welbeck could start ahead of Lacazette instead – omitting the Frenchman from our defeat to Man City was something that incensed our support and would likely have the same reaction this time around. Olivier Giroud is out after picking up a thigh injury on international duty, but it isn’t major.


Our defence should have Laurent Koscielny included, but Shkodran Mustafi will likely again be out. With Rob Holding stillnursing an injury, it appears as if Captain Mertesacker will have the job of snuffing out tottenham’s attack – something he has done countless times before. If aided by Koscielny and Nacho Monreal, we could have the perfect platform.


Harry Kane and Dele Alli were not available for England’s recent bout of friendlies and this has given them enough time to recover from injuries. Kane has a frightening record of scoring in derby games, and if he is fed by Eriksen, then Cech could have a busy 90 minutes.


Our team is more than good enough to win this, but what is worrying is that we all know we need to be at our best – and that is something that has been a fleeting occurrence this season. We will need every bit of passion, pressing and stamina to grab three points in this game and stop moods amongst our fanbase from plummeting even lower. November isn’t kind to Wenger – it is statistically his worst month in terms of points per game in his long tenure – but what a game to buck this alarming trend.


Keep the faith, we can do this.


Predicted lineup – Cech, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Monreal, Bellerin, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Ramsey, Ozil, Alexis, Lacazette.

Predicted Scoreline – I have no idea…

Community Shield Preview

Published on The Arsenal Review

The season finally gets underway with this fixture. The Community Shield has been the curtain-raiser for many years, and this season starts with a London derby with plenty of expected fireworks to look forward to.

Last season saw the Gunners edge out their West London opponents in terms of amount of victories – one apiece in League wins, with Arsenal grabbing the decider with their victory in the FA Cup Final – but Antonio Conte winning the title in his first season means the Blues will start this fixture as favourites.









Last season means precious little however. Both sides will be fit and raring to go after both clubs have enjoyed extensive series of matches home and abroad, so there should be no lack of rhythm or final ball. 

This event is meant to be a friendly, but it will be anything but as both sides will be eager to score psychological points over the other. Both outfits will be expected to be near the top come the end of the season, and a winning start over a rival is something that may be a big boost – and a huge dent for the other.

Both sides have already met in pre-season, with Chelsea running out comfortable 3-0 winners in Asia. It may have smarted, but this game carries far more weight.

Arsene Wenger has said in his Press Conference that his squad is nearly completely injury free, so the Gunners boss has some difficult calls to make. The only omissions from the squad will be Santi Cazorla and Gabriel, as well as Francis Coquelin. Will Wenger opt for the 3-5-2? Or will he fall back on his old faithful – the 4-2-3-1?

Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey were carrying knocks but are expected to make it, but what of Alexis? The Chilean has just returned to training, will he come straight back into the team? In truth, there is an embarrassment of riches in attack for Wenger, with Danny Welbeck, Olivier Giroud and Alexandre Lacazette all vying for the striker spot.

If Wenger does go for three at the back, will Shkodran Mustafi miss out? The German has missed the majority of training, but is technically fit and available for selection. If Mustafi does miss out, will it be Rob Holding, Mohamed Elneny or Per Mertesacker that will partner Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal?

So many questions, but Antonio Conte has just as many quandaries. With Alvaro Morata, Kevin Rudiger and Tiemoue Bakayoko added to an already bulging roster, what will Chelsea’s eleven look like? Will the success of last season dictate Conte’s selection? Or will Morata and co get a baptism of fire? He will have to make do without Eden Hazard and Pedro through injury.

Whoever makes the team at Wembley, they will surely know that this is no ordinary ‘friendly.’ Both sets of fans will want this trophy badly, as will the Managers, although they will be loath to declare their wanting. This match matters though, make no mistake.

Chelsea are favourites for this game, but they were overwhelming favourites in May – and look how that turned out.

Potential Lineup – Cech, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Monreal, Bellerin, Xhaka, Ramsey, Kolasinac, Welbeck, Ozil, Lacazette.


Predicted Scoreline – 2-1 Arsenal.

Arsenal and tottenham Combined XI

Published on Arsenal Mania

There is always a fair amount of hype in the build-up to a much-anticipated fixture. The majority of it is to ride the crest of the wave as fans look forward to the game, but some is simply filler designed only to ruffle feathers and guarantee a reaction.


The North London Derby is no different, but the parameters for this last bout have changed. For over twenty years, Arsenal have governed this constituency, but this game saw tottenham in the ascendency. They were favourites – and for good reason.


So much so, that a recent Combined XI from respective club legends Ledley King and Thierry Henry recently for Sky Sports, saw just one Arsenal player in this amalgamated team.

Just one.


Is this fair?


Here is a more balanced version of an eleven made up from spurs and Gunners players. What do you think?











Petr Cech or Hugo Lloris?

Verdict – Hugo Lloris

Petr Cech has been a bastion of excellence and reliability ever since he came to the Premier League, but this season has seen a slip below his usual standards. Facts are facts, and he has 14 clean sheets to Cech’s 9, and has conceded 13 goals less. Hugo Lloris has maintained his performances, and his athleticism racing from his line sees him take the gloves for this team.


Hector Bellerin or Kyle Walker?

Verdict – Hector Bellerin

Kyle Walker seems to have the England spot nailed down, and his rapier speed has long been his trademark. Walker’s control has been his weakness, but he has really shaped up this season. Does it see him rise above Bellerin? Walker has more assists this season, but Hector’s passing percentage is higher. It really is closer than it was a couple of seasons ago. Hector’s haircut seemed to coincide with a drop in form, but he is faster than Walker, and his control is good enough to see him make the Spain squad. Bellerin for the win.


Toby Alderweireld or Shkodran Mustafi?

Verdict – Toby Alderweireld

The Belgian defender is a threat in the air on set pieces, and has strength and positional awareness in stock. Mustafi had a great start to his Arsenal career, but a drop in confidence for the whole team saw the German start to make errors. In spite of this, this is closer than most would give Mustafi credit for. He has more goals than Alderweireld, and has more aerial success than the Belgian. It is defensive stats that Alderweireld edges the German though. More clearances, more blocks and he makes less fouls. It is close, but in short, Mustafi is often shrugged off the ball, but how often have you seen Alderweireld suffer the same fate? Toby grabs the shirt.


Laurent Koscielny or Jan Vertonghen?

Verdict – Koscielny

Koscielny is viewed as a mandatory name in the side, and in the last few seasons, he has elevated himself and his displays so much that it wouldn’t be unfair to class him amongst the best in his position in Europe. Vertonghen is consistent, he is tough and when he is not in the spurs side, they look a little lost. But who should play? Koscielny scores more goals, and is a big-game player. He has a superior tackling percentage, makes less fouls and has played more minutes. Vertonghen makes more clearances and blocks, but he is blocked out of this eleven.


Nacho or Danny Rose?

Verdict – Danny Rose

Once the figure of ridicule, Rose has really improved. Up and down the left flank tirelessly, Rose is perhaps the most improved player in the spurs team. Nacho has been recalled into the Spain squad, and his attacking prowess is a real asset for Arsenal. Despite this, Rose has more goals in the League, and more clearances and blocks, as well as a superior tackling percentage. Rose has more than double the amount of bookings, but this Rose is planted into the eleven.


Eric Dier or Granit Xhaka?

Verdict – Eric Dier

The Swiss star is still adapting to the League, and his tackling style is continuing to get him unwanted attention from match officials. Eric Dier is adaptable, playing all across the backline and in defensive midfield, and the England man is strong aerially too. He has the edge in the defensive side of the game, with more clearances, blocks and less fouls. In terms of passing though, Xhaka obliterates his rival. Long balls, crosses, key passes are all in favour of Arsenal’s man. So who takes the shirt? Seeing as it is a defensive role, Dier edges it.


Santi Cazorla or Moussa Dembele?

Verdict – Santi Cazorla

Of course, the Spaniard is injured and has missed half of the season, but we are comparing teams, and Santi is undeniably part of this Arsenal side. Cazorla has played far less than his counterpart, and yet still has more goals and assists, as well as key passes. Dembele takes the defensive side of the duel, but Santi isn’t far behind, despite giving away so much in terms of physicality. Santi would benefit any team, this is a no-brainer. If it wasn’t for injury, this wouldn’t be a contest.


Theo Walcott or Heung-Min Son?

Verdict – Son

This is a toughie. The South Korean has more goals and assists than Walcott, but Theo better dribbling percentages, is dispossessed less, and has a higher match rating. Son is super-efficient in terms of chances though, and Son just gets the nod.


Christian Eriksen or Mesut Ozil?

Verdict – Eriksen

This is an oft-debated issue. Mesut Ozil has a fine pedigree, and his reputation precedes him. Eriksen’s star is still rising, and although last season he was eclipsed by Ozil, this season is a different story. The all-important assist totals is a one-sided battle, with Eriksen registering 12 to Ozil’s 6. Ozil has a better passing percentage, but Eriksen has more goals. The Dane has played six more games than the German, but this season has seen him become more dangerous, where Ozil has had to change his role with Cazorla missing. In terms of talent, Ozil bests Eriksen, but this season, Eriksen is in the eleven.


Dele Alli or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain?

Verdict – Alli

This is a toughie. Arsenal’s left side is often changed, with no one really holding down the spot.
So, we go with the player who has played most from all the candidates, and that is The Ox. Here is a surprising stat; The Ox has the same amount of assists as Alli, even though he has made far less appearances. He also has a better passing percentage too. He has improved so much this season, but Alli has been talismanic. For such a young player, his threat in front of goal is huge. Alli must go into the team, but The Ox has pushed him hard.


Harry Kane or Alexis?

Verdict – Alexis

Both players are their teams leading goal-getters, and Kane is top of the charts when it comes to goals. In terms of assists though, Alexis leads the way with 9 so far. The Chilean also has better passing, key passes and shots per game. Although Kane has more goals, Alexis offers more than just goals. How can you leave out Alexis?

So, to surmise, here is the current combined XI –

Lloris

Bellerin

Alderweireld

Koscielny

Rose

Dier

Santi

Son

Eriksen

Alli

Alexis


This is viewed by some as the tipping point for North London. This season has finally seen tottenham emerge from Arsenal’s shadow. This is their best ever Premier League season, and they fully deserve to be where they are. Will this mean that from here, tottenham are the bigger team?

No. They may kick off a few seasons of superiority or they may not. Much depends on transfer activity and how spurs play at Wembley. For them to usurp Arsenal’s dominance in North London though they must first win the title, then win it at The Emirates twice, win more FA Cups and continue to be a presence in the Champions League.

Enjoy this season spurs, but this is not over. 

FA Cup Final Preview 2017

Kickoff – 1730hrs GMT

So, the chance to offset Arsenal’s Premier League disappointment is upon us today, as we go to Wembley for the FA Cup Final against Chelsea.

This is Arsenal’s 20th FA Cup Final appearance, which is a record. With an unlikely win here, we would also hold the record for most FA Cup wins, with 13.

I say it is unlikely, because we have navigated through a season without an injury crisis for the first time in years, and now before the biggest game in this campaign – and the last – we are plagued with injured defenders.

Laurent Koscielny foolishly received a red card in our last PL game last weekend against Everton and so the Frenchman is suspended. In the same game, Gabriel busted ligaments in his knee and looks to be out for two months, and we may be without Shkodran Mustafi who is still struggling with concussion. 

Who does that leave for our three man defence? Nacho Monreal and Rob Holding will take two of those slots, but we may have to rely on Per Mertesacker – who has not made a single appearance this season. People who are suddenly doubting the lanky German would do well to remember his pedigree and his talent. What is concerning with the potential utilisation of Mertesacker is the lack of match sharpness he will suffer from. Against the likes of Eden Hazard and Diego Costa, that could be fatal.

Kieran Gibbs is nursing a thigh injury and may miss out, and if he is absent, then the 3-5-2 we have been using may be put on the shelf for this game. It doesn’t end there either. Petr Cech suffered injury in training, so perennial backup Davide Ospina will likely play his last game for the Gunners. If you want an omen, Lukasz Fabianski also bowed out of Arsenal on a high too after playing in our 3-2 Final win over Hull in 2014……

There are rays of optimism to hold onto though. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is fit and should come straight back into the team after his useful showings at right-back in our new formation. Alexis Sanchez is also declared fit, and this could well be the last time we see him in an Arsenal shirt.

If that is the case, then the least he could do is leave us with a breathtaking performance and a cup win!

Another dilemma for Arsene Wenger – who also may be involved in his last Arsenal game – is who gets the striker spot. Danny Welbeck has been getting the nod of late, but Olivier Giroud is far more prolific. The England striker has been pretty dire in front of goal in the last few games, but his workrate, linkup play and pace may get him the shirt ahead of the bearded Gaul. 

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has no such worries and will have a full squad at his disposal. His only headache will be who to play, and in particular, who of Pedro and Willian will get one of the flanks. Pedro had been preferred for the Premiership, where Willian has played in every round of the Cup. 
We are certainly up against it, that’s for sure. With our defence looking almost unrecognisable, our backup keeper taking the gloves and our opponent looking to complete the Double, our chances are certainly impacted. A Cup Final is certainly a leveller though, as form usually falls by the wayside.

KEY PLAYERS

Rob Holding

Much will fall on this young mans shoulders. His recent form spells out a bright future, but being bereft of Koscielny and possibly Mustafi will leave no margin for error for the inexperienced but talented Englishman. Can he step up and pull a performance out of the bag, and show what he has learned?
Granit Xhaka

The Swiss star has had a mixed bag in his first season. Much of the negativity has spawned from a mis-labelling, as the midfielder is not simply a DM. His long-range passing is probably his biggest strength, and we will need his radar to be on point to spring Alexis and Welbeck away when we are under pressure. 
Alexis

The Chile star is odds on to be at a new club in the summer. He has given nothing less than 100% so far this season though, and his talents could hold the key to unlocking a tight Chelsea defence. 
KEY STATS

Seven of the last eight FA Cup ties between these two teams have resulted in Arsenal wins.

The last time the teams played was a semi-final win for Chelsea in 2009. This is the only time Chelsea have beaten us in the Cup in 70 years.

We are unbeaten at Wembley since 2011. That includes seven games. 

Chelsea have won the last four Cup Finals they have appeared in – all by single goal margins. 

Antonio Conte as manager has had only one Cup Final. This was in 2012 as Juventus boss. He lost the game 2-0 to Napoli. 
Predicted Lineup – Ospina, Bellerin, Holding, Mustafi, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil, Alexis, Welbeck.

Predicted Scoreline – 2-1 to The Arsenal!!

Arsenal Vs West Ham United – Match Preview

Sunday’s draw against Top4 rivals Manchester City was a distinct improvement on the last couple of months in terms of result and performance. 

It still was not good enough to improve our chances of reaching the Champions League places though.

With Liverpool winning as well as our North London neighbours, the gap has been stretched again. The mission is clear for our team with ten games remaining – avoid loss and pick up the majority of points available. 

This of course will be easier said than done. With a fixture list that contains trips to White Hart Lane and matches against Manchester United and Everton still to come, a winning run of form is mandatory but ever so difficult.

It was made that little bit tougher when club captain Laurent Koscielny limped off in our game versus City. It was an achilles injury that claimed Koscielny, and it looks like he will miss out for this game against West Ham. His long term outlook is looking bleak for the rest of the season as well.

Our midfield against City consisted of Coquelin and Xhaka, but Aaron Ramsey may return to the side, and a popular choice would be to come in instead of Coquelin. The Welshman is more dynamic on the ball and his budding partnership with Xhaka was showing signs of promise. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is also in the reckoning, and the England international has been in good form in the centre this season. A Rambo and Ox midfield could be the key to this match. 

A key development is David Ospinapicking up an injury. Coupled with Petr Cech already being crocked, it means 24yr old Emiliano Martinez getting a first PL start since 2014 – and a real chance to elevate his chances next season. 

One change that could happen is Danny Welbeck being replaced in the striker position. A rotation is well within the bounds of possibility, and that leaves a straight fight between Alexis and Giroud. Giroud has a good record against the Hammers, but Alexis edges it, with four goals and one assist in the last two games he’s played against them.

Arsenal have a great record against their opponents. One loss in the last 17 games means the Gunners will be favourites, but that one loss was in the corresponding fixture last season. With Andy Carroll proving to be a regular thorn in Arsenal’s side, Giroud’s defensive efforts may be better suited to this game.

Slaven Bilic seems to be unable to secure the backing of the West Ham board despite his favourable standing with the Hammers faithful, but the return of Diafre Sakho will boost his hopes of a result. Andy Carroll will no doubt start the game, but Sakho off the bench is an ace up Bilic’s sleeve. 

The fight showed against City was a welcome change, and this will be vital to securing points here. West Ham have dropped 20 points from winning positions this season, more than anyone else, so if we go a goal down, a fighting stance could well reap rewards.

With City taking on Chelsea, three points here could ensure we at least stay on the coattails of one of our rivals. Win or bust.

Predicted Lineup; Ospina, Bellerin, Gabriel, Mustafi, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Theo, Ozil, Alexis, Giroud.

Predicted Scoreline – 2-0 Arsenal. 

Arsenal 1-1 tottenham – 5 Keypoints From the Match

Another chance to climb to the top of the table went begging, as Arsenal and their neighbours shared the spoils in a vibrant derby.

The Gunners could have been home and dry by the half time whistle, but a mixture of profligate finishing, the woodwork and some cynical fouling from spurs meant that the home side went into the half time break with a one goal lead, thanks to a Kevin Wimmer own goal.

The second half was a vastly different affair, and the pace and pressing from Arsenal virtually disappeared, with tottenham allowed to make all the running. This conspired to give them an equaliser, in the form of a penalty thanks to Laurent Koscielny’s depserate challenge on the onrushing Dembele. Harry Kane, in his first game back from his layoff, put the spot kick away, and the rest of the half could have made the Gunners pay, although a spurs win would’ve been harsh. Football isn’t exactly the scales of justice however. 

Before kickoff, both sides went into the game with contrasting recent fortunes. The home side hadn’t lost a fixture since the opening day of the season, and spurs had not won in their last five. Form in derby games rarely comes to the fore though, so the hope of a wounded animal turning up to The Emirates was never a reality.

There was plenty to glean from the 90 minutes, but here are 5 keypoints from the match that may pique your interest, or you may disagree with!

This was more than a disappointing result.

Our opponents had a striker who hadn’t played in over two months. They were also playing in an experimental formation, which means the men attempting to implement such a style would be unfamiliar with team orders and movement. They were there for the taking. Yet, for large periods of play, we invited them onto us. What was more frustrating, was that when we did play as we have at times this season – pressing quickly and attacking with pace and accurate passing – then spurs had no answer. We just didn’t do it enough. This was a huge missed opportunity.

Iwobi struggling, but there are bright spots

The last few games has seen our youngster wilt a little. Setting the bar so high means that there will always be a dip, and he is in the middle of his, but it isn’t all bad. He never hid and always wanted the ball. His final product is the part of his game that has most suffered, and again it was missing in this game. What has been highlighted as a deficiency in his game is his reluctancy to track back, and yet during his stint on the pitch for yesterday’s derby, he was a permanent ally for Nacho Monreal. He harried and was always switched on in a defensive sense. If he can ally both attacking and defence in his game simultaneously then he will have cracked it.

Sanchez a constant thorn

For Alan Shearer to decree that the Premier League only has one world class player in Sergio Aguero is laughable. Kevin Debruyne, Mesut Ozil and Eden Hazard may have something to say about that, but Alexis Sanchez is another who deserves that accolade. Even in his darkest days, he still affects proceedings, and during the North London Derby, he was the one player who was at the forefront of everything we did that hurt spurs. The Chilean is unpredictable and gives us a fluency. If he is fit, he plays, no matter if he played three days ago. Keep that man fit!

Mustafi still learning, but the signs are good

On occasion, Mustafi was caught out and the gap that he left could’ve hurt his team’s efforts. For the majority though, the German defender showed huge tenacity and great positioning to combat the opposition who were allowed to impose themselves. This at times was down to a midfield presence more inclined to start attacks than quell them, but it matters little. Mustafi still has a little polishing to do, but he will only improve with experience and his bond with Koscielny grows. 

The international break is welcome for once.

I’m not overtly superstitious, but our record over November over the years is well documented, and scares me greatly. So for international football to take a sizeable chunk out of this infernal month is not a bad thing. Normally, the break from domestic football is nothing but misery, but any chance to avoid more dropped points is fine by me. We are still within striking distance at the top, and more importantly, Mesut Ozil will be granted a rest by Joachim Low and Germany. Nothing but positives. Aside from the boredom.

So, a missed opportunity, not only to break the spirit of our neighbours but to exert our influence at the top of the table. We have played better, and we will do in the future. We will need to as well, if we are to put this team where it belongs. We have the squad, so let’s prove we have the mettle. 

Arsenal Vs tottenham – Before Kickoff

In amongst the plethora of fixtures Arsenal have played recently, this fixture stood out as the most important. 

And it is for good reason, as the North London Derby gives fans the opportunity to earn the bragging rights and dominion over their opposite number – or at least until the next one.

Spurs fans are a little different however. No matter that their team has failed to finish above us for over two decades. It matters little to them that they have failed to win a trophy of significance since 2009 (that was the EFL Cup, the trophy that they derided themselves), or that they have spent a shedload on players and had more managers than a branch of Sports Direct. 

They still remain convinced of their superiority, and that this season is the one that will finally see them usurp us.

Ok, well it sets up this match quite nicely.

In terms of what the teams will look like when they take to The Emirates pitch, both teams have doubts, but it is spurs who seem to be bereft of more of their squad.

Erik Lamela, Toby Alderweireld, Ben Davies and Moussa Dembele look to be ruled out, and closet Gooner Moussa Sissoko is banned. 

That lot have struggled in recent games, and part of that is due to missing their best striker Harry Kane. The mouth-breather extraordinaire has now been declared fit which will please their fans and Mauricio Pochettino, but match fitness is another issue. He may start – and with four in four against us you would think so – but lasting the whole game is another issue. 

For our team, Nacho Monreal, Kieran Gibbs, Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott all face fitness tests to gauge their readiness, but Hector Bellerin is set to return to the side, although his replacement Carl Jenkinson has let no one down in his stint in the side. 

The hot topic though, is will Arsene Wenger opt to stick to the attacking lineup which has seen them keep pace at the top of the league, or will he revert to type and utilise the strengths of the recently returned Olivier Giroud?

Alexis Sanchez will be in the side either way, but will it be on the left or will he play as the sole striker? Not only this, but will Alex Iwobi be in the side, or will The Ox be given a chance to continue his recent hot streak?

All of this is pure conjecture, and the only person who knows is the manager himself. The comforting thing to see was our Chilean superstar talking of this fixture and reinforcing to us Gooners that they are aware of how important this game is. 

Our winning streak has continued and tottenham’s poor form has seen them stumble in the league and in Europe, but as we are well aware, form has no bearing in derbies. The spoils will go to whoever wants them the most. 

Here are some interesting stats to whet the appetite. spurs have just one win in the last 26 at Arsenal in the league, in a run that goes back to May 1993. However, Arsenal have failed to win any game against tottenham in the last four games. 

Lastly, and most interestingly though, the last North London Derby to kickoff at midday was back in 2004, when we won 5-4…..

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Kos, Nacho, Coquelin, Xhaka, Walcott, Ozil, Iwobi, Sanchez.

Predicted Scoreline – 2-0 Arsenal

The Return of the Shadow Dwellers Part 2

Originally posted on Goonersphere

The General rested on his haunches, his now spattered armour creaking as he bent. The scene which tortured his eyes was one of bedlam and violence. The very floor on which his hands now leaned on was saturated with blood – of who it belonged to was a mystery.

For both sides had suffered losses, and the liquid spilled could have been from either. Bodies littered his eyeline, but that was not the destination for his vision.

He looked to the horizon, to where the Haven of Four twinkled its seductive light. Then, just below, what remained of the savage horde of Shadow Dwellers – who had gotten past the General’s men and now were free to taint that holiest of ground.

By the Gods, they had failed.

Continue reading The Return of the Shadow Dwellers Part 2

Arsenal Vs Crystal Palace – Match Preview

With Manchester City comprehensively thumping Chelsea at the Bridge yesterday, it leaves Arsenal in a familiar but unwanted position – 4th.

After yet another promising first half of the season, Arsenal have now limped toward a finish line which has appeared too far a distance for the team to reach. They still have targets although the title is beyond them, and to stop this campaign being the worst in Wenger’s era, they must first defeat Crystal Palace.

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Continue reading Arsenal Vs Crystal Palace – Match Preview