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Arsenal Vs Everton Preview

So here we are, the final game of the Premier League season. After 37 matches, here is where things stand;

We need to win our game against Everton, and hope Liverpool drop points to already relegated Middlesbrough. Even longer odds on Manchester City losing their game at Watford and us overturning a plus three variant in goal difference.

Liverpool appear the more likely of the two to give us what we desire, the Top4 spot. They have had a season littered  with occasions when they have dropped the ball to sides they should be defeating. This is the hope we are grasping on to. Liverpool have had all week to concentrate on this game though, and chances are we will be out of the top4 placings for the first time under Arsene Wenger. Not only that, this could well be the last game Wenger oversees as Manager. Probably not though. 

We have been on a great run of form recently, but it may just have come a little too late. We have won our last four games and in our last eleven final day fixtures, we have come up trumps. We must not underestimate Everton though – even if they have not won an away game for seven matches.

In terms of team news, Laurent Koscielny is extremely doubtful with the same calf niggle as the last game. Aaron Ramsey should be fit though after coming off against Sunderland. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is out of contention though, and he may miss the Cup Final next week. 

Olivier Giroud could well play this game, having scored four goals in his last three games against today’s opponents. Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott remain interesting alternatives, but Giroud may well get the nod. Will this be a precursor for the Cup Final? Giroud against the Chelsea backline has not reaped dividends in the past, so he could start today with Welbeck primed for Chelsea. 

We have good history against the Toffees. We are unbeaten against them in 20 league games, although the game at Goodison earlier this season saw Everton win 2-1, so if we have one eye on events at Anfield or Vicarage Road, we may pay heavily. 

Everton also have romelu Lukaku gunning for the Golden Boot. He is now behind Harry Kane and hasn’t scored in his last four so will be champing at the bit to hit the net – as will Alexis who is still in with a shout if he gets a few today. 

We have a glimmer of hope, and we can dream, but we can’t get carried away. In all likeliness, we will miss out on the Champions League spot. 

Worse still though, in a week’s time, the season is over. No football. Let’s just enjoy it while it lasts. 

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Holding, Mustafi, Monreal, Bellerin, Xhaka, Ramsey, Gibbs, Ozil, Alexis, Giroud

Predicted Scoreline – 3-0 Arsenal 

Arsenal Vs Stoke – Team News, Preview and Stats

Finishing top of their group, scoring nine goals in their last two games and in the knowledge that a win by two clear goals in this match will see the Gunners top of the table – for 24hrs at least – should ensure that Arsene Wenger’s team go into this match against Stoke surfing on a tidal wave of confidence.

Arsenal currently lie in second place, and after successfully negotiating our annual November jitters, the fixtures show no sign of slowing. Just three days later Arsenal travel to Goodison Park, and then four days pass before we take on Pep Guardiola’s City team at The Etihad.

Phew. That is one tough schedule, but if the last few games have taught us anything, it is that we have the adequate depth to succeed in even the most dire of circumstances. The team was amply rotated for the 4-1 win over Basel, and there is the added bonus of a prospective return for Hector Bellerin.

The Spanish whizzkid has seemingly returned early from his ankle injury and is in the reckoning to return for the visit of Stoke, but with Everton and City on the near horizon, Gabriel and Carl Jenkinson should still be ahead of Bellerin for first choice today.

In terms of our other walking wounded, Per Mertesacker is progressing nicely but has set his sights on a return next year, and Danny Welbeck and Santi Cazorla continue their rehabilitation. Santi put up a picture of himself recovering from his recent ankle op on a hospital bed, so he will be missing from the team through the festive congestion.

This game may appear the easier of the next three, but Stoke will not roll over. They have lost just once in their last nine, and Xherdan Shaqiri continues to materialise openings and goals. They will be especially keen to end an awful run at the home of Arsenal – where they haven’t won since 1981.

Stoke will be missing a few faces, and club captain Ryan Shawcross is chief among them. Geoff Cameron is also missing, but they will have the services of Marko Arnautovic and Bruno Martins-Indi, who were carrying knocks from their previous match – a 2-0 win over Burnley.

Stoke are a different prospect at The Brittania, where they hold sway over Arsenal, but the Gunners have won their last 14 home games over the Potters. The Gunners are in great form in the Premiership, and are still proudly holding on to the fact that they have lost just once, which was a desperately unlucky opening day loss to Liverpool.

The Gunners look to have more substance this season, which comes from fresher legs and new personnel and competition. One of the players who offers such substance is Francis Coquelin, who returns from suspension for this game. Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey combined well against Basel and while Santi is away they look to be the premium duo, but with three games in eight days, Coquelin and Elneny can look forward to some action.

Shkodran Mustafi was rested for the Champions League win over Basel and should come straight back into the team, and Keiran Gibbs did himself no harm with his excellent performance in midweek. He and Nacho Monreal look to be on an even keel, will they share games as the fatigue bites?

Lucas Perez is another who enhanced his cry for minutes with a treble against the Swiss side, and while he may be back on the bench for todays game, the Spaniard has shown he can be called upon to make a difference. 

All the signs are good, and Arsenal are in a great place. With so many games coming up, it is easy to slip and snowball under the sudden negativity, but if we continue as we have done, we look strong. 

First up, Stoke. 

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Gabriel, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Elneny, Ramsey, Walcott, Ozil, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sanchez.

Predicted Scoreline – 3-1 Arsenal

Burnley Vs Arsenal – Team News, Stats & Full Match Preview

Arsenal are on a roll, and it is exactly how Arsene Wenger would want to celebrate his 20year anniversary. The confidence is high within the team, and four wins on the trot in all competitions, with just one goal conceded is the icing on Wenger’s proverbial cake.

In terms of the Premier League, our last outing couldn’t have been much better – our 3-0 hammering of Chelsea ended a five year winless run against the Blues, and the manner in which the victory was obtained really pleased not only the manager, but every Gooner who witnessed the game.

It has invigorated belief that this season may be the watershed campaign for the Gunners. The squad looks complete, and our key players are approaching their peak years. We have upper echelon talent in each position, and the emergence of Alexis as a striker has allowed the inherent strengths of the team to come to the fore.

Olivier Giroud has seen precious little game time, but this is largely down to a troublesome toe injury, and, in terms of our match against Burnley, it is this that again will keep the French striker out of the team. That, and Alexis’s red hot form. 

Francis Coquelin’s injury in the Chelsea game looked to have ruled the battling midfielder out for three to four weeks, but surprisingly, he will face a fitness assessment before the game to judge on his availability. Surely though, this game will be too soon for him, and the partnership of Granit Xhaka and Santi Cazorla will get another game to flourish – which it has done in the last two games. Petr Cech is also expected to regain his place after cup keeper David Ospina took the gloves for the 2-0 win over Basel in the Champions League in midweek.

Per Mertesacker, Danny Welbeck, Carl Jenkinson and Aaron Ramsey are all still unavailable, but Jenkinson recently rejoined first team training, so the lifelong Gooner will hopefully get an opportunity at right-back soon.

Burnley are one of the main reasons why the Premier League is considered the most competitive in the world. Operating on abudget that is dwarved by their opponents, yet they lie a mere three points from Chelsea who are in 8th position. Not only this, but they have broken their transfer record twice this summer, with the captures of Belgian Steven Defour and Irish midfielder Jeff Hendrick from Derby County.

The two expensive additions to the Turf Moor outfit were key in their last win – a 2-0 victory over Watford, and the set-pieces from Defour will be a huge threat in this game.

It is a good thing we have a sound backline now then. Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi are quickly developing a partnership that is scarily effective so early in their joining together. In this current run of only one goal conceded in the last four games, these two have been the main reason for such watertight defending, and they will need to be on top of their game.

The last three games between the two sides at Turf Moor have seen a total of three goals – one for Burnley and two for the Gunners – so a tight contest looks to be on the cards. Alexis may be the prime contender for breaking the potential deadlock, he has three in three against the Clarets.

If we can maintain fitness to our key players, then we have a huge potential for this season. Games such as this one though, will be just as big a hurdle as any other, but still one we are expected to vault over. 

With tottenham, Manchester City and Liverpool keeping their foot on the gas, we must do the same to keep the pressure on our rivals. We must now show we are more than ready for the fight.

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Walcott, Xhaka, Cazorla, Iwobi, Ozil, Alexis.

Predicted Scoreline – 2-0 Arsenal.

Arsenal Vs Southampton – Match Preview

The first three games have been an even mix for Arsenal – one win, one draw and one defeat – but squad reinforcements have lightened the seemingly constant pressure and scrutiny on Arsene Wenger, and optimism can once more be found amongst Gooners.

The evident weaknesses in the Arsenal squad have been rectified, and this match against Southampton may allow fans to see a debut from the new signings. Shkodran Mustafi is fit and has been in first team training, as well as Lucas Perez. The German may have a better chance of making an appearance, as Per Mertesacker is still injured and Gabriel has only just returned to training – but Rob Holding was Laurent Koscielny’s partner in the last Premier League fixture – the victory over Watford – and Wenger may not be keen to upset the cohesion within the team.

Lucas Perez will also be keen to make his mark, but a lot will depend on the fitness of Alexis Sanchez. The Chilean will be assessed after only recently returning from international duty. With the first Champions League fixture on Tuesday away to PSG, rotation and preservation may be key.

Granit Xhaka and Santi Cazorla impressed as a pairing against the Hornets, and it is expected that this duo will again provide the engine for the team, although Coquelin and Elneny will be ready and waiting if called upon. The same goes for fit-again Alex Iwobi, but Aaron Ramsey remains sidelined.

Southampton haven’t suffered a loss to Arsenal in the last six games, and the news of Fraser Forster declaring himself fit is not a good omen either for Gooners. Memories of a spectacularly one-sided game and umpteen world-class saves from the England stopper will still be fresh in the memory from last season.

The Saints have their own worries though. Still without a win, and having failed to keep a clean sheet in the last fifteen games poses a conundrum for Claude Puel. With record signing Sofiane Boufal still weeks away from making his debut, the French boss will be hoping that his giant keeper is on his best form to keep out the array of attacking talent that Arsenal possess.

Southampton still have their own threats to worry about. With Shane Long and Charlie Austin, they have enough to keep any defence busy, and if Pierre-Emille Hojbjerg continues his rate of improvement, then they have a midfield dynamo that will have bigger clubs sniffing next season. With Nathon Redmond added this summer, they have a squad capable of matching last seasons finish of sixth, but they must gel to their new boss’s tactics, and soon.

Wenger on the other hand, has a selection headache. Not only because of his plethora of choices in most positions, but with Paris Saint Germain on the horizon, he must split his attention and hope his players can show what they’re truly capable of. Fringe players will get their shot, and there is so much to play for, so standards should not slip.

First thing on the agenda though, is another three points. A march up to the top of the league is beckoning.

Expected Lineup – 

Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny, Holding, Monreal, Xhaka, Cazorla, Sanchez, Ozil, Walcott, Giroud.

Predicted Scoreline – 2-0

Manchester City Vs Arsenal – Match Preview

Kick Off – 1600hrs

Now the story of Leicester’s miraculous title victory has been given an appropriate ending, you could be forgiven for thinking that the major drama has been and gone.

That would be an incorrect assumption.

With the huge wads of cash in the Premier League though, one positional place gained can make a huge difference – and the bragging rights of finishing above your rivals cannot be underestimated.

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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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Watford Vs Arsenal – Match Preview

                                                                                     Kick-Off – 1730hrs

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The late kick off today sees Gooners everywhere still riding the crest of a wave originating from Arsenal’s 3-0 thumping of Manchester United in their last league game before the international break.

Continue reading Watford Vs Arsenal – Match Preview