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Arsenal Vs Leicester City Preview

Arsenal kick off their Premier League season by welcoming Leicester City to The Emirates, and Arsene Wenger will be keen to arrest one startling stat.

The Gunners have won just once in the last eight opening day games – a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace two seasons previously – and maximum points in this game will be huge with so many rivals jostling for honours this year.

Our win over Chelsea in lifting the Community Shield will have filled our players with belief and confidence, but we will have to make do without some of our big names.

Alexis Sanchez is sidelined with an abdominal strain and could miss the next game against Stoke City also. Mesut Ozil is a doubt with an ankle complaint as well, but by beating Chelsea without our stars, we showed that we can cope without them if we need to. Aaron Ramsey is another who is a doubt, and Shkodran Mustafi’s lack of minutes in pre-season could put paid to his hopes of starting the game.

With Gabriel still missing and Laurent Koscielny suspended, it means Per Mertesacker will be given every chance to prove his fitness after his facial injury from last weekend. Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere are both making good progress in their respective injury returns, but both are not near to being considered for selection.

Arsene Wenger mentioned in his press conference that his focus will be fielding a side that has had as many minutes in pre-season as possible, with perhaps one or two inclusions that are a doubt. We may see Mesut Ozil after all….

Foxes boss Craig Shakespeare is sweating on the fitness of new signing Kelechi Iheanacho, but in Jamie Vardy he has an able body to fulfill striking duties. Fellow new boy Harry Maguire will line up in the centre of defence with Robert Huth out, and Alexandre Lacazette will be given a real test of his physicality with Maguire and Morgan facing him.

Arsenal in recent years have found the games against Leicester tight affairs, with a goalless draw and a 1-0 win the results against them last season. Then there was the fairtytale extra-time ending from two years ago when Danny Welbeck scored a 93rd minute winner. Make no mistake, this game will be a toughie.

A winning start is imperative, but then again, we could say the same before every game of the season. The bottom line though, is that winning is a habit. We know that when we are on a roll, we get better and better. It is the starting of the winning habit that is hard to pick up. Let us hope we grab the three points tonight and start a roll that is hard to arrest.

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Holding, Mertesacker, Monreal, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Xhaka, Elneny, Kolasinac, Welbeck, Iwobi, Lacazette.

Predicted Scoreline – 2-1 to The Arsenal.

Arsenal Vs Leicester City – Match Preview

For the first time in a while, we are looking to a Premier League fixture with a dash of optimism. 

Our win over Manchester City in the FA Cup showed guts and character – traits we have been painfully short of – and hopefully it sparks a run of positive results that we so desperately need.

It isn’t just confidence that we will take from our Semi-Final win – tired legs will be an issue as well as the players left everything out on the field at Wembley. Rotation may come into the equation so players who have been on the sidelines may figure against a resurgent Leicester City side. 

There was no fresh injuries incurred in the weekend, but Santi Cazorla, Lucas Perez and David Ospina are again out. What is of interest is the players who may come into the side. Danny Welbeck was originally thought to be out of the game against City, but was fit enough to make the bench. With Olivier Giroud registering a blank in his last game, could Welbeck again return to lead the attack? His pace could be key against a Foxes defence who will be without captain Wes Morgan. 

Alexis is pretty much undroppable at present, as is Mesut Ozil, and both were industrious and key against City. One player who has really enjoyed some form of late is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and his excellent grasp of our new formation has seen The Ox rise to prominence. His deliveries, his running at the defence, has been chief among reasons why we have won our last two games. 

Theo Walcott has missed out in those two games, despite his excellent run of goals. The speedy attacker may just come back into the side in order to keep legs as fresh as possible, and with our next game being the North London Derby, eyes may drift toward the weekend rather than this game. 

Mohamed Elneny, Francis Coquelin, Kieran Gibbs, Hector Bellerin and Alex Iwobi may all feature in this game as it is the least demanding when compared to the next two – which is tottenham and Man United. Objectively, should our peak-fitness footballers be able to hack these fixtures in such a small space of time?

Shkodran Mustafi is one who looks to be out for the game, and with our switch to 3-5-2 coinciding with his time out of the team, will the German find a passage back into the team as easy as before? Laurent Koscielny, Gabriel and Rob Holding have taken to the tactical switch like ducks to water, and with the formation still new, a change in lineup at the back may be detrimental to performance.

One thing is for sure, the game won’t be easy. The Foxes have been in imperious form, and Jamie Vardy has rediscovered his touch in front of goal as well. We failed to beat them in the corresponding fixture earlier in the season, and now they have found their form again, a real test to grab all three points is on the cards.

With the negativity of recent months just a bad result away and our European hopes resting on every ninety minutes, it will be the true characters who come to the rescue in every game. We need every one of them to stand up and be counted. 

One thing to note, Leicester have not won in their last four games in all competitions and their record against us is pretty awful – one win in the EPL in 21 attempts. Then again, so was Palace’s record against us and look how much that counted for. 

A win here would be the first time in over three months we win back to back PL games. That is something that needs to be rectified immediately.

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Gabriel, Koscielny, Holding, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Xhaka, Ramsey, Gibbs, Ozil, Alexis, Welbeck.

Predicted Scoreline – 2-0

Crystal Palace Vs Arsenal – Match Preview

Four points from the last six available in the Premiership means that the waters have steadied a little for Arsenal in recent weeks – but the storm clouds refuse to dissipate.

With Arsene Wenger refusing to confirm or deny his future and Alexis and Ozil still teetering on the exit door, the Gunners are still shrouded in uncertainty – and the chase for Champions League places next season remain fraught with worry.

At least displays on the pitch have improved. Both the draw against Manchester City and the handsome win over West Ham in midweek have shown our team still know how to roll up their sleeves and graft, as well as play around their opponent. For the majority of this season, we have been mired in sideways football and lacking a real sharpness which has seen us look blunted and unable to pierce even the most willing of defences.

It doesn’t get any easier though, as we travel to Selhurst Park to take on a resurgent Crystal Palace side who are eager to distance themselves from the relegation places.

With this being the 3rd game in a week for us, rotation may again reign supreme in our team. At least we have a raft of options to make this easier and not significantly weaken the team.

In goal, Petr Cech has a back injury and David Ospina has strained his calf, so Emiliano Martinez will again take the gloves as he did in the West Ham victory. With three clean sheets in his four starts for the team, a continuation of this impressive run would be a great platform for the team.

Captain Laurent Koscielny is again out with a niggling achilles, but he should be back in line for selection by the next game. Brazilian Gabriel will again deputise for the Frenchman alongside Shkodran Mustafi. 

It will be midfield that should be interesting. Mohamed Elneny slotted in to great effect against West Ham, and his reassuring presence allowed Granit Xhaka to play more like he is capable of. The Egyptian should start again, but with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Aaron Ramsey fit again after minor layoffs, Elneny will need to keep his foot on the gas on the pitch if he wishes to stay in the team. Francis Coquelin also returns to the fold after missing the last fixture through personal reasons.

Danny Welbeck kept his place in the team for the last two games, but will three games in a week be too much for the England man? Olivier Giroud will be waiting in the wings to take his spot and hopefully recreate his scorpion kick goal which he scored against the same opponent. 

Mesut Ozil showed a welcome return to form against the Hammers, and the German could be the difference against a side who will be a formidably stout and stubborn opponent. A little bit of magic will be needed to unlock such obstinate foes, and Eagles boss Sam Allardyce will have them drilled well.

They do have a bit of a defensive crisis however. James Tomkins, Patrick Van Aanholt and Scott Dann will be out for the game, as well as James Mcarthur looking sketchy, but Joe Ledley will be back in the squad. Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke have linked up well in recent games and provide an aerial and ground threat, so Gabriel and company will have to be on their game to deny them.

The stats point to an Arsenal win – but we all know the game is not played on paper. Sam Allardyce has lost nine of his last ten against Wenger, and Crystal Palace have never beaten a Wenger side in the Premiership. In fact, the Eagles have won only two of their last 33 top-flight games against the Gunners. Form though, shows that the home side will be full of confidence. Four wins from their last five games is better than the away team, and they will give no inch on the pitch.

It will be a huge test for the Gunners, but this game is one that needs to be won in order to keep the pressure on the teams above us. Dropped points here, and we can say goodbye to genuine hope of anything in the League. We have given ourselves this position, and it’s only us who can get ourselves out of it.

Predicted team: Martinez, Bellerin, Gabriel, Mustafi, Monreal, Elneny, Xhaka, Theo, Ozil, Alexis, Giroud.

Predicted Score – 2-1 Arsenal. 

Arsenal Vs Manchester City – The Match Warm-Up

An international break is normally not welcomed by fans, but last weeks hiatus from Arsenal was a relief for most.

Two wins in the last seven games – and those were earned against non-league opposition – has seen the sharks circling around the club, smelling blood. With Arsene Wenger still to declare his future and our best players assessing their options, our slide down the table has taken something of a back seat.

The Premier League is back today though, and tomorrow sees our league position put in the balance as we take on Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.

With Everton playing before us, we could well be in 7th place before we take to the pitch, and with our opponents already seven points ahead of us, there really seems no other viable alternative but victory if we are going to kickstart our rise up the table. No more false starts. No more underwhelming displays. Anything less than 100% will see us defeated again and eating the Top 6’s dust. 

We have some injuries to contend with as well as the crippling lack of confidence that is rife through our squad. Petr Cech suffered a calf injury in our last game, so David Ospina will take the gloves for this game. Lucas Perez is another who will miss out – although even when fit he doesn’t play – but Mesut Ozil is expected to come back into the side after a reported back injury.

City will still be without starlet Gabriel Jesus after he broke his metatarsal, but with Sergio Aguero in their squad, it’s not as if the Brazilian’s absence will be heavily felt. They may have to do without playmaker Kevin DeBruyne as well, but their strength in depth is one of the best in the league, and with David Silva in their team, they will not be impacted too much.

The Gunners have lost their last two Premiership games 3-1 – Liverpool and West Brom were the opponents – and the players on show during these games were far from at their best. Lacking fight and verve, they have been ripped apart at times. The West Brom game was particularly damning. Seventy percent of possession and just two shots on target tells everyone that something is missing. At times we made look the Baggies look like world-beaters, and top of the agenda must be arresting this awful run.

Next up would be sorting out an established midfield. Francis Coquelin, Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mohamed Elneny and Granit Xhaka have all been rotated, used with other players and there has been a distinct lack of gelling. A run of games for a prospective pairing must start soon if we are to start climbing up the table.

We have plenty of options in attack for this game, and Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck will be fighting to start the game. Alexis Sanchez is a surefire start – even though his ankle was in dubious condition before he played two games for Chile – but whether he will go on the left of attack and leave the striker berth for Olivier or Danny is up for discussion. With City’s backline their one obvious weakness, a correct selection could well be the difference between defeat and victory.

We must get back on track – and now. The room for error is now gone, it’s time to show our pedigree.

Predicted lineup – Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Xhaka, Walcott, Ozil, Alexis, Welbeck

Predicted Scoreline – Screw it, I’m going for a 2-1 win for us. 

West Brom Vs Arsenal Match Preview

The last few weeks have seen protests, mounting pressure and a fog of mystery surrounding our key players and manager. This return to Premeirship action at least could offer Gooner some respite from the constant stories, rumours and furore. 

Manager Arsene Wenger can at least reflect on a victory last week rather than a loss, and last weekend’s FA Cup victory over non-league Lincoln City has given Arsenal some optimism as they can now look forward to a trip to Wembley and a real chance for silverware.

We currently sit in fifth spot  in the league, with five points separating us from Liverpool in 4th spot. Although we have two games in hand over the Reds, those two games must be won to enable us to stay with the chasing pack. 

All provided that the Gunners defeat West Brom.

This won’t be an easy. Tony Pulis has taken the Baggies to 7th place in the table. They may have lsot their last two games, but West Brom will be rigid, organised and a threat. 

Not to mention the corresponding fixture, where we eked out a scrappy 1-0 win, thanks to ill-suited tactics. Opting for Olivier Giroud against aerially adept defenders who are petrified of pace and movement was the main reason why we struggled to break the Baggies down. 

Arsenal will have few injury worries. Mohamed Elneny has returned from his ankle injury and could be involved in the squad, but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Kieran Gibbs will have fitness tests before the game to judge whether they can take part.

Aside from this, Arsene Wenger can afford to rotate his team, but with their last game a week ago, every player should be fit and raring to go. This means a return to fitness for Mesut Ozil after a bout of sickness which has ruled him out or restricted to cameo rules for the last few weeks. 

Tony Pulis is sweating on the fitness of one of his brightest lights this season. Winger Matty Phillips looks to be out of the game with a hamstring injury, but striker Salomon Rondon will be ready to give our back four a rigorous examination. 

The Gunners have lost three of their last four Premiership games, and are in real danger of losing ground on those coveted spots in the top four.

West Brom could well decide much for Arsenal, and for our manager’s future. If the win is not achieved, then the already huge pressure could become obstructive. 

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Walcott, Ozil, Alexis, Giroud

Predicted Scoreline – 2-1 Arsenal 

Leicester City Vs Arsenal – Match Preview

Can we start again?

Last weekends season opener was not the start that a title hopeful should be making – but it is a trend that has started to take root.

Only one opening day win in the last six years does not exactly pave the way to success, and winning is a habit that may be hard to break, but also equally hard to begin.

For seventy minutes, the Gunners played well, passing well and generally keeping their opponents at arms length. Twenty minutes was all it took for Arsenal’s defensive inexperience to show, and four goals shipped in that time highlight the need for a seasoned warrior to lead the backline.

Next up is champions Leicester, so the going will not be letting up any time soon. 

There are rays of optimism however, not all is lost.

Firstly, Leicester and Arsenal matches bring happy memories – think the Invincibles clincher, and Danny Welbeck’s emotional winner last term.

The only team to win both league matches against the Foxes in their amazing campaign, we may just have the gameplan to foil the counter-attacking team led by wily Italian Claudio Ranieri.

Both teams will be aiming to recover from losses, Leicester surprisingly lost to undermanned Hull City and were profligate in front of goal. 

Arsene Wenger needs to roll the dice before kickoff – Laurent Koscielny is back in the reckoning after his Euro2016 exploits, and he may just get the nod to slot straight back in. Chambers and Holding held their own for a large portion of the game against Liverpool – but a lack of experience really told. 

Another back in the fold may be Olivier Giroud – or a t least a spot on the bench. Alexis may also revert back to a wide berth, as injuries have already begun to bite.

Alex Iwobi and Aaron Ramsey were both injured in the loss to the Merseysiders, and they both were given the dreaded four week layoff. Something of an inside joke amongst Gooners, as so often a player has been given the same diagnosis – only for them to miss the rest of the season…..

Hopefully this will not be the same, but regardless, they will both miss this match, so Joel Campbell may just get the chance his pre-season deserves. Alexis may move back to his familiar left hand spot, with Theo Walcott given a spot up top. 

With the Number10 spot vacant, and Mesut Ozil mysteriously still absent despite playing less in Euro2016 than both Koscielny and Giroud, Santi Cazorla has an opportunity to gain fitness and to show what he is capable of. 

Purely conjecture, of course. None of us know for sure who will play aside from the beleaguered boss himself, but there are certain players who appear to be higher in the pecking order than others. 

With many starting players missing, then the opportunity to throw down the gauntlet and hold down a spot is there, and they must take it – take heed Walcott, Campbell and Oxlade-Chamberlain. Play well, and you may just stay in the side.

For Leicester, Wes Morgan’s regular partner Robert Huth returns after seeing out his suspension which overran from last season. Morgan will no doubt be pleased, as Ranieri’s defence was as porous as it has ever been in the defeat to the Tigers last weekend.

They still retain the threat on the counter attack, maybe even more so with the addition of the effervescent Ahmed Musa. Whoever plays in the centre of Arsenal’s defence, they will have to be on high alert for the full 90.

Where Leicester may just be lacking a little, is invention behind the strikers. If the quick ball for Vardy and Musa to chase is stifled, then aside from the newly signed up Mahrez, they may just struggle to create. 

An intriguing battle will take place in the centre of the park. With N’Golo Kante plying his trade for Chelsea, it has given Welshman Andy King the chance to show Ranieri he can be the readymade replacement for the Frenchman, and an acid test to his claim may come against the Gunners.

Francis Coquelin, at times, was the wall Arsenal needed against a rapid Liverpool team last week, but errant positioning left his teammates too open at times – criminal when Rob Holding and Calum Chambers had a combined age of 41.

Will he pay for his errors? Granit Xhaka is thought to be the first choice for defensive midfield duties, and if he is up to speed and fit, then he will surely get the nod, but his partner could well be Mohamed Elneny – and the Egyptian will deserve it. He has been up to task whenever called upon, and his dynamism from midfield will be required to break down a clogged final third.

To end, here are some stats that could have some bearing in the game:

Leicester haven’t beaten Arsenal in 14 games

They do though, boast the most penalties earned and scored in the last year, so no rash tackles in the box please!

No defending champions have lost both opening games since Villa in 1981

First scorer? Worth a punt may be Alexis. He has four goals in two games at the King Power Stadium.

Predicted Lineup

Cech, Bellerin, Chambers, Koscielny, Monreal, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Elneny, Xhaka, Alexis, Cazorla, Walcott. (A prediction only, may I remind you all that I know precious little).

Predicted scoreline? 2-1 to Arsenal, with Alexis and Theo to score.

Arsenal Vs Norwich – Match Preview

The late kickoff today sees Arsenal take on Norwich at The Emirates, and events on the pitch have taken a back seat.

The news of a staged protest, involving placards, signs and banners, has taken centre stage – a surefire sign that results have been underwhelming of late.


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Swansea City Vs Arsenal – Match Preview

Arsenal’s midweek humiliation at the hands of Championship side Sheffield Wednesday in the Capital One Cup has more ramifications than exiting the competition.

Not only will the Gunners lose the chance to further blood some of their promising youngsters, they’ve also lost vital resources coming into equally important matches.

Continue reading Swansea City Vs Arsenal – Match Preview

Match Preview – Hull City Vs Arsenal

Originally posted on Dohyo App.
Arsenal visit last seasons F.A Cup final opposition Hull City on Monday evening, hoping to eradicate last weekends frustrating 0-0 draw against Chelsea from their minds.

Whilst this game will no doubt carry a little less drama than last seasons domestic cup finale, there is still a huge amount left in the pot for both teams to battle for.

The Tigers battle against the drop is well documented – at the time of writing they had a four point cushion that separated them from the trapdoor that leads to Championship ignominy. This could have been a lot worse had Steve Bruce’s men not snatched three points from Liverpool last Tuesday, with Michael Dawson grabbing the vital winner in a tight 1-0 win. The men from Humberside will be buoyed by this fantastic result and January recruit N’Doye has bagged 5 goals in 11 games to give them a much needed edge up front.
Continue reading Match Preview – Hull City Vs Arsenal