Premier League weekend is back again, and I am not feeling a bit queasy. I am not too sure, if it because of the recent nightmare I had, with Arsenal’s defence having the flu, and Sebastien Squillaci and Johan Djourou drafted in to face Carlton Cole and Andy Carroll, or because of the fact that I have been way too much Chinese food in recent days.
My metabolic system has well and truly gone for the bonkers, and hopefully enough, similar havoc won’t be experienced with Arsenal’s goody goody defenders.
Well, some other news first. No famous celebrity has passed away, in the aftermath of Aaron Ramsey’s goal against Olympiakos in the Champions League, though there were plenty of fingers crossed over Justin Bieber. The Welshman was recently quoted as saying, that he is really enjoying his football.
It’s good to see there’s a lot of good British players coming through, playing for a top club with good ability and it’s important.It’s good to have that in a team in England as well, to have that British spirit because sometimes you have to be able to grind out results as well.That helps the team and everyone is getting on at the moment, a good team spirit.We had a disappointing game at the weekend but we reacted well which is important and hopefully we can go on a run again.
However, Chris Coleman, Wales manager has stripped the youngster of his national armband, and handed it to Swansea’s Ashley Williams. Personally, I think it is a good move. Ramsey was too young to be handed captaincy in the first place, and it will surely reduce much pressure on him. Chris Coleman and Aaron Ramsey had been at loggerheads recently, over the selection of some legbreaking cunt from Mordor, who eventually decided to play for the perennially underachieving England.
Among other news, recent reports that Tomas Rosicky would be quitting the international scene altogether were quashed by Czech Republic manager, and former Liverpool midfielder Vladimir Smicer, who reiterated the point that Rosicky will be leading the country to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Arsene Wenger was quick to distance himself from the matter, saying he would never force anyone to retire.
Last bits of international news. Kieran Gibbs received a recall to the England senior squad, after a spate of fine performances in the league. England manager Roy Hodgson personally came to watch his new selection, in action against Olympiakos in midweek. The defender feels the team is back on track after the loss to Chelsea was followed by the win in the Champions League.
It was important to bounce back after a defeat (against Chelsea) at home. It was important for the players especially,We wanted to shake off a few doubts in our mind that we had. We certainly did that and we’re back on the front foot now.This is what we have to keep doing and keep pushing on from here.
Arsenal’s top scorer this season, Gervinho, has already scored more goals than he did in the entire last season, and Arsene Wenger was quick to praise the Ivorian’s performances this campaign.
The thinking was to use well his quality of movement and his pace,But of course you have to overcome a little bit of an obstacle that he doesn’t correspond well to the traditional image you have of a central striker. I did that [changed position] with Robin van Persie. He was more a technical player, it was not obvious to put him as the central striker.I did it with Thierry Henry, I did it now with Gervinho and I think I will do it as well with Walcott.They have other qualities that is well suited to our game. Our game is based on movement and technical ability and they have that.
Come to think of it, Gervinho, once slagged off by most of us, for being a very poor finisher, and with little or no composure in front of goal, has played like a poacher, by getting into fantastic situations. For example, both his goals against Southampton were poacher’s finishes, and he did well against Montpellier and Chelsea to spot the runs of the wingers. His goal against Olympiakos was class, and while some may say, he was assisted by a wet pitch, I think you need a fair amount of technique as well, to score such goals.
Team news, then. Per Mertesacker will have a late assessment, before the West Ham game on his inclusion. Considering West Ham’s strike partnership of Carlton Cole and Andy Carroll, it would be of paramount importance to have the German back, to deal with the height problems that will be posed.
Apart from that, there aren’t too many concerns, now with Wilshere working on his fitness. He will feature in some more under-21 games, as he looks to mark his return in the Capitol One Cup clash against Reading, at the end of the month. Bacary Sagna, too will use the under-21 platform, as one of three overage players, to regain his fitness. Szczesny, is still a couple of weeks away, and the same holds good for Rosicky. Diaby will be out for 3 weeks, and will return only after the international break.
West Ham have few injury concerns, though, after their fiercely contested, physical derby game with Queen’s Park Rangers on Monday. Winston Reid suffered a heavy blow, when he clashed with Jussi Jaaskelnainen, while midfielder Joey O’Brien too was injured in the game. James Tomkins will be assessed before the game as well. Jack Collison however is a long term absentee with a knee problem. Mathew Taylor is expected to start at left-back. The Hammers will also welcome back Andy Carroll, to the starting lineup after he played 20 minutes against QPR.
This is how I expect the teams to lineup.
It will be a head to head clash between two very contrasting styles of football. Arsenal have never enjoyed playing against Sam Allardyce’s teams in the past. You may do well to remember the times when we almost every season used to lose at the Reebok Stadium, when Allardyce was in charge.
This is because of the physical, direct nature of football that Allardyce’s teams have practiced in the past. He has always built a squad around big, massive lumps of players, and bullied oppositions into submission. And the same philosophy has been put in place at West Ham as well.
The midfield sees them lineup Mark Noble and Mohamed Diame, both robustly operating defensive midfielders. Mark Noble once almost ended the career of Alexander Hleb, with a crunching tackle. And the teams haven’t had the most friendliest of pasts either, with Alan Pardew and Arsene Wenger having a go at each other, when West Ham once defeated us 1-0.
Up front, Arsenal will have to do extremely well to deal with the physicality of Andy Carroll and Carlton Cole, two powerful direct forwards. The partnership of Vermaelen and Koscielny looked a bit shaky against the sole forward line of Kostas Mitroglou, and the Gunners cannot afford to make any mistakes that they made against Olympiakos.
West Ham aren’t the most disciplined side either. Their 8 yellow cards in a single game, against QPR, set a new Premier League record, also attracting a FA fine, and eclipses the 6 yellows Arsenal have received this season, in ALL competitions! What we can be sure is, Allardyce will instruct one of his players to manhandle Cazorla, just the way Dimitris Siovas did in midweek, and the creativity of the team needs to be shared throughout.
Arsene Wenger has made a mockery of my predicted teams in recent times, by never picking up Giroud. However, I expect the Frenchman to start this one, considering the fact that we need a good hold up striker, against a staunchly set up Hammers defence. James Collins isn’t the quickest, and that could be one of their weak points.
In midfield, I have gone for substance, with Coquelin and Arteta both playing. Coquelin did have a twang towards the end of the game against Olympiakos, but should be fit to start this one. Arsenal will miss Abou Diaby’s presence in midfield though, but I expect Coquelin to step up.
Like Mark Lawrenson said, Arsenal need time to play, and Big Fat Sam will instruct his players to get in our faces and discrupt our momentum. Seeing how we played away at Stoke, I think we should be up for the challenge.
Enjoy the game wherever you are!
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