Saturday, 30 October 2010

Arsenal v West Ham Preview.

It's been an eventful week for Arsenal on the pitch. First of all we had a great 3-0 win away to Man City last Sunday to take second place from them in the league. Then we traveled to Newcastle on Wednesday night and beat them 4-0 in the Carling Cup with a team that had nine changes from the one that beat Man City.
There were a lot of positives to be drawn from those games such as the return to fitness and goalscoring of both Theo Walcott and Nicklas Bendtner. We also saw very good performances from Lukasz Fabianski and Wojceich Szczesny in goals in both of those games and it's making most Arsenal fans feel a little better about our goalkeeping options. With Manuel Almunia still out with his elbow injury we are getting the feeling that Fabianski is eventually living up to the manager's opinion of him. We have also seen that his deputy is more than capable of filling in for him if needed.
West Ham are the visitors to The Emirates this afternoon and with them sitting on the bottom of the league table, nothing short of a win will suffice. There seems to be a pattern in Arsenal's home games whereby the opposition defend with every player and Arsenal miss a host of early chances before falling behind to the first decent effort on goal from our opponents. It usually happens somewhere between 30 minutes and half time and Arsenal then spend the rest of the afternoon trying to claw back that goal before looking for a winner. 
Wouldn't it be nice if Arsenal came flying out of the traps and banged in two or three goals in the first 20 minutes like we did in seasons gone by. It would make the afternoon so much easier for the armchair supporter or in my case, the supporter sitting in The Strand in Bray with the rest of the Wicklow Gunners. We certainly have the ability to do that and I have a funny feeling that this could be the game where it happens. West Ham have conceded 17 goals so far in the league this season and only scored seven and they are the type of team we should be handing a thrashing to. Their defence has looked very poor and we need to keep that defence under pressure all the time.
The manager will probably keep faith with most of the team that beat City 3-0 on Sunday with the possible exception of fit again Laurent Koscielny for Johann Djourou. There is of course a case for including Theo Walcott as well as he looked so good on Wednesday night and he is scoring goals for fun this season when plays. If Walcott were to play the most likely player to miss out would be either Denilson or Andrei Arshavin. If Arshavin doesn't play it would mean Nasri ill play on the left with Walcott on the right but if Denilson doesn't play I would imagine that Nasri would play alongside Cesc in the middle. 
Whichever team the boss picks we all know that they have to play with the correct tempo and passion and go at West Ham as if their lives depended on it. I feel far more confident with Fabianski in goal than I did with Almunia after the Pole's recent very good performances. Sometimes in these games it's a matter of the goalkeeper keeping his concentration as he has very little to do and to me it looks like Almunia drifts a little sometimes.
With Cesc Fabregas and Nasri pulling the strings we have enough creativity in the team to carve open the West Ham defence and it's just a matter of putting some of those chances away. We've already had nine penalties this season and that's a far cry from last season when we couldn't get a penalty at all after the controversy of the Eduardo "dive" against Celtic. I wouldn't be surprised to see Arsenal get another penalty and if we do it will be interesting to see who takes it. Cesc missed one last week and Arshavin is usually next in line after him but Nasri has taken a few already this season and dispatched them with ease.
Before last week's game we had only one clean sheet in eight league games but if we can get another one today it will be three in ten. That's not too bad but it's still not good enough in my opinion and we still have a lot of work to do on our defending. With that in mind I would imagine that Alex Song will continue his policy of pushing forward at every opportunity again today and that will leave our defence just a little bit exposed at times. That's one of the reasons I think Koscielny will play as his anticipation is very good and we will need him to cut things out before they get a chance to develop too much.
I'm predicting a 3-0 win for Arsenal and seeming as it's a home game I think Marouane Chamakh will get among the goals as well as Cesc. Cesc has come in for some rough treatment in the last couple of games and it will be interesting to see if West Ham decide to dish out some more to him today. I've made Cesc the captain of my fantasy team and I hope I haven't jinxed him too much. If you're interested in my opinion on the outcome of all the Premier League games for this week you can see them here.
In other news it would appear that the club are in discussions with Szczesny over a new contract. His contract is up in the summer and the boss said that he wants to extend it and the club want him to sign up too, so hopefully it will all work out. There are also stories of Jack Wilshere, who is still suspended today, being in discussions about a new five year contract too. Let's hope that Wilshere stays for those five years and many more to come as he has the potential to be a sensational player.
For anyone going to the game I hope you have a great time and realise how lucky you are to see our heroes in the flesh while the rest of us Arsenal fans are watching on the TV or tuned into an internet stream that's a minute or so behind. I'd love to be in one of the pubs in the streets around the stadium before and after the game but the way things are going it doesn't look likely this season. That won't stop me following Arsenal with everything I have and writing about them almost every single day.
It's not always an easy thing to do while trying to lead a normal life and the first thing to lose out is usually sleep. With that in mind I'm looking forward to the arrival of official Winter time and a little extra sleep tomorrow morning. I will of course have a full review of the game tomorrow and don't forget to tune in and see what you think of my opinions on the game. Finally for today don't forget to make any changes you need to in your fantasy teams before the deadline this morning.
See You Tomorrow.

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