Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Arsenal v Wolves Preview.

Arsenal face a tough trip to Wolves tonight, and it's a must win game after the flop at home to Newcastle on Sunday afternoon. With Chelsea playing a west London derby at home to Fulham, and the two Manchester clubs coming head to head at Eastlands, Arsenal need to get something out of a game that looks easy on paper but is far from it in reality.

In recent games Wolves have deservedly beaten Man City at home, and unluckily lost away to both Chelsea and "Manure". In those games they have played good football, and certainly their position in the bottom three is a false one. They have players who can cause Arsenal some real problems tonight, as well as having a real bite to their team through Karl Henry.

However, it has to be remembered that Arsenal have a team full of players who can take any team in the world apart, as long as they turn up with the right attitude and commitment. Arsenal's away record in the league this season is pretty impressive, with their only defeat coming away to champions Chelsea. Virtually every team that comes to the Emirates sits back, and tries to hit Arsenal on the break, but sometimes we get a little more room to operate in away from home. 

The big question tonight will be what the starting 11 is for Arsenal, after so many poor performances on Sunday. I can't see the boss making too many changes, and the defence will be as it was with the exception of Johan Djourou coming in for the suspended Laurent Koscielny. Arsenal appealed the red card Koscielny received, but the FA decided, in their infinite wisdom, to dismiss that appeal. It means that he's suspended for tonight's game as well as the trip to Everton on Sunday, as it was his second red card of the season.

In midfield I can't imagine that there will be any changes, and if there are any they should come in the attacking trio. The boss admitted that Robin Van Persie was far from ready when he played on Sunday, and his introduction was a desperate measure in my opinion. He needs to be slowly reintroduced into the team for his own good, and the good of the team too. That means that Marouane Chamakh should retain his place, and I would imagine that Samir Nasri will too. That would mean that the only possible other change could be Andrey Arshavin for Theo Walcott. It would be desperately unfair if Walcott was dropped after only one game in the team, but Arshavin was very impressive when he came on in Sunday's defeat.

In all of this team discussion there is one player who isn't getting a look in. Jay Emmanuel Thomas has ten goals in six reserve games this season, but his first team opportunities have been limited to fleeting substitute appearances in games when he wasn't given enough time to make an impression. His latest reserve outing on Monday resulted in him bagging a brace in a 4-1 win over Everton, and he must wonder exactly what he has to do to make an impression on the boss. His second goal was a piece of individual brilliance that can be viewed on the club site, and it's well worth watching. 

There is an opportunity for the players to make amends for their poor performance on Sunday, and I hope it's one that they grab with both hands. The boss said that Cesc Fabregas is now over his hamstring problems, and we will see the best of him in tonight's game. He has only one goal and two assists so far, and that's well below what would be expected from him, even with all of his injury problems so far. Arsenal need Cesc at his best to dictate the pace at which we play, as good and all as Jack Wilshere has been, he still isn't able to do that.

Wolves will look to get very tight and snap at the ankles of the Arsenal players when they are in possession, but if we can play the ball at the pace that we are able to, they will be chasing shadows. Chamakh has been off form recently, and his ability to hold the ball up and bring other players into the game will be crucial at times tonight. I don't know if he is suffering from fatigue, or if his form has just dipped after a great start to his Arsenal career. He's a different type of player to RVP, and I wouldn't say that he's anywhere near as clinical in front of goal.

Fabianski played very well on Sunday after his mistake, and he needs to show tonight that he has the confidence to continue playing like that. He got ironic cheers from the home fans on Sunday whenever he caught the ball after his mistake gifted Newcastle their goal, and it's probably just as well for him that Arsenal now have two away matches in a row. Arsenal's traveling fans will be fully behind every single player that is in an Arsenal shirt in both matches, as they always are, and I'm sure they will make themselves heard in both stadiums.

Wolves will look to put pressure on Fabianski whenever they can, and it certainly won't be easy for him. I still think he is a far better option than Manuel Almunia, and every single goalkeeper makes occasional mistakes. He doesn't hide from his responsibilities on the pitch, and I always thought that Almunia did. I spent a long time playing as a defender myself, and I would choose Fabianski as the man to have behind me every single time.

Regular readers will know that I always predict an Arsenal victory, no matter who they are playing, or where the game is being played. Arsenal are better than Wolves, and they have to show that tonight from the first minute to the last one. I'm predicting a 2-1 win, and I'm hoping that Cesc can finally get his season up and running by bagging one of those goals, and running the game as well. 

The game isn't live on TV, so I'll be looking for a good stream and Ladyarse can always be relied upon to find one in my experience. Unfortunately I'll only be joining in for the second half, as I'll be trying to play football myself tonight. If you're lucky enough to be going to the game, then I'm very envious of you.

In other news it would appear that the injury gods have decided that Arsenal have enough players back from injury. Thomas Vermaelen has suffered a setback to his Achilles injury in training on Monday, and there is now no timescale for a return for him. He looked like he was poised to return to the team very shortly, and it's a big blow to a team who just can't seem to keep enough clean sheets. Added to that we also have Abu Diaby out with an injury that has no return date either, and it's very worrying that neither injury can be accurately assessed.
That's the lot for today.

See You Tomorrow.


  1. Interesting observation on Chamakh, that can be applied as far as I can tell to all Arsenal signings. When they come in they have a great start, and then gradually settle in to some kind of mediocrity, before finding their place/niche. Could be because they 'learn the Arsenal way' which disrupts their natural game, and they then have to learn how to adapt to the Arsenal way of playing. A good example is Nasri, who, after a fantastic start, then took the better part of a year and a half to really find his game. I hope it doesn't take Chamakh that length of time, but I do fear what it will do to him with RvP and Bendtner coming back to health - does that relegate Chamakh to third in the pecking order? I hope not.

    Anyway, like you I'm predicting an Arsenal win, but I expect it will be hard-fought.

  2. @ReZnuK You're probably right about new signings and once the honeymoon period is over they do quite often seem to lose themselves a little.
    I hope that we get the win tonight to get things back on track because I feel this squad has a real chance of delivering silverware.