Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Arsenal's Capital One Cup Game At Spurs Previewed

The last week hasn't gone well for Arsenal with a defeat away to Dinamo Zagreb followed by the defeat at Chelsea on Saturday. To make matters worse they got a total of three red cards in those games with Olivier Giroud, Gabriel Paulista and Santi Cazorla all getting their marching orders. Cazorla won't be available tonight after that red card against Chelsea, but Arsenal won their appeal against Gabriel's red and he will be available.

The circumstances of Gabriel's red card were ridiculous in the first place and Mike Dean has been shown in a very poor light. He gave Gabriel a straight red for kicking out at Diego Costa, but Arsenal managed to find a camera angle which showed there was no contact and to claim it was violent conduct was a joke. Thankfully common sense prevailed and the appeal was upheld, but Gabriel still has to face an improper conduct charge for his reaction to his red card.

The FA also imposed a three game ban on Costa for his violent conduct towards Laurent Koscielny or possibly Gabriel or maybe even a combination of both. Chelsea released a statement saying they were very disappointed with the outcome, but Costa's cheating won them the game and got them the three points. Despite Gabriel winning his appeal Arsenal got nothing out of a game where the wrong decisions of the referee clearly had a huge influence on the result. There is nothing they can do to get those three points they lost back and the result was just what a struggling Chelsea team needed to kickstart their season. 

The continued insistence on not using the vast array of cameras at a game to help the officials was shown up to be totally inadequate yet again. If TV replays had been allowed Costa would have been sent off and Arsenal would have been the team with the man advantage for more than half of the game. The fact that the retrospective decision has proved that is exactly what should have happened will have no bearing on the authorities and referees will continue to be infallible which is a very dangerous thing when the likes of Dean are involved.

Normally a Capital One Cup game wouldn't be top of the list of priorities, but after those two defeats and considering the opponents it has taken on more significance. To lose three games in a row would be seen as a mini crisis for Arsenal and it's something they have to try to avoid. If they're going to do that they quite simply have to find some goalscoring form and find it fast. 

In seven games this season Arsenal have only scored six goals and that's simply not good enough for a team with their attacking options and ambitions. Both Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud have a couple of goals each with two own goals helping the Arsenal cause, but none of the midfielders or wide players have got in on the act yet. With players like Alexis Sanchez, Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil and Cazorla among those not to find the net that just isn't good enough. 

It's not that the team aren't creating chances, but the finishing has been very poor at times while opponents continue to score a much higher percentage of their chances against Arsenal. Their league form had been on an upward trend before the Chelsea game though and the referee made their chances in that game almost impossible. They need to bounce back from it quickly and there is no better opportunity to put things right than against their local rivals.

I would be very surprised to see Spurs play anything other than a full strength team even though they have to play City in the early kick off on Saturday. They had a slow start to their season, but they have won three games in a row in all competitions and will be feeling an awful lot more confident than they were just over a week ago.

I think Arsenal need to put out a strong team too and do all they can to get through to the next round. I know Arsene Wenger has used this competition to blood youngsters and give fringe players a chance to shine, but tonight could be very different. I don't think he will play his strongest side with a trip to unbeaten Leicester to come on Saturday, but he will probably play a stronger than usual team.

His options are already a little limited though with Cazorla injured and Francis Coquelin injured from Saturday's game along with the longer term absentees of Jack Wilshere, Danny Welbeck and Tomas Rosicky. I would be surprised if Koscielny played too considering the injury problems he has had, but otherwise I wouldn't be surprised to see any of the other first choice players on show. 

This might only be the Capital One Cup, but any game against Spurs means a lot to us fans and hopefully it means as much to the players. It would be great to see them find their goalscoring form in this game with Alexis in particular surely due a goal. He scored 25 goals last season and while he is still playing catch up after missing out on pre season he did hit the woodwork twice in the 2-0 win over Stoke.

I saw a couple of Spurs games recently and was wholly unimpressed with their 3-1 victory in the Europa League last week, but they did look better in beating Palace on Sunday. I thought they closed the Palace players down very quickly as Palace tried to being the ball out of defence and Arsenal need to be aware of that. If Spurs are going to push that far up then maybe there will be some room behind them for Theo Walcott to run into if he's in the team.

With Cazorla out there's a possibility of Ramsey playing a deeper role and the chances are he will play alongside Mikel Arteta. The club captain didn't have a good game against Dinamo last week, but it was his first start in a long time and hopefully he can get to the pace of the game tonight if he plays. If he's not in the team then Mathieu Flamini would be the obvious choice and I don't know if he would do any better.

Spurs got the better of Arsenal last season in head to head meetings with a win and a draw, but of course they finished below them in the league as they always do. Every dog supposedly has it's day and last season belonged to them in terms of head to head meetings, but the Arsenal players have the chance to reverse the trend tonight. What they will need from first to last minute is total commitment no matter what team is chosen and they have every chance of winning if they can bring that to the game.

If they're going to do anything this season they need to find some consistency and they just haven't got it yet. Three defeats in seven games isn't good enough and failing to score in three of those games isn't up to scratch either. It's about time the players started taking their chances and putting away teams that they are dominating and when they do that then things will surely improve.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.


  1. I think tactically Wenger is still stuck in the mindset of pretty soccer. Until this changes,Arsenal will forever be just participating and not fighting for the top prizes.
    Believe me if this season ends in another to forget campaign,it shd surprise no one he leaves or is forced out.
    The new guy could be a gamble. After all MU took the gamble and though it didn't work out,Moyes was fired.I am afraid Arsenal might have to take a similar stance unless Wenger can show he is still the guy. Prove it by beating Spurs.

  2. Yes the totts will play their strongest team. they know they have NO chance of finishing in the top 4 and the league cup is their only realistic chance of a wembley appearance this season (and every season).