Monthly Archives: January 2016
As expected, Arsene Wenger shuffled the squad minimally for the Burnley game with the likes of David Ospina, Kieran Gibbs, Gabriel Paulista, Calum Chambers, Mohamed Elneny, Francis Coquelin, Alex Iwobi and Alexis Sanchez coming into the side.
It was particularly good to see two important first team players like Sanchez and Coquelin return to the side as both players got injured in the month of November.
Arsenal huffed and puffed on the Burnley back line but the match opener arrived from the unlikeliest of sources. Alexis found a tight opening on the Burnley defense and threaded a through ball to Chambers. The right back used the outside of his foot to blast the ball past Tom Heaton in goal. His only goal for the club came against Burnley last season and he had repeated the feat.
However, the Gunners went to sleep and Sean Dyche’s team pegged the hosts back with a glancing header from Sam Vokes that left David Ospina flat-footed. The Emirates was silent after the equalizer as both teams went into the break at 1-1.
Arsenal began firing on all cylinders in the second half and Alexis scored what proved to be the winner from a perfectly timed team goal. Iwobi instigated the counter attack with a pass to Alexis. The Chilean teed up Giroud that flicked it first time to Iwobi. The Nigerian forward found Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on his right hand and the Englishman drilled the ball into the danger area. Up stepped Alexis to blast the ball past a hapless Heaton.
There were a couple of chances for both sides but in the end, Arsenal had enough in the tank to see out the threat of Burnley. There was also a return to action for Tomas Rosicky and the ageless Czech made some decent touches in the course of the game.
It was good to return to winning ways after a poor return of two points from a possible nine. All focus will be shifted to Tuesday’s game against Southampton.
More on that came in the coming days.
From an injury standpoint, things have been a lot better at Arsenal. As it stands, it’s just Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla that are the long-term absentee, and we hope it stays this way. Just that at Arsenal, things aren’t always normal.
This also means that Wenger has a full squad to select from as the Gunners host Burnley in the FA Cup Fourth Round. With half an eye on Tuesday’s clash with Southampton, he will want to rest the core of his first team squad today, while doing his bit to field a competitive squad for the match day.
David Ospina hasn’t stood in between the sticks since that his horror show against Olympiakos in October and he has had some injury problems to contend with, but I expect him to play a part in today’s fixture. It has been a long while since the fans chanted ‘Ooooooooooooooooospina’ and it would be nice to hear 60,000+ fans in one voice when the Colombian goalie takes a dead ball.
In the defense, it would be nice to see Matt Debuchy in action again. I know he has been acting like a girl on her period in recent weeks but it’s high time we give Hector Bellerin a breather. Since his return from injury, Bellerin hasn’t been the same player that was awesome in every sense of the word but he has done well to pick up where he left off, and that performance against Sunderland in the FA Cup third round was out of the top drawer. On the other flank, I expect Kieran Gibbs to get the nod ahead of Nacho Monreal and he has proven himself to be a good deputy.
In the central defensive pairing, Per Mertesacker’s red card has obviously paved the way for Gabriel Paulista but I would like Calum Chambers to start alongside the Brazilian today. This game would be very memorable for Chambers, as it remains the only game he registered his first goal for the Gunners.
In midfield, I expect Elneny to make his debut and it’s going to be interesting to see where he plays. Elneny offers a presence in the holding and box-to-box role and with Coquelin fit again, I wonder what the boss has in store for us. I expect Mikel Arteta to get a run out alongside Elneny and that would be nice. The offensive midfield role would go to Tomas Rosicky that would want to make up for lost time, as he was out on the sidelines for quite some time.
Alex Iwobi is another lad that is in need of minutes and he would want to stake a claim for a first team berth with another good performance today. Another player that is eager to impress is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, that has had a hot and cold campaign thus far. Walcott would line the line.
There goes my predicted starting XI
Ospina; Debuchy-Chambers-Paulista-Gibbs; Elneny-Rosicky-Arteta; Iwobi-Walcott-Ox
Here’s to a good game of football
With all focus shifting to the FA Cup this weekend, I expect Arsene Wenger to make a couple of changes to the side before the Gunners host Southampton on Tuesday night. According to the official website, Wenger has revealed the latest injury updates on squad.
Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla are the only long term absentees and the manager has confirmed that there are still weeks away. Wilshere hasn’t played any competitive game this season and has been out of action since July, after it was believed that he came on the end of a rash challenge from Gabriel Paulista in training. As for Santi Cazorla, he suffered a nasty collision with Norwich’s Gary O’Neil in the 1-1 draw at Carrow Road and he even managed to finish the game, but he had to undergo a surgery to fix a knee injury. He’s scheduled to return around March / April.
Apart from the diminutive combo of Wilshere and Cazorla, it seems like the entire squad is fully fit, and Mesut Ozil is obviously delighted about that,
Danny Welbeck has not kicked a ball for his team since April but he has began full training which is a big plus because Welbeck offers the game another form of dynamism in attack. With Welbeck, you can pass into feet like Olivier Giroud and you can pass into space like Theo Walcott. He offers a good physical presence and he’s good in the air as well. He has had just one training session with the team so he’s expected to make some appearances for the Under-21s before he would be declared fully fit to return to the first team.
Francis Coquelin is now available for selection after missing up to two months of competitive action when he came out second best from that 50-50 challenge with West Brom’s Claudio Yacob. Le Coq was diagnosed to miss out for three months but he returned ahead of schedule. Tomas Rosicky has recently featured for the Under-21s on his return to full fitness and he’s also available for selection. I expect him and Coquelin to get some minutes against Burnley.
Moving away from injury news, Arsenal is set to give a medical to Nigerian Under-17 starlet, Kelechi Nwakali, and he’s set to sign a four-year deal after he impressed in the trials he was invited too. Kelechi was the captain of the Nigeria U-17 squad that won the Under-17 World Cup in Chile and he won the MVP award in that tournament.
This YouTube compilation gives the Gooners a glimpse of what to expect from this lad.
The player has stated that he’s going to work hard and we will see how that pans out,
“I am going to Arsenal to work and try to be the best I can. With God anything is possible, to work hard to justify my claim for first team football.”
The youngster has requested for the No. 25 shirt, which was worn by ex-Gunner legend, Nwankwo Kanu. At 17, he will still be miles away from first team action but if he impresses, you can never know. Wilshere was around the same age when he broke into the first team in the 2010/11 campaign.
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