Monthly Archives: September 2016

Time for the Fringe Players to Step Up Against the Lord

Nicklas Bendtner jumps to control the ball

We shift goal posts from the Premier League to the EFL Cup, as the Gunners visit the City Ground to take on Nottingham Forest. The EFL will always be fourth in Arsenal’s competition priority list, so it offers the fans the chance to see some players that haven’t featured for quite some time. With David Ospina confirmed as Arsenal’s Champions League goalkeeper, I can safety assume that Emiliano Martinez would be the custodian in goal tonight. Matt Debuchy managed to remain at the club when it seemed as if he was heading towards the exit door, so I’d expect Hector Bellerin to get a breather. Kieran Gibbs would definitely start ahead of Nacho Monreal and it would be nice to see everybody’s favorite new kid on the block, Rob Holding, feature again after such an impressive start to his Arsenal career.

In midfield, we would probably see a Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny combination, as both players haven’t seen as much game time as they’d have liked. Elneny is sure to leave the club in the winter to represent Egypt in the African Cup of Nations, but he’d want to be at optimal fitness levels for that tournament. Following his inconsistent performances in the side, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had been rightly dropped out of the squad but he’d want to ensure he utilizes such a great opportunity to impress again, ahead of a perceived weaker opposition. Arsenal will do well not to underrate Nottingham Forest, especially when they were spanked by Sheffield Wednesday last season.

All eyes will be on the new signing, Lucas Perez, that hasn’t held down a first team berth yet, with Alexis Sanchez playing as a center forward. With Chelsea on the horizon, the Chilean would be given a breather and with Giroud still struggling with injury, it’s more than certain that Arsenal’s new #9 will spearhead the attack.

The Gunners are coming up against a Nottingham Forest side fresh from a home defeat to Norwich last weekend. Despite opening the scoring with Vellios, they dropped their guard in the second half and conceded two goals to the recently relegated Premier League side. Forest is currently 13th in the Championship, and will be hoping to push for a playoff spot come May.

This game also offers the Gunners a chance to lock horns with the likes of Henri Lansbury and the Lord himself, Nicklas Bendtner. The Dane has been on the news lately, stating that his ‘best striker in the world’ claims haunted him,

“So I’m going to make the best out of the rest of my career and do the best I can. There are many goals I have set myself over the years. Many things I have said and been killed for.

“I actually don’t regret saying I want to be the best striker in the world, because that’s what everyone wants. It’s just that no one wants to say it.

“It has haunted me.

“I was very young and I might have said it too early, before I’d proved I was in that category – or could get in that category.

“But I’m here now and I want to reboot, and get back to just playing.

Let’s see what happens after 90 minutes tonight.


Hull Preview: Team News, Injury Updates and Predicted Lineups

Hull v Arsenal: Premier League preview, line ups & predictions

Following the somewhat shaky performance in Paris on Tuesday, Arsene Wenger’s men visit high-flying Hull at the KC Stadium. Mike Phelan’s men were in cloud nine following two victories from their first two games but they were brought back down to Earth with a narrow loss to Manchester United and had Robert Snodgrass to thank when his lovely free kick earned a point at Turf Moor.

However, Hull’s defending against Manchester United was very resilient as it took a very late Marcus Rashford goal to give the Red Devils all three points. Arsenal will have their work cut out because I would expect the Tigers to put up but they can take some solace from the fact that they have won their last five away matches against Hull in all competitions, which included that superb 3-2 win in the 2014 FA Cup final. Arsenal have scored at least 2 goals in 11 of their last 12 matches against Hull in all competitions, so it’s a fixture we would normally expect a lot of goals.

Arsenal Team News

Petr Cech is expected to return to the starting XI after he was left out of the side that drew in Paris. In Wenger’s defense, David Ospina turned out to be the Man of the Match. Granit Xhaka is another player that would return to first team setup with his manager having some nice things to say about him in the buildup to this game.

Hull would be mindful of the threat Alexis Sanchez poses to them as the Chilean maverick has scored four times and assisted two goals in four previous games against Hull in all competitions.


Arsenal Injury / Suspension News

Per Mertesacker, Carl Jenkinson, Theo Walcott, Danny Welbeck (knee), Gabriel Paulista (ankle), Aaron Ramsey (hamstring), Olivier Giroud (toe)

Arsenal Predicted Lineup

Arsenal 4-2-3-1 football formation

Hull Team News

Hull made a couple of late signings with the most notable being former Spurs midfielder, Ryan Mason. The player could be in line to make his debut for the Tigers, and I wouldn’t be surprised, given the fee it took to acquire his services from Tottenham.


Hull Injury / Suspension News

Allan McGregor (back), Brain Lenihan, Michael Dawson, Greg Luer, Moses Odubajo (knee), Alex Bruce (Achilles), Josh Tymon (knock)

Hull Predicted Lineup

Hull City 4-2-3-1 football formation

Team Form


  • Last Five Games: L D W W D
  • Last Result: Paris St. Germain 1-1 Arsenal
  • Leading Goalscorer: Santi Cazorla, Alexis Sanchez (2)


  • Last Five Games: W W W L D
  • Last Result: Burnley 1-1 Hull
  • Leading Goalscorer: Adama Diomande, Robert Snodgrass (3)

Gooner Daily predicts a 3 – 0 win.


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When Will Arsenal Sort Out its Defensive Issues?

Arsenal's Shkodran Mustafi reacts

For a team that had a goalkeeper that won the Golden Glove last season, Arsenal has been quite shambolic in defense in the new campaign. The writing was on the wall when club captain, Per Mertesacker, picked up a knee injury after the first preseason game then Gabriel Paulista sprained his ankle in the final preseason encounter against Manchester City.

Arsene Wenger had given Laurent Koscielny extended break following his Euro 2016 exertions, so the Gunners fielded a very inexperienced center back pairing against Liverpool and it backfired terribly, with the visitors scoring four goals on the Gunners home turf. Calum Chambers lost his place in the side when Koscielny cut his break short to join the team, and his partnership with Rob Holding against Leicester City was very impressive, as the Gunners managed to get their first clean sheet of the season.

Image result for koscielny holding

They forged a great partnership against Leicester

That colossal performance against Leicester earned the French defender Arsenal’s Player of the Month award, and Arsene Wenger waxed lyrical about Holding’s performance on the night. Holding retained his place alongside Koscielny when the Gunners visited Vicarage Road and while the first half against Watford was one of the best we’ve seen from an attacking standpoint, the defending in the second seemed somewhat shaky with Roberto Pereyra scoring a goal that almost sparked a revival from the Hornets. Petr Cech had to be alert to make some smart saves.

Just when we thought the transfer deadline was going to close without the Gunners signing that center back we all needed, the club splashed the cash on Valencia’s Shkodran Mustafi, and the reaction to the signing was really good. With the fans anticipating his debut for almost two weeks thanks to the international break, it was a no-brainer that the German World Cup winner was going to walk into the first team, with the impressive Holding returning to the bench. There is enough football to go round, so Holding was going to get his shot again, with an EFL match against Nottingham Forest coming next week.

Mustafi is an experienced center back and has already featured in four clubs, despite being just 24-years-old. He can speak fluent English from his time at Everton, so communication wasn’t going to be the issue. As expected, Mustafi lined up alongside Koscielny in last week’s Premier League encounter against Southampton but there were moments were that pairing showed some uncertainty and disconnect, allowing Shane Long a plethora of chances that were spurned. Had the Gunners came up against a more quality forward, the outcome might have been different.

Yes, they won really late against the Saints following a somewhat fictitious penalty decision but the fans didn’t care. All concerning issues from that game such as the porous midfield and the torrid defensive performance was swept under the carpet thanks to the three points but a part of me wondered how we would fare against PSG.

Arsene Wenger’s team selection against PSG left a lot to be desired, as the fans were somewhat surprised with some selections. David Ospina was selected ahead of Petr Cech, and the Sun has reported that he’s going to be the club’s Champions League first-choice keeper, as well as the EFL Cup and FA Cup, leaving Cech to just Premier League games. Ospina went on to be Arsenal’s Man of the Match in Paris, following a string wonderful saves he made to keep the scoreline respectable.

While I will not take anything from Ospina’s performance, Edinson Cavani, put his Gervinho and Yaya Sanogo shoes on, making all sorts of misses but the question I had was, why was the Uruguayan even allowed to be in a position to miss those chances?

Nacho Monreal and Hector Bellerin did enough to leave out Kieran Gibbs and Matt Debuchy from the team last season, but they haven’t covered themselves in glory this season. Serge Aurier and Angel di Maria tore Monreal apart, and this can be attributed to the fact that he didn’t have any sort of protection in front of him, with Alex Iwobi shying away from doing defensive duties diligently. An Alexis Sanchez would have been a better option for Monreal but he was playing as a center forward and was dropping too deep while Olivier Giroud and new signing, Lucas Perez, warmed the bench.

There were communication gaps and concentration lapses in the backline on Tuesday night which culminated into such a shambolic defensive display from Arsenal. The fact that they walked out of Parc des Princes with one point is something to be happy for, but the Gunners need to improve in their defending if they want to compete for silverware come May.

Former Arsenal defender, Lee Dixon, that used to be part of a back four known for their defensive prowess spoke with ITV and he aired his views on the current situation in the defense,

“It’s totally a balance thing for me. With the ball we’re brilliant, but without it absolutely shocking, they don’t know what they’re doing. There’s problems without the ball, it’s been like this for years now.

“In the 80th minute, they’ve just got back in the game, they’re not pressing. Cavani should score another goal. They were great with the ball, great point, well done, but that can’t go on. You cannot be that bad without the ball against teams like PSG, the other good teams in the tournament, because you will get beaten.”

The defending isn’t just restricted to the center backs. As a team, they struggled really bad and I don’t know if it was only me that was perplexed and bewildered when I saw Francis Coquelin darting forward like he had some Alex Song DNA infused in him. I keep wondering how long Wenger would continue to leave Granit Xhaka out of the squad. Even Mohamed Elneny would have put up a more disciplined performance than Coquelin. I like the Coq and all the things he did when he burst into the limelight, but there are better players in the squad that deserve to start ahead of him in critical games like the one against PSG.

In the end, it’s the manager that makes all the decisions in the squad, but he seems to be tinkering with the squad at the moment, looking for the best kind of partnerships that would work. Speaking of partnerships, you should check out this lovely article written by the Canon Crested folks.

There is a lot of football to be played between now and May, but I’m hoping that we can sort out our defensive problems, sooner, rather than later.


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