Category Archives: Match Preview

Time for Some Red Star Freshness in Belgrade

Image result for giroud goal europa

The thing I love about football is that you’re only as good as your next game. When the Gunners went on that seven game winning streak that panned across three different competitions, everything seemed right in the world of Arsenal and we were hoping to capitalize on the failings of Liverpool and Chelsea to stake a claim for a top four berth, but we all know how that worked out in Vicarage Road last Saturday.

Watford beat the Gunners, fingers were pointed at the penalty and what have you, and the Arsenal universe went into doom and gloom mode. “Mesut Ozil is lazy!” (wow! like we didn’t know before), “Granit Xhaka picked his nose and didn’t close down Tom Cleverley”. “Alexandre Lacazette doesn’t play the entire 90 minutes”. Loads and loads of analysis, with expert fans giving their Football Manager opinions, like they know better than a man that has been in real football management since the 1980’s. Not like I’m discrediting those fans that feel they can manage the club better than Wenger, just support your club in the good times and of course, bad times, because they will always be there.

After witnessing the Champions League fixtures on Tuesday and Wednesday, I am having some excitement on tonight’s game against Red Star Belgrade. Face it, my club has struggled for quite some time in the Champions League, finishing in second place only to face a Barcelona or Bayern Munich and face elimination in the Round of 16. Even when we managed to win our group last season, Bayern still managed to finish in second place, just to add more humiliation to us. 15-3 in the last three games against the Bavarians hurts a lot.

So here we are, in the Europa League, playing against farmers and randomites from countries I only see on atlases or hear in the news for one thing or the other. Did I tell you that my spelling and pronunciation has been improved since we started playing in the Europa League? C’mon we are going to the Crvena Zvezda Stadium in Belgrade. Can you pronounce the ‘Z’ bit without twisting your tongue? That’s the freshness I’m talking about. A new adventure I’ve not experienced as an Arsenal fan. Yes, I was a fan when we lost to Galatasaray in the 2000 UEFA Cup final, but since Arsene Wenger took over some umpteen years ago, we have never played in Europe’s second tier competition till this season.

This tournament also offers us the chance to see some youngsters and fringe players that are desperate to impress and stake a claim for a first team berth. By default, David Ospina is our Cup keeper, so his position is usually uncontested bar injuries or terrible loss of form. Forgotten man, Matt Debuchy will be in contention to play tonight, as Hector Bellerin could do with a breather. I’m pretty sure his psyche is all fucked up, missing a goalscoring chance on one end and conceding the penalty that led to Watford’s equalizer on the other end. The impressive Rob Holding will have another chance to err, impress. There’s a rusty captain, Per Mertesacker, that’s in need of game time and the list continues.

With Debuchy’s presence in right back, maybe Reiss Nelson can deputize as a right winger but with Wenger probably willing to give some game time to Theo Walcott (yeah, he still exists), Debuchy might be drafted to center back, to accommodate Walcott and Nelson on that right flank. Francis Coquelin is back from his long term injury layoff and will probably feature in central midfield alongside Mohamed Elneny. We could see Ainsley Maitland-Niles play in that unfamiliar left wing back role. Jack Wilshere is also itching for a chance to impress as well. Then there’s the Handsome Bearded Frenchie, Olivier Giroud, that would certainly be favored ahead of his fellow Frenchman, Lacazette, in these sort of games.

 

I don’t know much of our hosts, but they are sitting pretty at the top of the Serbian Super Liga, with 31 points from 12 games. They enjoyed an emphatic 4-0 victory against Macva Sabac over the weekend, so they come into the game in good form. The Gunners need to be mindful of their dangerous forward, Alesandr Pesic, who bagged his sixth goal of the season in the weekend fixture.

Team Form

Red Star Belgrade Form

  • Last Five Games: W W L W W
  • Last Result: Red Star Belgrade 4-0 Macva Sabac
  • Leading Goalscorer: Alesandr Pesic (6)

Arsenal Form

  • Last Five Games: W W W W L
  • Last Result: Watford 2-1 Arsenal
  • Leading Goalscorer: Alexandre Lacazette (4)

 

Predicted lineup

FC Red Star Belgrade 4-2-3-1 football formation

The potential starting XI would look like this

Arsenal 3-4-3 football formation

Bar Mertesacker, this squad is devoid of those players that had a rough night in Watford. It also offers Wenger the opportunity to access some playing positions in the team, ahead of the all-important clash against fellow strugglers, Everton, this weekend.

Till then, let’s enjoy some red star freshness in Belgrade.

Sayonara.

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Southampton Preview: Team News, Injury Updates and Predicted Lineups

Image result for welbeck goal arsenal southampton salt

This hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for the Gunners in the past but in their bid to finish the campaign in the Champions League positions, they need to end their hoodoo and get all three points. I’m pretty sure that the netbet odds for the Gunners to finish in the top four would be very high. Arsene Wenger has mandated his team to win all their games after that terrible slump the team suffered that saw them win just six in 16 games in the manager’s worst ever run in the club.

Things got really toxic and many just couldn’t wait for the campaign to be over with the manager’s head on a plate but as it stands, Wenger’s future is the least of our problems. We have barely three weeks of football left which includes four league matches and one cup final, so the team has to show some consistency that has seen them win four in their last five games since the switch to three at the back.

The new-look Arsenal side is clearly not there yet in terms of the fluidity as it’s evident that the players are still getting used to the new tactical setup, but the results have been very good, especially with wins over both Manchester outfits in recent weeks. However, the Gunners would be itching for some revenge after their 4-0 drubbing in the hands of the Saints last season at St. Mary’s. This is one of the grounds the team tends not to flourish too well but the lads know that anything less than three points would end their quest for a Champions League berth. Arsenal’s last win in this ground was December 2003, and in the club’s last five matches at St. Mary’s, they have suffered two defeats and three draws. However, the Gunners smashed in five goals in the FA Cup fourth round against a rather weakened Southampton side

Team News

Southampton are set to welcome their star forward, Charlie Austin, back to the fray after he suffered a shoulder injury early in the campaign. The English forward played for the Under-23s on Friday night, alongside Matt Targett, that had been injured for a while too. Talismanic defender, Virgil van Dijk, and back up goalie, Alex McCarthy are still long-term absentees.

The Gunners on the other hand would be sweating on the fitness of Laurent Koscielny that picked up a knock in the win over Manchester United but Wenger would be hopeful to have Lucas Perez in the dugout to bolster his attacking options. It has been a very underwhelming season for the Spaniard and there is talk of the forward opting to leave the club this summer for regular football elsewhere. Granit Xhaka is another player that picked up a knock but I’d expect him to start tonight after he was substituted for Francis Coquelin in the remainder of the game. Shkodran Mustafi (thigh) and Santi Cazorla (achilles tendon) are still out.

Predicted Lineups 

Southampton (4-3-3)

Southampton 4-3-3 football formation

Arsenal (3-4-2-1)

Arsenal 3-4-2-1 football formation

Team Form

Southamptom Form

  • Last Five Games: W L L D D
  • Last Result: Liverpool 0-0 Southampton
  • Leading Goalscorer: Charlie Austin (9)

Arsenal Form

  • Last Five Games: W W W L W
  • Last Result: Arsenal 2-0 Man Utd
  • Leading Goalscorer: Alexis Sanchez (24)

 

Gooner Daily predicts a 3 – 1 Arsenal win.

Sayonara.

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Bayern Preview: Team News, Injury Updates and Predicted Lineups

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Arsenal’s last trip to Allianz Arena was horrible

Did you guys see what happened last night?

So we were paired in the same group with Paris St. Germain and they literally ran us ragged in the course of both legs (we still drew both games heh!) but they gave Barcelona a footballing lesson at the Parc des Princes and I don’t see the Catalans coming back from that resounding defeat. Hell, if PSG decides to forfeit the game, they would still win on aggregate. Elsewhere, a profligate Borussia Dortmund lost by a lone goal to Benfica but it’s a deficit that can be overturned in Germany, provided they find their scoring touch again. The German side was uncharacteristically wasteful, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang being the waster-in-chief.

The Gunners reward for winning their group is a clash with Bayern Munich, a team they have become all too familiar playing with. The Germans have edged past Arsene Wenger in recent meetings, knocking the Gunners out on two Round of 16 occasions, as well as the 5-1 demolition in the group stages last season. In Arsenal’s five trips to Germany, they have managed one win, one draw and three defeats.

Since Carlo Ancelotti took over from Pep Guardiola, the Bavarians haven’t been commanding in Europe, losing to Atletico Madrid and even minnows, FC Rostov, which earned them a second place finish. They struggled to beat Inglostadt last week but that victory sent them seven points clear of this season’s Bundesliga surprise package, RB Leipzig. Ancelotti will be hoping for his big guns in attack to turn up but in Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Mueller, they have a considerable threat even though both forwards have found it hard to get on the scoring act in recent weeks.

On the injury front, Bayern will be without Jerome Boateng that is still nursing a shoulder problem but they will be boosted with the fact that Franck Ribery has been passed fit to feature for the first team.

Predicted Lineup: Neuer; Alaba, Hummels, Javi Martinez, Lahm (c); Kimmich, Thiago, Vidal; Robben, Lewandowski, Mueller.

Wenger has already confirmed that David Ospina would remain in goal despite the quality of the opposition, stating that the team is where it is because of Ospina. His performance against PSG away was out of the top drawer and he has gone on to put some impressive showings in this season’s Champions League. Granit Xhaka come be in line for a return against German opposition and he will be pretty familiar playing at the Allianz Arena from his Borussia Monchengladbach. It seems like he would start but the manager will be hoping for a better performance from Mesut Ozil. The German has been in shocking in recent weeks and I am hoping he will pick up some form.

Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey are still out injured, while Per Mertesacker and Matt Debuchy aren’t match fit enough for selection. Nacho Monreal returns to the team after getting a breather against Hull. It is believed that Lucas Perez has picked up a knock as news surfaced that he didn’t train with the squad.

Predicted Lineup: Ospina; Bellerin, Koscielny (c), Mustafi, Monreal; Xhaka, Coquelin, Ozil; Iwobi, Sanchez, Walcott

It’s going to be an interesting game and I only hope the Gunners get a positive result.

We have had our fair share of negativity this season.

Sayonara.

Follow Gooner Daily on Twitter  @goonerdaily. I’ll follow back

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