Apologies for the lack of blog yesterday, my granda, who is the reason I’m a football fanatic, was turning 80 and I’m sure you can forgive me for prioritising that.
Anyway, football, and we have the joy of another home tie tomorrow against (everyone’s favourite ex-Man cnut) Mark Hughes’ Fulham.
In today’s press conference Wenger revealed that Vermaelen is in a protective boot, Fabregas will probably be out another two weeks, and Almunia’s elbow has still not recovered from being tapped on the ground against West Brom. Cynical? Me? Apparently Al had a set-back in training.
Squillaci is back which is good news as Wenger’s head might explode if he has to play the same two centre-backs two matches in a row. Nasri is also fit after picking up a knee-knock midweek, probably from that tackle in which he was scythed down but didn’t even get a free kick.
When asked if he would let any players go out on loan in January, Wenger was quite definitive in his answer saying that if he could find a Premier League club for the JET he would certainly let him go. That’s great news as he isn’t getting the game time at Arsenal and we saw the benefit of six months on loan when it came to Jack.
When asked about the failed England World Cup bid Wenger said he could not understand why it had failed. He said he was sad as he had supported the bid, and while he couldn’t say for sure, ‘the media certainly didn’t help’.
I don’t know about you but I would far rather have a free press than a World Cup, and while it would have been nice to see the World Cup come to England, you have to ask is press censorship a price worth paying?
An argument could of course be made than press censorship would be a brilliant thing, especially when it comes to shows like TalkSpite. By now I’m sure you’ve heard how Adrian Durham was calling for Arshavin to be refused re-entry in to England or for him to be widely booed at all matches. Funny how he didn’t say the same about Abramovich who probably did far more to ensure the Russian bid succeeded than Andrei. But there you have it.
British ‘journalism’ in all its glory.
But enough of this. We have a football match tomorrow. Normally home matches are looked forward to with more excitement and less trepidation than away trips and it is a strange situation that we find ourselves in opposite world this season.
Stats this season sees us having scored more than twice the number of goals of Fulham (31 v 15), but we have only conceded one less (17 v 18). It is clear that our problem in defence comes after the half-time break, with us conceding 70% of our goals in the second half. What we are doing in that dressing room I have no idea, but it is clear that concentration drops after they’ve spent a few minutes sitting on their arses. It doesn’t get much better as the half wears on with us conceding almost as many in the last ten as we do in the first half (4 v 5).
|scored at home||17||10|
|scored first half||14||6|
|scored second half||17||9|
|scored opening 15||4||1|
|scored 40-50 mins||5||2|
|scored last 10 mins||7||4|
|from open play||23||9|
|from free kicks||0||1|
|direct from free kicks||0||0|
|from inside 6 yards||10||5|
|from inside 18 yards||19||9|
|from outside 18 yards||1||1|
|conceded at home||9||11|
|conceded first half||5||12|
|conceded second half||12||6|
|conceded opening 15||0||3|
|conceded 40-50 mins||5||2|
|conceded last 10||4||1|
|conceded from open play||9||13|
|conceded from crosses||3||5|
|conceded from free kicks||2||0|
|conceded direct from fre kick||1||0|
|conceded from penalties||1||0|
|conceded from corners||1||0|
|conceded from inside 6 yards||7||6|
|conceded from inside 18 yards||2||4|
|conceded from outside 18 yards||2||4|
How do we address that? I don’t know. I’ve said before that perhaps we need to look at employing a Sports Psychologist as the issue with this team is mental rather than physical. Whatever we do, it is an issue that needs to be sorted before it costs us again.
So, how are we likely to line up?
In goal we will see Fabianski return, and as Squillaci is fit I expect him to take Djourou’s place. What Johan has to do to get a run in the team I’m not sure (maybe his knee can’t yet take two games in a row), but if he is dropped tomorrow he can feel very unlucky, as can Gibbs who will probably give way to Clichy. Sagna will come in for Eboue. Thank you.
In midfield we are likely to see the trio of Song, Jack and Nasri running the show, and upfront I expect to see Chamakh leading the line flanked by two from Arshavin, Rosicky, Theo, or Van Persie. Vela and Bendtner will go back to the bench, but it’s a nice state of affairs for our team not to be totally predictable due to only having 11 fit players.
Whichever line-up takes to the field we should have more than enough to see Fulham off, but then we’ve thought that about WBA, Newcastle, and the Spuds. In all three matches it has been a mixture of complacency and lack of concentration which cost us, and you can bet that Mark Hughes will have them fired up as he looks to continue his ongoing ‘feud’ with Wenger.
Get the application right and we will come away with three points. Don’t and we won’t.
It really is that simple.
FA Cup – Our third round match v Leeds United will take place on Saturday January 8 with a 12.45pm KO. The game will be live on ITV1.
Carling Cup – Ipswich v Arsenal (1st leg) – Wednesday 12th Jan 2011, 7.45pm live on Sky Sports. Arsenal v Ipswich (2nd leg) = Tuesday 25th Jan 2011, 7.45pm live on BBC2.
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