Weekend Thoughts

Thud. That’s the sound of coming back to earth. Kind of. After looking at our previous results in a really positive light, one defeat has painted a completely different story and 9 points from 6 games puts things into perspective a little bit. Certainly not ideal. But it’s totally amazing how certain fans/supporters/people who decided Arsenal were the club of their affections because we done some successful things but realised we won’t win everything always or something like that, have forgot about the early season progression. Especially these cunts called Black Scarf AFC or something like that. Absolute pricks. I’m not sure what they are who they are what they do but they are cunts and I’m convinced they are Tottenham fans in disguise. Wenger out? Seriously? Come on.

Looking at the game vs Chelsea and I think that it was just a poor performance from Arsenal FC as a whole. Wenger got the selection wrong, there were bad individual performances and the fans weren’t particularly good either. From the off something seemed wrong, even before Diaby went off injured. The team looked disjointed and the passing was poor. It’s almost like the game never started from our point of view and Chelsea controlled things early. I can’t remember seeing a team having more possession than us at the Emirates at the beginning of a game. Per Mertesacker should have kept his place, but had Kos and Verm played to their potential and we won we would have thought it a master stroke from Wenger. Theo Walcott in my opinion should have started and these are the instances when contract fall outs really start to affect the club. Had he been signed up, it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t have started. Confident from the Coventry game and normally impressive against Chelsea.

One thing that stood out to me was the willingness of our players to slide in and commit to tackles. Against stoke and Sunderland the beginning of the season I remember seeing us stand off more, hold our line and shape and this was the defensive and tactical discipline I enjoyed seeing. I can’t imagine the players suddenly made a decision to throw themselves into tackles of their own accord, it was uncharacteristic from Mikel Arteta to be sliding in and I think this could have been the instructions from the gaffer. Hazard, Oscar and Mata don’t seem to be the most physical so getting stuck into them seems rather logical. However cheap free kicks were costly – we’re still yet to conceded from open play (Soton’s goal was as good as a free kick, lol)

One annoying thing is the fact we cross so often when Giroud is on the bench, but as soon as he gets on it seems to disappear. Ramsey holds onto the ball for too long and it seems he is trying too hard to be special. If he played simple I think he could be amazing. I’ve heard people say Gervinho isn’t good enough as a striker or whatever, but he’s scoring. As frustrating as he is, he can be effective. Problem is for him is he’s 25, not 20 – hopefully he’s a late bloomer because the ability is there. Just needs to sort out some decision making skills and think that split second quicker and see the pass quicker. Podolski was anonymous and gets substituted too often in my opinion, for a player we expected so much of. Quite why Giroud is blamed for the loss is beyond me, one half chance a game that he doesn’t finish and it’s all his fault. Plenty of other players had more chances than him, and he wasn’t the one messing up at the back (on that note, the sooner Szcz is back the better – a commanding keeper could have made the difference even if the defenders do slip up). Ronaldo, RVP, Rooney – none of them are one chance a game clinical, they all require 4-5 chances per goal but they get that from playing 90minutes and I hope Giroud starts midweek and vs West ham.

Anyway losing during the season in inevitable, it happens. All the talk of new found resilience is meaningless if you can’t bounce back from a defeat. For example I expect a shit Man.Utd team spank whoever they are playing next week. And we need to do the same. West Ham away for an evening kick off is not ideal, but where better to bounce back from. Unfortunately we have a habit of losing to a newly promoted side but that will be another sign this team have made a turn for the good. This is the real test. This will be the challenge. Long season guys, long season!

Keep calm and keep the faith!

ARSENAL IN CRISIS!!!

Oh no, wouldn’t you know it, we’re shit again! Club in turmoil. Wenger Out. Defence not good enough. Now I’m no expert on the fickleness of fans, so I’m not sure whether it’s just Arsenal fans or football fans in general that tend to have multiple personalities syndrome. It’s one thing to criticise the team, but the general consensus I got from today’s game was that the fans were beginning to get on the back of the Arsenal players again, when just last week everybody was singing our praises. Yes it was a poor performance, and yes we seemed to lack the acquired work ethic and determination to win the game but all is not doom and gloom as some may suggest.

We looked shakey from the start and it took us a while to get into the game and we went 1-0 down to some sloppy defending. Koscielny was too busy organising the defence for a free kick rather than occupying his own man, who was the eventual scorer Fernando Torres. Now Koscielny obviously is at fault for the goal, but I just wonder whether Chamberlain could have given a little more help to Koscielny. Chamberlain seemed very slow to mark Luiz (mismatch or what?), which distracted Koscielny and when the cross came in from Mata, Koscielny just wasn’t prepared to deal with the delivery. Bad defending on his behalf, but if players around him were a bit more switched on, maybe Koscielny would’ve been able to focus a little bit more on his own man rather than everybody else’s.

Right so 1-0 down, not a disaster by any stretch of the imagination, we’re used to this Arsenal team making coming backs from being 1-0 down, take last Sunday for an example. With Chamberlain coming on for the injured Diaby, who had a rather nasty collision with a football, Arsenal started to get a foothold in the game. Chamberlain’s cross into the box was controlled by Gervinho, who swivelled and blasted it into to the roof of the net. Excellent move by us and we’re back in the game, some may question the fact as to why Chamberlain didn’t start the game.

The teams went into the break 1-1, which was probably a fair reflection of the game. Both teams had really failed to impose themselves and Arsenal had the momentum after scoring just before the break. However 7 minutes into the second half, disaster struck. Juan Mata’s free kick evaded everyone, including Mannone and managed to find its way into the back of the net. Another set piece conceded, more fingers pointed at Koscielny. Personally, I find it hard to see what more Koscielny could’ve done, it was an excellent delivery by Juan Mata, which unfortunately for us evaded everybody. These things happen in football I’m afraid. 2-1 down, with 35 minutes left to play, we can do this!

Well so I thought. The next 35 minutes seemed to be a bit lethargic from us and Chelsea defended reasonably well. We managed to carve out a few decent opportunities, Cazorla blazing over from the edge of the box and Podolski’s header also went close, forcing Cech into a great save. Our best chance however came in stoppage time where Giroud rounded the keeper but once again didn’t manage to get his foot around the ball and smashed the ball into the side netting. The final whistle went soon after and you could feel the disappointment around the Emirates stadium. The fans were frustrated and the players knew they could’ve played better.

A draw should probably have been a fair result, Chelsea in my opinion didn’t show enough to deserve the win, however neither did we. On the day Chelsea knew how to defend against us and didn’t allow Cazorla or Podolski any space to manoeuvre in. The disappointing thing on Arsenal’s behalf was the fact that we didn’t play to any of our strengths today. Even when Giroud came on, we hardly put a ball in the box but before he was on the pitch we was knocking it in to nobody. Hardly makes sense to me but what do I know.

I said from the start of this season that at home is where we will struggle this season and so far I’ve been proved right. 3 home games, 1 win, 1 draw and 1 defeat. Teams will come to the Emirates and just park the bus, so far I haven’t seen enough of us as an attacking force as to being able to break teams down, which is why I think we’re more likely to go to Stamford Bridge and beat Chelsea. Away from home we’ve been able to hit on the counter attack with great effect, as we’ve seen against both City and Liverpool. At home we’re going to have to find the key of getting Cazorla involved more in the big games, or risk facing the prospect of Cazorla being marked out of the game, as he was today.

It’s a hiccup in the grand scheme of things, the players would’ve learned a lot about each other as well as themselves after this defeat. It should be a kick back down to earth for the squad, there is still a lot more work to do with this group of players, both defensively and offensively. However the positive’s from today’s game must be that we managed to match Chelsea in every department, we’re not too far away. Chelsea at no stage of the game looked miles better than us and as I said earlier I feel we’d fair better at Stamford Bridge.

Question marks will be raised over Koscielny and Vermaelen’s partnership, some claiming that it doesn’t work. Well I’m inclined to disagree with that notion, because there is no reason what so ever as to why they can’t play together. Today’s goals we conceded were hardly down to breakdown in communications between the pair, and we’d arguably still have conceded today’s goals if Mertesacker played today instead of Vermaelen. Vermaelen and Koscielny partnered each other 13 times in the League last season, we managed to win 7 of those games with just the 2 defeats, conceding 12 goals. 5 of those games were against top 6 opposition, in which 3 of them we won, today being our only defeat against a top 6 opposition with Vermaelen and Koscielny partnering each other. So I really don’t see an argument into why they’re unable to partner each other.

It’s one defeat at the end of the day, a disappointing defeat, but there are still 32 games to go till the end of the season. We got a bit too carried away after our start but hopefully it’s a snap back to reality for the Arsenal squad. We have Olympiakos up next in the Champions League on Wednesday which will be the perfect opportunity to bounce back. We have a good squad, a good blend of players, we just all need to take a step back, forget about winning the title for now and focus on winning games.

Vito Mannone – 6 – Personally never feel comfortable with Mannone in goal, cocked up a save from a Torres shot, luckily it was called offside

Carl Jenkinson – 6 – Up against Hazard today and dealt with things quite well, wasn’t tested all that much to be honest. Provided some great crosses in the box

Laurent Koscielny – 6 – At fault for the first goal, but a tough display from the Frenchman, still signs of rustiness.

Thomas Vermaelen – 7 – Played well, nothing seemed to faze him but still a bit too rash in tackles giving away needless free kicks sometimes.

Keiran Gibbs – 7 – Keiran Gibbs has been consistently fantastic this season and today was no different. A fine display, hardly put a foot wrong.

Aaron Ramsey – 6 – Failed to have the same impact as he did against City. Second half looked low on confidence. Subbed

Santi Cazorla – 6 – The quietest I’ve seen Cazorla, testament to Chelsea’s set up in Midfield. Missed a good opportunity.

Abou Diaby – 6 – Looked bright at the start before familiar sight of coming off injured occurred in the first half. Out between 3 weeks – 3 years apparently.

Mikel Arteta – 6 – Arteta did most things well, Midfield battle was quite even, just unable to free up Cazorla in the right places

Lukas Podolski – 6 – Very quiet today, had a decent header at goal saved by Cech. But very quiet day at the office for the German.

Gervinho – 6 – Took his goal very well, but frustrating at times. Couldn’t spot obvious passes and strolled offside too often.

Alex Ox-Chamberlain – 7 – Set up Gervinho’s goal, gave Cashley a tough time down that right hand side after coming on for Diaby. Probably should’ve started.

Theo Walcott – 6 – Hardly noticed Theo on the pitch when he came on.

Olivier Giroud – 6 – Movement good as usual, missed a glorious opportunity in the last minutes. Worrying.

Thanks for Reading

Follow us on Twitter @ArseDNA

Till Tomorrow.

Tight Arse vs Money Bags – Match Preview

The Gunners face another stern test as we host Chelsea at The Emirates this afternoon which will surely be a hotly contested affair. Both teams come into this game having scored 6 goals each in their 3rd round Capital One Cup ties which will have given both sides confidence going into the game. Chelsea sit top of the pile at the moment and despite looking a bit lacklusture in their more recent domestic games, they’ve only dropped two points this season, drawing at QPR.

No surprise that Chelsea look overall a more entertaining side than last season’s Champions League winners (not by much though), who literally defended and rode their luck all the way to Champions League success. They’ve invested in Marin, Oscar and Hazard  this season and when you add Mata to that list, they essentially have four players who fit naturally in to the no. 10 role. Abramovic wanted Barcelona football, so he went out and bought a load of technical players, it’s as simple as that.

There’s definitely a few selection dilemmas that face Wenger ahead of today’s game. Vermaelen’s back in contention after missing the City game through illness, so you’d expect either Koscielny or Mertesacker to miss out considering he’s the skipper. I have a feeling Wenger is going to drop the big German for Koscielny on this occasion. The Frenchman has had Torres in his back pocket near enough every time he’s been put up against him, which I’m sure Wenger will be aware of, perhaps prompting this decision. You wouldn’t want to drop Per or Koscielny from the squad considering their heroics against City but it’s definitely an example of the depth in our squad at the moment.

Also, Theo Walcott, Andrey Arshavin and Olivier Giroud have sent out a message to Wenger, all playing integral roles in Arsenal’s win on Wednesday. Theo chipped in with two sublime finishes while Giroud literally chipped in a great finish of his own. I think people seem to overlook Giroud’s creative work too. He put in a lovely ball for Arshavin to claim his goal, and let’s not forget his assist for Podolski against Montpellier. There’s a reason he bagged 9 league assists last year. With Theo and Giroud warming the bench more often than not, they’ll have staked a claim for a first team place tomorrow, while Arshavin has definitely staked a claim for at least the bench, showing he can be a useful asset.

I personally think however that Wenger will stick with near enough the same team that he played against City, with Gervinho up front again. As good as The Ox is, I’d like to see Theo start this game. He’s got a good record against Chelsea and gave Ashley Cole a torrid time at the bridge last year. He clearly seems geared up for it, so I think we should use the momentum he’s going with to our advantage. With The Ox and Giroud on the bench, we’d have great attacking options to choose from in the latter stages of the game. If Gervinho can run at the Chelsea defence and cause them problems John Terry won’t be too pleased to see Giroud come on to cause him more problems, and provide a different dimension for us.

Perhaps the best thing about this game is the fact that we no longer have to deal with a certain Didier Drogba anymore. He scored 13 goals in 14 games against us but a promising stat is that Chelsea haven’t beat us without Drogba in their side. It actually would have been interesting to see Drogba line up for Chelsea to see how our newly formed defence would cope. However, it’s good to know that he won’t be causing us problems anytime soon, unless we face Shanghai Shenhua of course. However, the phrase ‘form is temporary, class it permanent’ comes to mind regarding Torres. Despite looking a shadow of himself in recent years and having big boots to fill, he’s still Fernando Torres, and our defence will have to make sure they deal with the threat of the big Spaniard.

Despite being European Champions and current league leaders, before the 6-0 thrashing of Wolves, Chelsea had only won one game in their previous four, which was a narrow, unconvincing win against Stoke. We’ve looked very bright, and with 6 goals scored in each of our last two home games in all competitions, the fans have every reason to be positive. As long as we defend as a team and work as a tight unit, the chances will come at the other end, as we have little Santi. I can see the partnership between him and Podolski along with Arteta’s solidity and experience being the difference tomorrow.

This game has also been branded the battle of Hazard vs Cazorla, so it’ll be interesting to see who has more of an impact for their team today.

My prediction: Arsenal 2-0 Chelsea

Up the Gunners.

Till tomorrow

@ArseDNA

Stars of Tomorrow – Hector Bellerin

Every week ArseDNA takes an in depth look at a young player coming through the ranks at Arsenal, last week was German starlet Serge Gnabry, this week is the turn of Hector Bellerin.

Name – Hector Bellerin

Age – 17

Nationality – Spanish

Position – Right Back

Hector Bellerin joined Arsenal last summer from Barcelona along with friend and fellow compatriot Jon Toral. Much has been made about Bellerin’s switch to Arsenal from Barcelona and Barcelona have expressed their concern over the rules that allow youngsters from La Liga to move on for next to nothing. Arsenal no doubt have taken advantage of this over the years, Cesc Fabregas and Fran Merida are just two of the players who have made the switch at a very young age. Bellerin claims that Arsenal’s willingness to give opportunities to young players was a huge reason for joining the club.

Bellerin joined Arsenal as a right winger from Barcelona. Blessed with pace, technique and an eye for goal, Bellerin is classed among team mates as one of the most talented players at the Arsenal Academy. However Bellerin has since been converted to a right back, where he has impressed both last season and this season.

From the offset it looks a bit strange that a Spanish born Right Winger bought from Barcelona, who has received mass plaudits for his attacking plaudits and his technical ability, has been converted to a right back. We have seen it before from Wenger, who’s eye for potential never seems to die out. Bellerin says that because he has been playing as a Winger since he was 12 years old, it enables him to figure out what is going through an attackers mind, which thus helps him defend better. Arsenal coaches have praised Bellerin’s defensive improvements over the last year or so.

Last season Bellerin played 16 times for the Arsenal U18’s mainly at Right Back. Bellerin also played 4 times for the reserves last season scoring against Chelsea Reserves in a 2-0 victory in March. Bellerin declared this as his proudest moment so far in an interview on the Arsenal website.

So far this season Bellerin has started both of Arsenal’s Next Gen Series games against Marseille and Olympiakos. Bellerin impressed in the 3-0 home victory against Marseille, but like many others failed to really impose themselves in the away defeat to Olympiakos. Bellerin has stepped up from playing U18 football last season, however has failed to make any appearances for the Arsenal U21’s this season.

Bellerin was called up to the Arsenal’s Capital One Cup Squad on Wednesday against Coventry, however was an unused substitute. Despite the lack of appearances this season it must show how much faith Wenger has in Bellerin as a footballer. Martin Angha was preferred over Bellerin in the Right Back position, but surely the whole first team experience would’ve been a great learning curve for Hector. With Reading away next in the Capital One Cup, Bellerin will be hoping for a second call up and maybe even the chance of some playing time.

In the short term however, Bellerin is set to be included in the Next Gen Series squad for Arsenal’s home tie against Olympiakos next week. Bellerin and co will be eager to put one over Olympiakos and gain some revenge for their 2-0 defeat in Greece earlier on in this month.

So all in all it will be interesting to see how Bellerin’s Arsenal future takes shape. At only 17 years old, Bellerin will have some much to learn but has already shown that within the next few seasons, we could have yet another young Right Back coming through, ready to challenge for first team places.

Here is a video compilation of Bellerin at Barcelona

Give @HectorBellerin a follow on Twitter, and give us a follow on Twitter also @ArseDNA

Thanks for reading, till tomorrow

Arsenal 6-1 Coventry – Girouuuudddddd

Last night we entertained League One Coventry at the Emirates in the Capital One Cup 3rd Round. A sell-out crowd was there to witness a crushing 6-1 victory, in a match that saw 3 debutants, Olivier Giroud’s first goal for the club and Emmanuel Frimpong’s return from injury, so all in all a pretty action packed evening.

The first half started slow, Coventry had a few half chances and we found it hard to really get into the game. Our final product let us down at times, a few half chances here and there but nothing that was really going to trouble Murphy in the Coventry goal. 5 minutes before halftime however Arshavin’s over hit pass was then reverted into the path of Giroud by Coquelin and the Frenchman, as cool as you like clipped it over the oncoming keeper and it rustled in the corner of the net. Excellent goal for the Frenchman, you could sense the relief both in himself as well as all around the ground.

The second half started extremely quickly and within a matter of minutes Arshavin was fouled inside the box. However two streaker’s interrupted the occasion, running around in their boxers for a good few minutes, before a missed sliding tackle from a steward, he was eventually wrestled to the ground and escorted off of the pitch. So after a long delay up stepped Olivier Giroud from the spot, but things didn’t go quite to plan for the Frenchman this time as Murphy saved his penalty.

Not to worry though, Chamberlain’s thunder strike a few minutes later made it 2-0. A shot full of venom, which looked to make the goalkeeper do a mini backflip, quite hilarious stuff. Just after the hour mark Arshavin made it 3 as Arsenal countered and Giroud fed a delightful ball into Arshavin’s feet and the Russian despite having a pretty poor game scored with a lovely finish. Wenger then made 3 changes bringing on Chamakh, Frimpong and Gnabry for his Arsenal debut.

Arsenal then went 4-0 up after Walcott was set free and he fired in a very Thierry Henry like finish past the keeper. Game Set Match. Well so we thought. Coventry then pegged us back after some poor marking allowed Callum Ball to slide it home, a disaster 3 games without a clean sheet!

Arsenal however went straight up the end and scored a 5th as Miquel’s lunging header found its way into the net. Arsenal then sealed a 6-1 victory with another superb Walcott finish, if we thought the first one was Henry-esque, the second one was even more so. Actually forget all these comparisons between Henry and Walcott, let’s just allow Walcott to be Walcott.

All in all a very convincing win and we go onto face Reading away in the next round of the competition. Wenger will see lots of positives from the game, none more so than Giroud getting off of the mark which will boost his confidence radically. Yennaris was superb in midfield, breaking up the play along with Coquelin who really imposed himself. At the back Miquel looked cool and composed and won many aerial battles, whilst captain for the day Johan Djourou excelled.

Serge Gnabry came on for the second half and looked absolutely mesmerising. The way he ran at the opposition with direction, strength and pace, it was like de ja vu from last season watching The Ox. The similarities between the two are endless, looks, style, technique even build. Firmly believe Serge Gnabry is the real deal and Wenger said he is ready for first team football, he bloody looks it.

Chamakh also made a cameo appearance and looked very good. Despite being 3-0 up at the time Chamakh came on and worked very hard, doing some very intricate touches with some deft flicks. I’ve always understood the criticism of Chamakh but always felt it was a tad unfair. Chamakh is not what some of the fans behind me who were calling him s***’. Always a bit disappointing when you have people in the crowd ready to bash their own player as soon as he doesn’t do something right. The same people were calling Angha ‘s***’ and before Walcott scored his goal’s, he was also, yeah you guessed it, ‘s***’. The fickle-ness and stupidity of some ‘arsenal fans’ is annoying to say the least. Anyway, I was very impressed with Chamakh, he looks hungry, could do with a goal and some playing time mind you, but you can’t fault his attitude.

We saw Arshavin drop into midfield as the game progressed playing more centrally, just in behind the striker and then dropping back further into the middle of the pitch. Wenger says that Arshavin could possibly play in the middle as his legs deteriorate too much to play on the wing. Arshavin played in the Cazorla role and looked decent, his sloppy passing is just extremely frustrating at times. We all know what he is capable of and undoubtedly confidence is low but simple 5 yard passes going astray, I don’t know…I’ll go easy on Arshavin today because Co-writer Lee is a huge fan, so on a positive note he took his goal extremely well.

Theo, frustrating in the first half but came into his own in the second half as Coventry got tired. Both of his goals were magical finishes and should’ve had a hat trick after he missed 2 good chances. He looks so good hanging off of the last defender, being so comfortable in the game it allowed Theo to play a bit further up but not as a striker. The goals will do himself no harm in his quest for games up front, you just have to wonder whether Wenger will ever give him his chance, today was an excellent chance for it to happen but for some reason or another Wenger decided against it.

Damien Martinez – 7 – Looked calm and assured, very disappointed to lose his clean sheet. Probably the next challenger to Szczesny’s number one shirt.

Martin Angha – 7 – Had a shaky start, but dealt with it quite well on his debut. Looked assured at the back and grew in confidence going forward.

Ignasi Miquel – 8 – Miquel was one of my candidates for MOTM. A headed goal and some great bits of defending by the young Spaniard.

Johan Djourou – 7 – Possibly at fault for Coventry’s goal, but defended quite well for the duration of the match.

Andre Santos – 5 – Santos played, but his mind and soul was on a beach in Brazil sipping Mojito’s

Francis Coquelin – 7 – Very composed and influential figure in midfield, knocking on door of the door for regular first team starts.

Nico Yennaris – 8 – Started off slowly, but really grew into the game. His tenacious tackling and ability to break up the play was excellent.

Alex Ox-Chamberlain – 7 – Very eager to impress tonight, a bit of showboating, but the class was evident to see. His goal was a tremendous strike.

Theo Walcott – 7 – Two lovely finishes, should’ve had a hat trick. Theo frustrating at times, but knows where the back of the net it.

Andrei Arshavin – 6 – If you watch the highlights, you’d think Arshavin was MOTM, sloppy passing took the shine off of some of his good moments.

Olivier Giroud – 7 – Worked hard up front and took his chance very well. Delay before the penalty didn’t help him, hopefully won’t knock his confidence.

Emmanuel Frimpong – 7 – Came on after a long layoff and looked good on the ball. Good to see him back

Serge Gnabry – 7 – Looked excellent when he came on, driving at defenders and unlucky to get a goal.

Marouane Chamakh – 7 – Came on and worked hard, held the ball up well and did some clever little intricate things.

Anyway, Chelsea up on Saturday and you can get 250/1 on a third successive 6-1 victory at the Emirates.

Follow us on @ArseDNA

Till Tomorrow

Coventry Preview

Tonight’s game against Coventry in the Capital One Cup 3rd Round is a sell out at the Emirates, not sure I can remember too many times where we’ve sold out the Emirates for the 3rd round of the Mickey Mouse Cup. It could be a mixture of tickets being as cheap as a tenner or the fact that we’re off to a great start this season and some star names could play tonight. Either way I’m sure the atmosphere is going to be great, I even heard over 8000 Coventry fans will be making the short journey down, even better!

Not really a fan of the League Cup to be honest, I’ve always laughed at others expense when winning the Rumbelows Cup, however in recent seasons I’ve secretly held slight resentment towards the winner of any competition Arsenal are involved in. I will actually take anything; we need a trophy if it is the Littlewoods Cup then so be it, I will bite your bloody hand off for it. Desperate it may seem, but 7 years without a trophy, we’re in no position to pick and choose.

The last time we played tonight’s opponents Coventry was way back in 2001 in their last stint in the Premier League, where we won 1-0 at Highfield Road. The last time Coventry beat us at home was in 1993 when we suffered an embarrassing 3-0 defeat.

Coventry have found themselves slipping down the Divisions and currently ply their trade in League one. So far this season they’ve struggled, losing their last 5 games on the bounce in the League. However Coventry will take some heart in beating local rivals Birmingham in the previous round of the competition. Coventry has yet to win in the League this season, despite having some decent players such as Gary McSheffrey, John Fleck, and Stephen Elliot, who will no doubt play tonight and give us a few concerns. Connor Henderson just recently joined Coventry on loan however is ineligible to play tonight.

Wenger has given hints to who will be given a game tonight, by saying the players who didn’t get a game on Sunday will play today as well several youngsters such as Gnabry, Bellerin, Yennaris, Olsson and Eastmond could also have a chance of being involved. Wenger also says Miquel will start at the back, which leaves us a team with a mixture of both youth and experience.

The possible team tonight could be –

Martinez, Yennaris, Miquel, Djourou, Santos, Gnabry, Coquelin, Chamberlain, Arshavin, Walcott, Giroud

I’ve gone for the two up front as a sort of experiment, with Walcott and Giroud partnering each other. I see no reason as to why this won’t work; it would be a bit like Shearer and Owen playing up front together. It will give Giroud some support up there, allowing him to knock balls on to Theo playing off of the last man. If Wenger is going to give Theo a chance up front, tonight could be the perfect game to do so. I’ve gone for Gnabry on the right after the young German continues to earn mass plaudits, especially from Wenger, with forgotten man Arshavin on the left. In the middle I reckon Chamberlain and Coquelin could well partner each other, especially as only the latter played any part in Sunday’s game at Citeh. It will be an opportunity for Martinez, Yennaris and Miquel to impress, as well as some action for our beloved gay Brazilian Andre Santos and Johan Geodude at the back.

All in all I’m very excited for tonight, I’m taking my Mrs to her first ever football match, she thinks we’re going out for a romantic evening, for a bit of steak and champagne up West, but I suppose she’s going to have to make do with a hot dog which tastes like my shoe sole washed down with a that £3 water mixed with what Arsenal like to call coke. How more romantic can you get?

Give me a shout on Twitter @ArseDNA, I’ll promise to give you a shout out and you’ll possibly be able to see the look on my Mrs face when she realises the stewards are not waiters.

Till Tomorrow, Ciao

Weekend Thoughts

Can we be optimistic yet?

As an Arsenal fan I’ve learnt to never ever be optimistic. Ever. After countless seasons of heading into the second half of the campaign top of the table challenging on four fronts, only to end up scraping a Champions League place, losing a cup final to a team who got relegated, I know that there is always one slip up waiting to happen. However (I’ll start sounding like a supporter soon, don’t worry) there seems to be something different about this team.

For some reason I want to credit it to Mikel Arteta, no idea why, I just do. Perhaps his professionalism and quality from start to finish. The main reason though, as I wrote earlier, is the fact we don’t have the players that made up the team of bottle jobs anymore. That virus is gone. Signs of this was evident last season. The addition of experienced players probably had a lot to do with it as well, but the mettle and resilience displayed against Man City was there to see last season and it appears to have remained. That 8-2 may have been the best thing to have happened to us in a long time. Either way, the combination of all these factors has led to a new attitude, a new belief, a new dimension within the club. A dimension that leads me to realistically believe we can win the league.

On paper, our team have always been as good as whoever has won the league, or the cup or whatever. The difference has always been mentally. United’s team last season was pony, worse than the one they have now, but they have (a twelfth man) an attitude that has made up for that and took them extremely close last season. This is the attitude I’ve been dying for us to have for years. That Gallas moment probably had a bigger effect than we realised at the time, but if we had this strength we have now, a few years back, we would have won the league a couple of times I’m sure of it.

Another huge factor and reason to be optimistic is that we finally look set to have a full strength squad. Each year we always missed at least one key player. Van Persie, then Vermaelen, then Wilshere – not to mention mid-term injuries that would be picked up throughout the season weirdly at once. Legend has it Michael Essien’s uncle cursed him and sacrificed 17 goats so that he would never make an appearance at a major tournament. I think it’s no coincidence this clean bill of health looks set to come now Alex Song has left. He was cursed. I mean, did you ever think you would see Barcelona arguing? Leo Messi shouting at other players? Alex Song is clearly the curse. Maybe I’m joking. But yeah the point was, we’ve always known if we were to get a full strength team we’d be a force. Plus this new resilience thing and with 5 key players set to return I don’t think we’ve even hit top gear yet. We still look like we can improve in the final third, and by that I mean Gervinho and Giroud can improve. I wish Giroud had as many chances as Gervinho and I wish Gervinho looked like Giroud.

With players to return, the team to keep gelling and actual mental strength and togetherness (I can’t remember a celebration like Sundays for a while), I’m confident we will hit top gear and peak at the business end of the season. Which means if we’re around the top come February, well, just maybe…