A quotetastic Arsenal-Tottenham preview

A quotetastic Arsenal-Tottenham preview

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the internet can be a frustrating thing. For no particular reason my connection has been playing up for the past few days and that of course lead to a lack of posts since the Fulham win. It’s a shame too, considering how much fun that game was to watch and how well Arsenal played. There’s really no point going into it too much now because every other Arsenal blog has already done so and I’m sure you’d be well sick of it by now.

Just quickly, it was a nice return to form – albeit against a very poor side – and it was great to see guys like Eduardo da Silva and Philippe Senderos play with a confidence that has been a little hard to find at times. I mentioned briefly yesterday that I thought Emmanuel Adebayor, Tomas Rosicky, Alexander Hleb and Gael Clichy were the standouts, simply for their consistent contribution over the 90 minutes.

Adebayor is doing wellI was delighted to see the big Togolese striker grab a couple of goals and make some ground on Cristiano Ronaldo in the race for the golden boot. He’s been in good form lately, something that Adebayor attributed to a positive change in his psychology after the match.

“The most important thing is that I feel free now. I am starting most games and the first question I ask myself is not whether I am playing, or whether I am going to start on the bench, but whether I’m going to score.”

It’s great to hear and you really have to give Arsene Wenger credit for it. He’s put faith in the big man when a lot of people have questioned him (thankfully, I’m absolutely not in this category!) and he has been rewarded with some excellent performances and a consistent flow of goals. People will continue to question his finishing but I’d rather have a player who scores one in five chances and creates five than someone who scores one in three and only creates two. Or something like that.

Two of the other players I mentioned were standouts against Fulham, Tomas Rosicky and Alexander Hleb, were deservedly singled out for praise by the manager following the match. Wenger spoke a little bit about their contrasting styles as well as praising the contribution they make to Arsenal’s flowing football.

“Rosicky is more of a Pires-type and Hleb is more for me a guy who attracts people to the ball, and then slides it through. Alex looks like he always slows the game down to speed it up again.”

Rosicky’s comparison with Robert Pires is understandable (although I’m sure everybody would love him to score more goals) and the description of Hleb is perfect. He was such a frustrating player to watch in his first two seasons at the club that it’s remarkable to see how well he has done this season. His dribbling style is so unique and so unsettling for the opposition and like Wenger mentioned, it’s lovely watching him draw in two or three defender before flicking the ball through to an unmarked teammate. His assist for Cesc Fabregas against Liverpool was a perfect example of what he does well but there have thankfully been many other great efforts as well.

Wenger still has faith in Walcott’s abilityWalcott the striker

One player who is perhaps not doing as well as most Arsenal supporters would have hoped this season is Theo Walcott. The Englishman has struggled for form and confidence of late, usually being played out of position on the right-hand side of midfield as opposed to his preferred starting spot up front. Despite this, Wenger has insisted that he is happy with his young player and emphasised that the time he has spent on the right has not been wasted.

“Overall I am very happy with him, I have said many times that he will be a player through the middle, a striker, because the timing of his runs, the quality of his runs is fantastic and he is clinical finisher. The time he spends on the right will help him became a fantastic striker.”

I tend to agree with him. A lot of people have been pretty harsh on Walcott lately but I’m not sure the criticism is fair. Sure, he’s not developing quite as quickly as most people would have liked but he’s shown enough to suggest that all he needs is some more confidence and to be played in his correct position to ensure he turns into an excellent player. At the start of the season I criticised Wenger because I felt he was putting too much pressure on the youngster to perform but thankfully it seems he’s changed his approach. He’s only 18 after all and when you look how quickly the likes of Adebayor and Hleb have improved there’s no reason why he can’t do the same.

Onto the Tottenham game now and Wenger has essentially revealed his starting lineup for the second leg of the Carling Cup semi-final. Due to Senderos’ inability to recover from the damage incurred to his nose on Saturday Wenger explained that William Gallas would have to be drafted into the starting lineup as his replacement.

We lost Philippe Senderos at Fulham and the injuries before that game are the same. I will use William Gallas because I have no choice but Fabianski will play, Hoyte will play and the players that didn’t play against Fulham will all play. Walcott will feature as well.”

There’s been a bit of confusion surrounding whether or not Hoyte will start in the centre of defence or at right-back and I’m personally hoping he’ll start alongside Gallas in the middle. He probably won’t though and that should mean that Gilberto Silva will start there and the central pairing will be Denilson and one of Flamini or Fabregas, which actually looks quite good. Nicklas Bendtner and the aforementioned Walcott will start up front and given Wenger’s comments about the Englishman’s ability as a striker it will be interesting to see how that pair combines. For some reason I have a little feeling that it might go very well indeed.

It’s difficult to make a prediction on this one because it’s a cup game, it’s against Tottenham and there are a number of selection matters to factor in. Gilberto and Denilson struggled as a pairing in the first leg and I just get the feeling if they play together there again they will struggle again. If Gilberto moves to the back then the central-midfield pairing would have a sharper look about them and that should help the side both defensively and offensively.

My heart says Arsenal will get through this one but my head says they won’t. I’m not sure why, that’s just how I feel. It could go to extra-time and that would mean another late start at work for me (!) but we’ll see how things pan out. Either way, gooooo Arsenal!

What do you think?

Have your say on today’s post by leaving a comment.

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17 Responses to “A quotetastic Arsenal-Tottenham preview”

  1. ramugunner
    January 23, 2008 at 2:10 am #

    It’s gonna be hard but I think we wll win 2-1.
    The key will be our defense. Hope Gallas will be pivotal.

  2. Spanish Fry
    January 23, 2008 at 2:20 am #

    Not too many others interested in commenting today. Oh well! I think it could go to extra-time but it’s about 50-50 as to who will go through.

  3. ramugunner
    January 23, 2008 at 2:33 am #

    It will be a good test of Fabianski if it will go to extra time.

  4. Jay
    January 23, 2008 at 4:31 am #

    I think Gallas and gilberto will make life hard for the tottenam attackers. Adebayor, Hleb and Fabregas have also been named in Wengers 16-man squad.

  5. A2Gooner
    January 23, 2008 at 5:19 am #

    I think our midfield is as key as our defense. In the matches in which we have underperformed, it has been when the opposition has pressed our midfield on each possession. Spurs did that in the first leg of this tie. I think we can win, it will just depend on how open the midfield play is. I agree with ramugunner’s prediction of a 2-1 win.

  6. TayGoon
    January 23, 2008 at 5:50 am #

    I get a funny feeling that there might be a spanking on the cards tonight. Bendtner & Walcott will have a statement to make. Should Wenger want to spice things up, Ade and/or Eduardo could be thrown in for good measure.

  7. ramugunner
    January 23, 2008 at 5:59 am #

    It looks like Wenger is trying his best to win this game. It was a tough decision to play some regulars but he is trying to get the right balance to scrap a win. I have a feeling that if young guns underperform then he will bring in the likes of Fabregas, Eduardo and Ade. Wenger wants to win it and the players too. We need a brave performance and no matter how we win today it will be great. Hope we can go all the way to win the trophy this time. Come on gunners!!!!

  8. Le Gunner
    January 23, 2008 at 7:09 am #

    2-0 down to the spuds. Nothing going through the middle completely shut down by spuds hopefully Second half will use wings or try some long balls to the box for Bendtner to knock down or bring on Adebayor instead.

  9. Le Gunner
    January 23, 2008 at 7:28 am #

    4-0 down now . That was suicidal defending.I’m afraid its all over now.we are defending too high up the pitch the spuds sitting deep and hitting us on the break all the time.I don’t know why Wenger can’t see it and change the tactics.What a shambles.But as I said before Ramos is a Minor cup specialist so let the stupid spuds have the milk cup.

  10. Le Gunner
    January 23, 2008 at 7:51 am #

    4-1 down and two arsenal players Adebayor and bendtner fighting each other what a sad sight.Bendtner is a disgrace his a hot head. Wenger will not be happy with him at all.

  11. TayGoon
    January 23, 2008 at 8:04 am #

    With spuds it had to been a scoring competition. We started too light upfront. Eduardo carried us a lot in this competition. His promotion to the first team has been disastrous to the Carling Cup. Well, It had been a spanking. We should have been the ones giving it. Till next year for some of our Junior players. I just hope for future games we will employ a more ruthless aproach from the start.

  12. Demetrio
    January 23, 2008 at 8:19 am #

    This should show Wenger needs to bring in another defender. Really tho.. its the Carling cup.. Arsenal are gonna drop games through out the season.. and if we had to lose i’d rather it be in the Carling cup then in league play.

  13. Spanish Fry
    January 23, 2008 at 8:44 am #

    A poor performance but as Demetrio said, at the end of the day it’s only the Carling Cup and I’d much rather the team lose there than in the Premiership.

  14. darragh
    January 23, 2008 at 9:23 am #

    What in the hell?

  15. Le Gunner
    January 23, 2008 at 10:15 am #

    Losing to the spuds is very painful but in the matter in which we lost is hard to take.It was suicide right from the start.the team looked disjointed there was no understanding.I didn’t like Bendtner’s attitude he could spoil the atmosphere with the team.Wenger has got some tough talks with the players involved tonight.

  16. tom
    January 23, 2008 at 11:01 am #

    ouch.

  17. MexicanGunner
    January 23, 2008 at 4:09 pm #

    ouch!!
    1. Hoyte is not a central defender (thats for sure)
    2. Gilberto have to play in that position
    3. BUT he is old (in that goal of Lennon he was sloooow)
    4. I like Walcott and Bendtner but they´re not ready for Arsenal… loan NOW
    5. Diaby is very good but I dont understand his football
    6. I dont care the Carling so Im ok

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