Stoke a tricky prelude to Arsenal’s crucial period

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This weekend’s game against Stoke feels a bit like a speed bump.

We’ve just gone top of the league table, we’ve got Aston Villa, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool waiting for us just around the corner and we’re extremely low on players. A fourth-round FA Cup tie away to Stoke is just about the last sort of game I would like us to play just at the moment.

Alas, it does need to be played and if we want to maintain our momentum going into our crucial period it needs to be won.

Injuries to Bacary Sagna and Abou Diaby and a general lack of numbers has forced the manager to concede that he will have to dig a little deeper into the squad for options. We could of course see Sol Campbell in defence, Craig Eastmond is likely to get another game while it wouldn’t surprise me to see Carlos Vela and Theo Walcott get starts. Meanwhile I haven’t the faintest as to who will play at right-back.

The trick for Wenger will be to rest a few players but still put out a team strong enough to get the job done and maintain our momentum.

Enough said, really.

More team news as it appears tomorrow.

Have your say on Arsenal’s clash with Stoke by leaving a comment.

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36 Responses to “Stoke a tricky prelude to Arsenal’s crucial period”

  1. dampatti
    January 22, 2010 at 8:11 pm #

    The best thing I like about this team is the understanding between each other and the adjustability of the players.. If I’m not wrong, we wouldnt have put the same starting 11 for 3 consecutive games. Every player has slotted in well. Some instantly, while others took a bit of time to reach the potential. Just take the latest example of Eastmond. He has slotted into the first team exceptionally well. This is the culture that runs through the club from the youngest of the young guns to the first team. Also, the way we celebrate the goals this season has taken a new step forward… Coq and Vela coming to celebrate Merida’s goal the latest example..

    Also, players like Rosicky and Nasri taking responibility in letting the opposition know that we are not going to let you bully us bring the musketeer’s motto in my mind: “All for One and One for All!”.

  2. dampatti
    January 22, 2010 at 8:12 pm #

    The way Sky, who edited out the Taylor assault on Fabregas and many others from the first match, now go on about the Gallas tackle makes me very defiant. I don’t care what two faced Coyle says or whatever any other ‘iZombie’ (i.e p(l)undits & media hacks) thinks either. To hell with the lot of them.

    We have witnessed our boys become MEN. They deserve their respect. Our experienced guys are showing the way to stand up to the bullies. If the sluggers cannot hack it, now is the time for them to start learning to play football and abandon their sluggery.

    I concur with and echo your desire to see Song back

  3. dampatti
    January 22, 2010 at 8:15 pm #

    Imagine if Fabregas had deliberately knelt on an opponent’s neck. It would be on SKY Sports news every day for the rest of the year and every Arsenal-hating pundit would have had a field day. Can’t believe they haven’t even shown it once.

    On to Sunday. Who do we pay in midfield? With four HUGE Premiership games on the way, I’d rather leave Fabregas at home. But we are missing Song, Diaby, Nasri, Ramsey, Merida and possibly Wilshere.

    The only midfielders players left who have played in the Premiership are Eastmond, Denilson and Rosicky, with possible call-ups for Emmanuel Thomas, Coquelin or maybe Frimpong.

    As much as I have faith in the boys, I’m not looking forward to Stoke at all. If we get a result up there it will be an amazing feat.

  4. rayman
    January 22, 2010 at 8:25 pm #

    Stoke team could be something like…

    almunia
    eastmond TV Sol clichy
    jet denilson merida (if fit)
    theo eddy vela

    I know that seems mad but we cannot afford an injury to cesc, tom, arsh – even playing TV, eddy and denilson is a big risk but take them out and the team really does start to look ridiculous (would need to bring in coquelin, watt, etc).

  5. sandip
    January 22, 2010 at 8:40 pm #

    Coyle – I had respect for him. I thought he was a smart guy. Arsenal didn’t deserve to win either game? Man, just two games and already cant’ think straight. Feeling the pressure already? I had my suspicions. You can never truly judge a manager until he’s been in a job where he’s expected to get results. At Burnley he performed miracles with a club that are completely over the moon to be in the Premiership. If they were to go down, nobody could complain – they enjoyed the ride. Therefore, no pressure on Coyle. It’s a different story now, and after just two games, he’s creaking and nailed his true colours on the mast. Don’t expect him to last the season.

  6. blowout
    January 22, 2010 at 8:45 pm #

    yeah the squad is getting tighter every week!i would like to see young kerrea gilbert come in at right back or even eastmond as thats the position he started in,hoyte stil out on loan i believe?.bring in francis coquelin to the midfield and i would like to see emmanuel thomas feature as i hear nothing but good things about his perfomances in the reserves and when at blackpool.vela start.a mix of youth and experience please mr wenger.

  7. Andrew Weber
    January 22, 2010 at 8:52 pm #

    @ blowout – Unfortunately Gilbert’s on loan just now, meaning it will be a mystery right-back.

    @ sandip – Yep, Coyle has already gone downhill since joining Bolton. What he’s been on about I really don’t know.

    @ dampatti – Thanks for some lovely comments. Not much you can argue with there.

  8. Rian Joubert
    January 22, 2010 at 9:09 pm #

    I agree blowout. I would also like to see Thomas. He has had good reports. Definetely a tricky game

  9. arry
    January 22, 2010 at 9:11 pm #

    Sky Sports news this morning 7:30. – for the benefit of overseas readers here who may not know – they have a newspaper journalist (say that in the loosest sense!!) in every morning to give a round up of the mornings sports pages in national newspapers. This morning was Darren somebody, a poxy reporter with the rubbish daily mirror. The way he was talking about Gallas’ tackle was an absolute joke. It really is as if William has murdered someone. He was basically demanding that the FA look at this again and take action and he cited a tackle by Steven Gerrard in the last Merseyside Derby to prove his case as the FA looked at this after the match and gave him a retrospective 3 game ban. The only problem is that 1. Steven Gerrard deliberately tried to harm an opponent and 2. Steven Gerrard is a very cynical and sly player who tries to dive and cheat at every opportunity and 3. Gallas was definitely playing the ball as after the tackle he immediately turned (like a dog chasing a ball) and ran to recover the loose ball and played on. This is not the action of someone who deliberately left his foot in to hurt an opponent. Arsene needs to bring up Sailor boys assault on Cesc today and demand an apology for that as well.

  10. jebo
    January 22, 2010 at 9:26 pm #

    i think WE gonna need Song and Ebue……

  11. walter
    January 22, 2010 at 9:36 pm #

    Man’s insatiable desire for materialism is frequently the cause of his downfall. Empirical evidence through individual case studies and psychological research suggests that the appetite for increased wealth, and associated characteristics of greed, ego, arrogance and the like burdens the mind with anxiety and frustration. Man’s nature, however, leads to attachment. Through the association of one whom is the supreme authority on such matters, one’s life is transformed and such traits are dissolved.

    Without true knowledge, there is no liberation. Infinite universes will cease to exist including this world and our every possession. However, until we remove our desire and attachment, we cannot become liberated from this world. Due to our lack of knowledge and understanding, we cannot comprehend this truth. We perceive happiness in materialistic objects; however, happiness is followed by misery. If one owns expensive possessions, there is concern related to safeguarding such items, security, storage etc. Today, many have progressed and accumulated wealth, yet with this is the problem of taxes that burdens the mind. Wealth and materialistic possessions yield initial happiness but within them are intrinsic problems

  12. walter
    January 22, 2010 at 9:40 pm #

    I was reading this article in a cafe on the way to work today in the Daily Mirror, amazing…. they lost 2-0 to an understrength and underachieving Liverpool team……

    Anyway, I checked the website for the article but couldn’t find it… so I’ve typed it up to give you a laugh:-

    Team are ticking all the boxes for Harry –

    Alan Nixon (Daily Mirror) (a.nixon@mirror.co.uk)

    HARRY REDKNAPP has had one or two problems with his assessments lately – but there were a good few credits in the Tottenham column last night.

    The Kop humorously taunted ‘you’re getting taxed in the morning’ but even they would have to say that Spurs may be looking good at the end of the football and financial year.

    Of course this was a night for Jamie Carragher-style Liverpool defiance, but Spurs came out of a real examination with a lot of ticks in the right boxes.

    The start could not have been much worse, but then we saw signs this lot might have something about them after all.

    Peter Crouch won almost every ball in the air in a performance that reminded the Kop and Rafa Benitez that he should have been used more often when he was there.

    But the real encouragement was in the quality of the midfield. Outstanding Wilson Palacios looks the part in this kind of company.

    He’s not afraid of anyone and could be one of Redknapp’s smartest buys. He did the job that Liverpool employ two people to do, a human shield for the back four and then a thrusting force on the attack.

    Niko Kranjcar and Luka Modric flitted around and occasionally played pleasing passes, looking more like Liverpool midfielders than the ones in red. There is a real feeling among this group that they deserve to be in the leading pack and this could only confirm those thoughts.

    The only fear is their defence which still shakes alarmingly.

    If Redknapp can find a commanding, organising centre-half in the coming days – and he is trying – they could yet have their best finish yet.

    And maybe, just maybe, manage to end their accursed run of away results against the big four – 65 without a win going into last night’s game.

    They could just become one themselves at the same time.

  13. fredric
    January 22, 2010 at 9:42 pm #

    does any one think Cesc is turning a bit like Gerrad was for the pool last season??

    I’m not saying that Cesc Fabregas plays like Steve Gerrard. In fact I think they are a totally different type of player.

    However, at the moment Fabregas is reminding me of how Gerrard used to be for Liverpool.

    The England man used to grab Liverpool by the scuff of the neck though games and almost single handingly drag them to victory. I say used to because I haven’t seen it from him this season.

    Our little Spaniard is doing for us what Gerrard did for Liverpool. Dragging Arsenal to victory.

    Cesc has been unbelievable this season and has taken his game to such a high level. The best thing is that he is young and will still improve. Quite frightening really.

    He has grown into the skippers role and has become a true leader of Arsenal.

    There were times when I would marvel at Steve Gerrard and his influence at Liverpool. Well, Cesc Fabregas is fast becoming as important to Arsenal as Gerrard is at Anfield.

    In my opinion, that is a compliment to Cesc.

    I don’t think we’ve had anyone at the club who could influence the team like this since Thierry Henry left. Henry could and would dominate games and produce something from nothing.

    Cesc Fabregas is doing the same. The difference is under his leadership we look like we will win something. That is no slight on Henry.

  14. harrison
    January 22, 2010 at 10:37 pm #

    we need to drop the russian malfunctioning missile until it is fully repaired

  15. Ianinja
    January 22, 2010 at 11:12 pm #

    Ah…its Walter hmmmm I think we don’t really care what happens to Spurs but thanks for the effort. This blog gets interesting by the minute, now there’s buddhist philosophy Awesome….

    Cheers :-T

  16. Omecha
    January 22, 2010 at 11:13 pm #

    Man i am scared because this is exactly the period we lost it all last season. Prefessor should make use of this window or else we shall loose it all again.

    Glory to arsenal blog for keeping us in touch always.

  17. Dan.
    January 22, 2010 at 11:26 pm #

    just a comment; is it not the right time for Arsene to make a wise decision to buy some good players at this time of the transfer window to boost the players and ensure the momentum is not lost. we are at a crucial stage at this point and it would be disastrous to loose momentum now. the injury list is worrying and who knows whether our good standing players might succumb too, i am not saying they will, but, as a precaution, this is the tym Arsenal needs to figh with all it has to grab all silverware it can.

    buy some players ARSENE, you said you will.

  18. fredric
    January 22, 2010 at 11:27 pm #

    walter – im loving it

  19. billi
    January 23, 2010 at 12:02 am #

    @walter I missed your philosophies too, though I don’t understand all ………….. I defintely can’t watch the stoke match on sunday nor the one on wednesday next week, I expect a lot of the youngsters for sunday too, it’s clear that A.W. has to rest some players for the so called crucial period, I think every game up now will be crucial in the P.L. , and I really hope it will go better than last year, of course the one to one comparison delivers great points, if you win them the opponent has lost them, so good luck boys ❗

  20. Arsesession
    January 23, 2010 at 12:28 am #

    Coyle is just being the new manager. Saying the right things to defend his players and reinforce fan respect.

    As Arsenal fans we should expect no less – but not waste our time rehashing a dead issue.

  21. Alister Campbell
    January 23, 2010 at 1:03 am #

    Reading the papers yesterday after the 4-2 win over Bolton, putting us top of the league, the journalists don`t half miss the point by criticising the supporters who booed off the injured Mark Davies (better if it had been Kevin Davies), for being unsporting.

    Jason Burt in the Telegraph said – “And is cheering off an opponent as he lay on a stretcher, and who was quite evidently badly injured, really necessary however much you want your team to win?”

    Sorry, all I can remember was the unsporting behaviour of he and his Trotters team-mates who spent most of the night (and the previous Sunday) kicking, gouging and diving their way through the matches.

    Burt goes on to say – “It will be argued that, for years, Arsenal have been kicked by Bolton so what’s wrong with a bit of retribution. But they haven’t been kicked by a talented young player like Davies or by a team managed by Owen Coyle.” Sorry, Davies plays for a team that kicked every Arsenal player who moved, he had the ball, Gallas wanted it more than he did. As his namesake, Kevin, had dived and feigned injury throughout the game, we simply assumed he was cut from the same cloth, and was doing the same. Bearing in mind we have suffered over the years with other teams not kicking the ball out, or not returning it (Tottenham 1996, Sutton/Blackburn 1997, Tottenham again 2006, Everton 2010 – though that one was fair enough – amongst several others), you can hardly blame them for not thumping the ball to the touchline.

    Also, bearing in mind the ref had seen Bolton, especially Jaaskalainen, waste time at every opportunity, he may just have assumed that Davies was trying to get the game stopped. The Boy That Cried Wolf, indeed. Besides, had the boot been on the other ankle, the press would have been saying, “it was a fair challenge” and quoting Corporal Jones’ old Dad`s Army saying. My only regret was that Uncle Sam was no longer Bolton boss, he would have whining like child deprived of their chocolate bar.

    I have time for Owen Coyle, as does Wenger – why else would he have been prepared to loan Jack Wilshere to Burnley when Coyle was manager? The Scotsman clearly had the red mist on when he claimed Gallas` tackle was tantamount to assault. No, it was a 50-50 challenge, probably a foul, but the ref missed it (I am writing this without the benefit of having seen it on TV yet). Some of the Trotters` challenges were assaults, the thumping lunges from behind by Avi Cohen`s son on Rosicky, and by Steinsson on Eduardo, are two that remain in the memory, despite all the goals and drama of the night.

    Surely, the fact that 59,000 Gooners all cheered the numpty Davies off the pitch should have indicated to journalists how we all felt it about the way the game was going. It wasn`t just a few isolated, youthful idiots jeering mindless abuse, it was the vast majority of the crowd. We were all sick of seeing Arsenal booted off the pitch. We were all sick of remembering Taylor`s assault on Eduardo. We were all sick of remembering Bolton continually kick us off the pitch in the Allardyce years, especially April 2003, when they injured half the team, and deprived us of the title. We were all sick of us losing to a bunch of spiteful Northerners, being told that we lack bottle against the so-called traditional English game.

    Those that live by the sword, die by the sword.

    These Northerners do not, indeed, like it up them.

  22. bharat
    January 23, 2010 at 1:10 am #

    I’m starting to understand Wenger’s reluctance to dip into the transfer market (this one or the next). To be able to play our style of football requires many things but at the top of the list is Team Chemistry. Any new player in the team not only requires time to settle into the premier league, but also to settle into the team and realize all those unspoken things which our current bunch of players seem to be saying to each other out on the pitch. It’s why he’s always preferred youth and it’s why he’s always preferred getting talent in from the reserves or the youth team to make the step up. I’m not saying there haven’t been exceptions, Arshavin stands right out but that’s exactly what he is – An exception. Keep the faith. View’s great from the top,eh?

  23. buxton
    January 23, 2010 at 1:57 am #

    Excellent points by alistair and bharat

  24. Mike
    January 23, 2010 at 1:58 am #

    Eastmond has played some right back in reserve matches, so we may see him there against Stoke.

    I’d like to see Coquelin get some time in midfield with the first team.

  25. Gun_Slinger
    January 23, 2010 at 2:00 am #

    When Arsene Wenger sold Patrick Vieira every single pundit wrote Arsenal’s chances for honours off.

    Cesc and the rest got to the Champions League Final.

    When Arsene Wenger moved Thiery Henry on every single pundit dismissed Arsenal’s chances again.

    Yet Cesc and the rest topped the League in the first few months of that season and if it wasn’t for Eduardo’s horrific injury would have gone on to seriously challenge for the title.

    This goes to show that this bunch of players that Arsene has put together have the capability to make up for the loss of significant players and still produce scintillating and high quality football.

    This trend is being repeated again this season where this squad has had to put up with key players missing and still came up trumps. The run of recent results have so eloquently proved everyone wrong.

    Players missing include:

    – Arsenal’s top scorer (when he got injured) Robin van Persie and his young but very promising understudy Nicklas Bendtner.

    Arsenal have relied on the diminutive Andrei Arshavin who never played centre forward before and on Eduardo who is still trying to find his feet after being out of action for so long.

    – First team choice left back Gael Clichy and also his understudy Kieran Gibbs.

    Arsenal had to make do with the third choice left back Armand Traore.

    – First team choice goalkeeper Manuel Almunia as well as his understudy Lukasz Fabianski.

    In stepped the third choice rooky keeper Vito Mannone.

    – Fantastic midfielder Alex Song away on Africa Nations Cup duty.

    He has been replaced by Denilson and when not available, youngster Aaron Ramsey as well as rooky midfielder Creig Eastmond who made his full League debut only last week away to Bolton of all places.

    – Samir Nasri and Theo Walcott have been away injured for most of the season so far.

    Arsenal found the resources to replace them with Eduardo and Rosicky.

    Yet despite all these players missing Arsenal are now sitting top of the League (albeit with a game played more than Chelsea).

    The conclusion that can be drawn is that there is still quite a substantial room for even more improvement in this team. And I believe that when this happens Arsenal will be unstoppable.

    Let’s look into how this can come about.

    Bendtner’s return

    When Bendtner comes back Arsenal will gain a double benefit. A player that will play in his natural position who will add height and strength up front. This will give Arsenal the variety that has been missing in its forward play.

    Up to now the ball has been played to the forward’s feet on the ground by building form the back. This is Arsenal’s usual way of playing of course.

    But Bendtner’s height and strength will provide another option. It will also add height when defending corners and dead ball situations.

    The other benefit will be the release of Arshavin and Eduardo to play in their natural positions. The effect of this should not be underestimated as these players will become more efficient and also provide Wenger with more options.

    Bendtner is penciled in for the game at Aston Villa next week…

    Clichy’s return

    Granted he was rather rusty against Bolton and should be partly blamed for the first goal conceded.

    Yet we all know Gael’s quality and what he brings to this team. Now he is back the defence will be that much more solid. And we will need that with the difficult games coming up.

    Can’t wait for Alex Song

    If Cameroon go all the way in the Africa Nations Cup then he Song will not be back till mid February. Yet when he does come back Arsenal’s performances and defensive midfield capability for the latter part of the season will be so much more on solid ground.

    Theo back on track

    Walcott’s comeback (and eventually Nasri’s return in two weeks) will add more options for Wenger in the wide midfield positions as well as provide a much needed rest for Eduardo, Rosicky and even Arshavin who is carrying an injury.

    Theo’s return in particular will add pace in the forward positions which has been missing of late.

    Now all Arsenal have to do is stay top or in touch with the top after the completion of the next four games: Aston Villa away, Manchester United home, Chelsea away and Liverpool home.

    It’s a tall order by all accounts but if it can be achieved then we will be well on our way for the Premier League title.

  26. shambogunner
    January 23, 2010 at 4:40 am #

    ok not much to talk bout today except that the boss isnt signing a striker,or chris smalling of fulham in this window,hes come out and said it so now we can draw a line under it i guess,am dissapointed again tho as i still believe we needed to add,i guess time will tell tho.
    andy did you see man citys chief executive gary cook making a speech in new york on how city are gonna do this and do that,and be best and biggest club in the world????check it out dude its amusing

  27. radads
    January 23, 2010 at 6:55 am #

    I want song to be back for the Villa game, Deny cant do the job, we defntly need Song!!!!!!!
    These 4 coming games will define our fate this year, therefore we need everybody to be there , in form and fit, especially Song, my best player.

  28. Temmie frm Nigeria
    January 23, 2010 at 7:46 am #

    I pray Egypt beats cameroun on tuesday,cos we really need Song back ASAP

  29. Hey Nonny Mouse
    January 23, 2010 at 10:57 am #

    Tricky. Yes, indeed, very tricky. Stoke are going to be right up for this and once again I think our lads are going to be in for a bit of a battle. The plus side of right now is that, with Le Boss needing to rest players for Villa it’s another, somewhat unanticipated, chance for the new set of youngsters to get a game. My feeling is if we can get a draw and bring it back to Ashburton Grove for the replay we can win it then. I will honestly be very impressed if we can go to Stoke, who are in good form, with a team that’s never played together, and get an FA Cup win. Trust in Arsene, though.

  30. Hey Nonny Mouse
    January 23, 2010 at 11:02 am #

    I also think he should play Senderos along with Sol Campbell, Traore and the Verminator – he doesn’t need a rest, he’s a machine.

  31. Luxinbrasil
    January 23, 2010 at 10:34 pm #

    Senderos signs for Everton on season long loan….Hes gone…not to where you would expect…..i suppose the theory is we wont be meeting them again this season….

    good luck to the boy

  32. Hey Nonny Mouse
    January 24, 2010 at 4:16 pm #

    So here we are crying out for a big, tall, strong defender – and Arsene loans the only one we have out for the season, You’ve got to hand it to Le Boss, he’s an original!

    – Now we play Stoke, away, who’s best attacking weopon is a freekishly long throw deployed by Rory Delap. Who’s going to defend these now? With Diaby out we have a team of dwarves! Oh boy oh boy oh boy…

    And where’s this striker Arsene said he was going to buy? Before the season started we had three out-and-out strikers= Ade, Van P and Bendtner. At the moment we have none. None! Does that not matter??? I mean, am I going mad?? Help!! Yes, I know we’re scoring goals from all over but that doesn’t mean it will continue by any means. The goals could dry up right now and then what? Please Arsene can’t we have the option of a striker – like everyone else does?? WHY??!! WHY CAN’T WE HAVE A STRIKER? Even onloan for the season. We’re always loaning out our players for christs sake! Why?Why? Why??!! Why do we suffer oh Lord? Why doth Arsene make us suffer??

    Tahnk you for your patience with my rant. – me an Luxinbrasil are the only one’s in here after all…:rolll:

  33. Hey Nonny Mouse
    January 24, 2010 at 4:17 pm #

    I mean : roll:

  34. Hey Nonny Mouse
    January 24, 2010 at 4:17 pm #

    Oh bugger it…

  35. Martin Taylor
    January 25, 2010 at 1:44 am #

    Eduardo, the brazilian boy nneds to learn to stand up for himself like a man, instead of letting arsene do his talking. He also needs to stay on his feet, he has a difficulty with that. Sell him to west ham, they are going down down down. (same as eduardo)

  36. Martin Taylor
    January 25, 2010 at 1:52 am #

    Ha ha ha ha outta the cup ha ha. you should sack wenger and find someone who can speak english. Birmingham for the cup this year, we are unbeatable, you gooners are wankers

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