Friday, September 19, 2008

Early Bolton Preview, and Kroenke Joins The Board

Morning all. The match preview is a day early this time because I'm headed to Tallahassee tomorrow to watch Florida State beat Wake Forest. I'll be back Sunday and will hopefully get a match preview up then.

So we've got Bolton at the Reebok Stadium tomorrow. This used to be really a tricky fixture for us, although since Fat Sam left for Newcastle they haven't been the same. Last year was that incredible game where we were getting murdered in the first half, then had Abou Diaby sent off, so we were 2-0 down, away from home, and playing with 10 men. In the 2nd half however we made the greatest comeback I remember seeing from Arsenal, with Gallas, RvP, and an own goal somehow giving us the win 3-2.

Injury news ahead of the match isn't too bad as we haven't lost anyone that was healthy for the Kiev match. We still have Nasri, Diaby, and Silvestre out though. Nasri is one that I'm worried about. I think the injury he picked up was supposed to just be a little one but it's putting him out for a lot longer than expected. I really hope it isn't like a Rosicky or RvP injury that never really goes away and we end up having to give him a bionic leg.

The lineup will probably look like this:


I actually really liked the setup we used against Kiev with Song in the middle and Denilson playing out wide and Eboue not on the pitch. It was great but I think we'll probably see Eboue back in the side since it's a league game.

Like I said, Bolton haven't been the same since Fat Sam left, and it's a match we could really use three points from. Bolton are pretty much shite, and we are of course, not shite. Cesc was in and out of the game a little bit against Kiev so let's hope he gets back on track this match and hopefully the ref won't give any terrible penalty calls like the one he called against Sagna. That said, I think my score prediction will be 1-3 to the Arsenal. I think we just have too much quality for Bolton to match up with man for man. They will put everybody in front of the goal and try to make a wall but I think we'll be able to break them down. I really hope I'm right.

So that's enough for the match preview. There is a SLIM possibility that I'll be able to get a podcast done before I leave for Tally tomorrow but I have to pack and have practice today, then I have to coach my team in the morning and leave right after that. But there is a slim chance still because I haven't gotten one done in a while.

The other big news of the day is that Stan Kroenke, that's right, an American, has joined the Arsenal board. I think it's great because not only am I American of course but Mr. Kroenke has had a very successful career running sports franchises here in the states for those of you who don't know much about him. Kroenke has agreed not to increase his stake beyond 29.9% of Arsenal's share capital in the next year unless a takeover bid is launched by the fat Russian cunt, in which case he could buy more of the club with the consent of the rest of the board. So basically this is all to prevent Usmanov from trying to get into a bidding war for the club because guess what, the shareholders will sell to Kroenke before they would to Usmanov, and the board clearly feel that they can trust Kroenke.

A statement from the club read:

"Mr Kroenke fully supports the approach the board has taken in setting the direction of the club," the statement read.

"The board believes Mr Kroenke's experience in sports team commercial management, sports marketing, media and new media rights as well as real estate development will be of great value."

So we'll see how it works out but I think it is a great move for the club.

Again, please visit our new sponsors at for everything you need football related. They have the new Arsenal kits at good prices and everything else you could want.

So that's about it. Hoping for 3 points tomorrow, and a big win for FSU. Go Noles. Cheers all.


Anonymous said...

with the 5 man midfield we did what we usually do with a 5 man midfield on wednesday- play quite badly.

cesc and denilson both are usually very quiet in 5 man midfields and that was true once again. denilson didn't contribute much to the game at all in that formation and cesc did a bit but wasn't that good either.

song on the other hand was our best midfielder followed by theo. he got on the ball, made right decisions, harrassed the opposition and did very little wrong.

i think it's a silly decision to take song back out and leave denilson in.

if we play the same system against bolton i'll be furious. we don't need to go out there to try and draw and with a 5 man midfield that always seems so much more likely- besides which we have a fully fit vela and eboue's not playing badly lately.

i can't see any good reason for keeping a similar setup to wednesday's. we got that wrong and it would be no different for bolton, even if we found a win.

Mike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike said...

A Yank on the board! I think it's good news as well. Maybe I'll hit him up for some tickets. LOL

I'll be at Doak tomorrow night too, should be a fun one. Be loud!

ArseNole said...

Where you sittin Mike? You should come have a drink with us before hand

Mike said...

I'll be in my dad's seats on the pressbox side for this game.

Unfortunately I've got a bunch of family in town, so no tailgating for me. :( Drink extra for me though!

Anonymous said...

Do we need a defensive midfielder?
As we all know Mr Wenger did not buy in the transfer window (to the great dismay and frustration of most bloggers and commentators it would seem) because he felt that he had the squad he needed.

My guess (and of course it is never more than that) is that the plan was to play Diaby next to Fabregas, and allow Cesc to move forward looking to score. But the early injury to Diaby and the unavailability of Bischoff meant that the system that had worked so well between Flamini and Fabregas had to be changed.

Enter Denilson, and we return to a modified version of the Gilberto approach - the invisible wall mark II.

Which raises these questions:

a) When Rosicky finally returns to fitness does he return to the wing where Nasri has been playing?

b) If Rosicky, Nasri, Diaby, Denilson, and Bischoff were all fit, who would play next to Cesc?

c) Is Ramsey ready for more of a place in the team yet, or is he just going to get emergency back-up and short fill-in jobs this year?

d) Do we need to sign a new midfielder?

The last one is, for me, the easiest to answer - absolutely not. I know I am out of phase with the vast majority of commentators on this, but I kept arguing the position through the summer and it still looks that way to me. If you say, “Flamini did x and we have no one to do x” then of course you need a new midfielder. But to me, and it is just a personal view, that is not how Wenger thinks, and it is not the right way to think.

Players are individual, and have individual strengths. You have Ian Wright in the team, and you play to his strengths - down the middle. You have Henry in the team and you know he goes left, so you buy a right footed left winger who can score (Pires) and tell him to run into the middle when Henry goes out to the left.

So to my mind Wenger was never going to replace Flamini with Flamini II, he was looking around at what he had and who was available, and then thinking, how can I change this to accommodate everyone in a winning formula.

And to answer an earlier question - if Denilson and Cesc continue to develop as a pair, and the team continue to win, then that’s the pairing, and Diaby and others will lose out.

One final thing - the strength among the younger players is now so great that every year we automatically have a couple of signings - players who break through. I suspect by this time next year Ramsey and Wilshere will be more fully integrated into the first team and there will be others moving up. The signings are done - it is just the press doesn’t notice them until they come out with all the old phrases about the “Wenger production line” when we play in the Little Cup - as we do tomorrow - and “Arsenal are broke” during the transfer windows when we don’t sign anyone.

The truth of this final point is that the spivs own Manchester U, Chelsea and Liverpool, but they don’t own Arsenal.

Anonymous said...

don’t tell me that Fabregas is tired because he didn’t have a pre season! His performance at Bolton was outstanding. Fabregas’s below par performance in Kiev was thus explained and accepted by a lot of Arsenal fans.

But there are a lot of other players that played in the final stages of the Euro who had a shortened pre season. Like Chelsea’s Deco and Bosingua as well as Liverpool’s Alonso for instance; and they do not seem to me to be suffering from fatigue.

My reasoning for Fabregas’s below par performance in Kiev had more to do with the tactics and formation adopted which demanded that he played out of his normal position further up field. This left very little space to weave his magic.

Against Bolton at the Reebok Fabregas was reinstated in the centre of midfield where he belongs and he did indeed weave his magic. Surprisingly Bolton left spaces open in the midfield areas in the first half by not pressing or marking very tight. This allowed Fabregas to run the show and once you do that the result is almost inevitable!

He was also very ably supported by Song. I think he will be the anchor in midfield now. The trouble for Wenger will be what to do with Denilson who had another fine game again scoring his second goal of the season. Maybe Nasri will have to stay on the bench for a while when he gets back to fitness.

But the real revelation this season has to be Eboue. He has been putting some very fine performances and the main reason is that he is beginning to use his head.

Gone are the displays where he would run like a headless chicken into cul de sacs and then more often than not give the ball away. Now he is much more patient when on the ball, looks up to see what’s on and invariably picks the right pass.

He has the pace and defensive skills which when complimented with some nous create the ingredients for a very good wide midfielder. Let’s hope he keeps up the quality of his performances. The victory at Bolton is a fantastic tonic for everyone’s confidence including the players themselves.

It was obtained by playing proper Arsenal type football which was complimented with resilience and stout defending when Bolton pressed very tight in the midfield areas in the second half not allowing the Arsenal players too much time on the ball.

Anonymous said...

Another Saturday, another three points in the north west. Fat Sam may no longer be manager at Bolton but they are still very much begat of the man who was once memorably described as a provincial butcher, as perfectly illustrated by Kevin Davies yesterday. The media like to call him ‘effective’ but I think he’s a first class arsehole. Fortunately his attempts to cripple Gael Clichy came to naught and Gael ‘only’ suffered severe bruising rather than a broken leg. I was listening to some of the game on Radio 5 and Jimmy Armfield, who must be at least 178 years old, was saying that Davies had gone for the ball and was merely being committed – when I eventually got around to seeing the challenge I couldn’t believe he didn’t intend to get some of the ball and all of the player.

Anyway, we won, we played very well and we scored some excellent goals. I only got to see the last twenty minutes of the game in a pub in Covent Garden of all places, but I thought we passed the ball around nicely and always looked capable of adding another goal. It took the introduction of Theo to make the win a formality, but he was worth waiting for – its extraordinary how much he has developed in just a few games; his pace was always there for all to see, but he’s become far more direct and most importantly his passing has improved immeasurably. The third goal yesterday was all about Theo – he ran at the heart of the Bolton defence (where last year he would have headed for the flanks) and nonchalantly flicked the ball wide to Adebayor who slid the ball across for Denilson to ram unerringly past Jaaskelainen. It was beautiful. It’s good to see all the strikers getting off the mark now that Bendtner has scored – he finished off a flowing move that passed Bolton to death - and Emmanuel Eboue has scored a league goal for Arsenal, albeit one that looked offside. Is it possible he might not be such a bad player after all? There, I’ve jinxed him.

I wasn’t particularly convinced by our ability to cope with the type of aerial threat presented by the Kevins Nolan and Davies, but then Bolton’s idea of football seems to have been formed in the dark ages – you wonder if they train with the ball flung at them by a medi catapult. Perhaps Gary Megson threatens them with a siege horse if they don't do as he says. If you’d said after the Fulham debacle we’d be top after the next three games I’d have thought you were soft in the head. It’s still early days mind and if we’re still playing like this come November when we face Man U and Chelsea I’ll be impressed.

And so to Sheffield United on Tuesday. I’m looking forward to seeing the young’uns, actually – I imagine Ramsey and Jack Wilshere will both start, likewise Carlos Vela. The club have had the good sense to slash prices to £10 and £20 so there should be near enough a full house and I reckon it will be nice and noisy. I fancy us to run a few goals in and all things considered it will probably be a better evening’s entertainment than next Saturday’s fixture against Hull. (What it is with us and Setanta by the way? Their idea of expert summarisers are Craig Burley and Tim Sherwood and frankly they’ve no business showing any football, let alone our lovely boys).

Connolly's agent said...

You know, the only reason Usmanov is in a position to threaten the club is because the board were so lippy about Kroenke in the first place? And now, we've got him on the board? The board make hideous mistakes at times. Kroneke will be good. He's got a sporting background, and is in a position to drive the team globally.

And interestingly, when Walcott came in to replace Bendtner, Arsenal reverted to a 4-5-1. Is Walcott going to be a full-time right winger, or is it still a learning position before he gets that striker position?

DogFace said...

Hmmm... Just because Kroneke isn't a baby boiling gazprom involved kgb heroin dealer - it dosn't mean it's a 'good thing'... He is a business man - he will want to take more out than he puts in, it's a simple equation - and you can be sure that any 'funding' he does put in will be secured against the club... I do accept that he has a lot of experience with regards to publicity and merchendising - although I don't think it's really important to the game or thr club.

He want's something... time will tell what it is.