With players like Flamini, Walcott, and Podolski making their return from injury, Arsenal’s depth issues are slowly getting sorted. But[...]The post Arsenal Injury Update – More Good News For The Fans appeared first on SoccerSouls.
Let’s Gedion: Arsenal vs Chelsea preview and thoughts
Today is a match at a bad time, against an annoying opponent, at the start of a tiring and difficult run. And yet I am massively excited. What I want to ask in this match preview, is what eleven we should be playing, and really, how important is it to win today? (*Article written before team news released)
To me the Capital One Cup (money now, please) is really more of an aside and a nuisance than a competition to be focussing on. In past years, when we could field an entire team of young talent against Championship opposition, it was fun, but midweek before the most important week of the season, against a Chelsea side managed by an absolute tool of a human being, it loses much of the appeal. Sure, a home game against Chelsea is prestigious and exciting, but with an injury list as long as Petit’s ponytail, and a squad thin in numbers, it doesn’t come at an opportune time.
This summer, Wenger and his advisors decided that we had a squad with sufficient depth. And whilst I consider our creative midfield and our fullbacks to be amongst the strongest and deepest in English football, we lack numbers in deep midfield, central defence and the CF position. Whilst Gnabry, Zelalem, Bellerin, Akpom and Hayden are massively exciting, Chelsea is a big ask for them and behind them in the rankings are a bunch of players who, most likely, will never make it at the club.
Whereas we have three quality, experienced CBs, we have no talented 20 year old who will play cup competitions. We don’t have a young DM to rotate with Flamini and Arteta. For Wenger, a man never afraid to throw the talent (if you’re good enough, you’re old enough) into the deep end, this is an unusual situation, and one which, if I am honest, I consider to be a flaw in his summer (or recent) thinking.
Playing both Arteta and Flamini against Crystal Palace was, to me, a little bit too much. We cannot (nor do I) blame Wenger for Flamini getting injured but if you only have two DMs, playing both against significantly inferior opposition is just tempting fate. As such, today Isaac Hayden, who should be playing as CB next to Vermaelen, is likely to start as DM.
The rest of the team, in my mind, picks itself. Fabianski or Viviano to start in goal, Jenkinson and Monreal get some match rhythm at respective fullback positions, Vermaelen starts and captains and, alas, one of Mertesacker and Koscielny starts. In front of them Hayden anchors the midfield and hopefully we have Wilshere and Rosicky starting. That is a risk, with both players known to struggle with injuries, and playing an opposition known to be a bit niggly.
However, I consider Eisfeld not good enough and I think Zelalem is not fit enough to start. On the wings, Miyiaichi and Gnabry should start with the glorious hulking figure of Tony Soprano Nicklas Bendtner leading the line. Cazorla was awful against Palace and I would not mind him being given a 30 minute run out as a super sub, but considering we’d already play Rosicky and Wilshere, we need as many bodies fit for the fight with Liverpool.
Eisfeld, Akpom, Zelalem, Olsson or Bellerin are all excellent candidates for substitute appearances, and will relish the chance to perform on the big stage (a home game against Mourinho is a big stage, no matter how Mini Mouse the competition is) and show Wenger he should be thinking of them. Especially the idea of having Gedion Zelalem come off the bench excites me madly. His talent is incredible and even against Chelsea he can wreak havoc. Today would have been a great day to reintroduce Walcott, or to give some match rhythm to Podolski or Oxlade-Chamberlain. Alas.
Looking at my projected line-up (which, presumably, will be so far off the mark it may well be an Andros Townsend shot), you’d be forgiven for asking why so many of the players are not guaranteed starters in normal league games. We are, after all, playing Chelsea! Well, I consider the Capital One Cup (ka-ching) to be an absolutely useless trophy.
Most nations don’t have two cup competitions (France is an exception) and it is a phenomenal waste of time in a league already packed with hard matches, especially if you challenge on all fronts. With an injury raddled and already thin squad, going all out with strong XIs is extremely dangerous and no guarantee for victory. We might put out our best today, dominate possession, be profligate with chances and see two moments of Juan Mata magic undo us. We might also win, but at the cost of two more ‘red zone’ injuries. And if we do win, that brings us only one round further in a competition a few other strong teams want to win too.
With the recent signing of Mesut Özil, and the recent form on the pitch, we have elevated ourselves beyond the sort of club that should be aiming to win the League Cup. I can understand Liverpool or Tottenham starting a full strength side, but our desperation for silverware (ANY SILVERWARE) should not be so big as to waste our real shot of a title.
Whilst I agree that success breeds success, and winning leads to experience of the winning mentality, this has no real historical basis, and it is not worth jeopardising our league momentum for. A win today would do a world of good. A loss today might be a bit of a blemish, but it would not destroy morale. A loss on Saturday might do that, however, and it would certainly hurt of title chances. Keeping as many essential players fit and fighting for Liverpool should be the priority, above anything else.
Anyway, knowing Mourinho he will have instilled in his side a siege mentality after the scheduling computer had them play Sunday late afternoon and us Saturday morning. As we all know, this was a blatant attempt by the FA to give Arsenal an unfair advantage.
Luckily, I consider Arsene Wenger a better manager, and if the home crowd gets behind the team, the aforementioned XI should be good enough to beat any Chelsea second string. I just hope we don’t get any more injuries. An injury to a key player is ten times worse than losing to Mourinho in a tiny competition where they field a stronger team. Winning isn’t always everything.
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SHARING IS CARING
I cry out, "aaaaaaaaaa" at the news. Zelalem tweeted that he'll be injured for 6-8 weeks."Out for 6-8 weeks, will try to use that to my benefit and get stronger #Positives"That's really annoying because I was hoping to see him playing in the Red and Wh...
Why bring Cesc Fabregas back when Arsenal has Gedion Zelalem in their ranks
I need a break from talking about who might play for us in order to enjoy talking about someone who does play for us. Sixteen-year old Gedion Zelalem's feats in the last few games has me giddy with excitement. Yes, as we all know that the squads he has faced don't offer quite as much resistance as the ones he'd face in the Prem, but the skills he's put on display don't come from strength or speed or aggression. He's shown vision, touch, and control skills that would translate well as he draws closer to making the jump to the first team.Zelalem might weigh 60kg (130 pounds, give or take) just after eating and before copping a squat, but this might actually work to his advantage. At sixteen, he has plenty of time to bulk up. We have seen other youngsters come up and, on the basis of size or strength, boss their way around on the pitch only to virtually disappear after they make the leap to the big times and see that those advantages are no longer available. In Zelalem's case, his lack of size will force him to learn how to stay on the ball, fight through tackles, shoves, scrums, and fouls, and contend with bigger, brawnier defenders. In this sense, then, his slight frame might turn out to be an advantage in the long run.You can't coach size, as they saying goes, but Zelalem has a few years during which he can add height and muscle to his frame. He's 175cm (5'9") and could add to that just through maturation, and adding another 10kg wouldn't be hard to do as well. If he can do that without losing the qualities that make him special—vision, touch, control, agility—we could be looking at a very special player indeed.During the Asia Tour, he has made some audaciously beautiful passes and has similarly shown flashes of insight on the ball that are reminiscent of Fabregas and other incisive passes. Granted, some of these passes work because of the defenses he's faced, of course, such as the pass you see in the clip above. It's still a joy to behold, so let's set aside the details in order to enjoy it. As Zelalem receives the pass, he has no less than five teammates to pass to, at varying degrees of difficulty. Instead of going for a safe pass, he threads a through-ball almost perfectly, bypassing five defenders and placing the ball right at Theo Walcott's feet, and all that's left for him to do is practice his trademark finish (he's still gotta sharpen that up, as, again, he squirted under the keeper instead of curling it around the keeper as he should. Prepositions, man. They matter). What a pass, though. Right where it had to be, right when it had to be there, weighted and curled perfectly.Just as exciting as the pass is Zelalem's awareness. He surely knows what Walcott likes to do and anticipates him doing it and can see a lane for delivering the pass where few others could see it. A clever passer sometimes runs the risk of surprising his own teammates, but, in this case, Zelalem can see Walcott setting up for a run, and his ability to know where his teammate is and is going was breath-taking. If he can combine that kind of awareness with familiarity with his teammates' abilities and preferences, the sky's the limit.He's 16. By rights, he should be playing it safe, perhaps deferring to more-experienced teammates. Instead, he's showing vision and confidence—it doesn't strike me as arrogance; he doesn't seem to blithely assume that he can do whatever he wants, but his willingness and ability to deliver a killer through-ball like that bodes well for his future. He's an exciting young talent, and just as much as we need to bring in experienced players from time to time, I can't wait to see a player like Zelalem develop in-house and earn his way into the first team.