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Arsenal v Blackpool: the Phil Gregory preview

By Phil Gregory

Blackpool are welcomed to the Emirates for our first home game of the season. The newly-promoted got an excellent result away at Wigan, though it’s quite easy to over-hype the result. Any 4-0 win, especially away from home is highly commendable, but Wigan seemingly did their utmost to help. A horrendous defensive wall accounted for two of Blackpool’s goals, while Kirkland didn’t really cover himself in glory. Admittedly defence and goalkeeping aren’t our strongest points either, but we won’t be anywhere near as charitable as Wigan were.

It’s tough to guess what approach to expect from Blackpool. Ian Holloway has been full of praise for Arsenal which is nice, but is most likely an attempt to heap the pressure onto us. Which to be fair, is exactly where it should be. Blackpool will likely look to attack us but even if they do ark the bus, they’re not a Stoke by any means so it wouldn’t be playing to their strengths. Hopefully it’ll be an open day with a few goals and a clean sheet.

With the return of the Premier League, we’re once again right back at the top of the injury league table with a concerning five players out injured and a few others not yet match fit.

Frimpong has done his cruciate in what is a massive, massive shame considering the progress he was making this season. Hopefully he’ll bounce straight back and this won’t cost him in terms of his career. Nasri underwent knee surgery (“three weeks” according to Wenger), while Denilson has recovered from an abdominal problem but needs another week of training.

Alex Song is back from a calf strain but given the Cameroonian is just back from injury. He’ll most likely be on the bench.

Ramsey and Bendtner are our long-term absentees.

Predicted line-up:

Almunia

Sagna Djourou Vermaelen Clichy

Diaby

Wilshere Rosicky

Theo Chamakh Arshavin

It’s a bit tricky to try and predict a line-up for this match. Koscielny is suspended but Djourou is back so it’s likely he’ll step in. At home versus the weaker sides, we often swapped Sagna for Eboue to give the Frenchman a well-deserved rest but also to exploit Eboue’s potency going forwards from right back. Arsène may well decide to do that, but I think it’s more likely he’ll stick with Sagna for the greater solidity offered especially when you consider Djourou is coming straight back from injury and may not be 100%.

Diaby continues filling in the holding role,  while Rosicky comes in on the back of a very, very promising substitute appearance to replace the injured Nasri. Jack will also hopefully continue in the middle; he should find there’ll be a bit more space with Blackpool playing a more open game.

At home I expect us to be going with Theo ahead of Eboue, and let’s hope the England international can press on off the back of some promising displays. I noticed when he came on as a sub he looks to have filled out a lot more, a stronger core will help him with both balance and power and he doesn’t look like he’ll be bullied off the ball anymore.

Arshavin continues in his inside left role. The Russian wasn’t at his best at Anfield, and reports that he is still playing with an injury is very, very worrying. I’d much rather we take him out of firing line and do whatever it takes to get him fit and firing (for his sake and ours) rather than continue to get 50% from him. Perhaps Wenger will do that once we’ve got players like Fabregas and Van Persie back and firing.

I’ve gone for Chamakh to start up top. Robin may well have something to say about that after he played a good part of the 2nd half at Anfield, but most likely he’ll get the entire 2nd half with an eye on starting at Blackburn away. Cesc will most likely get some minutes off the bench. I’d really like for him to be fit for Blackburn away which is never an easy game, but we’ll have to wait and see on that front.

On the whole, it’s not the most balanced midfield I’ve ever seen, but at home we can get away with it. There’s some big players missing from the starting line-up (including our best midfielder and his next two deputies – only us!) but we should have more than enough to see off Blackpool. I wouldn’t want to be overconfident (Blackpool as a newly-promoted minnow club are just like Hull when they beat us 2-1 at the Emirates) but these sort of games are the ones we should be winning comfortably. However the first consideration is the three points, the second a clean sheet. After that, anything is a bonus. I’d be happy with three or four nil, while if we could make back up the goal difference on Chelsea that’d be great. 4-0 to the Arsenal from me.

I spoke briefly to the people from the Barclays Premier League official podcast on Thursday. Unfortunately they cut one of my answers when asked about Chamakh (“some people say he’s not got the best goals record, but he’s done far better internationally than Wayne Rooney ever has”) but you can listen to the podcast here , I think my part is just after two minutes in if you fancy a listen.

Billy the Dog’s preview: Arsenal vs the Creature from the Black Lagoon

Untold’s Index – see the world through a grain of sand

Woolwich Arsenal – the history of the club from the fans point of view

Making the Arsenal – the book every Italian was reading by the poolside this summer.

27 comments to Arsenal v Blackpool: the Phil Gregory preview

  • Clerkenwell Gooner

    Excited for tomorrow!

    Hope it’s going to be a goal-fest, thought Anfield would be, so who knows? Hope it’s more like Sparta Prague than Hull, though.

    Looking for Chamakhattack to score on his debut à la Nasri, and for Cesc Fabulous to come off the bench to an enormous roar of approval, choruses of “We won’t sell Fàbregas!”)

    And à propos of the rude financial health of our rivals, CityAM had this on the Glazers’ debt this morning viz.

    Interest rate on ManUtd Pik loan rises to 16.25%:

    Manchester United Supporters’ Club (Must) chief Duncan Drasdo said: “The rise in the Pik interest rate this week, caused by the Glazers’ inability to hit their own targets, is another sad chapter in the story of their exploitation of Manchester United.

    “The increasing cost of the Piks will inevitably be borne by Manchester United. The Glazer family have failed to repay a single penny of their debts in the last four years… and the only source of cash is our football club.”

  • Robbie

    Blackpool is going to be under siege the hole game. I hope we can get an early goal to so that they open up. Will be worried if they manage to keep us at bay for 30 and gain confidence. I hate these games against newly promoted sides in the early stages of the season. It usually takes 10-15 games to break their spirit. They’re gonna be up for this one.

  • Rich

    Aye, Robbie speaks sense – newly promoted sides are always up for it in the first phase of a season in the prem… And we can be suspect to this at times, but really, we do usually start well I think. Despite not the strongest line up we have, I feel pretty confident of an outright win with a few surprise goals from the squad – im gonna say, IF he plays, Djourou!

    Enjoy!
    Rich

  • Tactician

    I also say 4 – 0 to the arsenal

  • rajin

    where are fabregas and van persie??????????????????

  • gooner1

    i think he might play rvp and chamakh, with van persie having 70 mins or so to help them connect with each other, im going to say 4-1, well let our gard down in the final couple of minutes!!

  • Dark Prince

    Blackpool wouldn’t be a hard nut to crack. The only concern should be that they should not be allowed to score first. If they do, we should expect them to put their travelling bus in front of the goal post. Without Cesc starting, i hope its not a bit lack-lustre like last week. But i dont think Blackpool’s defence would be that hard to penetrate. Once we have our opening goal, which always seems to be the toughest one to score, i believe we will demolish them in every part of the pitch. I will go for a 4-0 victory to Arsenal!! 🙂

  • FinnGooner

    Unfortunately I will miss the match since I will be working. I might try to put ATVO on my laptop at kitchen but but as the match is played with during last 2 hours the restaurant is open I might have to be other side (where I can’t listen it). SO I might just wait until I get home. Can’t wait it tho…

  • Gf60

    Terribly off topic but having just glanced at Le Grave, thought this appropriate:

    Amazing Le Grave

    As a bagpiper, I play many gigs. Recently I was asked by a funeral director to play at a graveside service for a homeless man. He had no family or friends, so the service was to be at a pauper’s cemetery in the Kentucky back country.

    As I was not familiar with the backwoods, I got lost and, being a typical man, I didn’t stop for directions.
    I finally arrived over an hour late and saw that the funeral guy had evidently gone and the hearse was nowhere in sight. There were only the diggers and crew left and they were
    eating lunch. I felt badly and apologized to the men for being late.

    I went to the side of the grave and looked down and the vault lid was already in place and earth covered most of it. I didn’t know what else to do, so I started to play. The workers put down their lunches and began to gather around. I played out my heart and soul for this man with no family and friends.

    I played like I’ve never played before for this poor, homeless man. And as I played ‘Amazing Grace,’ the workers began to weep. They wept, I wept, we all wept together.

    When I finished I packed up my bagpipes and started for my car. Though my head hung low, my heart was full.

    As I opened the door to my car, I heard one of the workers say, “I ain’t never seen nothin’ like that before and I’ve been putting in septic tanks for twenty years.”

    Apparently I was still lost…

  • Roshan R Shetty

    Lord Wenger, Please get this kid.

    http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=1278786051409

  • Fabregas and VP – Wenger says that they are neither fully fit yet.

  • Jonny

    IF Arshavin isn’t fully fit I believe Wenger would not play him. It’s a nice thought in some respects – as his performance at Anfield was abject and seemed without passion.

    I like our diminutive Russian but my goodness he lets his head drop when it’s not working for him. His work rate is alarmingly slefish at times too. Not for the first time I watched him cede possession and almost shrug his shoulders leaving it to others to chase back for his error.

    Anelka used to do this and it drives players and fans crazy.

    One would have thought the best approach when playing badly is to redouble your efforts across all parts of your game.

    He has admitted his form is bad, if he plays poorly first half today I’d whip him off and get Theo, Vela or anyone else on ASAP.

  • FEDDA

    This is Blackpools first big game. They will give everything and more to get a result. Dangerous, but we should still see them off. We have to get 2 goals in quick succession otherwise anything can happen. I always get my predictions wrong. But 2-1 to the Arsenal.

  • Phil

    Jonny: he’s come out and said he’s playing with pain, so he’s either lying for an excuse, or really is injured.

  • simon bailey

    6, what a result. arshavin played his socks off once he’d scored the penalty, theo was huge.

  • Paul C.

    Yeah, good result. Some of our finishing was downright sloppy but I’ll assume that was due to the ease of the game as a whole. I also thought Walcott was terrific. Finally that “finished product” we have all bemoaned over the past two years. How nice it was to see Cesc smiling as he came onto the pitch.

    Let’s face it, we would have all slit our wrists had we lost this one, so that was 3 points we all expected. Much tougher match next week.

  • Gooner Gal

    Good game today and so many reasons to be cheerful. Blackpool played well under the circumstances, I reckon they will take bigger scalps than Wigan this season, they have a couple of quality players. I can’t believe we are now getting refereeing decisions going in our favour.

    We capitalised on opportunities and I was happy to see the team defending, even when we had gone a few goals up. Theo should get man of the match, but Song’s perfomance was also notable and we looked a much stronger in defence.

    Jack had a much better game today and I love the ‘Pitbull’ agressive side to his play.

    Unfortunately the Arsenal haters will focus on the sending off and the Chamakh miss – completely ignoring the quality game of football at the Emirates today. All of the players gave a good account of themselves.

  • walter

    We are dooomed, we miss to many chances we will never win anything our defence is bad, our midfield is terrible, our attack is worthless.

    This would have been the headlines ready for publishing from the AAA brigade.

    Well they will find something to moan about. This Gooner saw a great match I think we had over 25 shots on goal, Blackpool 3 or so. Even before the sending off there was only going to be one winner. But the sending off was the only correct decision. No matter what the pundits will tell you tonight.

  • Paul C.

    By the letter of the law it was absolutely the correct decision. But Walter, would you not agree that the rule should be tweaked a little bit so that when such a foul occurs inside the box and a penalty is given anyway, that the punishment should perhaps only be a yellow card? I just think if you are giving the red card for “denying a clear goalscoring opportunity” but award a penalty, then surely the “clear goalscoring opportunity” is being given anyway”? I would be interested to hear your views on thios as a referee.

    It didnt make much of a difference to the game anyway. Once we settled we ripped them apart.

    2 Englishmen in the starting 11. We havent seen too much of that in recent years.

  • Clerkenwell Gooner

    Ha ha! I got two out of three!

    Marouane did score (from an RVP assist/corner), Cesc came off the bench (accompanied by Robin, what a nice touch from Wenger), and the scoreline was SlaviaPrague-esque, although a mere 6-0 instead of 7-0.

    Theo could have got a hat-trick before half-time, he was fantastic, Song was impressive playing out of position, and even Diaby, doing his impression of a baby giraffe heavily sedated with valium, managed to score.

    Kudos to the Blackpool fans for singing their hearts out through what must have seemed a long and painful rout, and an early contender for best chant of the season must be their (context: 5-0 down, 10 minutes left to play, down to 10 men, two World Cup finalists now on the pitch against them):

    We’re gonna beat you 6-5, we’re gonna beat you 6-5, we’re gonna beat you 6-5!

  • Dark Prince

    Good game. The best part is that we still have lots of room for improvement!!

    Chamakh could hav scored more than one but still a good game after how he played in anfield. Rest all played well. Well, i think the sending off of their defender made our life more easy than it already was!! 🙂

  • walter

    Paul C, I will take your question on to one of my next articles. If all goes well it should come this week.

  • Jazbo

    What a great game by Theo, I am tempted to say he looked like a young Thiery Henry, he was fantastic in his general all round play, maybe it’s just clicked, maybe it was the first home game of the season, maybe it’s because there was no RVP or Fabregas, well, whatever the reason, “more of the same please”.

    Alex Song, looked like he’d played in defence his whole time at Arsenal, what a great first game of the season, Rosicky was back to full fitness for the first time in two years and man did it show.
    well done to the lads today,it was a six star showing !!!

  • waleed

    I think the rule should be that if a player is clean through on goal (one-on-one with the keeper) and he is brought down, a penalty should be given no matter where the foul is, not just inside the box. And the referee should just caution the player with a yellow.

  • Arsene Apprentice

    How shall we say it? 4-0 Blackpool over Wigan…. 6-0 Chelsea over Wigan! 10-0 Arsenal over Wigan… I don’t know but the odds are we beat both Wigan and Chelsea!

  • FinnGooner

    I saw the match later and it was great. I actually hope that Blackpool would stay in EPL as watching them was great. I know they conceaded 6 goals but they did try and play the whole 90 minutes. Compared to Stoke, Blackburn, Bolton and rest who don’t really do that.
    I’m getting more and more excited about this season. Just wondering how this red card thing will continue I mean as our players have injuries it helps that opposite team playes with 10 men 2nd half but then again that migth get bit boring if it happens in every match this season…

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