Up for the cup (as they love to say on TV). Arsenal v the other end of the M1.

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By Phil Gregory

After a disappointing result against City despite an excellent performance, all you can really do is shrug your shoulders and go “one of those days”. Some will point to the dropped points as evidence of Arsenal’s frailty and inability to break opponents down, but as the league’s second top scorers I really don’t think we have much to worry about in that regard. Anyone who tries to base any far-reaching conclusion off of one game is frankly a bit of a prat.  On another day, one of the woodwork hits goes in we take the three points home, and no more is said.

Onwards with Leeds then. Sanchez Watt was one talking point in the run-up to the game, with the young Gunner performing well on-loan at Leeds in the Championship. Wenger decided to allow the youngster to play against us despite it being the norm to forbid it for loan players due to potential conflicts that could arise. Wenger said he believes it is “unfair” as it puts other teams at a disadvantage, so the pacy wideman is likely to be involved, probably from the bench.

Injury news has less of an impact on the line-up than who gets rotated by Wenger. However Diaby, Vermaelen and Almunia are out for this game. Gibbs is in but Van Persie and Nasri are carrying very short-term knocks while Wilshere and Koscielny were specifically mentioned as going to be rested.


Eboue Squillaci Djourou Gibbs


Rosicky Ramsey

Walcott Bendtner Vela

With rotation a certainty, it’s with a good dose of guesswork that I put together my predicted line-up. The nearer certainties are largely in defence. Sagna is suspended, but likely would’ve been rested anyway so Eboue starts at right back. Gibbs is back fit so will likely deputise for Clichy at left back. Centre back is a little trickier, with Vermaelen out and Koscielny mentioned by Wenger as a likely restee (patent pending Phil Gregory) , leaving us with Djourou and Squillaci. The former is still treated with caution after his long-term injury, and having seemingly won a first eleven slot, I can’t see Wenger wanting to play him there. Nordtveit would be an option, but is on his way out. So seems unlikely to be involved I went for Djourou but perhaps Song may be used there (there’s a lot less running involved so it is still kind of a rest compared to defensive midfield).

Denilson is surely a dead cert for the holding role while Rosicky too will likely get some game time in the middle. The final midfield slot I was a little less sure on, but plumped for Ramsey in the end. My reasoning is simply that he went to Forest for Championship games on loan, and now he’s back at the club, we have a game versus a Championship side so it all fits quite nicely. Whether it’ll be too much too soon will likely be the deciding factor, but it would be fantastic to see Aaron back in Arsenal colours.

Further forward it’s again tricky to predict. Van Persie and Nasri are definitely out, while I expect Bendtner to get the nod ahead of Chamakh, who may come in off the bench. With ten clubs interested in Carlos Vela, he was my pick get a start on the left though Arshavin may yet get game time with a point to prove.

Last but not least, I  went for Theo on the right. While he’s arguably a first choice now in his position, given his injury trouble earlier in the season and rotation over the Christmas period, he might be a first choice who remains on the team sheet. Leeds are notoriously vulnerable on the counter so it could be worthwhile starting with his pace.

Substitutes could include youngsters such as,  Eastmond and Emmanuel-Thomas, while “just in case” options will likely include  Chamakh, Arshavin and Cesc Fabregas.

As for the ninety minutes, Arsenal have every reason to be confident. We’re doing well at the top of the Premier League, and have a deep squad so rotation won’t limit the ability of the side we can put out much. Even the team that I’ve put out above, with a second choice in nearly every position, would in my opinion finish comfortably in the top eight in the Premier League. Leeds are flying high, and should be applauded for being in the play-off places after just begin promoted. While that’s not quite as big an achievement as coming up and being in the top six in the Premier League as the Championship is a much more even competition, but it is an achievement nonetheless.

Leeds are a peculiar side: 5th in the league but top scorers and with a goals against statistic worthy of the bottom three. While my lack of knowledge of Leeds United is disgraceful for a student of that city’s University (the proper one), such numbers suggest an attacking approach and a suspect defence. An article on Arsenal.com talks of “attack-minded defensive midfielders” which would have the AAA in fits if that was what our holding players were referred to as. Frankly, I expect the back four I went for to soak up the pressure without too many difficulties and for us to cut them apart on the counter, when we do allow them the ball, that is. If they leave space our attacking players are going to have a field day.

Points of concern are the “we’ve got nothing to lose” mindset of the Leeds players (it won them the game 1-0 at Old Trafford) and the fact that our team is much-changed, so may lack the fluidity that familiarity brings. Few expect them to send a weakened side out, which would frankly be suicide and risk a double-digit scoreline. Anticipating a team no weaker than the one I put out above, I‘m going for 4-0 to the Arsenal, double that if Leeds rotate.

Enjoy the game Gooners, we’ve got a bone to pick with the woodwork . Unfortunately there won’t be any updates from the Facebook page, as I’m out and about tomorrow.

Want to read some more things you already know?  Try this

We’ve found another relative of Jack Humble – the club’s founder.

Making the Arsenal – is now available post free.

44 Replies to “Up for the cup (as they love to say on TV). Arsenal v the other end of the M1.”

  1. Quite tricky to predict the team tomorrow – I will be interested to see if Djourou does indeed start. That would make it 3 games in a week for him and a big sign that Wenger is now satisfied with his recovery from surgery and 9 month absence.

    I have a feeling that Eastmond will start the game with Ramsey left on the bench, Eastmond needs to go on loan and a good game against Leeds would attract clubs to take him on.

    Question: If Vela is on the bench tomorrow but doesn’t come on, will he still be cup-tied for Bolton’s FA Cup games? (assuming his loan to Bolton does go through)

  2. Just wanted to tell all;

    “Wenger named best manager of the past decade. ”

    I trust that will put a lot of arguments to rest.

  3. You could put Bendtner on one side, and have Chamakh in the middle, to give him a game.

    Also Eastmond and JET deserve some sort of outing but I can’t really fit them in.

    And here’s another one – apparently Sanchez Watt (our man in Leeds) has been given clearance to play for Leeds – even though the club normally doesn’t allow youngsters to play against us.

    One way and another though, with the game against Ipswich also coming up, we ought to be seeing a few of the kiddies on parade at some time.

  4. Cheers PG(tipster),
    i think the main quandry the lord weng wil have is going to be in defence, with sagna out for the next three games, the emphasis will be on keeping eboue fit for west ham. 3 games in 7 days is not a stretch for the ivorian but lets not forget he is also returning from that knock in the CL. at CB we have a djourou issue, he needs a rest, i noticed on tuesday that he did’nt seem that steady on his pins tracking back- have a feeling that knee is’nt quite there yet. ignasi miquel is a name to lookout for at CB.
    in midfield, i’d think eastmond and the den(the godfather in brazilian portuguese via kampala)holding and rosicky anchoring the attacking diamond. i personally think ramsey might start on the bench, saw the highlights of his last outing for forest and it seemed to me he did’nt have that “engine” firing on all cylinders, although i though he was always dangerous positionally(he he) had he been sought much less found.
    up front the marou”the marrow” cham el sheikh, i think deserves a start, his work rate is bound to unsettle the defence, his pressing of defences is one of the reasons his acquisition has been a master stroke, cheap and does what most top strikers find hard to do.
    the other two positions are the real head ache with arshavin, vela, JET, bendtner, barazite all viable options.
    i think the mid week game against ipswich will be in the manager’s mind as well, put arshavin on ice till then as he will probably benefit from playing alongside some of the real first 11 who will need the run out with an eye on the west ham match(an easy three points/ must win considering they are bound to throw everything at the CC) which is important both in terms of the league and psychological advantage if we meet in the final of the CC.

  5. First of all, a hearty congrats to Le Boss!!!!!! ‘Best Manager of last decade – 2001-2010’!!!! Ahead of ferguson n mourinho!!!!

    On tonight’s game, only one thing to avoid by our players- Complacency. Leeds r not to be taken easy. They’re one d highest scorers of their league, they defeated united last year, so they wil punish us if the players r not fully concentrated. If we can be sharp in defence for the whole 90 min then we can easily win this game. I’m predicting for a 3-0 win.

    Also Ramsey back!! Give him all the support today fellow Gooners!! 🙂

  6. A bit off topic.

    Tony, you should see the highlights from Qatar – Uzbekistan yesterday. Some nice images with Sepp Blatter sitting in a Royal Chair thinking about his bigger wallet.

  7. A few things about ‘the other end of the M1’, from someone who lived there a while……..

    1. It doesn’t rain any more there than it does in London.
    2. It has dodgy areas like London has dodgy areas.
    3. Actually, the team is by the M621, not the M1. The M621 gets you from the M1 to ‘Crossroad’, which the North built decades before London got around to planning Crossrail. Crossroad allows you to go from Anfield to the KC Stadium without having to go anywhere near Stretford…….this will bring succour to Kopites if they are relegated this year and have to visit the KC in the League next year…..
    4. The car park at the ground is what Estate Agents would call ‘simple in concept’: it is just a flat piece of mud which Master Bates fancies turning into a new Village.
    5. The supporters are very loyal: would Arsenal really get 25,000 in League One??

  8. Another ‘top draw’ performance from Phil Dowd today… I’m glad to scrape a draw off that to be honest!

  9. Well how did you boys pull that flukey result? Should have lost and will lose at elland raod

  10. WE play eboue, denilson, bendtner and squillaci and this is what happens – i curse denilson and hope never to see this clown put on the Arsenal shirt again – what does denilson actually bring to the club ? I have never seen such a useless footballer in my life – 13 minutes to go they take Rosicky off and still leave this idiot on – please someone do SOMETHING !

  11. I agree. We got an undeserved draw. Poor performance from the team, with a few exceptions. Szczesny for that save, and Djourou definitely.

  12. The replay might not be a bad thing – some of them need a bit of shooting practice. What was up with Arshavin – he had a very poor game

  13. Truly Disgraceful.

    If Wenger cannot see – that Denilson, Eboue, Bendtner, Squiilaci, Rosicky and Arshavin are simply not good enough to be in a team that aspires to win The Prem, The FA Cup, The CL then he really is Blind.

    And what is equally bad is that after they scored – AW stood there like a rabbit caught in the headlights – He did not have a F*CKING CLUE! what to do to change it!….okay so he threw on Cesc and Theo – But we should NEVER have been in such a position where he has to take such measures…we started so SLOPPY – I’ve seen young kids play with more cohesion, passion and precision…..AND GUTS!!!!

    Footie fans often call Liverpool a one or two man team (gerrard & Torres) – Well it looked to me today like we suffer from something similar..

    Cesc and Theo Changed The Game – without their ‘up for it attitude’ we would have lost…

    I’m not just ANGRY beyond words…I am greatly saddened that My Beloved Arsenal have become such an average team – save for a few players!

    Cesc has just been interviewed and said of the Leeds pen – A professional player at this stage should not give away such a pen – Let’s hope he can hasten denilson’s departure…

    We all want Cesc to stay – But who could blame him if he looks around him and see’s such poor standards and uselss c**ts like denilson, eboue and bendtner – and the lazy c**t that is Arshavin…..

  14. Hmmmm…i really dont kno whats up with today’s team…it had all d performers…certainly not a weak team but the performance was awfull. Arshavin n Rosicky were poor with their passes. Its a good thing that our defence was not sleepin today. Apart from Squillaci, the defence was disciplined. But our attackin players were not calm enough to play the slow n steady passing game. Thank God for Cesc!!!!

    btw, goal.com has revealed a new story on cesc agreeing to a 5yr deal with barca….here we go again…

  15. Goal.com – that is great news, take anything they say, apply the opposite and you have the truth!
    Cesc must be staying !!

  16. We need 20 chances to score one goal again as usual. This is why we are not champions.

  17. Its hard to know about Cesc interesting that AW has pubicly declared an interest in Eden Hazard not something he usualy does not do.
    Id sooner Cesc stayed and we bought Hazard if we win a trophy it will help keep Cesc for sure.

    I havent seen the game but have read reports and lots of reports are showing Smichael saved leeds from defeat so why is everyone saying we didnt deserve to win the match ? by all accounts he made a few class saves and we had 9 shots on target compaired to 1 leeds header and a peno.

  18. Denilson had a decent game apart from the penalty but that was the most important moment in the match and he cost us dearly.It was just so stupid to put his leg and make the foul.It was so obvious.I am pretty sure that Arshavin, Rosicky,Almunia and maybe Denilson will be sold by the end of the summer so apart from Squillaci we wont have any more rubbish players in the squad. Wenger is reaching perfection. I love that guy.

  19. @Red Gooner

    Schmeichel had one big save to make right at the end. Szczesny meanwhile made a fantastic save when we were 1-0 down anyway. Leeds had a bit of a go at times as well. Our passing meanwhile wasn’t working. Even when we did manage to create an opening we generally made very poor decisions, or simply didn’t execute it well. It was only in the last few minutes that we came to life.

  20. Leeds played up to their ability and made it difficult on us. I think Leeds played far mor positive than the big money team City did a few days ago. So credit to Leeds.
    Yes it wasn’t good enough and below our standards.
    But in the first half we had an attempt saved from the goal line, Smeichel made some very decent saves in the whole game and was faultless. (son of his father one could say – I hated him but a also rated him – the father that is)

    We had enough chances to win the game but we didn’t take them and had to be happy with the final result.

    I think it has something to do with the players who played today. They know they are a bit the B-squad so they take every chance to play a game. With a draw they get one game more now.

  21. @Filip

    Ya, Denilson did have a decent game apart from as you say, the big moment. I think that is actually Wenger’s fault. Denilson isn’t a DM. He should only play further up the pitch. His passing is good. Can hit shots from outside the box. He just lacks pace, and maybe even his reading of the game is a little poor. I would prefer a backup DM to come in. Denilson however I think has a future at the club.

  22. P.S. Why does Stewart Robson have to spout anti-Arsenal nonsense when he’s on the tv? He’s generally quite balanced. Even on arsenal tv he does criticise when it’s merited, which I like. But on TV his starting position is always anti-arsenal.

  23. Thanks Shard and Walter its not been shown here till tomorrow so will get to watch it then. But the funs kinda taken away when you know the result.

  24. Interesting second half; strangely enjoyed it in a masochistic sort of way! As usual, however, the D&Gs and AAA haters will pathetically revel again in false hope!
    It was clearly another poor performance from the B-team midfield and attack; as witnessed against Wigan! However, Mancini and the Sheik’s Mercenaries could certainly have learnt a great deal from Grayson and his gutsy Yorkshiremen! 
    What’s clear from Arsene and Cesc’s words and body language is that the team was disjointed and Arshavin, Rosicky, Denilson, and Bendtner are the weakest links in the A or B team line-ups wrt fulfilling their roles! You could probably add Squillaci to that too but JD bailed him out on numerous occasions today! It was telling and awesome to clearly see that Lord Wenger and Captain Marvel were visibly pissed-off! Hopefully they’ve learnt far more about who they can and can’t rely on as back-up from within the squad at this crucial time!
    Thought Eboue and Gibbs were solid with the occasional poor option or delivery wrt to the final-third! However they’ll definitely improve with more matches! No need to panic from the draw or performance as it was a very constructive and revealing match! At least 1-3 to the lads on the replay at Elland Rd; following punitive changes to the out-of-form squad members, or a very stern and frank talking too wrt what’s wrong and what’s expected!

  25. I thought it was a cracking game!!! Real Cup match all the way. We had the possession but I thought Leeds were terrific and fully deserved the draw. They will find it hard to replicate that effort though, and our away form is excellent so I feel good about the replay.

    I also agree that the extra game will do our squad players the world of good. Squillaci, Gibbs, Denilson, Eboue, Rosicky, Bendtner et al need the games, it isnt surprising that those guys are not in top form. They will now get plenty of chances in the weeks ahead, as should Ramsey to work his way back into the side.

    Great effort by Djourou, again. Is he getting good or what?

    Another solid performance by Chesney. Suddenly we have solid goalkeeping.

    And great cameo by Walcott, he seems to finally be getting it.

  26. bloody norah!
    by gum, that was nervy!
    the boys from yorkshire were fantastic value for their draw. i had hoped to see ignasi miquel and a couple of the other reserve boys make an appearance but on this evidence i think the likes of bendtner and arshavin may need more game time. naturally i’d have preferred a win but was thoroughly encouraged by the performance in the last ten minutes of each half
    marouane put in a decent shift down t’pit and i hope he gets encouraged to run at defenders more, there is pelanties(according to some on ESPN) and free kicks in them thar actions.
    the manager highlighted in his post match conference the lack of zip in attack, many people may find this term too technical but does anybody remember the match against bolton away in 2008 when 2 goals down and playing with 10 men, had just been on a horrible run of about 1 win in eight and i had to watch the match as a solo arsenal supporter in a pub in york, speed of passing saved us (and our legs) that day, it was the first win over bolton away for yonks! it is one for which denilson can dine out me for the rest of his life! in short if teams come to play like it is a derby match give them a derby match!

  27. @critic
    spot on, i think the service he got was poor(what egg chasers call hospital passes, the wags!). he does better when decent balls are passed to him. as a committed AKB it is frustrating to hear people slag off members of the team esp at home games forgetting just how physically demanding it is to play in the league these days- it makes you wonder how much of a kicking they could take for the team themselves.
    sanchez watt looked alright didnt he?

  28. Was wondering about sanchez watt anyone care to comment more on how he played ? he hasnt got a great deal of game time at leeds this season.

  29. we really didnt need the extra game. the good news is that after such a lack luster performance there is no way in hell we are going to take ipswich likely

  30. @redgooner,
    sanchez watt played very well, he pinned gibbs back and took the ball off him in most of their head to heads,his pace is stillthere and whenever they attacked down his flank he brought pple into play but naturally playing on the wrong side today he didnt get to a lot of ball as we hogged possession.

  31. It was, as could be expected, a pretty disjointed performance. I also thought Denilson had a good game, bar the penalty of course.

    And for me Bendtner played very well, he was positive and looking to take players on. He probably went past more Leeds defenders than any other Arsenal player! He twisted his way into the box twice and created opportunities for himself out of nothing, and let’s not forget it was his very clever pass behind the full-back which gave us our penalty. I don’t know how anyone can say B52 didn’t have a good game.

  32. I think it was a disappointing performance from an attacking viewpoint. Leeds are not mugs away from home-but we should be expecting more than a 90th minute penalty to rescue a replay against a championship side. Our current second string midfielders don’t strike me as being a good combo-they are all too similar and play through the middle the whole time-we are not playing with enough variation and width and are still not playing the right balls into Chamakh. Bendtner and Chamakh look uncomfortable together. Even so we could reasonably have expected Bendtner to do better than he did with several chances. I don’t think Schmeichel made more than one really good save -at the end.

  33. Has anyone listened to Theo Walcott on the BBC website telling the world he dived for the penalty and that he then told the referee afterwards he dived and then told the world on BBC ?

    Alan Hansen was wrong its not that he has no football brain… He must have no frikken brain at all !!!
    If I was Arsen I would go stone frikken mad after listening to that interview. We wont get a peno now for the next 3 months unless someone breaks one of our players necks in the penalty box.

    Has to be muppet of the year I didnt like it when Eboue used to dive but at least he had the common sense to keep his head down afterwards.

    Seriously did anyone listen to his interview yet ?

  34. I haven’t heard the interview but according Arsenal.com Theo said he dived not when he got penalty but before (when we DID NOT get one). So even it’s wrong and I don’t want our players to do that we didn’t gain anything from that dive. Bad thing is this will make people call as cheaters even more and penalties ever harder to get. Then again other teams dives all the time too…

  35. Theo apologising for diving says much for his honesty: much, much more about his stupidity. Nobody wants divers…God knows we suffer enough of the oppositions’…but there are things that really should be kept in the dressing room. Anyone offering odds for Theo winning a justified penalty in the next 3 years? Silly little sod.

  36. Agree with you Walter and I’m older than you :o) …but are you referring to Theo’s dive/diving in general (dishonest) or owning up to it (honest but really neither clever nor necessary)?

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