The complete and all-inclusive preview: Arsenal against the KGB

By Phil Gregory

Chelsea come to the Emirates today in a much anticipated tie as far as Arsenal’s title challenge goes. With the pundits shifting from claiming we’re going to score over a hundred goals this season to stating we’re out of the title race in the space of one dodgy performance after the international break, it falls to the Gunners to silence the doubters.

Waking up the to the news that Robin Van Persie’s injury is not 4-6 weeks, but 4-5 months, we can but hope for a “do it for Robin” performance from the team

Recent form:

Arsenal come into the game on the back of a 1-0 defeat to Sunderland last Saturday, bringing to the end a fourteen game unbeaten run in all competitions. Despite this, a 100% home record gives us reason to be confident, and we can expect goals given our free-scoring nature in front of the Emirates faithful.

Chelsea have been shaky on the road this season, with a 3-1 defeat at the DW Stadium as well as 2-1 loss at Villa Park. While Carlo Ancelotti’s players are receiving all the plaudits at the minute, most of their biggest scorelines have come in front of their own fans (bar a 0-4 win against a dire Bolton) and their massive win over Manchester United was shrouded in controversy.

Key men:

Arsenal will be expecting a physical, pressing game from Chelsea on Sunday and are arguably better equipped than ever to deal with sort of approach. Song is not one to get beaten off the ball, and arguably came of age in the 1-2 victory at the Bridge last season. Didier Drogba will be the acid test for Thomas Vermaelen’s physical attributes and I personally cannot wait for this duel. Song and Vermaelen will relish the physical approach of Chelsea, and will be looking to give as good as they get.

Chelsea will be undoubtedly happy that Lampard is back, and the England international’s shooting will be a constant threat to Almunia’s goal. Essien will look to minimise Fabregas’ influence on the game and dominate the midfield, but the fiery Spaniard relishes the midfield battle and will be up to the task. Didier Drogba will be looking to break into double figures of Premier League goals at the Emirates and will be dangerous throughout.


The left back position has been decimated, with Clichy and Gibbs out with back and metatarsal injuries respectively. Gallas is a doubt, but I’m confident he’s going to be fit – I have an inkling that Wenger’s is playing mindgames with his swollen eye. Most importantly, his ankle injury is only minor and won’t keep him out of the Chelsea game. Diaby and Bendtner are out until early December while long-term absentees Van Persie and Djourou are out until March at the earliest.

Chelsea can only point to Bosingwa as an absentee, and the attacking fullback is likely to be missed if Chelsea struggle to break down the Arsenal defence.

Arsenal expected lineup:


Sagna Gallas Vermaelen Eboue


Denilson Fabregas

Rosicky Eduardo Arshavin

Subs: Mannone, Ramsey, Silvestre, Vela, Wilshere, Traore, Nasri

From Wenger’s press conference, he considers Traore and Eboue as only remaining our options at leftback, and I feel that Eboue, while not a left footer, is more solid than Traore (FA Cup vs. United in 07/08 still gives me nightmares) and has that big match experience which is so vital in these sort of ties. Apart from that, the defence picks itself.

I was unsure between Nasri, Denilson and Rosicky, but I plumped for Rosicky on the wide right, presuming he was rested during the midweek game for this game, with Denilson taking the central midfield role that so divides Arsenal fans. His intelligence, simple possession play and interceptions compliment the physical game of Song well (who, to be fair, is more than capable of going forward in his own right). Eduardo will be entrusted with taking over from Van Persie, and we will be hoping that he shows that predatory instinct on Sunday that made Wenger bring him in.


Almost impossible to call. The leftback situation doesn’t concern me too much as Chelsea’s new formation doesn’t see them using the flanks too much, though Anelka does drop wide on occasion.

Ivanovic – almost certainly slotting in for Bosingwa – won’t offer too much of a threat going forward, and our wide left and Eboue will be confident of giving him a torrid time. I disagree with the view that Chelsea are champions in waiting and believe we can trouble them as much, if not more, than they can trouble us. The midfield battle will be strength and endeavour versus flair and intelligence, let’s hope our fluid passing game is out in force and they chase shadows all game. 3-2 to the Arsenal!

Great to be back, hope everyone enjoys the match. I’ve got an old flatmate coming round to watch it, and she’s a Chelsea fan, so the stakes just rose tenfold for me! See you all for the Carling Cup Preview!

(Tony and Billy the Dog went to the Toppled Bollard at 9.30 this morning in order to do their preview of the game, and have not yet returned.  If they do file a copy, it will be published.  If they don’t, it won’t.  Logical isn’t it.)

25 Replies to “The complete and all-inclusive preview: Arsenal against the KGB”

  1. Did I miss something or isn’t Silvestre a quite decent backing for leftback? Agreed that Traore needs more time, but I reckon Eboue with his usual shenanigance, would be a downright liability on the left.
    And coupled with Sagnas latest performances (which in my opinion was a bit jaded) I’m thinking Eboue at right back and Silvestre on the left.

    Apart from that, a good read, it always is at the Untold, cheers mates.

    Best of luck to all gooners tomorrow. C’mon ya arse!!!!!

  2. Always a delight to read…realistic but positive is the watchword…what about Theo Walcott..did I blink and he is injured again..if not I would prefer him to start on the right with Nasri on the left. We must start at a high tempo as Chelsea will certainly out muscle us as the game progresses.

  3. Gr8 article again but dont u think that its time we bring in Chamakh, more so when RvP is not available for the whole season. He can be a good cover for Eduardo, Vela and company..
    Esp when Chamakh is available on a bargain..

  4. All d playas need is to believe in dia selves and play d arsenal way .There is need to be consistency ,we play has a team and d problems of injury shld not pose a problem now lets keep d faith.

  5. Mayank,

    In case you did’nt notice, the scope of this article is to analyse tomorrow’s game against the Chavs. Its scope does not include our current team strength and resources in the striker position. So your point is not pertinent with respect to the article. It is a seperate point which AW needs to look at in January.

  6. Silvestre is the alternative at full back indeed, and no I dont think Theo is injured. The Great Lord sayeth that he feels he might have been rushing Theo back the 2 previous times so he is taking it more slowly now, so will leave him benched.

    And yes, with the dreadful news about VP I would say that the chances of bringing in another forward are higher – but much depends on how well Vela and Eduardo play. If either or both can find form when it really matters (ie now) then no, probably not, but the fact that both have got new incredibly long term contracts makes me think that there is a total belief in their ability.

  7. If Eduardo en Vela can start scoring over the next weeks then I dont think Wenger will buy anything. Dont forget Bendtner is on his way back to fitness aswell.

    And for those who call for immediate goals from Eduardo or Vela just to remind you that it took a few weeks before Van Persie could score a goal himself. So lets give them a chance an not demand goals from the first minute. Well but a goal for us after 5 minutes and 12 seconds would be allright for me.

  8. i think that silvestre is so bad that chelsea would consider adopting alternative tactics if his name is on the teamsheet. in any case, going forward with width is an important way to open up chelsea, and in my mind traore and eboue provide the best service from that position.

    Chamahk is not going to come in this january; wenger has already given a pretty logical reason bordeaux will not sell in january – champions league money. additionally we’ll have the big boy up front in bendtner in two weeks, and as he is not particularly injury prone (not at all like walcott or diaby) he will probably take the reigns up front with dudu as back up. if wenger wants to buy anyone he’ll probably assess that at the season’s end.

    it will definitely be interesting to see how our trio in the middle steps up to handle monsters like essien and ballack.

  9. Theo slipped my mind, I expect he’ll be an impact sub, so on the bench instead of Traore.

    Wenger’s press conference basically said it’s between Eboue and Traore for leftback – he said Silvestre hasn’t had games there this season, whereas eboue has. Plus I’d say Silvestre doesn’t have the pace to play out there, he’d be a liability if he went forward, and Anelka would just drop wide and take advantage.

  10. I like that formation but Eboue on the leftback it is a bit to much for him.
    How about diaby !Yes now is injured but i dont see why he cannot be considered as a striker ? he is strong phisically he can drible i always see this guy as a striker more than a midfielder.

  11. Alex I take your point, and as editor I do try and eject any posts that get way off the topic, but I think also a certain latitude is needed. My thinking is the we have just discovered VP is out for the rest of the century or near enough, and Bendtner is still out, while I think many would argue neither Eduardo or Vela shone on Tuesday.

    Personally I don’t think we should buy, but it seems a point that can be thrown in amidst the general discussion on the KGB game.

    And Walter – agree it is nice to have our regular pre-match correspondent back. You may not have realised but I introduced him to Billy The Dog at the Toppled Bollard (aka the Auld Triangle, aka the Plimpsol) about a month back, and he hasn’t been seen since, until today. Rumour is, he had a sip of one of Billy’s vodka and limes and that was it.

    Pesky things, these pub landlords.

    Anyway, its saturday, and that means The Thick of It is on again. Yipee. (Now that’s what I call going off topic).

  12. Call me crazy…but Almunia hasn’t provided any intelligence since he has been back….I’m trying to figure still what went wrong and continues as far as goals conceded and organization in the back…What it comes down to is Almunia…I understand his issues off the field have contributed to the lack of concentration but mark my words if he doesn’t shape up we could be in trouble. Everytime he takes to the pitch I get that sick feeling like??? I thought maybe after his long rest he might come in and direct things but unfortunately he is just there or brings the D down a smidge!

  13. Thanks very much Walter, appreciate that. Sadly the last few weeks have been exceptionally busy for me and something had to give. Great to be back!

    Alex: what’s your concern with Eboue at LB? For me, the drawback is how he is rightfooted, and it takes the edge off his offensive game. Defensively, it’s not too much of a concern, with Chelsea not having wingers who’ll take advantage of his left foot and go on the outside. In fact, with Chelsea’s “wide” players likely to be the strikers or roaming central midfielders – who will almost certainly look to cut inside top shoot instead of crossing – it’ll work to our advantage, with him having the stronger foot on the inside for the tackline. A bit like when Chelsea deployed Bosingwa on the left against Messi, though that was primarily due to injury/suspension if I remember correctly.

  14. Phil,
    I believe we have the desire to win…It just depends upon which team shows up. For one we have to score early…It seems your objectivity is outwitting the reality of tomorrow’s game. Reality is Chelsea have game at the moment and for the season at the moment. They are in 1st place we are in 4th. We have more injuries…they have 1 or two. Probably why you failed to post my originals…Reality is that there are a few things in disarray at the moment. If you were in charge of the team the team would continue to lose. Good to see Nasri on the bench the one good thing you posed. Eduardo up front another good thing..However the free flowing scoring will not exist unless we get the MF consistent. Unfortunately, Denilson won’t do for another two weeks or so. Rosicky Eduardo Arshavin combo is OK but not convincing. Rosicky needs more time and at the moment we need to WIN but will do so Rosicky Arshavin Eduardo will do.So Here is the line up Almunia(mistake)

  15. Okay. I know Selvestre had his day, and he can show up big at times. I was the first to cringe when Senderos’s name was in the lineup in the last couple of years, but he seemed to play pretty well with the kids in C Cup games. I thought maybe he’d finally picked the game up. Anyone interested in letting him in at center back? Silvestre is going to need some rest, and I don’t see any other options behind those two. I think Senderos has more energy and is more anxious to make a tackle now instead of running the other way. Also, Phil, no Walcott?

  16. Hartwick89: we will see. Rosicky and Nasri could play centrally, could play wide. Denilson may be fit enough, he may not. It’s just a matter of opinion where players will be, but one thing is for sure: Eboue will not be at CM!

  17. Just frustrating that’s all! Chelsea are a bunch of hacks…This is when you need a scary GK. Someone who commands fear from both his back 4 and their strikers. Granted Jens fizzled on the way out but he had the sort of madness where he commanded that type of respect. Drogba’s was nicely placed but c’mon…Two goals came from the right side almost identical? After the first I would have stuck my foot up Sagna’s and Cole’s backside. No Intensity? 90minutes that’s all I ask..It starts from back and finishes up front. Same culprits from Chelsea determine the outcome of the games and I am tired of it. We are getting in the knack of coming from behind getting close and then getting exploited by the 90th minute. Decision time: Mannone or get me a killer GK in January..While you are at it either tell Gallas to set the tone early on Drogba like Terry and then you will put instant relief on the back 4. Then the beautiful Gunner game will blossom. Until, that happens we will be trophiless. Adams, Lehman, Seaman, Cambell.

  18. I don’t know why Wenger doesn’t see it…Defense has always been good to him. He needs a leader on the pitch and he does’nt have it at the moment. He needs a real firecracker in two positions GK and Gallas needs to get going or get out!

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