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Premier League Preview: Chelsea v Arsenal

Off the Mark: Arsene Wenger’s new Arsenal contract should include a statue clause

Off the Mark: Arsenal are living in the past, and it’s catching up to them

The North London Derby: Mind the gap

Many Thanks to Amin from www.ToKnowTheGame.com for this guest post looking at the Tottenham – Arsenal match up this weekend.

Follow Amin on twitter at @asakhia

Let us know your score predictions in the comment section below.

As always – if you would like to Guest Post on #FY contact Ryan at fantasyyirma@hotmail.com

The North London Derby: Mind the gap

 

Arsenal head into the North London Derby looking to cut Tottenham’s lead to just a single point. Throw Chelsea into the mix as well, and once again it looks like it will end up being a real scrap for those top-four positions. Barring an absolute miracle in Munich, Wenger’s eight trophy-less years are sure to extend to nine, so the minimum target for the Gunners this year has to be Champions League qualification. They’re on a fairly decent run at the moment in the league (28 points from their last 36), so whether they can take that form to White Hart Lane on Sunday remains to be seen. Wenger has never finished below Spurs in the league and says:

 

“The game on Sunday will have a psychological importance for the rest of the season, of course.

“The outcome will give a big boost to the team who wins it, of course. But the winner will not necessarily finish higher at the end of the season. There’s still 10 games to go. In 10 games, a lot can happen.”

 

Spurs on the other hand are flying at the moment. Gareth Bale has been in devastating form this season, and with 15 goals already he is surely one of the front-runners for the Player of the Year. Additionally, AVB seems to have settled in quite well, and finally has Tottenham playing to the potential we all know they possess. He’ll be looking to Bale to fire them to another win and extend the gap to seven points:

 

“He’s proved that in different fixtures against different opposition, European included,” said AVB.

 

“He’s going to be a major threat in the game. You can’t allow him any kind of space. He can turn up in different places, unsettles opponents with his pace, his power his technique. Hopefully we can see him continue on this level of form and can continue to be decisive.”

 

 

Key Battles:

 

Jenkinson/Monreal vs Gareth Bale: Depending on where Bale ends up playing, he will most likely come up against both Arsenal full-backs throughout the game. There’s been a lot of talk about Jenkinson being ready to take the mantle from Sagna, and Sunday provides him with probably his sternest test to date. The Frenchman is out injured, and is also likely to move on in the summer, so Jenkinson’s performance against Spurs will be of massive importance for his future. On the contrary, Monreal was brought in to provide stiff competition to Gibbs, and the Spaniard appears to be a more composed footballer. Again its early days in his Arsenal career, and we will surely get a better indication of his ability when he lines up against the Welsh whiz kid, Gareth Bale.

 

Jack Wilshere vs Scott Parker: A former England captain comes up against a future one. Both players will understand that the result of this game will hinge on how the teams perform in the middle of the park. Parker will be tasked with the responsibility of cutting down Wilshere’s marauding runs from midfield, and will also have to make sure he doesn’t get the time to pick out those delightful through balls to Theo & co.

 

 

The Verdict:

 

It is setup to be a real attacking, free flowing type of game. Both teams will be desperate for a win in their quest for Champions League qualification, but I’m guessing neither of them would be too disappointed with a draw. Spurs look like the more complete team at the moment and will also have the added benefit of playing at their home turf. However, they’ve been on the receiving of back-to-back 5-2 thrashings at the hands of Arsenal, so it really goes to show that form doesn’t count for much in local derbies. The Gunners also boast the best away defensive record in the league, so Tottenham should be expecting a real battle on the pitch. I’m backing Arsenal to win by a goal, and eventually leapfrog Spurs to clinch the final top-four slot.

@asakhia

 

 

Arsenal: Keep calm and carry on

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The final 17 minutes of Arsenal’s outclassing of Southampton on Saturday said an awful lot about both clubs at the beginning of this Premier League season.

For the Saints, a team battered and bruised by the late, almost heroic defeats to both Manchester clubs and given a stark warning of the quality throughout the division when Wigan won convincingly at St Mary’s, it was all about just getting to full-time without experiencing any more damage on what had already been a harrowing afternoon.

In the event, they ended up conceding a sixth goal to their former favourite Theo Walcott two minutes from time, but the lack of celebrations from the winger after biting the hand that used to feed him were repeated all around the Emirates Stadium. The locals were desperate for Olivier Giroud to score.

That desire and anxiousness wasn’t a slight on the abilities of a forward who scored 21 goals in helping Montpellier to win the French title last season, but more a reflection of Gunners fans in recent times.

The £12million Giroud hadn’t scored in his first three appearances for the club, he didn’t find the net in his 17 minutes on the pitch against Southampton and followed that up with a goalless 76 minutes back at his former club in the Champions League on Tuesday night. Cue red and white panic.

If an Arsenal fan hasn’t got something to worry about, then he or she must be doing something wrong.

It isn’t their fault, it has been ingrained in supporters ever since summer-long transfer sagas surrounding the likes of Patrick Vieira, Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and now Robin van Persie, all of which were destined to end with the player escaping the club in the same manner that Usain Bolt accelerates away from his rivals.

After the inevitable parting of the ways became official whoever was left, particularly those who were viewed as replacements, simply had to hit the ground running. Supporters already felt let down by former heroes, and so they didn’t want to see mediocre performers enter in their place.

The longing for Giroud to be a success will go on, but fans should be mindful not to freak out too much as they hope for every touch from the new man to end in the back of the net. They should simply take stock, take a deep breath and take a look at the talents elsewhere.

The other two new additions illustrate this perfectly, and as long as Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla keep on impressing to the levels that they have been so far then maybe even the Arsenal fans who are thinning on top wouldn’t mind losing the hairs they’ll tear out of their head whilst worrying about Giroud. And they will still worry.

Podolski, Cazorla, a seemingly reborn Gervinho, Mikel Arteta, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Tomas Rosicky, Abou Diaby Aaron Ramsey, Walcott for now, and potentially even Jack Wilshere one day, maybe. All of whom add up to a potent attacking force before you even consider a French international forward who could very easily turn out to be a roaring success. Throw them in alongside a now much tighter defence and suddenly Gunners fans have every reason to be rather content with life right now, if they allow themselves to be.

The Giroud side issue will be solved soon enough – the forward is too good a player for it not to be – and when it is then Arsenal fans might be best advised to avoid finding something else to worry about, to just to play it cool, to keep calm and carry on.

They have the good fortune to follow a very good team which will only improve the more that its shiny new components are allowed to click together.

It’s getting there, so just try to sit tight and let it happen.

@Mark_Jones86

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