Hello Gooners. I am already enjoying an early weekend here, in India! Yesterday was a holiday for a festival, and today is as well, as there is an All India strike! God bless Politics!
So, this will give me more time to relax and prepare for the big weekend coming our way in the Premier League. Ok, let’t not get carried away. I cannot wait for the action to begin. We just had a drooling session of Champions League football over two days, and any day without football feels like a year.
Of course, on Tuesday night, I switched channels occasionally, to check scores of the Real Madrid-Manchester City clash. Damn, was it a thriller or what? With all the negativity surrounding Real at the moment, fueled by Ronaldo’s unhappiness, and Mourinho’s observation that Real no longer are playing like a team, I bet very few would have tipped Real to win, more so after their poor start to their league campaign.
And, couple of times, it did seem like City will get away with all 3 points from the Bernabeu. Yaya Toure proved again why he is one of the best, rather the best central midfielder, probably in the world at the moment. He was City’s best player on the night. Real Madrid lacked that bit of cutting edge, more so with Joe Hart in such wonderful form.
He made a barrage of saves, to single handedly keep City in the game. I do feel for Mateja Nastasic, though. The young 19 year old, signed from Fiorentina in the summer, was handed his debut on the biggest stage of them all. Mancini surely must have gone nuts. Maicon seemed so vulnerable all evening, and I think the team was selected with the big game in the weekend on his mind.
Last night, too, there was an interesting clash between Chelsea and Juventus. It was pretty even overall, and I think Oscar could be really great for Chelsea, in the coming seasons. Just let the FFP roll on, if you know what I mean. Manchester United were lucky to scrape away with a 1-0 win over Galatasaray, who had Emmanuel Eboue on their side.
Anyways, the weekend. The big talking point will of course be the Liverpool-Manchester United clash, with what has gone on in recent times, now added fuel by the Hillsborough report. Both clubs are trying to defuse the tension, now with Fergusmoan and United urging their fans not to hurt the sentiments of the Liverpool fans, who have suffered a traumatic few weeks.
The first step was to convince Patrice Evra and Luis Suarez to shake hands before kickoff, and I think this will go a long way in ensuring the match is played in good spirits. Pre match, captains Steven Gerrard and Nemanja Vidic will release 96 baloons, to represent the fans who died on the tragic afternoon in 1989. While rivalry is always good, in fact it is great, there should always be an emphasis on dealing with such very personal matters in an emotional and professional manner.
The solidarity and support shown by all clubs over the weekend was amazing to watch, especially that of Everton, long standing local rivals of Liverpool. Arsenal too were in the thick of things, with the home fans singing “You’ll never walk alone”, 6 minutes into the game against Southampton.
So then, moving focus into our own big clash with the champions Manchester City. As I said earlier, Mancini’s team selection against Real Madrid was clearly done with one eye on the weekend. Maicon had a decent outing against Stoke, but I think Pablo Zabaleta will got the nod, after the Brazilian barely could handle Cristiano Ronaldo. Not that the Argentine did, but Maicon looked out of breath far too often.
I would also expect Jolean Lescott to start, instead of the inexperienced Nastasic. City started with only Carlos Tevez up front. It would be interesting to watch who plays on Sunday, now with the new situation Mancini has with Mario Balotelli. Edin Dzeko is another complex problem. Seems like he scores whenever he comes on, but never does so when he starts. Very strange. City will also have Sergio Aguero at their disposal, after the Argentine completed his recovery from injury. $amir Na$ri is expected to miss the clash, after the cunt was injured in the 36th minute and replaced by Aleksandr Kolarov who scored a rather lucky goal from a freekick.
Arsenal do not have too many concerns, injury wise, or even disciplinary wise, before the City game. Abou Diaby enjoyed a good 90 minutes, though almost conceded a couple of goals against Montpellier. Olivier Giroud had a decent game, I felt, and I still think he needs some goals to get himself going. Coventry City, in the Capitol One Cup is the perfect way to get your goal tally up and running.
I am expecting to see Arsenal start with Lukas Podolski, Gervinho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain up front. With the current situation of Theo Walcott, I know Arsene Wenger wouldn’t want to hand a start to the winger, and I am not too sure if Manchester City away is the place he’d really get everything right. In goal, Wojciech Szczesny is expected to be fit in time for the game, which will again pose a selection headache for the manager.
Vito Mannone has been brilliant so far, but let’s not forget, he has had a really well knit defence ahead of him. The Italian recently said, that the loan spell at Hull City helped him turn things around, after that disastrous outing against Olympiakos.
To be honest, every goalkeeper has his own path, I had mine. I had bad times and I just rolled up my sleeves and worked hard. Then, I thought, ‘let’s go to Hull’.Nobody wants to go there really but I found a good club, good fans and I gained experience. I played games as a number 1. 24 games in a row, so that’s what I needed. It helped me going onto the pitch thinking, ‘Ok, I can be number 1 now’.I had a great spell last year where I learned how to be a number 1 really. When you play games in a row, it is a big challenge because you need to recover well and prepare for the next one again.
Laurent Koscielny must be wondering what he needs to do in order to get into the team at the moment, because I do not see him getting much game time, with the way the defence has been playing. I am sure he will get his chances soon enough, and another interesting battle between the 3 central defenders will ensue. Jack Wilshere has resumed training with the first squad, and I cannot wait to see him in action, after over a year.
Finally, there is an Arsenal Twitter takeover, today at 10:30 AM, UK Time, so be there and pose your questions to the players.
That’s it for now!
Jai Arsenal 🙂
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