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Archive for the category “Match Previews”

Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea: Observations And Analysis

It’s difficult writing an analysis for a game which went so poorly for Arsenal. And the difficulty comes not from the disappointment of the scoreline but the manner of the defeat, a surprisingly nervous and lacklustre display after solid performances in the first five games.

As predicted, Arsene Wenger started the more mobile centre-back pairing of Vermaelen and Koscielny. At the front, Ramsey again took his place on the right with Gervinho playing through the middle, although the Ivorian swapped positions fairly regularly with Podolski on the left. While one decision worked well as the Ivorian netted Arsenal’s only goal, the other gamble of leaving Mertesacker on the bench backfired quite spectacularly.

Chelsea named a line-up that showed attacking intent with Oscar starting behind Torres flanked by Hazard and Mata while Ramires’ energy was preferred in midfield alongside Mikel. It was a brave decision by Roberto Di Matteo, not many managers come to the Emirates and attempt to take Arsenal on at their own game. In the end, Oscar’s inclusion proved decisive as the Brazilian kept Mikel Arteta quite for most of the match.

In a match where neither team played their best football, Arsenal scored one very good goal and conceded two very sloppy ones. This tweet from last night points out the similarities in Arsenal’s concession of both goals.

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Arsenal v Chelsea: Tactical Preview, Probable XI, Score Prediction

Arsenal take on a Drogless Chelsea as both teams attempt to maintain their unbeaten start to the season. As the following tweet suggests, history very much favours the Gunners today.

While there’ll be plenty of attacking talent on display, equally this is a match between two of the Premier League’s meanest defenses at the moment. Both teams have scored nine and conceded just two goals from their five matches. Tactically too, it’s 4-2-3-1 v 4-2-3-1 so there’s a possibility the teams could cancel each other out.

Roberto Di Matteo is likely to select John Terry despite the FA’s four-match ban as it is still subject to an appeal, while the other usual suspects, Luiz, Ivanovic and Cole will line up alongside him in defense. In midfield, Chelsea’s Italian manager has preferred the Mikel-Lampard partnership in three of their five league games and I suspect Di Matteo will persist with that combination.

As pointed out by Michael Cox in the scouting report for Arsenal.com, Di Matteo is still trying to balance his attacking options. While Oscar, Hazard and Mata are an exciting proposition when they play together, the Italian will be wary of Arsenal’s threat going forward so Ramires could be deployed on the right flank to contain the Gunners’ left-sided attacks and provide drive on counter attacks. I expect Hazard to play centrally behind Torres with Mata on the left, although these two will interchange often and try to torment Carl Jenkinson.

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Preview – Arsenal v Coventry City: Gunners Likely To Mix And Match

Right, so after the small matter of Manchester City away and before the equally small matter of Chelsea at home comes Arsenal’s toughest test of the season so far, Coventry City in the Capital One Cup tonight.

Jokes aside and with due respect to the Sky Blues, the Gunners are firm favorites. It’s a difficult time for the visitors, manager Mark Robins is just a week old in the job and Coventry City are yet to register a victory after ten games this season. On top of that, they are on a dismal run of four successive defeats that have left them languishing one place off the bottom of the table. To make matters worse, David McGoldrick, their most impressive player is cup-tied while our own Conor Henderson, who’s on loan, is ineligible to play.

Statistically too, everything points to a Gunners victory. In the 16 years Arsene Wenger has been in charge, only twice has he tasted defeat to non-Premier League opponents in the League Cup. The last of those defeats came on a cold December evening in 2008 at the home of then Championship high-flyers Burnley.

That day Wilshere, Ramsey and Gibbs all started for Arsenal while Mannone, Coquelin and Frimpong were unused subs. If proof was required that domestic cup campaigns are ideal playgrounds for developing youngsters then these six are perfect examples – all of them an integral part of the first team squad nowadays. As in previous years, the manager will be keen to use the opportunity to not only gauge the development of Arsenal’s emerging talent but also to give these young footballers a taste of the big stage.

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Man City v Arsenal: Tactical Preview, Probable XI And Score Prediction

Arsenal’s first big test of the season arrives today at the home of the champions. While it’s too early for any result to have a lasting impact on either team, a point or three from the Etihad would bolster the growing confidence and set things up nicely for Chelsea’s visit next weekend.

With both Szczesny and Fabianski injured, Vito Mannone will get another opportunity in goal. Up front, Gervinho’s impressive performance in the last league outing should earn him a start through the middle ahead of Olivier Giroud. In fact, expect for the enforced change in goal and Abou Diaby coming on in place of Francis Coquelin, Arsene Wenger is likely to field the same side that put six past the Saints last Saturday.

Manchester City have lost Samir Nasri to a hamstring injury while Micah Richards is still out with ankle trouble. Sergio Aguero is likely to return after recovering from a knee problem and new boy Javi Garcia should be preferred in midfield over Jack Rodwell. If Aguero can’t start, it’s possible Tevez will play as centre-forward with Yaya Toure pushing up as well and Gareth Barry playing alongside Garcia in midfield. Either of Zabaleta or Maicon can start at right-back and Mancini’s choice of personnel in that position may provide a clue about his approach in this game – something that is discussed later in this piece.

In recent years, matches between the Citizens and Gunners have been tight affairs. Last season’s fixture at the Etihad resulted in a 1-0 victory for the home team. In fact, all three matches between the two teams in 2011-12 ended in 1-0 scores, one in favour of Arsenal with two in favour of City. Surprisingly, for two teams that have so much attacking talent at their disposal, only six goals have been scored in the last six meetings between these two.

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Montpellier v Arsenal: Tactical Preview, Probable XI And Score Prediction

Before previewing our trip to France this evening, just a couple of follow-up notes on yesterday’s post.

Four games is not a big enough sample size to arrive at any conclusions regarding Arsenal’s tactics, neither was it the point of the article. Rather, it was to highlight a perceptible change in Arsenal’s approach towards maintaining possession of the football.

G4L also did something on similar lines yesterday. In this piece, he points out that it’s Santi Cazorla’s all-round footballing ability and tactical discipline which is helping Arsenal defend better. Interestingly, he’s also used pictures to show the completely hap-hazard formation Arsenal take in attack. Definitely worth a read.

Moving swiftly on, Arsenal take on Montpellier tonight as the Champions League gets underway. The French title-holders have had a miserable start to the campaign, losing three of their first five league games. The only victory for Rene Girard’s side has come against lowly Sochaux and for their fans, last season’s historic title-winning exploits are quickly receding from memory.

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