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Archive for the tag “Match Previews”

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

Southampton arrive at the Emirates this afternoon with Arsenal looking to build on victory at Anfield. The Saint’s visit also presents an opportunity for their former player Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to take on his old club.

For the first time in 88 years, Arsenal have begun a new league campaign with three clean sheets. It’s an event rarer than the sighting of Halley’s comet and leaves the Gunners as the only remaining team in the Premier League not to have conceded after 270 minutes of football. In stark contrast, Southampton are bottom of the table with three losses out of three and the second worst defensive record in the league, having shipped eight goals already.

The stats don’t paint an accurate picture though. Two of the Saints’ losses came against the Manchester clubs and in both games they were in a position to take all three points. Especially against United, they looked dangerous on the ball and disciplined off it until the final ten minutes of the game. They’ve played some good football on the counter attack and Arsenal will have to be wary of committing too many players forward.

The visitors could be without the services of left-back Danny Fox while new recruits Gaston Ramirez and Maya Yoshida have a chance to makes their debuts. However, assuming Fox is fit, Nigel Adkins is likely to start with the same team that went down to United prior to the international break. So far this season, the Southampton manager has preferred to set his team up in a 4-5-1 system that relies on keeping things tight in midfield with the wide players pushing up in support when they win the ball.

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