Posts Tagged Theo Walcott
It’s been a good start from the north London club this season with 10 points from four league matches in second place in the Premier League, a good return in front of goal despite the spate of injuries in that department as well as a laudable stingy manner of the defence so far.
Arsenal’s next two matches however have the potential banana skin effect glossed on them especially the trip up north to face Sunderland on Saturday, but first, the visit of Sporting Braga of Portugal on Wednesday night as this season’s UEFA Champions League kicks off this week. The Gunners should be wary of complacency against Braga even though there is a sterling home record standing in the Gunners’ favour against teams from Portugal. Braga pushed FC Porto in its last league match, twice in the lead before losing 3-2 at the Dragao while the club – steadily gaining a reputation of being stubborn – was responsible for the knock out of Celtic in the second qualifying round before gaining the scalp of Sevilla in the final qualifying round.
But Arsenal should have enough quality to overcome Braga on Wednesday night. Marouane Chamakh is slowly seaming into the team and so far is making up for the absence of Robin van Persie, Theo Walcott and Nicklas Bendtner to injury. Captain Cesc Fàbregas still turns in the assured performances, Tomas Rosicky has been in exceptional form, Samir Nasri is back early from injury, Sebastien Squillaci and Laurent Koscielny have been okay in defence all to make injuries to the earlier mentioned along with Abou Diaby and Thomas Vermaelen just for the moment.
A win against Braga being a good bet, it will be a real test to see how Arsene Wenger’s lads can rally to keep up the pace in the league in a tricky trip to the Stadium of Light to face Sunderland.
Sometimes, it’s not the team Arsenal is up against but the manager and Steve Bruce knows how to make visiting clubs have a rough, if not outrightly bad afternoon. The Black Cats may be terrible travellers but at home, the spirit suddenly takes possession and when that happens, even Arsenal find it difficult to play in their usual stride of sleek passing till they decide when it’s time to find the back of the net.
And that ‘just one more pass’ syndrome may well be Arsenal’s undoing at the Stadium of Light. As I’ve said in previous articles here, it is games as this against Sunderland that will really help in Arsenal’s quest to end the title drought suffered since ’05. A look at Tottenham Hotspur for example. The lilywhites ultimate achievement will be to have a better season than Arsenal, meaning beating their north London arch rivals whenever their paths cross while dropping points against clubs like Wigan and West Brom…clubs the three points should be an assured collect. Till Spurs overcome their inferiority complex, Arsenal will keep finishing better than Spurs…maybe for the League Cup.
My opinion, four points from the two games this week will just be acceptable from the Gunners but two wins will be more like it to keep proving their title credentials this season because you get the feeling “beautiful football” may soon become boring to the faithful…
Arsenal are no strangers to having its treatment table warmed by the injured ones and this time round, it crucially has the bulk of the forward men on it with Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner – out till November at worst – joined by Dutch man Robin van Persie till mid-October at least and painfully Theo Walcott till the end of September; painful seeing he was in good scoring form for Arsenal before the internationals from where he picked up the injury…not like he was in exceptional form for England, but that’s by the way.
These injuries give room for young Mexican forward Carlos Vela to stake his claim for a serious look-in when starting eleven names are being pondered on every other week by manager Arsene Wenger. I particularly have a bias for Vela and believe he’ll become quite an asset at the Emirates, with opportunities as this the sort of platform he must take full advantage of to get that look-in; as well as the ‘respected’ League Cup…and he’s getting old for that competition I dare say, knowing how the Arsenal ‘calendar’ ticks.
But the person that really must take full advantage of this window of injuries is Moroccan forward Marouane Chamakh. I mentioned having a bias for Vela…scrap that! I prayed, dreamed, day-dreamed and so much advocated for the signature of Chamakh so my happiness knew no bounds when he arrived – on a free as well, much pleasing to the Monsieur is my guess for that – on the back of a memorable personal season with Bordeaux. For Chamakh, it’s not a matter of gaining experience – several French league and cup wins as well as a quarter final finish in the Champions League last season is good enough vouch – but getting his feet firm for Arsenal and equally importantly his head which would be immense in improving the return of goals from set pieces; the Moroccan has a good head and the one against Blackpool proves so, quality of opponent notwithstanding.
That quest begins full frontal at home to Bolton Wanderers on Saturday. We all know how the players like to stress the importance of the team winning more than individual performance…scrap that too! Chamakh will be looking to score a real goal this time round, captain Cesc Fàbregas has a mission I won’t bother boring about, Andrei Arshavin hasn’t impressed me this season, Manuel Almunia has some demons to shush, Laurent Koscielny, Sebastien Squillaci…all ingredients adding up nicely to an Arsenal slowly desperate to end that frustrating drought of titles; the pains of being a Gooner!
Ah well, action they say speak louder than words and the lad in question has, probably, a relatively easy opponent to deal with seeing as they’ve overcome the man (Sam Alladyce) and his new club that formerly was a pain in the ‘bazongas’ of Arsenal in the past…good old ‘rugby tactics’ Bolton. Well no more!
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Cheers! And have a good Eid el Fitri celebration.
In my “Premier League Preview – The Challengers” post here http://wp.me/puIC6-34, I talked about the competitiveness of last season’s Premier League that among other things, saw one of the fabled ‘Big Four’ – Liverpool – finish in seventh place behind Aston Villa, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur in ascending order. Liverpool’s poor finish coupled with the near alarming number of losses recorded by the other three – Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal – could also be traced to surprise defeats to teams these four would normally chalk all three points off such as Wigan Athletic, Birmingham City and a few others.
Two rounds into this season however, I like to think it’s safe to say three of the Big Four have taken good note of the value of getting the three points where it is expected of them and getting those points with authority. Champions Chelsea scored just over a hundred last term and don’t look like slowing down up front having scored a dozen goals in two games already without giving one away; half of the goals coming a few hours earlier at Wigan’s JJB where the Blues as well as the other Three struggled last term. Arsenal, following a typical lion’s-share-of-possession-comes-to-nothing draw against Liverpool, as should be expected brought Ian Halloway’s new boys Blackpool right down to the football field reality from the cloud nine highs of a four-nil win over Wigan (that’s ten conceded for the Latics…relegation candidature as stated in the note referred earlier). A major talking point was Theo Walcott’s performance which was enjoyable to all watching (Fabio Capello though fancied Wolves trip to Goodison Park instead) and the team performance was all the more impressive more so that Cesc Fàbregas and Robin van Persie played the final half hour with scores at 5-0. What Arsenal fans should however truly note from this good win is that five goals came after Blackpool were reduced to ten men, Andrei Arshavin chose the weaker opposition to perform against when a semblance of same was really expected and much needed in the Liverpool encounter and finally, it was Blackpool. Had it been Everton like it happened in last season’s opening day, I then would’ve rated it a top draw win but alas…it’s just what should be expected of a club of Arsenal’s stature. If Arsenal can perform like this against similar opposition and pick the vital points where expected (against the likes of Wolverhampton, West Brom, West Ham, Birmingham Sunderland and Stoke) as well as against the stubborn ones such as Villa, Bolton and Blackburn Rovers that the Gunners visit next week, it will stamp firmly Arsenal’s title credentials. That then allows for games against rivals (the other Three, free spending Man. City and Tottenham, especially the latter two) to be real contest where a win would truly make Arsene Wenger’s talented lads mature and make the step to returning Arsenal to winning trophies in May and not August as they’re becoming accustomed to!
Chelsea this evening got the better of London rivals Arsenal in the first semi-final of the English FA Cup after the Blues came from behind to defeat the Gunners 2-1 at the new Wembley Stadium.
Arsenal it was that started the game on the attack and it was little surprise when Theo Walcott put the north Londoners ahead after 18 minutes off Kieran Gibbs’ cross in.
Chelsea got themselves into the game afterwards and after coming inches close to equalising, Florent Malouda got the goal to bring the match level on 33 minutes off a great long ball from Frank Lampard.
Click (or copy and paste) the following link http://www.mynaijanews.com/content/view/3037/187/ for more of this story.