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Zaha signed? Turan and one from Man City could follow but No Ba……

December 31, 2012

Morning all…

It seem’s Ba is off to Chelsea IF we believe “sky sources” ….

Twitter was all a buzz last night with ex palace player Tom Soares wishing Wilfried Zaha all the best at Arsenal. Make of that what you will but of course only time will tell to all the gossip and the “in the know” comments.

Another story getting lots of mileage is the Arda Turan rumours but is he any different to what we have?

Is he better than Ox or indeed Zaha if he signs?

My point would be, is he actually what we want?

I think it’s still clear to most that we need a big physical player in midfield and Arsene has said the same on numerous occasions since Diaby has been injured.

A great many if’s and but’s at this time of the year, but plenty to discuss at a time when there are players that we fans want in and of course many that we want out. No doubt we’ll disagree over who we need and who we want as we all have our favourites but that’s what makes it all fun..

Tomorrow sees the opening of the transfer window so the next month will show us exactly where our club is heading I would expect.

One interesting  story which I failed to mention yesterday relates to reports that we are about to try and entice Brian Marwood away from Manchester City.  Or as I feel is more appropriate, try to encourage him to return to the club which he will never forget.

He may have only been with us for a couple of seasons but in that time he made an impact.

Marwood was signed for £800,000 in March 1988. Seen as a replacement for injury prone Martin Hayes, his impact was nearly immediate; his crosses supplied Smudger with goals throughout the 1988-89 season, in which Arsenal won the First Division title for the first time since 1971. Smith himself credits Marwood as being the most prolific supplier of assists while he was at Arsenal.

Marwood soon established himself as the club’s first choice left winger but sadly, injury forced him to miss the last five matches of the season, which included our title-winning match against Liverpool at Anfield. He still took away a league winners medal with 31 appearances that season.

Injury again restricted Marwood’s chances in the 1989-90 season, and he only managed nineteen matches that season and his days were numbered after Swedish international winger Anders Limpar joined in the summer of 1990.

He was sold to Sheffield United for £350,000 in September 1990; in all he played 60 matches for Arsenal, scoring 17 goals.

Right now he’s the ‘football administrator’ at Manchester City but according to a few newspapers yesterday, Arsenal want to get him on board.

From The Sunday People:

Arsenal chiefs will launch an audacious move to bring in Brian Marwood from Manchester City to help Arsene Wenger end his trophy drought,

The board are convinced the former Gunners winger can be the man to work alongside Wenger to attract the world’s top players to north London and take the club back to the big time.

Wenger is ­desperate for a link man with the Arsenal board over transfer strategy, a role that’s been vacant since the ­departure nearly six years ago of vice-chairman David Dein.

Interesting I’d say…..

If it’s all true……

That’s it for today, have a good one…..

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Just give Theo Walcott what he wants, before someone else does……..

December 30, 2012

Morning Gooners.

A 7-3 victory but there’s still cause for concern.

Would we have still turned on the style at the end had Newcastle been a team without so many injuries, or one who had more strength on the bench or indeed one who had not played just a few days before?

Sounds like us on another day doesn’t it?

We’ll never know now but as long as Arsene Wenger looks at the defensive frailties on display yesterday and takes them to the training ground to resolve, then ok. If he and Bould were watching the space gifted to Newcastle in the midfield and rectifies this by signing a DM in January, then ok  but if these two problems on the pitch continue, other sides will tear us apart.

Those gaping errors gifted Newcastle their three goals.

However….

We could only play against what/who we were up against and getting seven goals in the fashion we did in the end was a joy to behold..

All too often recently, the team have given us reason to moan,  moan and moan and as already said, they did it again yesterday at times but the difference was, they gave us a lot more to cheer about. The way we scored goals and finished the game off in so much style was simply stunning.

We scored seven goals and not one was a fluke…….

The first goal came after good work from Podolski on the left in our own area, he played a super ball down the left hand side into space, space  which Walcott was running in to. Theo then picked the ball up, ran on into the penalty area and curled his shot past Krul and inside the far post…

All done in front of the man he wants to emulate, Thierry Henry. Well that wasn’t a bad start!

Our second:

Sagna had pushed up and from just outside the penalty area, he played the ball to Podolski who was central and just outside the box. Podolski pushed the ball out left to Gibbs who crossed into the penalty area. Podolski totally goofed the return ball which then went onto Theo who had his back towards goal. A little turn, a little control followed by a placed shot into the roof of the net resulted in his second of the match!

Theo’s third was made of stuff which only pundits would brag about if scored by the Mancs or Chelsea… It really was stunning.

The last few days the world of football has had cause to question players attitudes, managers attitudes and cheats who try and earn penalties. (Bale tried again yesterday and got booked).

Walcott showed the better side of the game to grab his third and as Keegan said, ‘it was a combination of strictly come dancing and holiday on ice’. He did go on to say it was very good.

We had a free kick down the left, he played a quick one-two with Jack and with a defender left and right of him he drove through the middle, a sneaky tackle from behind floored him but he rode it well with a knee slide, got straight back onto his feet passed two more Newcastle players and chipped the ball passed Krul into the back of the net!!

Cant finish, isn’t a striker??

He also turned provider for Giroud with a wonderful cross at great pace from the right. The big Frenchman got himself into the right place, the Englishman supplied the right in-swinging ball..

Sublime…..

As was the strike from Oxlade-Chamberlain, a super struck shot into the corner of the net and to be honest, he’d not had the best of games but a goal will keep his confidence high.

Then of course there was the goal which Jack created from nothing really. Our loyal number ten burst through the final centre of the pitch after a ball played to him by Podolski. As he went into the penalty area, it looked like he’d lost his chance to cross but just before the ball looked likely to go out after pressure from a Newcastle defender, Jack whipped in a left footed cross right in front of the keeper. Coloccinii tried to clear it but his header hit the top of the bar and rebounded to Podolski who was there to head the rebound home…..

Giroud scored another for his second, another great finish and annoyingly for him, the woodwork stood between him and and his hat-trick..

We missed a few, we could, maybe even should have scored eleven but is anyone going to complain about that?

I didn’t think so.

What a way for the boys to end 2012 at The Emirates….

Much will be made of Theo’s celebration after the game and the way he thanked all the fans with the match ball in hand but ever since our young Englishman has been with the club, he’s always shown great appreciation for the fans, so yesterday was probably no different. If his contract renewal is being stalled just because he wants an extra £5,000 a week, surely it’s time for the club to give in and agree.

Sure as heck some other club will, especially after yesterday….

Now it’s over to the January transfer window….

Have a good day all…..


A ‘Wee Northern Side’ visit & reports suggest THREE new signings in January..

December 29, 2012

Morning all.

Pat Rice has been awarded an MBE in the Queens New Years Honours List and Wenger is thrilled:

 I am absolutely delighted because if someone deserves it, it’s Pat Rice.

He had 100 per cent genuine commitment every day and you respect that when you see that from somebody, and he is someone you could go to war with. You would love to be in the trenches with Pat and those are very difficult qualities to find in modern society.

Rice greeted the news with shock and joy:

I’m delighted and honoured to be receiving an MBE. The news of the award came as a complete surprise and I’m just so flattered to be included in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List.

Football and Arsenal have been my life and I have so many fantastic memories during my career. I have been lucky to have played and worked with so many great individuals, and through hard work I have enjoyed some success along the way.

Well done Pat Rice, he deserves his award…..

According to reports in The Metro, Arsenal are planning a move for Anthony Knockaert in January and the same newspaper claims that Arsene Wenger is looking for three new signings in January,the Leicester City winger being one of them, M’Vila and Henry being the other two.

Then of course there is Demba Ba, Arda Turan, Alessandro Matri, Sunzu and many many more…

Anyway, the only ‘three’ we Gooners are truly interested in today are the three points on offer for today’s game against Newcastle, the ‘Wee Club’ from up North…

Sorry, but what a joke. A ‘wee club’? Newcastle are hardly that are they, they have huge home and away support, they are a club with vast tradition and just because they haven’t been gifted won all that Fergie has, it hardly justify’s the insulting comments the Scotsman directed at them yesterday does it?

The sooner Fergie hangs up his hair-drier the better!!

Of course those comments came after he needed referee Mike Riley’s assistance to win three points against Newcastle on Boxing Day and how he escaped a punishment from the FA is beyond me.

Anyway, Newcastle were robbed on Wednesday and they could cause us masses of problems today too, the only plus for us is our defence is not quite as bad as the Mancs. It’s not great I know, but we haven’t conceded too many of late (how I don’t know) and if we keep up that kind of record then who knows what could happen today.

Stats for those who care about them, personally I think they mean little:

    Head-to-head

  • Arsenal needed a Thomas Vermaelen stoppage-time winner to complete a 2-1 comeback win in the corresponding fixture last January.
  • The Gunners have lost just one of their last 10 matches against Newcastle (W4, D5, L1)
  • The Magpies have won on four of 18 Premier League trips to Arsenal, latterly in November 2010 when Andy Carroll headed the winner.
  • This is the third time the two clubs have met on this date: Arsenal won the previous encounters in 1984 and 2004.

Arsenal

  • Arsenal are on a three-match Premier League winning streak – their best form since March.
  • They have won 18 league matches in 2012, their joint-lowest tally in a calendar year under Arsene Wenger. They also recorded 18 victories in 1997.
  • If Arsenal lose against Newcastle, they will equal their most defeats in a calendar year under Wenger – 10, set in 2006 and 2010.
  • The Gunners have kept seven clean sheets in 18 league games, a record bettered only by Chelsea (eight) and Stoke (nine).
  • Theo Walcott has scored 11 goals in all competitions for the club this season, just two shy of equalling his most prolific campaign in 2010-11.

Newcastle

  • Alan Pardew’s side have lost seven of their last nine league fixtures, collecting six points out of the last available 27.
  • Newcastle are yet to record an away win this season (D4, L5). They have lost their last four fixtures on the road, conceding 10 goals in the process.
  • The Magpies have scored in each of their last six league games, their best scoring run of the season.

Newcastle outs:

Mike Williamson is suspended, Vurnon Anita, Jonas Gutierrez, Yohan Cabaye, Hatem Ben Arfa, Steven Taylor, Ryan Taylor, Dan Gosling and Haris Vuckic are all injured!

Arsenal outs:

Fabianski, Diaby and Santos.

On paper it’s a home victory!

But this is Newcastle we are facing, a team with more spirit within it than a tin of Carlsberg Special Brew and if our players think that they will roll over and surrender the points easy then they need sacking.

The Emirates needs a convincing victory with a really good performance!

Will they get it?

That remains to be seen……..

Have a good day all…..


Praying for a set-back as Diaby gets fit to see us through the Transfer Window…..

December 28, 2012

Morning all,

By some miracle, Abou Diaby is set to return to training next week, the very same week that the transfer window opens and if I wasn’t such a cynic, I’d say that his return has been delayed to coincide with the January ‘going’s on’.

Well, I’m not one to wish an injury on many any of our players but unless Diaby is ready to get fit for sale, then I hope he suffers a setback which then forces Wenger to sign a fit and reliable defensive/holding midfielder.

As good as some make think Diaby is, he’s not reliable and it’s time to stop thinking he ever will be.

For too long now the club have waited for players to either return to injury or find some form. Some players just never manage it and Diaby is one of those. Many will blame Dan Smith, others Paul Robinson and of course, they would be right in many respects but there is no room for sentiment in sport. Not if you want to be a winner!

Eduardo had the leave the Premier League for the sake of his future, Diaby needs to follow suit.

Another one coming back to training next week is Andre Santos and he’s another one who should find another club, sharpish!

That will leave lonely old Fabianski on the injury list which Arsene Wenger believes is very unusual for this time of year:

It is unusual, especially at this period of the season. It is down to the continuing good work we are doing behind the scenes at the Club. We hope that it continues because it is important to go into January with a full squad and we will be losing Gervinho to the Africa Cup of Nations.

Pff, more like it’s important to go into the New Year with a full squad so he doesn’t have to dip into the transfer market…..

Anyway, Giroud and Rosicky are both recovered and back for tomorrow so there’s some good news for us all….

That’s it for another day, have a good one….

 


Chamakh shocker & Wenger confirms that three out of four will have been signed young…

December 27, 2012

Morning all,

Marouane Chamakh has been dropped by his country for the African Cup of Nations.

It’s obvious he’s been dropped because he’s crap not been playing regular football for us, so hopefully that will give him a jolt in the doo dahs and make him realise he needs to find another club, play regular football and then of course, regain his status as the best striker for his country.

Anyway, fingers crossed he really is heading off to West Ham and maybe being in England will help any proposed deal go through. It would be funny if Big Sam turned him into a decent striker, or should I say got him back to being a decent striker because when he first joined he scored a few goals didn’t he.

In fact he was once so good that Arsene Wenger was prepared to wait a ages to get him for free sign him .

Talking about strikers joining, seems like Thierry Henry is not. Strange one that, one minute everyone tells us he’s likely to sign for a 3rd time and then, nope, he should stay in America and rest, ready for his clubs new season.

Mind you, the down side could be that Wenger relies on Chamakh to fill in for Gervinho who is going to the ACON’s.

I don’t know which one is worse these days….

Wenger want’s our squad to be mainly British. In fact he wants three-quarters of future sides will be developed in-house – with a core of British talent.

We have always produced a big number of players from within, but what we want to do is produce more local boys, which I think we are doing now.

It’s the first time since I have been here that we have many English players in the team – or I should say British, because I include Aaron Ramsey in that. They all have the correct talent and quality.

But the ideal model we want at Arsenal is to produce the core of the team from within our system, and then add exceptional talent from outside.”

Wenger believes there are many advantages to building a team mainly around home-grown players, and says the Club is firmly committed to continuing on this path.

We have always done it, first of all because it’s a guarantee of security and stability – we never want to go below a certain level. 

If you can get the right players into the squad at an early age, you can build a real team spirit. When people have grown up together, they have that fraction more togetherness when they are on the pitch than if you assemble players from all over the world.

So it makes the team attitude a bit stronger, which you can’t get from signing players from all over the world.

And to think we used to field sides without a single Brit in it!!

Wonder what is going to happen to all the overseas kids he signed at a young age, not all of them can be the player to make up the numbers…

And then where does the ‘exceptional player’ fit in?

Riddles eh……

Have a good day all……


Sky Sports comes up trumps at Christmas….

December 26, 2012

Happy Boxing Day one and all…

I know the real meaning of the day but sometimes, I wonder if it’s more about our heads feeling like they have been battered left and right, almost like having gone 5 rounds with David Haye….

Two bottles of the fizzy stuff is possibly not the best thing to do, especially after not touching anything alcoholic for months.

Ouch, my head hurts!

No football today for us though, today is about those above and around us dropping points hopefully!

Back to yesterday and Sky Sports showed a programme to give us Gooners something to smile about.

Makes a change doesn’t it?

Magic.......

Magic…….

They covered the sports events of 1998 – a double winning season for us and the same year in which Dennis Bergkamp won PFA player of the season. Tony Adams, one of the best defenders we have seen at the club, finished off a 4-0 victory over Everton in a fashion that Gervinho can only dream of, and with it, he confirmed the first Premier League title under Arsene Wenger was ours.

What a season!

We had pace in abundance, we had a true winger in Overmars, a proper young striker in Anelka and an untouchable midfield duo in Vieira and Petit. They weren’t the only stand outs, we had many. From the great Dennis Bergkamp to the Pele of Romford in Ray Parlour and many in between….

After securing the league title, we faceed Newcastle in the FA Cup Final and we had a real chance for another double.

‘They know it and they want it’ said Richard Keys

And we won it…….

Heck, we even beat Manchester United 3-0 in the Community Shield prior to the following season kicking off and we beat them by the same scoreline at home in the league just a weeks later….

They were good times and it’s those yesteryear’s under Arsene Wenger which make today’s goings on so sad….

Once we were feared by most, now we are feared by few…..

Boy how I long for those days to return and I don’t even mean the trophies. I mean being able to watch a team full of players who don’t want to lose, a team who look like they can score at any time rather than concede! A team full of players who know how to entertain, know how to support each other and play like they want to win….

Oh those days…..

Not a bad replacement....

Not a bad replacement….

The following year we sold Anelka and many were furious, both with his brother for pushing the move away and the club for letting him go – but we signed Thierry Henry to take his place…..

All wasn’t quite so bad after all was it……

Have a good day all, Ibuprofen with Marmite on toast is good for hangovers ;)


Demba Ba set to sign on the 1st Jan? Merry Christmas Gooners…

December 25, 2012

decor

Morning all.

Apparently, Canal+ have reported that Demba Ba is all set to sign for us on the 1st of January 2013.

Well I’m not sure where they get that idea from, or even if they have got it right, he’s what we need. Of course position wise, we need a ruthless goal scorer and he certainly knows where the back of the net is, but he’s got a weak knee and the way our luck is with injuries, he’d sign and then get crocked.

As we all know though, when the price is right, Wenger is in there so who knows.

But all that is for another day, today is about one thing and no-one needs me to explain what that is.

m

That message goes out to each and every one of you here on Highbury House and I hope that however you celebrate this occasion, you have a wonderful time with your family, friends and other loved ones.

At the same time though, let’s spare a thought for those who can’t be together today for one reason or another. Christmas can be a joyful time for many, but it can also be sad and tough for many others…..

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, have a lovely day all…

Merry Christmas everyone………


Not Good Enough says Wenger & Jack’s wish for Christmas…..

December 24, 2012

Morning all,

Christmas Eve is here, just when did that spring up on us all………

Third place didn’t last long did it, certainly  not after Chelsea battered Aston Villa 8-0. Somehow, and maybe with a little help from other sides, we have managed to get ourselves up the table and into the top four. Now we need to build on the last three victories, start playing with a lot more confidence and conviction and push on from here.

I’m not sure we’ll get many more gifts from others and now that we have got ourselves into the Champions League places, we need to hunt down the two Manchester sides above us, who in all honesty, are very average this season.

Thankfully, Wenger is not getting too carried away with our league position and nor should he either:

It’s good but not enough. We want more and I hope that gives us a bit more belief and confidence so that we can play much more positively.

Away from home, our record is quite good. We’ve only lost at Manchester United and Norwich since the beginning of the season.

He’s right of course, three back to back victories is good but we have a long way to go until the end of the season and the players and manager need to be doing a lot more yet to convince most fans that we our starting to improve.

Newcastle at home next Saturday will be tough test which we really have to pass as our home form is simply awful having won just fourteen points from eight games!

After that, it’s the opening of the January sales and we all love that don’t we. If Wenger just signs a defence minded midfielder and Thierry Henry it’ll be an improvement on what we have right now, not enough long-term I know, but an improvement…

In addition to those of course, we need to tie down Theo Walcott to a new contract too and Jack Wilshere is desperate for his team-mate and good friend to follow him and the other four Brits who have just signed on the dotted line:

Six brits

I think he looked at that. We’re all great friends, the British boys, we all go out together, have meals together and sit together when we’re on the road, so hopefully he can follow us and sign.

Everybody at the club wants Theo to re-sign. But that is something he has to sort out, it is up to him and the club if they can reach an agreement and I hope they do. Theo’s been great for us. We just signed five British boys so hopefully he can be the sixth and cap it off.

I’m always winding him up, saying, “C’mon Theo, sign”. It’s up to him and the club. Theo knows what he means to us and what he means to the fans.

I know Walcott is not every fans ‘cup of tea’, but I’m with Jack Wilshere:

‘C’mon Theo, sign’…

That’s it for another day, don’t forget to make sure your chimneys are nice and clean and your fire is out tonight…

Yo Ho Ho.....

Yo Ho Ho…..

Have a good one all…….

Clause in Emirates deal will put the pressure on & another 3 points scraped….

December 23, 2012

It took a soft penalty decision awarded to us and a couple turned down for Wigan to get all three points but right now, do we honestly care?

Walcott didn’t dive, he just stumbled over after being gently caught from behind and as for the Wigan claims for handball, well blame the ref for that. Just as we have to when decisions like that go against us!

In fact, Jonathan Moss was dreadful yesterday. He booked Jack Wilshere for after making a wonderful, well-timed and accurate tackle in which he clearly won the ball but allowed Wigan players to commit fouls as and when they chose.

We weren’t at our best yesterday, not by a long way and Wigan contributed to that by closing us down quickly. The pitch didn’t help either but that was the same for both sides and it didn’t stop Wigan getting forward and creating chances. They were allowed too much time and space all too often and had they been able to cross and finish better, the result would have been very different, but they couldn’t and it wasn’t and that’s that!

We had the first chance, Arteta  broke away with the ball and found Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. His shot was pushed past the post by Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi. Kone had Wigan’s first chance but his soft shot was straight at Szczesny. He really should have done better.

The same player had another chance soon after. He was played through by Di Santo and as Per Mertesacker struggled to match him for pace, the player took his shot, but fired wide.

Wigan continued to get forward at every chance with Stam and Beausejour but couldn’t make any attack count, mostly because of their lack of  composure in the penalty area or the inability to find a team-mate when it mattered.

After the break, Walcott  had a couple of good chances after Oxlaide-Chamberlain set him up, but both chances were denied.

Walcott was forced out wide after an over hit cross. He played a one two with Santi Cazorla as he pressed into the penalty area. As he did so, he was caught by Beausejour from behind. Not a bad tackle, just a clumsy one and the referee pointed to the spot.

Arteta stepped up and made no mistake. 1-0

Wigan again threatened through Kone which Szczesny saved, he also denied another chance, this one from Figueroa. David Jones fired a chance just wide from distance  and then there was a moment of controversy when  a shot was fired in and the ball clearly hit Kieran Gibbs arms.

Wigan continued to try and get the equaliser but we held on to take all three points.

So what did that game tell us?

Walcott isn’t strong enough to play up front on his own?

The defence were all over the place at times and gifted Wigan far too much space and time down both flanks?

Our midfield is in desperate need of an organiser? We need a brute who will the battles both on the ground and in the air and protect the back four.

The positive side to yesterday is that we kept a clean sheet and went home with three points.

I just hope Wenger doesn’t think that three victories on the trot make things alright because it’s not…

Twenty three and maybe we will all start believing it is…..

Just a quick mention about The Emirates deal.

Emirates senior vice-president Boutros Boutros has confirmed that  the Dubai-based airline, are planning to impose results-based precautions as part of any new deal.

There are certain clauses, from 2015, that we pay them a percentage less if they don’t perform. 

The Champions League is part of the new contract. It’s just to keep them on their toes.

It’s fair to us and fair to them.

By 2015, I’d like to think that we are finishing in the top two, not just the top four! But, that little clause could be enough to make Stan dip a bit deeper into his pocket.
That’s if he’s still around at Arsenal by then…..

 

Have a good day all…….


Arsenal Manager Quits, David Villa linked & Spare a thought for our fans at Wigan…

December 22, 2012

Morning all,

Start with today’s gossip:

Arsenal are ‘exploring an audacious swoop for Barcelona striker David Villa’ according to The Daily Mail. The cunning plan is a loan until the end of the season and if all goes well, we’re going to try for a permanent deal. Apparently Villa is getting fed up with warming the bench at his ripe old age.

Would that be the kind of signing you’d love to see?

It sure would me, add him to Henry, who is sure to join us again and we should score a few goals..

The same paper suggests that the manager is not happy with the level of competition for Wojciech Szczesny and link us to another goalkeeper, this morning it’s the Sunderland custodian, Simon Mignolet!

Most newspapers suggest that the race for Wilfried Zaha is a two-horse one between Wenger and Fergie next month – yawn!

Onto some real news:

Arsenal Ladies manager Laura Harvey has confirmed she will be leaving the club in January to take up a new role with American side Seattle Reign FC, in the newly formed National Women’s Soccer League.

Laura first joined the Arsenal Ladies set-up in summer 2008 as first-team coach, and was appointed manager midway through the 2009/10 campaign. Under Harvey, the Ladies have won three consecutive league titles, two Continental Cups and one FA Women’s Cup,.

They have also made it to the last four of the UEFA Women’s Champions League on two occasions.

Not a bad record in short period of time. I guess America is too big an opportunity to turn down.

If only the men could achieve what the Ladies have….

Talking of which, another tough test up the Northern part of the country today as we face Wigan Athletic.

Here are a few statistics courtesy of the BBC:

    Head-to-head

  • Wigan have won just one home Premier League game against Arsenal (W1, D2, L4) – a 3-2 victory in April 2010.
  • The away side won both fixtures last season – Arsenal 4-0 at the DW Stadium and Wigan 2-1 at the Emirates.

Wigan

  • The Latics have won just one of their last seven Premier League games (W1, D1, L5).
  • Roberto Martinez’s men have kept just two clean sheets in the league this season.
  • Wigan have lost 10 out of their 17 Premier League matches this season. They have only lost more matches at this stage in a top-flight season in 2007-08, when they had lost 11. They finished that season in 14th place.
  • Ali Al Habsi is on the brink of his 100th Wigan appearance, and his 100th Premier League appearance.

Arsenal

  • Victory against Reading gave Arsenal back-to-back league wins for only the second time this season – they have not won three consecutive Premier League games since a seven-match winning streak in February-March.
  • The Gunners have won just one of their last five Premier League away games (W1, D2, L2).
  • Only Manchester City (6) have conceded fewer goals away from home in the Premier League than Arsenal (8) this season.
  • Theo Walcott has scored 11 goals in all competitions for the club this season, leaving him just two short of equalling his most prolific season, when he netted 13 in 2010-11.

Injuries:

Wigan: Caldwell (doubt – hamstring), Alcaraz (doubt – groin), Ramis (hamstring),  Lopez (hamstring), McCarthy (ankle), Crusat (knee), Ryo (ankle, ineligible anyway) Watson (broken leg).

Arsenal: We don’t have any players keen to join Diaby, Fabianski or Santos.

Wigan are in a horrid position, they sit 3rd from bottom in the league and they have suffered five defeats in the last seven league matches and they will be desperate to put a halt to that, especially in front of their home fans. They have been conceding goals at an average or two or more in each of their last seven fixtures!!

Last season we won this fixture with ease, with Arteta, Vermaelen, Gervinho and Van Persie sealing a 4-0 victory and today we need to to do something similar.

We all know that Roberto Martinez likes to play the game in a similar style to what we used to play,  so no doubt that will make for an open, attacking game, one in which we should create enough chances to win.

Will Giroud come back into the side with Walcott on the right, or will Wenger stick to playing the side which put five past Reading on Monday night?

I don’t know but I hope it’s the latter as we looked so much better with pace and width in the side and why change a winning team?

With the Boxing Day fixture postponed, these players won’t play again until next Saturday, so plenty of time to rest their little legs!

Wigan will want to win this game. They will be up for this from start to finish and we need to match them.

We need commitment from each and every player, a good strong performance as a team and above all, we need three points!

All our fans who are travelling to the DW Stadium in this awful weather deserve that don’t they?

That’s about it for another day…

Let’s hope it’s a good one…..


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