While we’re waiting for tomorrow’s match, why not kick back and check out some other folk’s content?
First there’s Darius Stone from Stone Cold Arsenal who writes a weekly column for A Cultured Left Foot called “Stone Cold Friday.” This week’s column is a cheeky little piece about the rest of the Premier League needing some “Humble Pie Insurance.” How many columns are you going to read today that use the term “Lazarian?”
Lots of games this weekend with some meaning to them for the title and relegation races. Chelsea play first, hosting West Ham with the chance to go 1 point clear of United at the top of the table. With only 6 points dividing the folks in the relegation zone West Ham are going to be desperate to get something from their game. West Ham are no Wolves, they will be playing their first team and flying in hard on the Chelsea boys so, that one could be a real tense match, with lots of chances for Scott Parker to injure someone.
After that, Arsenal travel to Hull on the Phil Brown special, to face foot of the table Hull City FC. While Hull’s home record is poor, having won 5, drawn 5, and lost 3 with 18 GF and 20 GA, they love to think of themselves as Arsenal killers. They fancy themselves the team which “got up Arsenal’s noses” that one time back two years ago when Geovanni scored one of his rare goals for Hull. The reality is that an unfocused and over-confident Arsenal side let a team coached by a used car salesman get 3 points off them.
After that, Hull devolved into a team which makes unfounded accusations about spitting and tells lies about Arsene Wenger not shaking hands or fancies themselves as fashion consultants for the opposition’s bench. No matter what happens, you expect Hull’s manager, Phil Orange, to go on the radio and give an incendiary interview post match. He’s done it every time the two sides meet, with the accusations from that side growing ever more desperate as each match passes.
It’s no small wonder either, what with Phil being an acolyte of Sam “I hate Rafa” Allardyce. These two men are so petty and so full of delusion they actually think that the press are taking them seriously when they hold their press conferences. But the truth is, this is all they have in the relegation battle. They don’t have the ability to keep their teams together, reports are that Hull players are fighting each other in public, so they manufacture outrage as a means of “geeing up” their team. With Allardyce, he’s probably non-stop talking about “showing Benitez” what the team can do. And with Brown he’ll probably have Stephen Hunt on one of those collars like that Jet Li movie “Unleashed” and he’ll whisper “Arsenal, get ‘em boy” in his ear before letting him off the collar.
This is one of those games, which I highlighted before, where the team could come out and actually injure someone through their deliberate fouling tactic. Stephen Hunt in particular needs someone to watch over him as he has a reputation for targeting keepers with wild challenges. The good news is that Hunt might not be available because he has something wrong with his foot. That should make Andre Marriner’s job in the referee seat slightly easier, though Craig Fagan is returning from suspension and in the last match he’s the one who set things off.
For Arsenal’s part we’ll be missing Cesc (the boss describes the chance that Cesc will return as .05%) and Rosicky faces a late fitness test but the rest of the team from the Porto match has recovered well. This means that Sol Campbell might play two games in a week and buck my prediction that he isn’t up for it. Sagna is a late fitness test because of an ankle knock but it’s not serious and Eboue is in fine form so no matter what happens that position is covered.
An interesting stat from the BBC match preview says that “Arsenal have scored more goals in the last 10 minutes of league games than any other Premier League side (14), while Hull have conceded more than any other top-flight team (13).” If I were in England and could have a punt, I might put a £5-er on that.
Even if Chelsea win their early game, Arsenal could still go top for a day based on goal differential — not that I’m predicting Arsenal will blow out Hull, I wouldn’t jinx them like that.
On Sunday, Man U will have a real opportunity to get back in the lead with a game against a Fulham team who played a hard fought game against Juve yesterday while Man U have an extra day of rest after their stroll in the park against AC Milan. Fulham are dead middle of the pack and have no chance of either getting into Europe or making the drop so I don’t expect much of a fight from them. The game is at Old Trafford and you could see a really puke-inducing score line, if I’m to be honest.
The Arsenal match kicks off at 9:30am our time and is on Fox Soccer Channel here in the States. I don’t think I’ll do a liveblog tomorrow, because the last time I did a liveblog Ryan Shawcross broke Aaron Ramsey’s leg and I just don’t want to do that again quite yet — especially as we’re facing an increasingly desperate and delusional Hull side. That said, I will put up a thread so you all can comment, I know how you like to do that!
Anyway, I know I didn’t post my top 11 list yesterday, I got side-tracked enjoying my last day off before I go back to work. I do have some articles scheduled for later today, maybe the top 11 list will be there? You’ll have to wait and see!
With a slightly more reliable internet connection here at home, I was able to upload some more sights and sounds from Arsenal’s 5-0 win over Porto on Tuesday, enjoy.
Before every match Arsenal play “The Wonder of You” by Elvis Presley and while it’s not very well received by many of Arsenal’s middle-class spectators there is very clearly a smattering of fans who like the song. I’m one of them and I don’t care what others think. I think Arsenal should keep playing the song and not bow to pressure from the uptight citizens’ brigade. If they do, it could become our anthem, like “You’ll never walk alone” which is clearly what the board are hoping for.
Here’s the fans singing “Super Nick” after he scored the first goal. You can hear some people try the one-nil song, that doesn’t take off until a few minutes later.
Besides, who wants to sing “one-nil” when you could sing “four-nil?”
And as the match winds up I caught the fans singing “Sol is a Goonah!” Awesome way to end this section, don’t you think?
Like I said the other day, I would love to be wrong here but when the boss said Cesc’s injury was “small, small” using the exact same phrase as he used to describe Eduardo’s hamstring injury it made me worry. While the two players are in different places as far as fitness and recovery from injury, Eduardo was out for a month and I think Cesc could miss a month as well.
Given his injury problems this season and the upcoming schedule, I actually don’t think this is a problem. Do you take a chance on Cesc’s hamstring against Hull, Wet Hams, Birmingham, and Wolves or do you rest him, rehab him, and save him for the last 5 games where we play Tottenham, Man City, and in all likelihood a decisive game in the Champions League?
While I’m worried about Cesc’s injury, I’m even more concerned with Gallas’ calf problem. Cesc has back-up in Nasri and Rosicky but Gallas’ replacement is Campbell, Song, and lastly, Silvestre. With Song suspended in the League and Campbell having played on Tuesday, I’d say there’s a really good chance that Silvestre will play against Hull on Saturday.
Maybe Wenger is resting Gallas for the big games ahead? I don’t know, but I do know I’d love for Silvestre to have a really good game on Saturday. Like a monster game, where he destroys Stephen Hunt, physically. He could really help the team if he did that.
I noticed that I hadn’t updated my side-bar where I keep a running count of the number of goals that Arsenal have scored and divide it by the games that Arsenal have played and come up with a predicted final tally. As of the Burnley game Arsenal are top of the goal scoring table in the Premier League with an amazing haul of 69 goals.
Just to put that number in perspective, last year Arsenal, Chelsea, and winners Man U scored 68 goals in all games while high-flyer’s Liverpool hauled in 77. In fact, in this decade there have only been two teams to reach the high water mark of goals scored (87) Man U and Arsenal, neither of which won the league the years that they did so.
There are just 9 league games left in the season and Arsenal have scored 69 goals in the league. With a decent run-in, Bendtner hitting form, Nasri and Diaby healthy, and goals pouring in from all over the field, Arsenal have a real chance at both the title and the 100 goals mark; the latter a feat I put up there with the invincibles. Unfortunately, they need to score 31 goals in 9 games and get our goals for average to 3.44 in those last 10.
Let’s put 6 past Hull on the weekend to get things started properly!
Right, that’s it for the moment, I’ve got a top 10 list coming soon, keep an eye out for that.