Arsenal v. Man City Preview

There’s not a whole lot going on this morning folks, so I’ll just have a quick blog and be off. It’s full of the usual hyperbolic screeching and disconnected from reality musings, just packed into a smaller sphere of insanity today.

The last team to beat Arsenal in the EPL (17 games ago) come to town to face an Arsenal squad which will look nothing like the one they beat back in November — and that’s a good thing. First off, we’ve got a new captain who’s back from a 2 month layoff after suffering a knee injury that nearly ended his career from a deliberate attack by Xavi Alonso.1

That’s right kids and kittens, Cesc Fabregas is mostly ready to play and the boss is including him in the team. There’s some debate as to whether he’ll start given Arsene’s comments about him needing three games to get back to 100%. I’m firmly in the “substitute” camp but I’m always wrong about this sort of stuff so feel free to ignore me.

Similarly, Theo Walgod2 is available and ready to spread his message of love and end runs. Like Cesc, I think he’ll be used as a substitute. In fact, my gut is telling me that 10 players will come on as a sub, in the 12th minute.

Adebayor is scheduled to play and will almost certainly be the lone starter. He will headbutt Shay Givens in the 9th minute, then run over to the bench and kick Robinho in the balls (Robinho and Bellamy are question marks for tomorrow’s game). This will get him a stern ticking off from referee Andre Marriner. You remember Marriner, he refereed the Everton 1-1 Arsenal match: the one where Wenger played Diaby and Song in the middle and Denilson out wide.3

Where was I? Oh yes, Adebayor, Cesc, Walcott, and Arshavin are all healthy and ready to play. Well, Cesc, Walcott, and Arshavin are ready to play; we’re not sure if the Adebayor who’s ready to play will show up or the Adebayor who can’t be arsed will show up. I’m touching wood4 that it’s the latter former.

That’s about it, kickoff is 7am local time and the match is on Setanta. As usual, Doyle’s is showing the match live so come on down for some coffee and a sandwich and cheer on the Arsenal. The other telly will be showing Newcastle’s first completely demoralizing loss under the foolhardy Alan Shearer 8 game caretaker-ship, so if Arsenal gets boring you’ll have that disaster to watch. I’m saying Chelsea 4-1 Newcastle with Toon getting the first goal and then crumbling like a sack of relegation bound turds.

That would be a fantastic result, wouldn’t it?!?

In the mean time, if you want to see something truly fantastical check out a video of Tony Adam’s top 10 goals.

1. Hyperbolic screeching
2. Disconnected from reality
3. Hyperbolic screeching
4. True

Back to reality, nearly

Less than 24 hours after I make a statement about how Barcelona would be the preferred destination when Cesc leaves, Joan Laporta is quoted in the press saying how much he’d like to see Cesc in a Barcelona shirt.

I’m sure he would.

What I don’t get is how much outrage everyone seems to have over this quote. Barcelona say this kind of stuff every three months and yes it’s distasteful but as far as I know it’s not illegal. Real Madrid’s President calling Cesc to chat about his progress, that’s illegal. Barcelona’s President saying “I’d like to see Cesc in a Barca shirt” is not illegal. Sure, he’s a jerk for saying it, but he was already a jerk, this is not news!

Besides, we all know and should accept that Cesc will leave Arsenal one day and that his likeliest destination is the club he supported as a kid: Barcelona. Right now, he’s under contract until 2014 and if Barcelona want him, they will have to pay a huge, retarded, sum in transfer fees. Which I highly doubt they will do, especially given the fact that Joan himself says that Barca “have the best midfield in the world” (along with the best keeper!).

So, let’s all calm down and focus in on football, which we shall have on Saturday I say! Saturday!

Saturday, we’ve got Manchester City for a good olde fashioned 7am kickoff. If you’ll remember, City was the last team to beat Arsenal in the Premier League: a run of 17 matches unbeaten. That City game was one of the low points of the season. With the club in turmoil after Cappy Gallas’ outburst, they were outplayed in the midfield by Stephen Ireland, toothless up front, and defenseless in the back. We went to City (who were terrible at the time) and got an old-fashioned ass whoppin as we say in the States.   3-0.

After that, Wenger made some changes. They took a while to take hold but Arsenal are a different team now and not just in terms of players on the pitch, though the addition of Arshavin has proved crucial. Tactically and spiritually this is a different Arsenal side. They have scored 15 goals in the month of March and the club has a belief about them they they did not at the last meeting. I have to think that more than most rematches, Arsenal will be looking for revenge.

Personnel wise, we have our Crozillian back, and scoring goals. And more importantly, we’ve got our young captain and midfield maestro back and raring to go. Wenger is saying that Cesc needs three games to get back to top fitness and the next three games are his best bet: home to City, away to Villareal, and away to Wigan. We should expect Diaby and van Persie to miss at least the Saturday game against City but after that is unknown as there’s no news on those two. Bendtner, on the other hand, subbed in at the 33rd minute in Denmark’s 3-0 win over Albania so whatever injury he suffered on his knee must have healed, right??? And any rumors of Arshavin picking up a knock are false, as he played the whole match against Licktinstien.

And if you want to get REALLY excited, there are rumors that Theo could be fit to face City.

Let’s see, Arshavin, Theo, Cesc, and Dudu? Yes please, I’ll have two!

Finally, in the above link, Wenger also made a remark about how the next 8 matches in 25 days are make or break for this season. It’s true, we’ll have had both legs of the Champions League, 4 EPL matches, and an FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea. Uhh… yeah, that’s slightly important.

But given that all our players returning to top form and have a renewed spirit I feel confident in quoting George W. Bush: bring ‘em on.

P.S. Adebayor is fit as well.

This is Your April Fool's Day Bomb Shelter

You will find no pranks in this post; 100% of what I write is true, no matter how fantastical it may seem.

First, and most unrealistically, Alan Shearer has been appointed as manager of Newcastle. This is so unbelievable that I’m still convinced this is a prank by Newcastle.

First, Alan Shearer was an incredible footballer, but he is a mental midget of epic proportions. I can’t wait for him to give a Friday pre-match press conference because the shiat he says is priceless. Second, there are 8 games left in the season. Newcastle don’t need a comedy tour, they need an experienced manager. Third, they tried the messiah thing already this season and it failed… miserably. If they aren’t careful, they are going to run out of Tyneside legends to run this club into the ground.

Wait, what am I saying? I should be happy about this appointment, Newcastle are a pack of c*ntheels who deserve relegation and Alan Shearer will do his level best to ensure this happens. I wonder, if there are two games left in the season and relegation looks inevitable, do you think they’ll fire Shearer and bring someone else in?

The second strange story of the morning is that Kieran Gibbs played 90 minutes for England U20′s… in central midfield.  I’ve seen him play on the wings but never thought he’d make a good central midfielder. Shows you what I know! I don’t want to hear about how you knew he’d be a great central midfielder, because no one, no one (except U20 boss Noel Blake) saw that coming.

The third bizarre story is that Tottenham’s new Naming Rights Stadium is going to have… an ice skating rink. They are building this park around the stadium because they want people to hang out. That makes sense, right? Because when I think of the Tottenham end of Seven Sisters Road, I think “This is a place I’d like to hang out, maybe do a little ice skating.”

And finally, for some reason Robin van Persie is being linked with a move away from Arsenal, and Ivan Gazidis is reassuring supporters that Cesc is staying. The Robin story is very strange. Papers are reporting that he’s waiting to sign a new contract “but only if they (Arsenal) match his ambitions.” The problem is that that’s not what he said, what he actually said is:

Financially Arsenal’s last offer is fine but that isn’t everything for me. It’s about my ambitions and how they can be fulfilled… The club and I want the same and it’s our intention to achieve that. We have all the other factors in place: fantastic stadium, dedicated support and money in the bank. Now it’s about making that final push… It’s difficult to explain but I certainly feel I can play an important role in taking Arsenal to a higher level.

This is a guy who has passion, wants to win, and most importantly wants to help Arsenal win. How does that equate to “van Persie threatening to leave unless Arsenal promise him trophies and rainbows and back rubs?”

As for the Gazidis story, well, what else would he say? “Cesc is leaving?” No. With Real Madrid having a presidential election and obviously willing to spend huge on players  I have no doubt that there will be huge offers tendered, via the Spanish press, in order to try to pry Cesc from Arsenal.

Will he go? Gazidis is confident that he won’t. Cesc has always been quick to kill any rumors of his departure. And I have to believe that he’s not satisfied with just 10 or so games as Arsenal captain. Also, he’s Catalan, if he’s going anywhere it’s Barcelona which means he has a few years before their current central midfield pair fall off in performance and he’s guaranteed first team football. I can’t say he won’t go, but the deck sure seems stacked against it at the moment.

Right, I promised no April Fool’s pranks and in the end I didn’t need to pull any; the real world was so much stranger. See you tomorrow.