Swansea City Preview

So here we are then, our first game since the crushing defeat at the hands of Manchester United and a chance to get back onto that splendid animal – the three point pony.

Bigger than Arshavin

Since the Old Trafford trashing we’ve seen the make up of our side change significantly thanks to the crop of new signings and the batch of further departures – by now you all know the players who make up those two groups so I won’t attempt to cover old ground.

Today is the first chance we’ve have to see some of the new guys, and that anticipation has certainly helped to whet the appetite of Gooners and make the brain numbingly dull international break just about bearable. It’s been a very odd few weeks, almost like a mini close season, signing players but having to wait for the chance to see them play. In some ways it’s almost like the season stopped and is about to burst back in to life. Well that’s brilliant because we could certainly do with a fresh start and fresh impetus, although it’s slightly disappointing that we can’t wipe out everything that has happened in our previous three league games and start from scratch for real but this is real life and not the work of science fiction, the league table is still as depressing to look at as a bus timetable in a remote town that doesn’t have any buses – until you spot Tottenham right at the foot of the table.

Skeletor

The really great news is that Sebastian Squillaci is ruled out of the game – the Frenchman has a calf injury and whilst I have provided the clubs medical team with my thoughts on amputation as treatment, they seem unprepared to go down that route. I must admit I do feel slightly sorry for Skellaci, he really has become the target for all our ire since the departures of Clichy, Eboue, Traore, Denilson & Bendtner. The fact that old skull face can come in for such criticism when he hasn’t even set foot on a football pitch this season doesn’t seem to be a deterrent for our frustrations however.

Squillaci

Other absentees include perma-crock Abou Diaby (I’ve included a picture of the Frenchman just in case you’ve no idea who he is). It’s interesting that during the past week I’ve bemoaned Diaby’s permanently injured state of being to four Gooners on four separate occasions and in each case they’ve all said “I think he could still be a quality player for us”. I don’t necessarily disagree with that outlook, he is undoubtedly a talented footballer but when he has been able to literally stand on his own two feet it often appears to have an adverse effect on his brain and he begins to play football like a jellyfish trapped in a Pringles tube.

Print & Frame

Jack Wilshere and Tommy Vermaelen are also missing through injury and we’re unlikely to see either player return to the side until we’re all cursing the sun for setting at four in the afternoon. I’ve seen a couple of rumours that Tommy’s injury and subsequent operation are thanks to him tripping over a mop bucket whilst showing Jack around out medical facilities with which the Belgian became so familiar with himself last year, these rumours are not true and neither are those that suggest Tommy Rosicky will be missing this weekend because he is busy making sure neither Jack nor TV use his favourite treatment table, but sadly the rumours that the Czech midfielder will miss the game after suffering a knock whilst on international duty are true.

Alex Song & Gervinho see out their suspensions and Andre Santos may not be fully match fit. Other than that we have a full squad too choose from, so in Arsenal terms it’s pretty much a full squad. Incredible scenes.

And so we turn to who may make up the starting eleven for the visit of the newly promoted Welsh side…

I’m sure Arsene is sat there now alongside Pat Rice, photos of Szczesny, Fabianski, Mannone & Almunia spread out in front of them and dramatic music playing in the back ground. Don’t let any video footage of that situation fool you, it’s all for dramatic effect – Wojciech must be the first name on the team sheet these days.

Woj

In front of the Pole, and slightly to the right will be the returning Bacary Sagna from illness and what a welcome return it is. On the opposite flank Kieran Gibbs can expect to start the game as Andre Santos while included in the squad is short of match fitness. It’s still no clear which man will become the regular left back, on the one hand Wenger has often noted his reluctance to “kill” a players career whilst on the other hand you are unlikely to see the Frenchman splash millions of pounds on a Brazilian international to then just leave him sat on the bench.

Get up Gibbo, you're playing!

What is good is that Gibbs has competition for the spot, he was never going to get that from Armand Traore after Clichy joined City and whilst we’re all disappointed with Vermaelen suffering another injury it’s a blessing in disguise when you consider that the signings of Santos would have been unlikely to happen had Tommy been fit at the close of the transfer window.

Of course we would all love to see Vermaelen at the heart of our defence tomorrow but as that isn’t going to happen we’re set to see yet another centre back pairing for the third game in a row. New Arsenal ‘Wunderverteidiger’ Per Mertesacker will undoubtedly be paired with Laurent Koscielny and I think that the two could work very well alongside each other. They’re both readers of the play who like to watch and intercept the ball rather than defend by pushing people over and closing out space but I think it could be a successful combination at least in the short term. I should make it clear that while I consider Mertesacker to be more of a cultured defender than a John Terry type of player I certainly think the German has the fierceness and battling qualities required at this level, and don’t expect him to give much away to opponents less they want to receive a good kicking.

Mertz won’t be the only Arsenal debutant tomorrow as Mickey Arteta is certain to line up in midfield with Aaron Ramsey and the returning Emmanuel Frimpong against the swans. Our new Spanish heartthrob has been wowing youngsters and first teamers alike during training this week and I think he’ll provide that creative guile we’ve so obviously lacked more much of the season so far but as we know he is quite a combative player too so he’ll be offering a bit more of a defensive element to our midfield which will be a benefit to Frimmers.

Dreamboat

Mickey’s introduction also elevates some of the pressure from Rambo – those who, unlike me, saw the Welshman against England on Tuesday night will know that he was sensational but as I’ve said before we can not expect that level of performance from the lad every game, it just isn’t fair to put that on him at this stage in his Career. We all know that the time will, hopefully, come when alongside Jack, the Welsh captain will be considered the lynchpin of our side but we can’t have that level of expectation now.

It’ll be good for Frimpong to get back in the fold after his dismissal in our previous home game, and without doing Swansea a disservice it’s maybe an easier ride then the Ghanaian received against Liverpool. It’s great that the mystery ankle injury that kept him out of Stuart Pearce’s clutches seems to have cleared up without any medical intervention. You may even say that it is DEEEENCH!?

DEENCH

Up top I’m expecting to see the trio of Theo, Robin & Andrei. There have been suggestions that we could see Banayoun make his debut but personally I think that, again no offence to Swansea, after the restricted side he fielded against United Wenger will want to play as strong as an experienced side as possible. Whilst Yosi certainly has plenty in the way of experience, particularly of this league, I just think that le boss will err on the side of caution and stick with the little Russian who by all accounts gave a great account of himself in his countries recent internationals.

I suggested via Twitter earlier in the week that I thought that AOC could be given his full debut this afternoon but with everything I have just said about playing a more experienced side then think it would be remiss of me to suggest that the young Englishman, who made an explosive introduction to the U21’s on Monday night, could be granted a starting spot.

National Treasure

That said we do have to consider that we have a tough game against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Tuesday night and whilst our first three points of the season are most certainly the priority first and foremost we should have half an eye on that game and be making sure we can field a strong side at Signal Iduna Park.

Talking of Park’s, see what I did there…? Yesterday afternoon Ju was stranded in Paris due to problems with his visa, so looks unlikely to play any part in the game.

Set for a weekend in Paris

With regard to tomorrow’s opponents I’ll admit that I know little about them and aside from their opening game, and subsequent defeat at the United Stadium I’ve seen nothing at all of them this season. They certainly gave a good account of themselves against City on that Monday night and whilst the Mancunians allowed the Welshmen to play the football they enjoy and which helped them gain promotion last season it was ultimately futile as the score line reflected the one sided nature of the contest.

Could be Mannone's Dad...

Brendan Rodgers side are yet to score a league goal in their opening three fixtures but we certainly shouldn’t be taking their threat lightly especially when we think back to the two home defeats we suffered in the early part of last season at the hands of newly promoted sides. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the swans get of the mark, in terms of goals scored, but this really is a game we should win comfortably and expect us to do so.

Big Dave is here tomorrow with a post match report so be sure to come and have a read of that.

Right here’s to three points and a glut of goals.

Thanks for reading.

Paul.

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It’s New Start Eve…

Morning all,

Well it’s new start eve and I understand the club are busy pimping out the Emirates ready for tomorrows festivities when we’ll finally get to unwrap our presents before spending the afternoon feasting upon Swan.

I know it’s a cliché but all I really want from the day is three points and a bit of harmony, everyone to just get along (I’m looking in the direction of our cousins who insist upon wearing those black scarves) – Oh and also if it could be drummed into our players that nobody needs to receive any cards tomorrow, especially those that come with vouchers for a three match spa break.

Gunnersauraus is often accompanied by a helper imp

One rumour I can dismiss right now is that Peter Hill-Wood will be dressing up as Gunnersauraus and handing out presents to Junior Gunners. There are two reasons for this – A – PHW will be asleep in his chair by the time kick off comes after helping himself to three bottles of Sherry & B – The Gunnersaurus is of course real so there is no need for anyone to dress up…

"Where's the brandy?"

I’m assuming that by now you’ve all realised that there is little Arsenal news doing the rounds today and until Arsene has completed his pre match press conference that is pretty much the way it’s going to stay. Yeah I could go in to possible permutations of time line up and the like for tomorrow but then that would really kind of defeat the object of tomorrows post.

What we do have today are some good bits of player PR and some awful club PR and as I don’t want to end today’s post on a sour note, because frankly I’m too excited about tomorrow and don’t want to dampen that, so lets start with the bad PR.

Astonishingly Arsenal have unleashed a team of lawyers and pointed them in the direction of a hat shop in the Spanish city of Seville. Alicia Simon is being forced to change the name of her business after Arsenal took objection to the name ‘Arsenale’.

Now this shop sells hats, not silly hats related to Arsenal Football Club, not cheap imitations of hats sold officially by the club with a rogue ‘e’ tacked onto the end of the word ‘Arsenal’ just to try and slip under the radar like those Ralph Lauren shirts and their three legged horses. No, It just sells regular normal hats, the types of which they all wear in Spain I imagine…

I bet Eboue has one of these

You know, great big things that resemble fruit bowls and those little black ones that matadors wear and maybe a few sombreros for the tourists,  but none of them having any connotations with Arsenal Football Club.

It is an absolute PR disaster, and the fact the club have been pursuing this for four years does little but make it all the more lamentable. The reasons for the shops name are clear & as I said there is absolutely no suggestion that Alicia has been trying to surreptitiously make a living from the clubs recent on field successes or indeed lack of them.

One word sums it all up – Pathetic

I dream of Tony

Now to a bit of PR that has us all giddy as kippers (I’ve never understood that phrase but my wife uses it a lot) – Per Mertesacker, or ‘Mertz’ as I’m going to be referring to him as, has been speaking about his admiration for an Arsenal legend… Tony Adams.

In an interview with the Arsenal Player the German Centre half speaks of the admiration he has for our former captain and how, despite a lack of television broadcasts of the Gunners in Germany, Mr Arsenal was for him “The One”.

When I watched the interview yesterday and heard Mertz utter those words of affection I think for a brief moment I understood how women must feel when they watch films about two people who meet, don’t like each other, continue to bump into each other in a series of highly unlikely situations before settling down with other people then realising that they actually love each other after all, get together but then just when you think it’s all going to be ok they fall out before being reconciled right at the end. Those kind of films go on for hours and hours, this interview goes on for under two minutes.

Another bit of great PR from Mertz is the revelation, in the same interview, that he wasn’t given an Arsenal shirt by an aunt. No it’s better than that, he choose it himself. He walked into a sports store as a gangly ginger German child with visions of Tony Adams in his eyes, saw his (clearly less intelligent) brother foolishly pick the jersey of a much lesser side and with a heart full of pride selected the red & white of Arsenal as his choice.

I think I actually might love him a little bit!

Right that is your lot for today, head back this way tomorrow morning for an actual preview of tomorrows game.

Oh, ok ok – You can have one present now, but that’s your lot! Theo & Gibbs should be fit for tomorrows game & Frimpong is back from suspension… well that’s what it says here

Yes I know it’s only a little thing, I’m saving your big present until the morning. Now go on, the sooner you go to sleep the sooner it’ll be time to have it. You little scamps…

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