Arsenal internationals all good so far

The first round of games in the current international break are now over and the Arsenal fans that have been nervously fearing some bad news over an injury to one of the Arsenal stars involved can now relax and enjoy their Easter Sunday and scoff some eggs.

The England win over Germany last night was the last of the first lot and saw two Arsenal players starting on either side. Mesut Ozil completed 90 minutes for Germany and claimed an assist for the opening goal scored by Toni Kroos. He must have thought it had set them on the path to victory when Gomez doubled the lead before halftime but England produced a spirited comeback to win it and Welbeck had a great game in the left forward position.

Fears about the fitness of Theo Walcott were also eased as the Arsenal forward was named on the England bench by Roy Hodgson and even though he saw no action Theo will probably feature in their game against Holland at Wembley on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day Calum Chambers started for the England under 21 side which scored first but were pegged back away to Switzerland. That was a good result for the young lions, though, as it keeps them three points clear at the top of the group and Chambers was impressive for them at the back.

No injury problems so far and some good performances from Arsenal players. Keep those fingers crossed Gooners.

Arsenal line up with 3 changes for Bournemouth

Because the Arsenal injury list has not really allowed Arsene Wenger to rotate his players much in recent weeks, another Premier League game less than 48 hours after a trip to Southampton was always going to be difficult. So when you add in the fact that we lost our last game heavily and need to bounce back quickly you can see that the Frenchman has a problem on his hands.

I think he has little choice but to make a few changes, to add some fresh legs as well as protecting certain players from injury. Unfortunately he cannot make too many because of the need for consistency as well as the limited options available.

I think Wenger will make three changes for the game against Bournemouth this evening, with Gabriel coming in for Per Mertesacker, Calum Chambers coming in for Mathieu Flamini and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replacing Joel Campbell. That would certainly add some energy and pace to proceedings and they are things we badly lacked a couple of days ago.

Both Campbell and Mertesacker struggled at St. Mary’s and they looked jaded, while Flamini is no spring chicken and we really cannot afford to lose him, so do you think these three changes are the right move for Arsenal today?

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Three months! Can you believe it Arsenal fans? The bad news just keeps coming in waves for us at the moment and I have a horrible feeling that this could be the final straw that breaks the camel’s back.

According to a report in free teenage dating apps the Spaniard, who was thought to have picked up just a minor knock against Norwich, has actually damaged ligaments in his knee and that means a long spell in the treatment room.

In fact the three months being talked about puts his return about the same time as his central midfield partner Francis Coquelin. So in a matter of weeks the Gunners have had the heart ripped out of the team and this is going to make it very hard for us to keep up the title race.

At least we have Aaron Ramsey fit again and I think the only real chance for Arsenal is for the Welshman to rediscover the form of two seasons ago when he was scoring and setting up goals for fun in that box to box role. But he will also need to forge a solid understanding with Flamini, Chambers or whoever plays next to him.

Can they do it, or have Arsenal just seen the Premier League trophy slip away once more?

Wenger – Arsenal star will NOT be good cover for Coquelin

It was one of the injury problems that Arsenal fans had most feared this season, along with other key players like Alexis Sanchez. But with Arsene Wenger having failed (or chosen not) to sign what we think of as a proper defensive midfielder for years, the role of Francis Coquelin in the Arsenal team was seen as perhaps the hardest to fill.

Now we have three months to get by without the French midfield warrior and there has been a lot of talk about who best to use to fill his boots as well whether the boss will need to sign a new DM in the January transfer window. For now at least Wenger must make do with with the options already in our squad.

While the two obvious choices are Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini, once the club captain is fit again after yet another niggling injury, the manager has mentioned that Calum Chambers might be a good option as he has been getting used to the position in training.

Quite a few people have also suggested that Aaron Ramsey, just back out the treatment room himself, might be the best choice but Wenger does not appear to agree with that one. As he explains in an Arsenal.com report, Wenger feels that it would be wrong to play the Welshman in that deeper role because it would be a waste of Ramsey´s main talent.

The Frenchman said, “Ramsey is more an offensive player. I will use him sometimes there [centrally] when the game demands, but is he naturally with Cazorla a balanced pair? Defensively, certainly, it’s a very adventurous one!

“I used Ramsey on the right because he gives us a balance, because we have Ozil who is an offensive player, we have Sanchez, we have Giroud or Walcott and Cazorla so to balance a bit defensively, I use Ramsey on the right. That’s where I will certainly continue to use him.

“He is not afraid to tackle but he likes to go in the box and he has a good timing of runs and he wants the ball and he wants to go forward. If you take that out of him, and you say ‘look, you have to sit now, and sit there and wait,’ you kill his strengths.

“He [Ramsey] can do [the deeper role]. It is not that he cannot do it, but he can do it [more effectively] with Coquelin. Cazorla can [play alongside] Coquelin.

“Cazorla and Ramsey is a bit [attack-minded] and you know in my mind I have seen that the turn of our results last season was when I went for a bit of stability and put Coquelin in there. Now I am a bit cautious on that front and I do not want to unbalance the team.

“Arteta is not a Coquelin-type but he is a tactical player who loves to sit now because he is less [focused on] going forward.

“In my mind I always had Arteta and Flamini and Coquelin. But Arteta was injured so I played always Coquelin. Now with Arteta and Coquelin both injured we are of course a bit short. That’s why I play Chambers for 10 or 12 minutes to see how he positions and we are happy because he can do it.”

So have Arsenal got enough without Ramsey to cover for Coquelin?

Arsenal to start same XI for Newcastle away

Hopefully this will be the last match for which Arsenal will have to do without the first choice centre defensive pairing of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny. Judging from what Arsene Wenger said in his press conference on Thursday though, neither will be available for selection today, leaving Gabriel and Chambers to fill in again.

If that is the case then I see no reason why the manager will not go with the same starting line-up that managed a point at home to Liverpool on Monday night. There are changes that the Frenchman could make, such as bringing his fellow countryman Debuchy back in to face his former team mates, but I think that Wenger is looking for some consistency and rhythm and until he finds it I don’t think he will tinker.

Some might be crying out for the misfiring Giroud to be replaced by Walcott but the French striker’s amazing record of eight goals in six games against the north east club will probably convince Wenger to stick with him. Giroud should be confident playing against his favourite team and he has already scored that great volley at Crystal Palace so as long as the likes of Ozil, Cazorla and all can provide him with the bullets, he will fire the Gunners to all three points.

Arsenal boss ready for defender transfer NOW!

We are all used to Arsene Wenger being very tight lipped and playing his Arsenal transfer cards close to his chest, so when you get a straight answer from the Frenchman it is a pretty good sign. Hopefully that means that the Gunners will soon have another defender in the squad, as Wenger admitted after the weekend win over Stoke City that he was in the market for a defensive transfer.

As reported by Arsenal.com, the boss revealed his intent to move for a defender in the transfer markey was strong before the match, so after losing Mathieu Debuchy to a shoulder injury that could keep the French right back out for a while, that need is even more urgent.

Wenger said, “The only negative today is that we lost another experienced defender with a dislocated shoulder. That gives us a problem because we are already short of experienced players at the back.

“He has a dislocated shoulder. It’s difficult – you need a diagnosis from a specialist. We don’t know yet but he will certainly not play next week. Kieran Gibbs still has an inflamed ankle. The test yesterday told us it didn’t work.

“We were in the market anyway. Monreal and Debuchy can play centre back, but if Gibbs is not here Monreal cannot play centre back and if Debuchy is not here he cannot play centre back. This is a position where we are short.”

With a crucial EPL game away to Man City coming up on Sunday, Arsenal need that extra cover at the back sooner rather than later, so will this week see Wenger make his first Arsenal transfer of 2015?

Wenger says Chambers red card killed Arsenal’s comeback

Arsenal had an awful first half against Stoke on Saturday but the second half told a different story as the Gunners scored twice to bring themselves back into the game. But then Calum Chambers got a second yellow card to leave us just ten players to try and get he equaliser.

“If you’re 3-2 up then you can’t get a better decision than one of the other team’s players getting sent off,” Wenger said on Arsenal.com. “It was a killer.

“Calum is an easy target because he’s not a dirty player at all. The second yellow card – compared to what happened on the pitch – was a bit farcical.

“He’s only 19 years old and he has to learn about positioning. We were a bit young on Saturday at the back and defending is a job for older people. Koscielny couldn’t play and then you have to play defenders who are used to the defending positions.”

At least if we had managed a draw we may have avoided the unpleasantness of the booing and fighting amongst Arsenal fans after the match. Why didn’t the fans vent their anger on the referee rather than the manager?

Wenger blames Arsenal defence and blasts referee Taylor

Arsenal have had their problems with certain referees before, with fans feeling that some like Mike Dean definitely do not treat the Gunners in the same way as other teams. And now the name of Anthony Taylor might be added to the list.

Arsene Wenger stopped short of blaming the referee for yesterday’s defeat away to Stoke City, as he accepted that we were at fault for allowing them to race into a 3-0 lead by the break. But the Frenchman could not help but blast Taylor for his decision to send our young defender Calum Chambers for a pretty soft second yellow card, as a report in The Mirror shows.

And he was right to do so. By the letter of the law, Chambers challenge on Crouch could be seen as a bookable offence, but in the context of the game, with Crouch having done worse to Chambers earlier in the game without punishment and only being booked for one of two challenges when his arm went into an Arsenal player’s face, sending our player off was harsh and unfair.

Wenger said, “It was a bad decision. I could watch the game with you and I could find five more players who deserved more to go.

“I don’t want to come too hard on the ref, but I don’t think Calum deserved to be sent off compared to some other players who put their arms and elbows in faces.”

Charlie Adam should definitely have seen a straight red for his assault on Alexis and Taylor let way too much go from Stoke, but Wenger admitted that the main reason for our loss was the weakness of the defending and the failure to match the home side’s commitment.

He said, “Stoke started strongly and we were not determined enough in the challenges, and from then on we gave them an early present.

“After that we put a lot of energy into the game, but in the second half we needed too much to come back and we couldn’t do it.

“You have to give Stoke credit for their start, but I think we were a bit naïve at the back. We could not play Koscielny and Monreal, and with Debuchy out as well we were always too soft to cope with what they offered us.

“In every single game you have to be committed and focused from the first minute.”

Maybe one good thing will come of this result though, as long as Wenger decides to use the January transfer window to fix the problem.

Arsenal punished for worst 45 minutes of the season

Arsenal were as bad as you are likely to see them all season, hopefully at least, as we completely failed to turn up and let the horrible Stoke City cruise into a 3-0 lead by the break. Fair play to the Gunners for improving in the second half, but wre were deservedly punished for the worst 45 minutes of the season.

And that is saying something after Arsenal have had plenty of games to choose from so far. The tone was set in the first minute, with Stoke easily winning the first few tackles and the Gunners fgailing to deal with their cross from the wing and then Chambers producing a schoolboy error in the middle to gift Peter Crouch a tap in.

It took nearly 70 minutes for us to recover from that and if Alexis had scored rather than hit the post before Cazorla got our first goal from the penalty spot, maybe we would have completed the comeback and even gone on to win. Ramsey scored a great second and even with 10 men we came close.

Maybe if the referee Anthony Taylor had not had yet another poor game things might have been different, but he did us very few favours, including a second yellow for the hapless Chambers when he could have shown a bit of leniency, as he had been doing to the Stoke players all day.

The fact is though, that you cannot expect to get anything from a game you start that badly.

Arsenal starting XI to face Sunderland

Arsenal need to build on the fortunate Champions League win over Anderlecht in midweek. And we need to take advantage of the heavy beating that today’s opponents Sunderland got on their trip to Southampton last weekend. So with the Gunners not doing very well at the back anyway so far this season, Arsene Wenger must surely go on the attack.

So that means, in my opinion, that his team selection for this vital game needs to be fairly adventurous and attack minded. Mikel Arteta should start instead of Mathieu Flamini. Lukas Podolski should start ahead of Alex Oxclade-Chamberlain and our best fit attacking midfielder Santi Cazorla must play in the central, number 10 position.

I would also try to make the back four a bit stiffer by bringing Calum Chambers in to partner Per Mertesacker in the middle, while Ramsey has to replace the suspended Jack Wilshere in midfield and his extra defensive ability should give more protection. So here is the starting line-up I expect from Wenger.

Szczesny
Bellerin, Mertesacker, Chambers, Gibbs
Arteta, Ramsey
Alexis, Cazorla, Podolski
Welbeck

Is this the right team to take all three points and get the Gunners moving in the right direction?