Can Arsenal beat Sunderland without Cazorla, Walcott and Xhaka?

We saw last week in the draw against Boro how much Arsenal can miss the creative spark of Sanri Cazorla in the middle of the pitch, making the harsh red card shown to our summer signing Granit Xhaka even more annoying. The Spaniard is still not fit to play after picking up an injury and the Swisss international is serving the final game of his ban so once again Arsene Wenger is forced to go with Elneny and Coquelin in midfield.

At least Aaron Ramsey is back on the bench so if we are struggling to break down Sunderland as we did in last week’s game the boss can turn to the Welshman on the bench. Arsenal’s usual injury problems seem to be back with a bang as Nacho Monreal and Theo Walcott are also absent from the squad, so Oxlade-Chamberlain and Kieran Gibbs start.

Apart from that we have the same side and we also have the option of Giroud from the bench so with the likes of Ozil and Alexis Sanchez having had a rest this week you would still expect Arsenal to be too good for struggling Sunderland.

Or will the creeping injury crisis bite us on the bum?

Giroud set for Arsenal return against Chelsea

We heard from Arsene Wenger the sort of news that Arsenal fans have sadly become used to in recent years, with the return of the Welsh international star Aaron Ramsey after his hamstring injury having been put back yet again. He has now been out of action since that first EPL match against Liverpool and is not likely to be ready for next weekend either.

Some better news for the boss, however, was that our big French centre forward Olivier Giroud is close to a comeback having come through a training session earlier in the week without any problems. The striker was due to be tested again during training yesterday but as long as nothing untoward happened he should be fit to face Chelsea today.

Whether the manager selects him or not is another matter but I think he will. Having the Frenchman up front may offer less pace and mobility but he does bring a lot of other things to the side and an important one of them could be his size and aerial ability in defending set pieces which is a strong point of today’s opponents.

We also have Alexis Sanchez and either Theo Walcott or Alex Iwobi to give plenty of pace and movement to the attack, so I expect to see the big man back in the starting XI to face Chelsea today. Do you agree that this is the best way for Arsenal to get a result against our bogey team?

Striker backs Arsenal to get going at Watford

One of the low points of last season for Arsenal, and there were quite a few of them as we failed yet again to make a decent job of challenging for the Premier League title or the Champions League, was the end of our hopes of making it three FA cup wins in a row.

That FA cup loss at home to Watford in March was an awful performance by the Gunners, but it was also something of a surprise, as we did beat the Hornets comfortably at home and away in the league, with an aggregate score of 7-0over the two matches.

After winning just one point from our first two EPL games of the season so far, we really need that trend to continue when Arsenal arrive at Vicarage Road on Saturday and our England international star Theo Walcott is confident it will, as a Sky Sports report explains.

The speedy forward is taking nothing for granted but he feels that Watford will be an easier team to beat than Liverpool and Leicester City and he thinks that Arsenal will keep improving after the difficult start to the current campaign.

Theo said, “We’ve got a nice run of games now and we’ve got to think about all of the positives.

“Watford is going to be another tough game because every game is this season, so it’s going to be very difficult.

“Each team gets better each year. We want to have a similar sort of performance to when we last played Watford away.

“It doesn’t matter how we play, as long as we get the three points.

“Leicester know how to defend very well and like to put pretty much the whole team behind the ball, so it’s difficult to break them down.

“We had chances to score but sadly we failed to do that.

“We don’t want teams getting away from us [in the title race], but it’s only two games in.”

We certainly do not but the pressure is already on and Arsenal are already playing catch-up. Will that title chase start properly at Watford?

Liverpool boss right to expect direct tactics from Arsenal?

I am not sure what to9 make of the comments about Arsenal made by the Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp this week, as he prepares to bring his team to north London for the opening round of Premier League games. Perhaps the German is playing a bit of mind games and maybe trying to get his opposite number Arsene Wenger to change his own approach or even to relax and expect today’s visitors to play a certain way.

What Klopp said about our tactics is not what you expect to hear about Arsenal under Wenger, as the general consensus is that we are too settled on our passing and fluent style of play instead of being pragmatic, but that is what Klopp says we did against his side last season, focusing on long balls to either Mesut Ozil or Olivier Giroud and playing in a much more direct way.

The Liverpool manager said, ‘Arsenal is usually a football playing team but last time against us there was a lot of long balls and always to Olivier Giroud [who scored two goals in the match].

‘The second ball was to [Mesut] Ozil, they caused us a lot of problems in this game. That was a big threat on that day.

‘We knew about it because a lot of teams chose this way against us so it we could have defended on this day better.

‘It was not about what they did, it was about how they did it because it was highest quality with how Giroud and Mesut Ozil, especially, on this day performed.’

Of course there will be no Giroud and Ozil in the Arsenal team today, so if Klopp expects a direct game he may come unstuck. If Theo Walcott starts as the centre forward as many expect, I do not think Wengeer will want to many aerial balls into the box, but he could go for a more solid system and try to use a counter attacking style to exploit the extra pace up front.

How do you think Arsenal will play?

The Arsenal transfers which you could profit from this summer

Arsenal look likely to enjoy a busy summer of transfers, so we thought we’d give you a brief run-down of how you could make some money out of that in the coming months.

If you do opt to take up one of these bets, you may as well take up a bonus code from one of the best betting sites at toponlinebookies.com. That way you can use the bookies own money to increase your chances!

Two possible exits have been reported in the newspapers in recent months, but you will not get rich off either of these coming true. Oxlade-Chamberlain is most heavily linked with a switch currently, and is currently at evens (2.0) to leave the club before September (SkyBet).

Theo Walcott’s potential exit looks less likely following the recent injury to Danny Welbeck, but the odds do not reflect that, with 6/4 (2.5) available for the forward to stay with the club beyond the window (SkyBet)

One striker who is continually linked with a switch to the Emirates is Real Madrid’s Benzema. The forward has come under intense scrutiny for his part in a reported sex-tape blackmail scandal. The Spanish side have been linked with replacing the forward in recent years, and could finally decided to sell.  He is a nicely priced 13/2 to be at Arsenal after the summer window. (888)

Another forward who has recently been linked with a move is Liverpool’s Sturridge. Unfortunately I don’t think he will jump ship, but if you do, you can find him at 6/1 to join us. (SkyBet)

England international and Premier League winner Jamie Vardy is odds-on to join us if he leaves Leicester, but my initial thought is that he would be staying put. You will not get rich off this one either, but he can be found at 4/7 to join us from the Foxes. (Paddy Power)

My personal favourite, and one I sincerely hope does come true, is Romelu Lukaku joining us. The Everton striker has already admitted he expects to move this year and is a huge 40/1 for the switch. With so many variables needed to complete the Morata move, Rom would likely be turned to if and when it falls through. (Netbet)

Which price do you think is over-generous?

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 XI to face Barcelona – Welbeck to start!!

Arsenal could really have done with our England international forward Danny Welbeck coming back from injury a lot sooner in the season and his comeback may prove to have been too late to save the Gunners from this most frustrating of seasons, but he has at least come back with a bang.

Once again at the weekend he made a big difference after coming on as a sub in the FA cup defeat to Watford. Arsene Wenger suggested after that loss that he was having to ease Welbeck back as he has been out for a long time and is not quite fully match fit yet.

What I think is that the boss was saving him for the match against Barcelona tonight as he possesses the pace and the power to trouble the Barca defence and with Giroud, Alexis and Walcott struggling for form, Welbeck is the in form striker at the club right now.

Apart from that we have Koscielny back and he will probably have the BFG next to him in a full strength back four, with the energy and defensive strength of Coquelin and Elneny to protect them and with Ozil to pull the creative strings.

Finally I would go for Alexis and Campbell but I think Wenger will prefer the pace of Walcott on the right, making the Arsenal team tonight look like this.

Ospina
Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal
Coquelin, Elneny
Walcott, Ozil, Alexis
Welbeck

Do you like this Arsenal team and has it got any chance against the might of Barcelona?

Arsenal starting XI for Watford FA cup clash WITHOUT Ozil

While Arsene Wenger has already accepted that the FA cup is now the best and perhaps only chance for Arsenal to get our hands on a trophy this season, he has not quite given up on the other two competitions yet. So with a second leg against Barcelona in the Champions League on Wednesday followed by a big Premier League game away to Everton next Saturday, the prof is going to have do some clever tinkering and rotating to get the best out of the Arsenal squad in the next week.

Today sees the Gunners play host to Watford and Wenger will make a few changes while still putting out a side that he feels will get the job done today. I think this means that he will save Mesut Ozil for Barcelona and put young Alex Iwobi in the number 10 role, but there will be strong players all around him.

I think we will see Giroud, Walcott and probably Campbell up front with Welbeck and Alexis saved for the UCL game. I reckon that Chambers might be in line to start in the centre of defence in midweek so today will see Mertesacker and Gabriel paired up with the more attacking Gibbs instead of Monreal on the other side to Bellerin. Either Flamini or Coquelin will complete the team with Elneny in the middle.

Ospina
Bellerin, Mertesacker, Gabriel, Gibbs
Flamini, Elneny
Campbell, Iwobi, Walcott
Giroud

Arsenal team to face Barcelona with Welbeck to start!!

With the Arsenal team that Arsene Wenger selected to face Hull City in the FA cup 5th round match just a few days ago, it was fairly obvious that the Frenchman had one big eye in the Champions League encounter with Barcelona tonight, as he made none changes and rested most of what you would consider to be our best players.

Obviously Wenger is hoping that the Arsenal team selected to face the UCL holders tonight would be as fresh as possible and they will need to be as we are likely to be chasing the ball for long periods in the game. Unfortunately for the boss he was not able to rest Mertesacker and Koscielny because of the injury situation and the fact that Gabriel has not recovered in time means that they will have to start again tonight.

At least they did not have much to do in the Hull game. The only other starter from that game to keep his place, in my opinion, will be Danny Welbeck and the boss did take him off around the hour mark. I think that we will go with Welbeck because of his pace and power. With Alexis on the other side that will give us greater threat on the counter attack while keeping the energy and desire to help out the defence.

The height and aerial ability of Giroud might also be important for that while he is likely to be a big threat from set pieces as well, one of the visiting sides few weaknesses.

Cech
Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal
Coquelin, Ramsey
Welbeck, Ozil, Alexis
Giroud

Would you go for Welbeck or do you think Arsenal should start Campbell, Walcott or Chamberlain instead?

Wenger blames Arsenal forwards for FA cup replay

After seeing Arsenal held to a disappointing draw by the Championship side Hull City yesterday, I left the TV in and waited to see what Arsene Wenger would say about the team, the result and the problem of another game to fit in as we head to an FA cup replay.

But the programme finished before the Frenchman emerged from the home dressing room, although his past match comments have now been reported on the Arsenal website, and from what the manager said I assume the extra time in the dressing room was because Wenger was giving his misfiring forward players a piece of his mind.

The boss certainly suggested that their failure to find the net was the main reason for the Gunners having to face another game against the Tigers. He pointed out the fact that Theo Walcott, Danny Welbeck and Joel Campbell are all full internationals and so his rotation should not have been a problem.

And while the Arsenal boss gave credit to the visiting team and their determined defending, while also recognising the excellence of their keeper Eldin Jakupovic, he clearly felt that we should have had more than enough fire power to win the game.

Wenger explained why we could only draw, “Because Hull defended well, because their ‘keeper played well, because our final ball was maybe not good enough and because when we could give the ball in the final third, we decided [to go for] an individual solution.

“The goalkeeper did well of course, but we had maybe 70 per cent possession and more than 20 shots on goal, and we didn’t score. We have to look at ourselves as well, even if you can give credit to their ‘keeper.

“The nightmare would have been to go out. The frustration is that we didn’t score and it’s not what we wanted, to have a replay, but between that and going out, we choose the replay. I am happy for the replay [as opposed to going out]. We need to be more efficient in the final third, because today we had more than 70 per cent possession and we will not have that on Tuesday night. That means we’ll have to be more efficient with much less of the ball.

“I played a team that, in my opinion, had the quality to win the game today. The Barcelona game was not in my mind today. I rested Ramsey and Ozil completely, because they’ve played many games since the start of the season. When I can do it, I do it. Mesut Ozil was a bit sick over the week, so I decided to leave him out completely. Ramsey has played many games, so that’s why I kept him out.

“A shame? No, because that would mean that the players in the squad are not good enough, which I don’t think [is true]. If you look at the players that played in our team, Ospina, Chambers, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, they are all internationals, [as are] Elneny, Flamini, then yes, Iwobi. People want you to give a chance to young players. When you play them, they say ‘it’s a shame’. Up front we had Walcott, Welbeck and Campbell, all internationals. People always want you to buy more and more players. When you play them, they say ‘why did you play them?’ I think the team was of quality and that’s not an excuse.”

Have Arsenal got a big problem with goals and with this extra game?