Arsenal v Birmingham preview: Sol to start

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Last week it was eight. Now we’re down to seven.

Birmingham and a trip to St Andrew’s are next in line as our boys continue their pursuit of a most unlikely league title.

The last time we played here was over two years ago. Eduardo had his leg broken, Theo Walcott scored two goals and James McFadden scored a late equaliser to spark the beginning of the end of our title hopes. In short, it wasn’t the best day for the Arsenal.

Two things stand in our way of achieving a seventh straight league win: the suspension to Thomas Vermaelen and Birmingham’s terrific home record.

Birmingham have proven extremely difficult to beat at St Andrew’s, losing just two of their fifteen home games. They have conceded just 10 goals in those games and have not been beaten by any of Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester City, the four other teams that make up the current top five in the Premiership.

I don’t feel there is a risk of us losing to Birmingham tomorrow, particularly with our excellent recent form, but problems will emerge if we don’t move the ball around quickly enough. They like to sit deep and remain as organised and structured as possible so it will be up to everyone in our team to keep the ball moving, ensure our movement off the ball is good to punish whatever space we can find.

As I mentioned earlier, Vermaelen’s absence through suspension leaves Arsene Wenger with a decision to make at the back and in the middle of the pitch. The word from the manager is that Sol Campbell will play, even with the Barcelona tie just four days later, which means he will partner either Mikael Silvestre or Alex Song at the back.

Song is probably the better option, however shifting him to the centre of defence would force some structural changes to the side which will be most unwelcome with Barcelona up so soon. Would Wenger want the team shuffling about or will he prefer leaving Song where he is? We’ll soon see.

The rest of the defence picks itself: Manuel Almunia in goals and Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy on the wings, while Cesc Fabregas and Abou Diaby should support either Denilson or Song in the middle of the park. Nicklas Bendtner will start up front after resting a twisted ankle all week and should receive support from Andrey Arshavin and one of Samir Nasri, Tomas Rosicky, Theo Walcott or Emmanuel Eboue on the right.

Once again, all that matters tomorrow is the three points. Get them and we can take on Barcelona in high spirits. Fail and winning the league title becomes a very difficult thing indeed.


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Have your say on Arsenal’s trip to Birmingham by leaving a comment.


48 thoughts on “Arsenal v Birmingham preview: Sol to start

  1. Play Song at the back with Sol. The much better option. think Wenger should also start Eboue in front of Sagna giving us that added defensive qualiy and rest Arshavin who is really not playing well.
    Sagna – Sol – Song – Clichy
    Diaby – Cesc
    Eboue – Nasri

  2. Thank you Andrew!!!your analysis is so my opinion let’s see what Arsene will choose.Our team is in its best form.this is our season and i am confident that we will win both premier and champions league.Let’s plan our celebration ahead!!!

  3. Arshavin – Bendtner – Eduardo

    Diaby – Denilson – Cesc

    Clichy – Sol – Song – Sagna


  4. Hi Andy,

    Indeed the final part of the season has become more interesting. But I have every confindence we are winning 2morrow. The scoreline will 3-1 in our favour of course

    Good luck

  5. Who would have thought at the start of the season that would play Sol and Song together at the back? It’s insane!

    Let’s hope they get the job done if they both play and get up for Barca as well.

  6. Hi Andrew,

    Great analysis. What do you think our realistic chances are of a win at St Andrews given their strong form at home against the likes of ManU, Chelsea etc as you’ve mentioned?

    Also, do you think Bendtner is a definite starter or can you foresee Eduardo getting a start?

    We have not played much of Walcott (apart from coming on as a sub), I feel the speed of our game and dominating possession will be the key to winning.

    I also think Wenger can consider giving Sol a rest if we can develop a healthy lead and get him freshened up for Barca.


  7. @ Cesc04 – I think our chances are high, very high. They’ve had good form over the course of the season but at the minute aren’t travelling particularly well. I think Bendtner will start but the manager has stated he will be playing our best team and that means Sol.

    Enjoy the game.

  8. I am very nervous. No Vermaelen! If we leak goals with Birmingham’s solid defence we are gonna suffer to beat them. I think only a victory will suffice.

  9. For sure chances are going to be created so our boys should utilise them to avoid much pressure as the game progress.

  10. The Gunners have to play and win for Edwaro + for us for the fans
    we have waited for such a long time we need a trophy

  11. Birmingham City FC are the official team of Satan, the Devil, the Horned Beast, Beelzebub.

    They were founded as Small Heath Alliance and Leicester Building Society in 1875 and then losted again, and then founded again in Muntz Street where they had fallen out of someone’s pocket. The club turned professional in 1885 and then signed a pact with the Prince of Darkness the following season.

    They changed their name to Carnal Beast Football Club in 1905, and moved into their new ground at the The Adamantine Gates of Hell, which became known as St Andrew’s, the following year,

    The club’s current name of Birmingham City F.C. was adopted in 1943 after objections from the Church of England, but the underlying ethos of the club remained. Just as Celtic are the Catholic Church on grass, so Birmingham City represent the Prince of Darkness at play.

    Birmingham achieved their highest league finish of sixth place once, but it was a while back and no one remembers. They also played in a Cup Final, where they caused consternation by digging up the pitch and burying themselves and most of their fans, as well as breaking the neck of at least one of their players. They did once win the Diddly Widdly Cup by beating their close allies and fellow worshipers, Aston Diabolical, by one cloven hoof to nil.

    In July 2007, Hong Kong-based businessman Carson Yeung bought 29.9% of the Evil Empire from the pornographers who now own West Ham – a suitable change for everyone. Steve Bruce did the decent thing and got out.

    In February 2008 the true nature of the Satanic development of a football club was seen when the beast, in the form of Martin Taylor, attacked and nearly destroyed Eduardo. The Curse of Arsenal was then put on the club, and as a direct result of this the club slipped from mid table obscurity into relegation, several directors were arrested and charged with financial irregularities and one director was charged with sexual offences. Nothing was proven and charges were withdrawn, but it was a troublesome 18 months – which is the maximum amount of time a Curse is allowed to last.

    The pornographers left, but they are now all suing the Prince of Darkness for the costs and expenses of boxes, mobile phones, mirrors, garlic and wooden stakes.

    The teams

    Birmingham Satanic Majesty…


    Prince Darkness, Evil One, Horned Beast, Lucifer

    Cloven Hoof, De’ath, Bottomless Pit, Old Nick

    Shawcross (on loan), Taylor

    Subs: Prince of Pandemonium, Belial, Mephistopheles, Old Harry, Angel of the Pit, Mr Scratch.

    The Mighty Arsenal, Gods of the Eternal World, Bearers of the Truth, Almighty Guardians of the Greater Good, Destroyers of Evil, Creators of Eternity…


    Sagna, Campbell, Song, Clichy

    Cesc, Denilson, Diaby

    Nasri, Bendtner, Arshavin

    Substitutes: The-o, Rosicky, Eduardo, Silvestre, Eboue, Vela, Fabiansky, Merida

    The result

    As we know good always triumphs over evil, and so we will expect a solid 1-6 victory to Arsenal. In an extraordinary turn of events, Wilshere, who is playing for Bolton, comes on as a ghost and scores four. Bendtner scores one with his knee, one with his left hip, one with his right hip, one with his nose, one with his backside. Wenger scores two while doing a jig celebrating an earlier goal. Birmingham’s goal comes when a large pit opens up in the centre circle and out crawl 2000 vampires who are quickly beaten to the ground by Eduardo, who has garlic around his neck just in case.

    So by and large a fairly normal game – just another day in the life of Arsenal.

  12. Firstly I wanna say thank you to shambogunner for another excellent post on previous blog – I really enjoy your posts the most.
    Secondly I think we should not only play Eduardo from the start against ‘the leg breakers’ this weekend but that he should be captain for the day and that he should lead the team out. The away support should give him a great standing ovation.
    Let us never forget that it was the Brum filth that broke Eduardo’s leg and went on to profit from it with a cheated penalty award. Alex Macleish may be a good manager who has done well on limited resources but he is also a ‘friend-of-Fergie’, prepared to bend the knee and give manure a few free points (provided he receives the appropriate bung). I expect the red faced clown has already been on the phone to him demanding a ‘strong physical approach’ from his pal’s team – especially as at this stage Birmingham have little to gain or lose either way. Macleish is ferguson’s bum-boy and will do whatever his Lord and master says.

    Thirdly – I feel we’ve been somewhat unlucky in recent games. Played some lovely football which has failed to penetrate defences. West Ham are a better attacking team than Birmingham who are built in the classic Scottish mould of a soggy bag of chips. If we can piss on their chips we’ll be okay. Gung-ho! Banzai! Geronimo! I say.

    Fourthly – Sol has to play because ‘Silly’ is like a jelly but Sol is a rock. Sol is only 35, not 95. He can play two games in a week – i don’t want to tell you how old I am now but when I was 35 I could still run through a brick wall despite already having two dodgy knees. And Sol’s more butch than I ever was. Roll on Saturday. Roll over the ‘leg breakers’. Let’s get the points. Hit it and quit.
    Love to all Gunners.

  13. I trust the coach to do what is right, all I pray for is 3 points either we well or not as we have seen many potential champions do.
    up gunners!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. True Andy but personally i think we need more goals.I know at this stage of the season it’s hard to get the 4-1 4-nil or 5plus goals in a game that we achieved @the beginning.SHould it happen that the league is decided via goal diff,i would wish for Arsenal to have the highest gd.All the same 3 points are MUST have.

  15. Hows this joker from saying that if Arsenal were to win the league it would make a mockery of the Premier League!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. funny stuff peter. seriously though we need to lay that ghost to rest please, St Andrews still haunts. It’s one of those games which sees you question the thin margin between success and nothing. What if? Should have, could have. You try not to think about it because it hits you every time. That things might have been very different that season, were it not for the events of February 23rd, 2008.

    It was not the sole reason that season ended without glory. Arseblog quite rightly pointed out that injuries to Sagna and Flamini have been largely forgotten about. Wenger has also commented that some players, Hleb and Flamini probably, were not focussed due to contract issues. Arsene has said we didn’t lose the title that day, but I would suggest we started to and the cruel events of that afternoon cannot be underplayed. The team was damaged, unable to recover from such a promising position.

    What if Martin Taylor really wasn’t the “type of player” who snaps another’s leg in two with a tackle so ferocious it sickens the rest of our team into a state of subdue?

    Adebayor should have made the lead larger. Greedy bastard. Clichy should have cleared the ball. The referee should not have given a late penalty. Gallas shouldn’t have sulked.

    From almost being eight points clear at the top of the table, we were deflated, going on to win only five of our last eleven games.

    Nothing went our way that day, but going back on Saturday, at such a pivotal moment, is a fantastic incentive for Fabregas and the boys. The importance is clear enough when looking at the congestion at the top of the table. Ourselves, Chelsea and Man Utd all played musical league positions this week, before sitting back down more or less where we started. This alone breeds focus and desire. It’s a massive game, but add to that the opportunity to stick a marker down for our Premiership credentials by winning where our last genuine bid was derailed in such ugly fashion, and how much more determination will be induced?

    The scandalous assault and repeat injury to Ramsey gave us the unwanted opportunity to prove we have moved on since the collapse at Birmingham. Vital points gathered in testing circumstances, through new found character, and carried through to another late win at Hull. Both games suggest we have a chance of finally giving the new stadium its first piece of silverware come May. It’s imperative we add a third away win to the collection on Saturday.

    The players will be up for it with more than one goal in mind, as will the travelling fans, and it might just be the time and place for Eduardo da Silva, Arsenal’s No.9, to remind us all of the player he was before his last trip to St Andrews.

  17. Andy, I remember your game predictions from a post a few weeks ago and you had this tie down as the type of game that the gunners lose. I think this will be our biggest test since the Chelsea game cause Brum at home are a real potential stumbling block. Let’s hope that their poor form continues and they roll over.

    AW must be sorely tempted to play Silvestre. How far away is Gallas from returning? Does anyone in Oz know when this game is going to be shown on Fox Sports? I can’t find it.

    Peter Stoery your first post is a classic. I didn’t realise Birmingham City were so evil until now.

  18. It all comes down to Song. If he bosses his position regardless of where he plays we have a great chance of winning.

  19. I fear Arsen may introduce a French man in the persons of
    Silvester, which decision will cost us not only a win, but also tittle hopes or the tittle it self. The guy is never good.
    Song to me would be the better option.
    Arshavin sh’d start with Eboue and Nasri upfront.
    good game Gunners.

  20. My estimation about the current form of our players (- is below par, + is above):

    Alumnia: 0
    Sagna: 0
    Song: ++
    Campell: 0
    Cesc: –
    Diaby: 0
    Denilson: 0
    Nasri: –
    Rosicky: –
    Bendtner: –
    Eduardo: —

    However, we have the strongest belive in ourselves for a long time which makes me confident for tomorrow.

  21. Nothing but a win at st andrews tomorrow will suffice, the brummes can only trouble us from set pieces they,re not exactly prolific if you check the stats. we,re into the home straight now it all or nothing its about who really wants it, what we have to do is maintain the pressure on the top 2 and be there to take over IF they slip up, so buckle up, sit back and enjoy the ride!!!!!!!!!

  22. @nonny mouse,
    much (hetrosexual) man love for you too brother,enjoy your posts the most aswel as the currently muted ice hammer,who is no doubt spending more of his time on west ham blogs these days….come back ice,its ok youl stay up!!
    agree aswel about eduardo starting mate,it might prove to be an incentive performance wise which cud in turn trigger an upturn in his confidence,honestly i wud be happy going into the game with him up top,hes got to come back good sometime,hes too good a player
    starting to get butterflies thinking about wed nite tho!

  23. I’m glad to hear Arsene say Birmingham is the priority and he will play Sol. I was worried with all the attention on Barca that we would overlook Brum. They haven’t lost at St. Andrews since September! However, they haven’t been in great form and are locked in the middle of the table, with not much to play for. As you said, they’ve only conceded 10 goals at home, so I would start Theo to help unlock their very organized defence. They’ve also only scored 15 goals at home, so while we need Sol’s physical presence, I’m not worried with a midfield trio of Cesc-Diaby-Denilson. I would be surprised if Sol can’t recover for Barca. He played at Hull 4 days after the Porto win, so one would think a date with Barcelona 4 days after this game should be no problem. I suspect he’ll have plenty of motivation, and those massive legs of his won’t feel too tired. Make no mistake fellas, we need all 3 points tomorrow. Then bring on Barca!

  24. how come last week it was so obvious that eboue would start at right back, and this week its so obvious that sagna will start?

  25. @Kosi – wow – that’s a pretty poor report card you’ve given for a team that’s only a couple of points off the top of the league. Harsh, my dear fellow, harsh. Cesc below par? Cambell only par? I think Sol’s been fantastic for us since he’s come back. Anyway, each to their own.

    I just wanted to remind Gooners that Spurs recent cup victory against whoever it was has done us a favour because previously we were playing them something like 3 days after Barcelona away. And whatever the result of that match one would expect our boys to have given their all and to be somewhat fagged and shagged – very difficult to then go away and win at shite-hart lane. Now the games moved and we have a full week to recover. Not only that but Thpurth play Portsmouth at Wembley in their FA Cup semi final – 3 days before they host us – so they’re the ones who will be shagged. And if they win that semi they may well be a little distracted by thoughts of the final.
    – I love it when a plan comes together!

  26. Alex Macleish will try to help Alex Funguson with the help of Howard Webb, but Alex Song denied it…

  27. Alex Macleish will try to help Alex Funguson with the help of Howard Webb, but Alex Song denied it…

  28. So far I have to doff my hat to WENGER and the boys for an excellent performance so far this season. I am always positive about our prospects, but nobody in this club should forget about the injury problems we’ve always been unlucky to get almost every season. I wrote this on July 9, 2009 in response to Shane’s Tuesday guest post……..

    Sometimes, its good to just spend the $$$$$. Barcelona got Henry after they sold Ronaldinho. Plus Eto and Messi = Champions League victory. We have Arshavin/???……Eduardo/Rvp…….Walcott/???. I’m not mentioning Ade and Bentner because I dont see them right now as being able to shoulder such attacking responsibility for a champions league final victory.

    In the midfield, Barcelona has Iniesta, Busquets/Yaya and Xavi. We seem to be at par here with Nasri/Rosicky, Song/Melo and Fabregas…..barring no injuries.
    We seem to have no problem at the back cos if Gallas(we all saw he was in a superlative form) wasn’t injured before the semi-final match against Manure…we would’ve beaten them. Anything can happen in a final as it would depend on the tactics and players approach on that particular day…who says we couldn’t have been Champions of Europe by now?

    But, I guess it had to happen this way so the Manager buys…he saw the failures of last season and only got us Nasri, then Arshavin in the transfer window. What if we didn’t get Arshavin?????? For one, we would never be fourth in the EPL. Any more guesses? We have a fantastic manager, but I feel his tactics would best be played by more experienced players. From my little comparison above, I would say we need atleast one sniffer/finisher(another Eduardo) and another creative/defensive midfielder and train someone in the squad for set pieces.

    I love shane’s piece….all in context, but, we need to win something this year-EPL or Champions league-not cups, even though they can be added. This is why a TOP QUALITY STRIKER is a must. WHAT I’M SAYING is I dont care about the debt or prices of players right now, we’ve won nothing for 4 years now and we will be losing our abiities to attract top players or keep our best players(Arshavin and Fabregas) if we dont assert ourselves this year.

  29. Dropped two of the most valuable points this season..but there is nothing we can do about it, we can’t change the result . it must be dreadful inside that dressing room now..

    Anywho, no need for everyone on this blog to start crying about what if’s, could have, and should have happened.. Let us mature as fans as well… and simply rally behind our team in the CL at the Emirates.. Go GUNNERS!!!!!

    To be fair it was a very difficult game throughout…

  30. résultat frustrant et encore une performance décevante de Almunia… c’est pas de bonne augure pour le Barça.

  31. @ Lil Weezy

    Not sure if those 2 points dropped just now would be “the most valuable” as you put it. Chavs totally destroyed Villa and tore them apart 7-1.

    What that means for us is that a draw or even a victory at Old Trafford next Saturday is more than a remote possibility now.

    It does also mean Arsenal must win all our remaining fixtures now, unless the other two drop more points which is unlikely.

    We can only look forward to the Barca game, but will the injury Cesc picked up play a part? In some ways, as much as I want Arsenal to get over Barca, it wont be a bad result if we lose in CL as it will give us more focus and energy to focus on the remaining games ahead with Man City, Spurs and Blackburn the tricky ones left.

    We had a fair few chances where we just didn’t finish, watching the Chelskii highlights, they showed how important it was to have that final finish, no point on dwelling on the what if’s or but’s now.

    But for sure the lads must be down, I thought it made a big difference with no Song in midfield this afternoon but Diaby did play well.

    Almunia’s mistake was an absolute shocker, did he lose concentration or what?


  32. This team does not deserve the EPL. If Birmingham with hardly any first rate players can run this team down, I shudder to think what Barcelona with Messi, Henry and Niesta will do in the CL. Today’s Arsenal team failed to show the enthusiasm expected at this stage of the season, and took this game lightly and casually and finally got what they deserved. Bendtner was back to his usual self – not able to control a moving ball without throwing it 20 yards back, missed a couple of howlers and generally was a waste of space. Fabregas seems distracted, Walcott half asleep, and then Almunia had to remind us who he really is! And why had Wenger to wait 70 minutes before putting in Nasri and Arshavin when it was clear that his non-plan wasn’t working and only an individual effort could produce soemthing? Another wasted year, and Arsenal are not worth bothering about.

  33. @ Lil… I agree, it was a difficult game & looking at the overall situation, perhaps a point was not a bad result. But the manner in which we conceded the goal is just appalling.
    Shocking goalkeeping from a man who has been inconsistent throughout the season. One week he rises to the occasion & on the next outing he just falters.
    I’m tired of watching players like him & Denilson.
    Yes there’s no point going back over the game. Two crucial points lost in the most annoying way.
    What we can do? Let’s hope they will bounce back on Tuesday night.

  34. ……………….i cant find the words,and if i cud id only be repeating old issues
    am gonna say nothing and keep upbeat for weds game
    utd hav just notched up their 11th own goal this season to go ahead at bolton…..loada me bollix

  35. AAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SLOPPY,PATHETIC,STUPID GOAL TO CONCEDE! forget the title now it aint gonna happen.

  36. ohhh get over it ppl a draw is alot better than a loss!!! one point is better than ZERO and just lettin u know Chelsea and manure both drew ar st andrews, We still in the race keep the faith.It sucks the way we conceced but it really is better than a loss, and still keeps us in the race!!

  37. ohhh get over it ppl a draw is alot better than a loss!!! one point is better than ZERO and just lettin u know Chelsea and manure both drew ar st andrews, We still in the race keep the faith.It sucks the way we conceced but it really is better than a loss, and still keeps us in the race!!

  38. I will quote shambo on this matter -“i cant find the words, and if i cud id only be repeating old issues”

  39. A point at birmingham is a good result. They’re hard to beat there.

    Couldn’t fail to notice that a Birmingham player was at least 2 yards offside when the ball came through toward Almunia. Not to try find an excuse for some shocking keeping, but it should have been flagged. The guy was standing not a couple of yards from Almunia.

  40. more like 3 metres offside, active, and directly in front of Almunia. Apparently every media outlet in England didn’t notice the obvious – like every other Arsenal match

    yeahhhhhhhh right.

  41. As Man United Fans I am happy to see this result.
    But for Champions League Match, this is a bad bad result for preparation against Barcelona on Wednesday.

    Your fellow Arsenal Fans Piers Morgan suggested a solution for your Boss Arsene Wenger. To me Immposible is nothing so i Hope Your team is enable to defeat Barca for next match.

    I still love seeing in Champion League Final both of England club.


  42. I just feel sorry for this wonderful goal by Nasri, it’s a shame that it loses importance because of the draw, it’s a shame ……. 😕 👿

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