Big news ahead of the Arsenal v Villa clash

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It is a massive couple of weeks for Arsenal.

Aston Villa away tonight, Manchester United at home on Sunday, Chelsea away a week later as well as mid-table Liverpool at home just a few days after that. It is undoubtedly the most crucial period of our season and if I’m being honest, just writing about it is making me a little anxious.

Mercifully, the team news going into the first game of this crucial period is superb.

Our first-choice back-five will slot straight back into the side while Aaron Ramsey should slot into midfield alongside captain Cesc Fabregas and Denilson. Up front Eduardo should start centrally with Andrey Arshavin and Tomas Rosicky providing support from the flank, although Arsene Wenger may use either Carlos Vela or Theo Walcott if he wants to add more pace to the attack.

The really big news is on the bench where Nicklas Bendtner (expectedly) and Samir Nasri (unexpectedly) take their place.

In a bizarre way Bendtner’s continued absence from the team has lifted his profile from a decent first-teamer to something approaching a messiah but even so, there’s no denying his return makes our squad stronger. How long he and Nasri get on the pitch will largely be determined by the result our starting team posts but in a situation where we require goals or a change in approach it is reassuring to know we have such good options on the bench.

It has perhaps gone unnoticed that Aston Villa aren’t on a particularly good run of results at the moment. Aside from their freak 6-4 victory over a very average Blackburn team in the Carling Cup Villa have one just one of their last four Premier League games, scoring one goal in the process.

In saying that our previous encounter at The Emirates was a far trickier affair than the 3-0 scoreline suggested and we will need to play very well to win at Villa Park. We know their strengths are their defence and their ability to attack at pace so it’s important our wingers do their fair share of defensive work and whoever slots into the Alex Song position concentrates hard for 90 minutes.

I believe tonight’s game is absolutely critical to our title charge. Points-wise we can afford to draw or even lose if we post good results against the other three but any sort of win against Villa would ensure confidence high going into the Manchester United game. We have a settle to score against last year’s champions after the debacle at Old Trafford but with Alex Song likely to return and Bendtner surely ready to start I sincerely believe that is a game we will win.

Anyway, Villa first. Let’s hope we give them spanking.


Have your say on Arsenal v Aston Villa by leaving a comment.



  1. We will thrash villa out of the park.The return of bendtner and nasri is a huge boost for us .

  2. Villans are going 2 pose a stern test but am pretty sure we are winning. The return of d big dane and nasri is a big boost ahead of highly packed encountes. Go gunners.

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  3. Agree Bendtner and Nasri on the bench are big plusses. My worry is midfield – Denilson is not a defensive midfielder – he is not anything at all! His performance last sunday was terrible as usual ( the second goal was definitely down to him). Just hope that Song is available for next sunday’s match against MU = otherwise we are in real trouble! Walcott and Vela do not feel me with confidence either – they are both not good enough for the first team and will not be in the squad in two years time.

  4. It’s true about Bendtner’s injury inflating his status in the team to ‘messiah’ like proportions.

    I just wonder if we will see Eastmond again tonight…

    It’s not on TV in the UK and not even on analogue radio!

  5. song will be back for sunday and eboue is in the squad,so denilson is all we got so we have to get behind the lads i think we win tonite and sunday the chavs will be the hardest game but u dont have to beat them to win the league fact.were by far the greatest team the world has ever seen hope red manure lose tonite and villa win the cup v shity

  6. Its going to be tricky against the Villians at their turf. Untill Song and Diaby is deemed fit, Denilson is what we got. He’s not a bad player really but he just don’t have it to be a first choice central midfielder. What he’s good at though is that he is turning into Lampard, not the qualities but the deflected goals are so simmilar of Lampard during the Mourinho era. Oh well can’t have everything out of poor little Denilson.

  7. There have been many highs and lows this season, and the next two weeks hopefully will add to the former rather than the latter. First up is Villa this evening, where last season we threw away a two goal lead. They are a team who can impose their physicality on the game, play with pace and strength up front and will back themselves to get a result at Villa Park. With Martin O’ Neill they will be prepared and have a game plan in mind. However if we play our football in the correct manner and “get stuck in” much like away at Bolton, I feel we have a chance to take all three points, as a draw isn’t ideal at this stage of the season.

    Next up is Man Utd, and I had the chance to go with my brother – a season ticket holder at Old Trafford (an obvious lapse in the gene pool) to the Hull game on Saturday. Without Rooney they are very ordinary, much like Liverpool sans Gerrard and Torres, he is the fulcrum that everything good goes through, and he always plays well against us dating back to his days at Everton. Interestingly Scholes tends to sit deep and spray passes to much less able players (Park and Fletcher), mainly because his legs have gone. It would be interesting if the likes of Diaby and Fabregas could isolate him and create some chances. Importantly they lack a threat on the flanks without Ronaldo, which should give Clichy and Sagna a license to roam forward. I see us winning – just like we should have earlier this season.

    Liverpool look to be returning to form and could create some problems if they turn up to THOF2 with the right mentality, but I feel the game at Chelsea will really define where we go in terms of the league this season. I recall a few times where teams have given us a going over at home only for our boys to give just as good back in the return match, a classic example of this was in the 2003-2004 season when Inter came and destroyed us only for us to go to the San Siro – which at the time was a fortress – and win 5-1. If we can give ourselves the underdog mentality, we may go and get a really god result. There are a few testing fixtures after that where points could be dropped, Birmingham and Stoke away spring to mind. So there is plenty of football left to be played if the next four games do not go quite to plan, especially in a season where everyone has dropped points.

    Speaking of Stoke I don’t worry too much about the cup defeat. Stoke are a good mid-table side capable of beating anybody on their day, especially the mish mash of squad players and youngsters we put out on Sunday. Quite simply it is very difficult to win the both league and FA Cup, for all the dominance of Man Utd and Chelsea over the past five years neither won the double. We were the last team achieve the feat as far back as 2002. It puts things in perspective. The form of Walcott remains a worry but I reserve judgment until he plays more than five games on the trot.

    Finally I watched with much glee as Cameroon lost to Egypt. Eastmond is a work in progress, Denilson is a squad player at best and hopefully Ramsay will usurp him sooner rather than later, and while the Villa game may come too soon, it is with much pleasure I welcome the return of our Song. We’ve only got one after all…

  8. @hey nonny mouse,
    i cant believe mate thet your the only one who has voiced his dissapointment at wengers latest embarrassing effort in the transfer market.
    fulhams highly rated ENGLISH centre half chris smalling has signed for utd within hours of their interest being exposed in by the media.our interest in this player came to light 2 weeks ago,then twice since in interviews i have seen wenger admit his interest and admiration for the player,something he never does out of respect for the opposite club…..monday evening it came to light that utd were in the race and were willing to pay 8mil,1m more than wengers sports then showed an interview with wenger yesterday morning where he stated that just because utd had bid didnt mean the deal was done and arsenal were still going to talk to the player…….4.30 yesterday evening man utd come out and belatedly confirm the signing the player and give the usual list of wot a talent and bright future he roy hodgson comes out and applauds alex fergusons eye for a player and says although he didnt want to sell such a prospect,when a big club like manu come and express and interest its hard for the boys head not to be turned and he also commends ferguson on the swiftness and easyness of the deal.
    once again our haggling scrooge manager has dragged his feet and let,wot with regulatons on home grown players changing,a priceless talent slip thru his fingers……and nobody around here seems to mind in the slightest!!!!a rival team with defenders like vidic,ferdinand,evans,brown,evra,o shea,rafael,etc has signed a player who we first highlighted as an addition to our threadbare def options.
    we are a laughing stock in the transfer market,simple as….now chamakhs head has been turned by liverpool aswel as they have shown more commitment to him in their efforts becos wenger tried to be clever as usual and save 1 bloody million when dealing with bordeaux in the summer.its a disgrace and i dont know how he gets away with it,ferguson is laughin his arse off.this is where our chances of silverware this season hav evaporated and we will get the same old spiel in the summer about there not being options out there in a world of 10 million footballers……disgrace

  9. @ shambo – How is Smalling going to help us win the league? Also, there’s no guarantee he’s going to go on and become an amazing defender – look at Senderos or Wes Brown.

    Also, Chamakh was not worth what Bordeaux wanted for him in the summer. With one year left to go on his contract it was not in our interests to buy. If we go on to win the league without him you will not care on jot that we didn’t get him.

    The words ’embarrassing’ and ‘disgrace’ with regards to Wenger’s transfer dealings are just that – embarrassing and a disgrace. On the eve of our four biggest games of the season the transfer dealings aren’t going to matter one bit so just lay off and enjoy the games.

  10. And if we’re a laughing stock with regards to the transfer stock market, why are we the best-run club in the best position to prosper in the future AND with the best young players. You either want to win now – which none of the transfers you’re talking about would have helped with, really – or you want the future to be bright, which it undoubtedly is.

    Roll on Villa.

  11. Common arsenal, we can go through the next few weeks unscarthed. The return of the dane n nasri are really a booster and when song and eboue with diaby will increase the squads depth..i remain a gooner 4 life

  12. Not a ‘disgrace’, Shambogunner, but exceedingly infuriating. The man is the very epitome of quixotic. Apart from that I agree with you all the way. Everyone seems to think we’re going to win the league now because we’ve had a good run of results. Well, as ’tis said, ‘to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive’.

  13. All the Robinho talk got me thinking, do they ever succeed in our harsh environment….?!

    Gilberto Silva – Hit [off to a good start]
    Kléberson – Miss
    Juninho – Hit [Probably the best]
    Robinho – Miss
    Roque Junior – Missed by a mile and into row Z
    Anderson – Probably a miss based on potential, I think Fergie has tried to change him as a player and has perhaps ruined him.
    Denilson – Hit [Growing up at Arsenal slowly but surely – remember he’s young]
    Giovanni – Intermittent Hit
    Julio Baptista – Miss [Surprisingly] – Apparently wasn’t happy at Bolton’s defenders not allowing his ‘beautiful game’…..pish
    Afonso Alves – Miss

    Now I’m struggling to think of anymore Samba boys that have graced our muddy Januarys with any craftiness/brilliance or on the other hand, flopped more often than a chunky man jumping off a diving board.

    Who else can rustle up a few?

  14. andy,
    read wot i said,and have said in the past.i dont care if we win a trophy this season or the next as long as we are seen to be moving forward and protecting the club for the we all know the powers that be will soon be changing regulations regardin the amount of foreign players a club can employ,this is why smalling is another error on wengers part.he refused to pay over the odds for curtis davies a couple of seasons ago where a lesser team,aston villa,snapped him up and but for injury he has been outstanding for them and is soon returning,the amount in question was 12mil i think….now smalling represents maybe an even better prospect at 4m less than the price the manager sneered at for davies.the fact is ferguson made more of an effort to get this guy than wenger and for a mere 1m more outbid us.i never said smalling was the be all and end all of our silverware chances this season,he isnt leaving fulham till seasons end anyway,my point was the managers refusal to invest will cost us,and i dont doubt that….not only is he overly cautious and tight but when he does decide to go for a player he drags his feet and tries to drag it out to deadline day and bully the other club into dropping the fee….our rivals identify a player and go get him,no epic powerstruggles or mindgames.we always say in arsene we trust,but obviously the man doesnt trust himself when he continually identifies players and then backtracks or tries to get one over on the selling club by overplaying and undervaluing the guy in question.if a manager like ours and club like ours express and interest in a player then obviously the guy has ability and quality,its only fair the selling club gets their moneys worth if hes under contact with them,so some1 explain to me how a manager with AWs track record can say ‘right i like this guy,i rate him highly,hed be a great addition to our squad…….but u can piss off if u think im givin you lot more than 5 mil for him!!’, its absolutely ludicris and i stand by my rant that wer embarrasing in the market and i use examples of the players wev let slip and the crap that goes on when we do buy,ie arshavin which wudnt hav happened had the player not been so desperate to leave zenit that he flew to london to force the deal thru alone.
    i could be a real arsehole and say i hope wenger doesnt buy and that im proved correct but i still pray to god the guy gets sense and brings in 2 quality players…..but i know he wont and i know wot will be said in may…..’i believe in this team,the quality is there and last season we showed a big improvement,that is why i am reluctant to go into the market for overpriced players,the future of this team will be great!!!’, and alot of you will suck it in and not realise youve heard it 5 years now,and that the ‘future’ is now.wots the point in havin patience with great prospects when utd are allowed to walk over us to BUY the finished article for the here and now

  15. I sense some negative energy, okay everyone yoga time…or better still have a stout!!! Shambo cheer up mate I guess everyone wish there was a signing but there’s not, I think next season is when the AST should press Wenger for signing, 6 seasons is a reasonable timeframe to start questioning the current crop players.

    Another thing Chamakh is not that good if a striker is what you want, he’s a good link up player though, fast something Theo should be evolving to now but sadly hasn’t. I have ligue 1 on cable and watch Bordeaux when they are on(prefer Lyon). Truthfully Gorcuff is the one we should be paying for, if Liv want to buy Chamakh go ahead, Benitez has a history of bad buys anyway look at Lucas as an example. So lets just enjoy the remainder of this season and To all gunners here have a break have a guiness.

  16. laninja,
    ok dude yoga has calmed me a bit….and i dont rate chamakh at all mate i was just using him as another example of AWs flawed approach when it comes to deals
    smalling is havin his medical at manu
    im apprehensive about tonis game and really dont know where the goals are gonna come from….heres hopin we can win ugly tho!

  17. @ andy I saw that on news now but the article was written yesterday afternoon. A lots changed since.
    God knows what’s happening?

  18. @shambogunner,
    your word about wenger and the transfer mkt is a fucking disgrace. Tell me which player was worth more than the amount we paid for arshavin or veminator? What the fuck!!!!! I am an accountant and there is the concept of going concern wenger is trying to secure the future of arsenal. Okay Man U bought a player we showed interest in. What the fuck does that tell u? That that red-nosed punk is trying to imitate wenger in terms of nuturing talent in the mordern age. I know the argument would be he foung goggs, scholes, beck etc but alas they were products of man u academy. Now i know why wenger does not like to reveal his transfer dealings. Pls have respect for the manager who has made me jump from my seat so many times. Have respect. I do not care if we do not win trophies but i want my grand kids to support arsenal.
    I would not pay a mill for chamak why cos at the point we wanted to buy him transfer prices were inflated.

  19. Last season when RVP and Ade were out, and Bendtner was first choice, he played well. Maybe he didn’t have the techincal skills of others on the squad, but he hussled and he created opportunities for the team. Off of memory now… wasn’t Bendtner in the squad regularly for the 21 or 24 game unbeaten streak last season?

  20. If Rio is somehow gonna weasel himself out of the suspension i am gonna go seriously ballistic.

  21. 0-0, im not complaining though. Rooney and co. will hopefully be tired after extra time. Bring on United and hurry back Song 🙂

  22. @Scope Knight, you’re absolutely right. If you go back and read his comment, it is full of contradiction. This is how Shambogunner started out: “read wot i said,and have said in the past.i dont care if we win a trophy this season or the next as long as we are seen to be moving forward and protecting the club for the future” Then he has this: “this is why smalling is another error on wengers part.he refused to pay over the odds for curtis davies a couple of seasons ago where a lesser team,aston villa snapped him up”. The key word is “over the odds”. 12mil I think? I don’t know how that secures the future. And he goes on and says: “so some1 explain to me how a manager with AWs track record can say ‘right i like this guy,i rate him highly,hed be a great addition to our squad…….but u can piss off if u think im givin you lot more than 5 mil for him!!’, its absolutely ludicris” Obviously, AW is not a kid in a candy store where he buys everything he likes. And he is getting better: “when we do buy,ie arshavin which wudnt hav happened had the player not been so desperate to leave zenit that he flew to london to force the deal thru alone”. Now he is saying that players are forcing AW to buy them by flying to London and forcing AW to pay up. Here is a classic conclussion: “not realise youve heard it 5 years now,and that the ‘future’ is now.wots the point in havin patience with great prospects when utd are allowed to walk over us to BUY the finished article for the here and now” . I thought you were complaing about Smalling “a great prospect”, now all of the sudden, he is a finished article. That is one a hell of a guy to grow up so fast! Please go back and read about him again. He had 9 games out of 22 for Fulham, right? He really is not setting the world alight, is he? Some just get pissed off if United beat us to anything including to accumulate more debt! Get over it.

  23. @scopeknight,
    i dont even know wot your argument is,wot did i say about the transfers of verm and arsha regarding value???are all arsenal fans now obsessed with buyin top quality for low fees,because this cant always be done and at some stage you gotta splash out on a rooney or torres,its an investment in a world class proven player who can win you a game on his own,i must be on my own in thinking were due some1 like that
    0-0 in the game and as i predicted wed struggle for goals….now maybe all the hyped up fellas will sober up and realise we need a goalscorer who can challenge aerially and is physically intimidating if we wanna compete to the end.also we hav lost our 1 real hardman in verm to a suspected broken fibula,so our big signing of the transfer window may step in…..and it will be difficult for a guy his age to stay injury free,but its cool wev got sylvestre in the wings…….chris smalling any1????

  24. @getgun,
    im not even gonna start tryin to explain the many levels on which u blatantly missed wot points i was making,there is no contradiction.wot im sayin im saying because im arsenal mad….i love wenger and wot hes done for the club but that doesnt mean i cant hav issues with some of the things he done,nobody is bigger than arsenal fc,not even him and he has made some bad blunders,fa cup last year and this year prime examples.
    is it not fact that arshavin came to london after zenit had rejected our offer and that we had to complete the deal the day after deadline day after gaining permission from the fa??is it not true that wenger refused to pay the extra million for chamakh??is it not true that shay given expressed his desire to play for us and he failed to act for a measley 6m?
    my point regardin davies if you took the time to read wot i wrote instead of looking for loopholes was that they both hav alot in common and that he couldnt sign dis guy for 4 mil less than davies???we as fans take his word that davies was overpriced at 12m,yet he then drags his feet over an 8m asking price for smalling,so wot does this mean???does he want them for 5m or less????
    if you really read wot i said youl find im not so much talkin about smalling as the poor practice iv witnessed in the last 5 or 6 years,smalling represents any player out there because hes indicative of the slow,drowsy manner in which we act in the market….
    getgun u can still love something and challenge it,otherwise,as carlos tevez put it, your just a boot licker

  25. I hate midweek games. Had to work…again. Sounds like we didn’t get our flow going, but we still could have had three points. Kind of been the story lately. We’re still only two points off Chelsea. Hope the lads understand they need to go take it for themselves the next few fixtures.

    Good lord please tell me the Verm injury wasn’t serious.

  26. Shambo big shout to you mate, keep it real. Unfortunately some people support a football team as one does their local cinema, that is only to be entertained. I still maintain that the squad is not physically strong enough to cope with the tempo and week in and week out aggression of the prem. To many players in the first 11 tonight were natrally offensive and creative players. Because of this even when the team wins, the job is made harder than it should be. That is why after a short run of wins the team always takes a dip in form and lose the foothold it had previously gained. Look at the likes of Sol, can you not see how solid he played again today and thats even though he is well passed his best. Technically he is not at the same level of most of the team but he has enough of that type of player around him. In saying that he does contribute to the team by offering what they dont have enough of. Its a shame he isn’t 25 again.

  27. Wether people agree with Shambo or not is not the point. As he says, loving something dose not mean you can’t be critical of it. I love this country but i still think that the party that are running the ship arnt a bunch of money grabbing wankers that are only really interested in making moneying for themselves and their corporate friends. Lets all just talk about what is or has happened in front of our eyes. Should a fan (not me i may add) predicts that their club will win nout or nowt ( not sure which) for the fifth year in a row and ends up being correct, how can you slag him off for being correct and annoyed. At least say he (or she or a she he) was right and then slag him off. Thats what being different is all about. I can say that the ammers will go down all season long, and it will happen, but then why slag me off for it,

  28. Wenger needs to purchase a cent mid, cent fwd, and a younger version of Sol Campbell. That is only if he truely wants to win the league or European cup. Nite all. Peace out.

  29. alri ice mate,
    was was wonderin when youd be on….its funny its like people repress their frustrations with certain things and then nail the guy who states the facts….
    collins and dunne had such an easy nite toni they told the villa hierachy they didnt wanna be paid for today as theyd be embarrassed,yet almunia was still punting balls up the field until the end,we didnt win one header up there.
    one more thing to add that is gonna make me even more unpopular with the majority on here….it really really really pissed me off watching the game that every time the camera went to AW in the dugout i could see walcott and vela under a blanket like a couple of cabbage patch kids………..for fucksake man up,it was as mild a night as youll getin january and no wonder wer labelled soft

  30. They also didn’t have an easy time when Cesc and Fabregas were breezing past them to set up our two post hits. We sacrificed aerial prowess for those sort of moments.

  31. shambo & ice, Wenger is not going to buy the 2 or 3 players you have been asking about the hundredth time. Every time Andy writes up about any subject, you guys come up with the same request. Get over it as it is unrealistic and unsustainable. You find a bit of happiness if you focus your attention on what we have and where we are in terms of progress. Please try it as you may see the light! You guys write long comments without really saying anything different. You’re doing the same thing again and again as if it is some kind of revelation. It’s like Bolton and Stoke’s game plan. A couple of backward passes and a long high ball in the box and hope for the best. How boring!

  32. Hi Andy, wen you talk about winning the league in the future coz we have youngsters, don forget that those youngsters can be tempted elsewhere n also that the likes of Chelsea n Man City will still buy good players at the beginning of each season, which means that we are either level or short at the start of every season.
    I also wonder wat will happen shud 52 get injured(God forbid), we’d be back to square one!!

  33. @getgun,
    i write long comments because its easy to be vague about wot your sayin at times,i wrote a long comment above here and you still missed wot i was saying in favour of being a smartass mate….fair enough the boss isnt gonna sign the quality we need,but i dont hav to like it,just the same as you dont hav to like the way i express my opinions but we can still respect each other as caring fans
    my point is we shudnt hav to sacrifice any style of play to be successful,when you play villa,stoke and the other big strong sides you know wot your getting,i dont think we sacrifice this style,we just done hav it,although nic was impressive when he came on hes still not that type in my opinion,not yet anyway

  34. Altho the return of bendtner & nasri is a huge boost for us… We cannot afford to lose or drop any more points durin d nxt 2 – 3 wks… Arsene wengers needs to add more firepower upfront… And get a defensive midfielder as coverup.. All d best to d GOOONERS!!! BreAk a leg y’all 🙂

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