Arsenal vs Swansea:
Swansea arrive at the Emirates without vice-captain Alan Tate (out for six months) and fearing a colossal back-clash. Arsenal have been denigrated from all fronts following the Old Trafford debacle. The club should put August behind them and look to make a fresh start. A favorable run of fixtures sees Wenger’s team facing Swansea, Blackburn and Bolton as their next three opponents; they should look to capitalise ruthlessly and erase the early season phantoms. The last-ditch signings have generated excitement and with Arteta pulling the strings in midfield and Mertersacker’s daunting presence at the back – Arsenal’s first choice XI is a match for anyone in the EPL. Arsenal’s season starts right now!
Everton vs Villa: With Arteta moving to Arsenal, Baines will take-over the set-piece duties at the Goodison. Cahill should be back in the starting XI after his injury, and Moyes needs him to combine well with Saha and provide some cutting-edge up-top. Rodwell should stake a claim for the starting berth as well – this could be a massive season for the English prodigy. Villa look uncomfortable on the road, and with Bent just returning from injury, and N’Zogbia still not at home, they could struggle to score at Goodison Park.
Man City vs Wigan: City had an injury scare with Nasri fracturing his hand on International duty, however apposite protection should see the Frenchman make his home debut. Kolo Toure is back after his six-month ban but the lack of match fitness should postpone his return to first team action. Dzeko is scoring goals for fun and, along with Aguerro, would look to exploit a Latics defense that is looking patched up and leaky.
Stoke vs Liverpool: Tony Pulis might have to wait before he can unveil his latest recruitments in front of the home fans, and hence the Crouch-Delap stratagem is pushed back for a while. Pulis’ side would look to be at their menacing self at home, as they look to counter a Liverpool side that is looking lively on the ball this year. Andy Carroll’s inept start of the season saw Kuyt replacing him upfront with Suarez against Bolton , and Dalglish might persist with the same combination as he looks to give his lanky forward time to get back in his groove. Without Carroll though, Liverpool will not have the physical presence to upset Stoke’s rigorous style of play.
Sunderland vs Chelsea: Torres is not helping Villas-Boas’ cause at all. His infertility in front of goal has given everyone a glaring reason for misgiving. Drogba is out of the clash, and hence the Spaniard should continue in the starting line-up. However if the goal draught continues, the gaffer will have a serious conundrum in his hands. Mata, on the contrary, had a sterling debut and would definitely supplant Malouda from the left flank. Sunderland would provide a stern test, with the much anticipated Gyan-Bendtner partnership being set in motion. However, Chelsea ’s superiotiy in midfield should ensure that they come away with all three points.
Wolves vs Spurs: Spurs should be buoyed by Modric staying at the club, and would look to make an early mark in the post Transfer-Window skirmishes. Van Der Vaart is still a month away from fitness but we’ll all have a chance to see how the Adebayour-Defoe partnership functions. Mick McCarthy could be without talismanic Matt Jarvis, which could be a massive blow. Two sides with potent strikers up-top, this match has goals written all over it.
Bolton vs Man United : United are high on confidence following the 8-2 battering of Arsenal, and sit pretty on the summit with a cent percent record. However, their away-form over the past year leaves a lot to be desired. Fergie might persist with the successful combination with Hernandez replacing the injured Welbeck. There was a time, under Sam Allardyce, when Reebok Stadium was an intimidating fortress; things have changed as Owen Coyle looks to blend in an attacking mode of play. Bolton have no fresh injury concerns, but the disparity in quality between the teams should see United edge out this one.
Norwich vs West Brom: Suspended Ruddy will be replaced by Rudd in goal as Norwich look to build on a noteworthy performance at Stamford Bridge . Lambert would prefer to see his side translate impressive shows into victories as his side welcomes the winless Baggies. Odemwingie is back for West Brom but Long has been rated “50/50” to make the trip by Hodgson – we might have to wait for the rousing Odemwingie-Long partnership to finally come together.
Fulham vs Blackburn: Rovers arrive at the Cottage needing their new signings Dann and Yakubu to make an immediate impact. Pointless after three games, Blackburn are in desperate need to put their act together. Fulham, on the other ha nd are yet to sort out their starting XI owing to injuries and lack of form. Zamora is still out but Fulham have enough attacking impetus to overcome a struggling Blackburn side.
QPR vs Newcastle: QPR’s eye-catching signings would be on show for the first time, and would look to make an impression. DJ Campbell is still a doubt, as QPR look to solidify their home form. Newcastle have been quick off the blocks this season, but the lack of fruitful transfer activity would definitely estrange the passionate Magpies supporters. Nevertheless Joey Barton facing his former employers almost immediately is indeed a scrumptious prospect!
Drenched Pillows, Toblerones & Arsene Wenger: A decade ago they wouldn’t get their hands off each other but the recent past has transmuted the stable love affair into remnants of nostalgic symbiosis. Amidst the plethora of unceremonious one-night stands, Wenger and the Arsenal faithful have shared a protracted relationship. Their level of compatibility was unprecedented, understanding unparalleled; they towered above mortals as “Invincibles”. A continuum of convulsions has meant that things have gone pear-shaped.
The greatest manager in the history of one of the most decorated clubs in England is witnessing the disintegration of a legacy, which he himself created. Pot-less for six years, the patience reservoir of the world of football has long become torrid with aridity, but Arsenal fans cling on to their final droplets. Once the proud “professor” of the all-conquering graduates, Wenger is now intermittently seen gazing at his toddlers with impotent frustration.
While other prestigious clubs are also going through spells of silverware infertility, it’s the Arsenal trophy cabinet that has become the quarry of the cobweb and Al-Qaeda hideout jokes – the explanation is facile. Over the last few seasons Arsenal have manifested a monotonous capitulation pattern, where their undisputed talent and football prowess came unstuck at the most inopportune moments, confronting the most decisive tasks. Their glaring deficiencies bulge out from every March that sees Arsenal succumb to their self-destructive instincts. When the going gets tough, the Gunners are usually out of bullets.
Wenger’s batches of 1998, 2002 and 2004 had all the flair that the current crop can conjure up but were constituted of a robust spine that this team can only envy. While he inherited players like Adams and Bergkamp, shrewd purchases like Vieira, Overmars, Petit and Sol Campbell combined style with substance. Absence of leadership, which was ubiquitous in the previous teams, coupled with a comically charitable defense has ensured that the current group’s ‘eye-catching’ brand of football is reduced to the stature of glamorous pleasantries rather than being a tool of competition.
Arsene Wenger’s post match interviews are reminiscent of extracts from the book “Hundred excuses to satisfy her”. Buying talented but injury-prone players in exchange for peanuts and then whining about the ‘misfortune’ of an injury-plagued season, being completely devoid of physically strong players and then moaning about how other teams bully his team while they endeavor to personify the verses from the holy gospel of football – Wenger’s clamors are vociferous… but hollow.
Monsieur Wenger’s sweetheart meanwhile anxiously fondles old wrapping papers which contained boxes of chocolates; emblems of their bond at its apogee. The chocolates still come, but not when their craving is at its peak. A multitude of tormenting questions transcends the mind; is this only a phase? What if it’s not his fault? What if this really is the best we can be? And like most Saturday nights of the past few years the wriggling thought of being with someone else is shunned.
Like a faithful partner, Wenger’s better half defends the man in front of other more exuberant couples. The melancholy of the insecure heart and anxious eyes is vented lying in solitude. Holding his hand tightly, in an ostensible aura of belief and certitude, the hand loses its grip when no one is watching.
Arsenal’s season starts right now
Arsenal vs Swansea:
You talk about Rodwell stepping up for Everton and call him a prodigy!! How about Russell Barkley – i think hopes rest in his hands a lot more and he seems worthy of the title.
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