Arsenal had not had a player sent off all season until they faced West Ham at The Emirates on Saturday 20th March, with summer signing Thomas Vermaelen being the unlucky player sent off after bringing down West Ham’s Guillermo Franco inside the box, in front of the home fans.
Arsenal had their Centre Back, Thomas Vermaelen’s Red Card appeal snubbed by the Football Association. Arsenal had put forward a wrongful dismissal claim to the FA. This means the red card and one-match ban will stand, resulting in the Belgium defender missing this weekends Premier league fixture away to Birmingham. Arsene Wenger’s reaction to the snub was quoted in a pre-match press conference as saying: “I am disappointed but we have to accept it, we have no choice”.
The majority of fans may understand if Arsene Wenger were to rest some key players for this weekends match away to Birmingham, in favour of seeking Champions League glory for the first time in Arsenal’s history, in preparation for mid weeks match against Barcelona.
However, Wenger is going on a match by match game plan, focusing on one game at a time saying “I believe my players are very intelligent and if we were distracted it would mean we were not [intelligent].
The best way to prepare for Barcelona is to win the game before.”
Wenger has confirmed that Sol Campbell will not be rested for this weekends match and will put him in the line up for the 1st leg of the Champions League quarter finals, which will be held at The Emirates on Tuesday 30th March 2010
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As the business end of the Premier League season fast approaches its climax, Arsenal are looking to hold on to one of their star assets in the form of William Gallas.
Arsene Wenger today announced that negotiations would be put on hold for the foreseeable future as Arsenal prepare for another important clash in their bid for their first taste of silverware at the Emirates Stadium.
“We will not deal with any contract because we have games every three days and we will focus on our targets.”
Despite the pause in proceedings, Wenger remains confident that Arsenal are in a strong position to hold on to the 32 year-old French international despite ‘Gallas being able to talk to other clubs. He also reassured fans that he wanted to keep the French star, who has made a formidable Centre-back partnership with the impressive Thomas Vermaelen.
“He knows we want to keep him and that we make an effort but it has to be, as it always has been historically, within our set budget.”
Arsenal are in for a tough week of fixtures, beginning with an away trip to Birmingham City and followed by the first leg of their Champions League Quarter Final with Barcelona at the Emirates Stadium. It is a certainty that Wenger will still be without the injured ‘Gallas. “He is back today from his rehabilitation and is back in full training I believe tomorrow, Saturday or Sunday,” explained Wenger, and was unsure as to his availability for the Premier League clash against Wolves.
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Last night Arsenal TV’s Dan Roebuck hosted a special Q&A session at The Emirates, an exclusive benefit for members only of Arsenals Official Membership Scheme. Present at the Q&A evening were Arsenal’s record signing, Andrey Arshavin, and goalkeeper substitute, Lukasz Fabianski. The session lasted just over an hour, with fans asking questions ranging from who gets to choose the dressing room music during match days to what is the effect Arsenal’s fans have on the players when they are at their loudest.
The evening was enjoyed by both fans and players, and provided a rare chance for Arsenal fans to see their heroes off of the pitch. The fans enjoyed questioning the players and admired the responses, However it was clear to all that signatures and pictures of their idol’s were top of their list of priorities for the night. Andrey Arshavin was quoted as saying “I know we don’t get a lot of chances to spend time with supporters, that’s why The Arsenal membership has put in place these sessions, so I hope everyone that came last night enjoyed it.”
Perhaps the question with the greatest impact on the night was “Who would win in a fight, 50 horses the size of ducks, or 1 duck the size of a horse?” Which stumped the Russian International, “I’m not sure about who would win the fight, I think the duck.”
After being comprehensively beaten by a confident Arsenal performance it was not a good day at the office for Portsmouth after being handed a winding up order hours before kick off.
The Portsmouth players however had a huge task in hand. A resurgent Arsenal side were the visitors, and with boardroom enigma hanging over the club it was down to the players to try and restore some hope into the hearts of the Fratton Park faithful.
Kevin- Prince Boateng was so nearly the man to give the Pompey fans something to cheer about. Alexandre Song was caught in possession just outside his own half and Boateng galloped through the heart of Arsenal’s half, only for his pace to narrow the angle of his venomous shot. Nonetheless, it required a tidy save from Manuel Almunia just minutes into the match.
Moments later, it was Arsenal’s turn to attack. Eduardo on the left hand side of the area cut the ball back to the in form Abou Diaby who forced a fantastic reflex save from Asmir Begovic from seven yards out.
Another Arsenal attack was mounting, and a rash challenge on Aaron Ramsey by stand in captain Aaron Mokoena lead to a free-kick in a promising position for Arsenal.
It would prove costly. Eduardo’s low strike was cruelly deflected off of Younes Kaboul’s leg, and managed to evade Hermann Hreidarsson to the right of Portsmouth’s goal. Goal number three of the campaign for Eduardo.
Despite the overwhelming bad luck that Portsmouth were enduring, Nadir Belhadj came close to levelling the score-line seconds after conceding. Turning smartly midway through the Arsenal half, he ran at William Gallas, but dragged his shot wide, unable to recreate his magic against Liverpool.
Arsenal were patient with their possession. After some magnificent quick footwork from Nasri failed to develop into a serious threat, Eduardo began a new move with Song, who returned the ball to ‘Dudu’ inside the penalty area, the shot did not open up for the Croatian international but instead found Ramsey who squared the ball to Nasri who finished excellently into the bottom left corner. This was Nasri’s first goal in the Premier League since March.
Still the threat of Portsmouth would not be punctured. As the second half began, Boateng skipped past the challenge of Gallas and pulled the ball across the heart of Arsenal’s box to Belhadj who could not pull the trigger before Sagna’s sliding interception. The loose ball fell to Yebda, but his weak effort was never troubling the Arsenal ‘keeper.
In the absence of Captain Cesc Fabregas, Aaron Ramsey had a huge opportunity to stake his claim as a regular in Arsenal’s starting XI. He took it superbly. After Sagna’s poor cross was cleared to Yebda, the Welshman rounded a poor challenge from Frederic Piquionne before lashing the ball home with his left foot. Not a bad way to celebrate the clubs 50th goal of the campaign.
Surely this was game set and match? No. The pattern of the match repeated, only this time, Portsmouth were able to finish their chance. Neat link up play between former Arsenal striker Kanu, Belhadj and Van Den Borre saw the Algerian Belhadj finish past the hapless Almunia.
Arsenal, though, were still not done, and the three goal advantage was quickly restored. Once again, well thought out build up play broke down for Arsenal and Songs attempted trickery was cleared- unfortunately straight to Nasri. Song peeled off to the back post and finished brilliantly with his head.
This victory left Arsenal four points behind the leaders Chelsea, with a game in hand at home against Bolton on the 6th January. The Gunners look set to be without influential Captain Fabregas, but latest updates suggest the Spaniard will be back within two / three weeks. Additionally, Alexandre Song will have departed for the African Nations Cup. However, judging by this performance Aaron Ramsey is not afraid of filling either of their boots.
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“We don’t know yet whether it is a recurrence of the pull (of his hamstring) or whether it is just scar tissue. We will know more about it tomorrow [Monday].
The Boss added “If it is scar tissue it is a few days, if it is a recurrence of the pulled hamstring it is three weeks.” Wenger and obviously Arsenal supporters will of course be praying that Cesc’s setback is the former period of time as Alexandre Song prepares to depart for the upcoming African Nations Cup.
Fabregas, 22 had sustained the second injury after slotting home Arsenal’s second goal in a 3-0 rout over potential top-4 gatecrashers Aston Villa.
Wenger had previously emphasised the importance of this fixture and added that his Captain had a bitter-sweet day at the Emirates Stadium. “I believe he is happy we won the game but he is concerned about his hamstring.”
Check back for the Cannon’s Arsenal vs Portsmouth Report
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Ahead of tonights League Cup tie at Eastlands, Arsene Wenger answered the eagerly anticipated question of “Will we stick with youth or change to experience?”
The squad is as follows:
Lukasz Fabianski (GK)
Vito Mannone (GK)
With the exceptions of Song, Rosicky, Silvestre and Eboue, the squad is on the whole youthful. With the strength in depth that Manchester City have on offer it is likely that experience will be on show for the home team.
One things is for sure, it will be a thrilling encounter with the attacking prowess that both sides possess. The question remains, however, who will come out on top?
Stay tuned for post match analysis
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