Gameday – AFC v WBA preview

Since my last blog, quite a lot has happened. I was quite positive before the Man Utd game, which was quickly replaced disappointment. I thought we played well, but failed to convert our chances. Against Dortmund we were better, and we have a chance to build on that improvement against West Brom.

Wilshere should have put his chance away, as simple as that. As we pushed further forward to get a goal, we were punished on the counter. And that was a poor United team, one of the worst that’s turned up at the Emirates for a while. As for the Dortmund game, I was pleased with the performance and the result. We played well, and the whole team (including Sanchez) sat back a bit meaning we have learnt the lessons from the ridiculous performances lately. Our shape was much better, we actually looked like we could deal with a counter. Dortmund were poor, they look a shadow of the team I’ve seen over the last few years. They didn’t look as quick and intense as they usually do. No wonder they’re sitting above the relegation places in the Bundesliga.

Onto the upcoming game. Obviously we are dealing with a lot of injuries. Mikel Arteta being injured is actually a massive blow for us. He was effective against Dortmund, telling players to sit back when they would otherwise be going forward, and providing good cover and distribution. I really feel for Jack, he was starting to hit top gear and show everyone how good he is. I think we can cope without for the time being, though. Personally, I think Santi Cazorla is starting to pick up form again after a bad start to the season, an in-form Santi is never a bad thing and means we have cover in that area going forward.  I reckon we’ll line up like we did against Dortmund, with Flamini replacing Arteta and maybe Giroud or Welbeck (if he’s fit) in for Sanogo.

It is not a bad time to be playing West Brom either. Their home form isn’t the best. In their last 6 games at the Hawthorns their record is: Drawn twice, lost twice and only managing to win against the worst team in the division: Burnley. We seem to like playing there as well, we haven’t lost in the last 5 visits. They have dangerous players, especially in Berahino, who is in exceptional form this campaign, and Sessegnon is always a threat.

I think it’s a massive game for our confidence also. If we can get a victory here I think it might propel us on another trademark Arsenal run, which we badly need to put us up the table. I believe with the fixtures we’ve got coming up next, this is achievable. There are some tough fixtures in there, with the likes of Southampton and Liverpool lurking. I say Liverpool will be a tough prospect because I think they will improve, and a trip to Anfield is never easy. Southampton will be a tough game, they have been so impressive this campaign, but I’m not sure if they can maintain it. Back to West Brom though, I’m going for a comfortable away win, 2-0.

Michael Nascimento

Gameday – AFC v MUFC

I can’t wait for the upcoming match. I’m feeling very positive about it – I think it’s a great time to get an important result over them. Their injury list is just ridiculous (especially in defence)…  A lot of their big names are out, or are doubtful. Falcao, Di Maria, Shaw, De Gea, Blind, Rojo, Carrick, Jones… the list goes on!

It’s an opportunity for our attacking talent to expose their defensive problems. Especially Sanchez. We’ve got defensive problems of our own though – Don’t get me started on them. Let’s just say we’ll both be short defensively – means it will be a high scoring game at least.

Although some of their injuries may not as be as bad as they thought, they are still short in defensive positions. If we start brightly, are full of energy and get the crowd going immediately we can get at them. Sanchez is feared by some of the best defenders in the world, so he’ll terrify players like Smalling and McNair, and give them the run-around. As I said before, he is a beast – his work-rate puts others to shame. I can’t wait to see him play again to be honest, but if our defence keep leaking goals he might turn round and think: What am I doing here? And clear off to a team who can actually defend the goals he scores and creates with his hard work and quality.

Thought it was a positive performance from our lads in the Scotland clash. Obviously we have to start with Wilshere. He’s starting to show the form that got everyone excited before his lengthy injury lay-offs. Extended runs without injury have allowed him to rediscover his old form. I’m praying he stays injury-free and we will see the best of him, he could become undoubtedly world class. Play him in the deep lying position for England. I think he’ll continue in this vein of form. The Ox was in good form again, I think he’s a great squad player who is only going to get better – he seems to have the right type of attitude as well. The only unfortunate thing was the injury to Welbeck – but it doesn’t look too serious and hopefully he’ll be fit for the United game. I think he could contribute a lot in an Arsenal shirt – his England performances have been good.

Score? As I said before, I’m feeling confident and think we can get a result. I’m going for a 2 – 0 win at our place. If we come out of the blocks quickly, they won’t recover, especially with their defensive record this season.

Michael Nascimento

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