Think Brum ….. Barça can wait ….

We’ve had a weeks break after The Hammers and enter a huge week in our trophy hunt. Birmingham are a decent team, 9th in the PL,  and under the stewardship of Alex McLeish easily capable of upsetting our plans. Home draws against Man U, Chelsea and the Spuds show they are no pushovers at St Andrews. We beat them 3-1 at the Emirates despite a feisty showing from Birmingham in the second half.

The centre of defence is the conundrum for this encounter. As TV is banned for this game we are left with 3 choices of centre back – Sol, Silvestre and Song. Wenger has said that neither Silvestre or Campbell are fit enough to play two games in a week, and after Birmingham we have the big midweek game against Barcelona. As such, we will be forced to play Song at centre back. My guess is that AW trusts Sol more than Silvestre and therefore Sol will play midweek. Song was superb alongside Sol during the second half last Saturday, and I have no qualms at seeing him there, however he will be sorely missed as our midfield enforcer against a team who have already shown a battling disposition. Of course the news of Gallas’s “miraculous” recovery gives AW the chance to play both Sol and Silvestre , hence even more permutations

The CB’s can expect a busy afternoon. Cameron Jerome has scored 4 in his last 3 games and looks a fine player, and Chucho is a player with Tevez like energy (thankfully not the skill!). Plus the Blues have a super-sub in the ancient Kevin Phillips. Birmingham have a decent midfield led by Barry Ferguson, and the Spaniard Michel, a creative MF signed from Gijon in January. They also have McFadden and Lee Bowyer, who in recent games have been on the bench.

I see this as a key game in the run in. As we have seen, Chelsea underestimated a Blackburn team that wouldn’t lie down, and they are similar to Birmingham insomuch as they have only lost twice at home all season. Some inspiration from any of our attacking players is a must. Our forwards cannot afford to be profligate with our chances (are you reading AA and NB?) as we cannot continue to rely on our midfield, and in particular, Cesc to keep scoring. I believe this is a good game to start Walcott as his pace could upset an ageing Blues defence (Stephen Carr?) Apparently Nik will not be fit for the match and Arsène has been bigging up Eduardo for the main strike role. Obviously it is his return to the scene of that horrific injury, so the boss is right to focus on the positives rather than dwell on that day.

I envisage a team of:-

Almunia

Sagna  Silvestre  Song   Clichy

Eboue Denilson Cesc  Nasri/TR

Walcott  Eduardo

I see Cesc coming off after 60 minutes to be replaced by Nasri/TR/Diaby – we need to keep our team fresh for Wednesday. Arshavin on the bench as he is a vital player for us in Europe, and needs a rest. An  cameo appearance from Eduardo late in the game.

Clearly Wenger will have one eye on the Barcelona fixture, whilst at the same time focussing on what could be a banana skin. Three points at St Andrews and the world will start to believe this could be our year.

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126 Responses to Think Brum ….. Barça can wait ….

  1. Morning all

    I got nervous just reading Raddys opening paragraph

  2. Rasputin says:

    Morning all,

    Every opponent seems more daunting than the last in the run-in. Normally you wouldn’t worry too much about brum, but they will make it very hard for us today I think unless we can get an early goal.

  3. At least Denilson showed us last week that we can score an early goal.

    I don’t think Raddy will be around at all to talk about his team selection but is Arshavin injured? No Diaby?

  4. kelsey says:

    Morning all.

    Fascinating fixtures today for the top three, and IMO none are forgone conclusions.There will be some doubts in the minds of the top three contenders supporters today.Have Chelsea got over the disappointment of going out of the CL, as I regard the win over Portsmouth as no real test.Villa are always difficult opposition, and are draw specialists, yet maybe as last season it is becoming one game too many.Arsenal go to Birmingham, who have an excellent Home record, but have faltered lately, yet the spine to Arsenals defence in Vermaelen and Gallas will be missing.Finally United go to Bolton, never an easy place to win, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see points dropped by at least two of the three teams fighting it out for the title race.Who that will be is another matter, because as the weeks go by this season there are always surprises.Even if Ferguson and Wenger don’t admit it, they will have one eye on their respective CL quarter Finals in midweek.

    Of course the 2 being Chelsea and United ;)

  5. Rasputin says:

    Morning kelsey, I have an inkling that the chavs will drop points today. Out of the 3 top contenders, I think chelsea have the least chance of winning the prem. I can’t see pompey taking any points off the spuds though so we’ll have to put up with them crowing for another week :(

  6. kelsey says:

    Silvestre and Campbell doesn’t inspire me, and if one believes AW, Campbell will play today.On another matter,many blogs are full of what amounts to being a real supporter or not, it is irrelevant if you really support the Club if you attend matches or not. Many on here, live abroad and it is not feasable for them to go to watch, but I bet there aren’t many like myself who watched us beaten 0-3 at home by Leeds in May 1966, when only 4500 attended.There may well be Glory Hunters at Arsenal, but then that applies to all teams. You younger supporters are likely to have grown up in our most successful period, yet I must congratulate the outstanding vocal support,especially at Away games. AW has a vision which may or may not bear fruition, he is by no means perfect, but does a lot more right than wrong.Those saying we should get rid of 5 or 6 players are talking nonsense, this is going to be a squad that has team togetherness and will eventually be successful.

  7. dandan says:

    Morning all. A big weekend but I expect no change in the league as all the main players should win today.
    This is the curtain raiser to a huge week for us. Barca could go anyway and is to some degree in the lap of the gods injuries and fitness worries in both camps will have a major say.

    But the shadow of next weekend hangs over all. The Mancs v Chelski game, means either or both could drop points, a draw possibly the best result for us.

    Can we win our last seven games? if we can we might win the league, if we cant we wont.

    Finger nail chewing begins now, Gallas like Lazarus must pick up his bed and walk, we need him.

  8. Morning kelsey – I think the Fish and Sol will be fine together – I can’t believe you don’t. AW wouldn’t have taken the Fish on if he didn’t trust him ;)

    Your point about this squad is a good one – this is the squad that AW has built and I can’t see him breaking it up. They are all young enough to play togther for another 5 years and if thats the case – with the addition of a world class keeper – we will dominate on a fraction of the cost of our competitors.

  9. Rasputin says:

    Morning dandan,

    What do you make of Arsène saying he’s shelving the discussions about Gallas’ contract until the end of the season. It’s not the first time that he’s said, I’m not discusssing contracts, we need to concentrate on the gams ahead. Gallas has been the consumate professional this season – surely he wants to play as big a part as he can in the title chase(s)

  10. Must win games are always scary but ALL our games now are must wins – although many other teams have our destiny in their hands we have to WIN our games otherwise the others dropping points will have no value to us.

  11. It can only mean that negotiations were not going well between Gallas and Arsenal IMO

  12. Rasputin says:

    Yes, I think it’s a stand-off. WG’s agent probably thought he’d have the club over a barrel with all the important games coming up and maybe AW/Gazidis dug their heels in and said we’re not going to be bullied?

    All this brings into perspective how important the signing of Sol was – I don’t think Arsène trusts Silvestre for the big games.

  13. London says:

    Morning All

    I don’t share the anxiety, our CC team should be able to beat Birmingham so any combination you chose at the back should be sufficent. We have the best midfield in the country in Fabrgas, Diaby and Song. And upfront we have so many options I fully expect to take all three points. This is going to be one of the most interesting team selections of the season.

  14. Gallas is one of the highest earners isn’t he – if he wants a 2 year contract he’s probably being asked to take less money – I’m sure he wouldn’t get his wages met if he moved to another club. Seems like a no-brainer to me, for Gallas that is, except if he’s only being offered a 1 year contract………….

  15. London says:

    The spanner in works is that Gallas may not be able to command the same wages as he is getting at THOF but he can secure a longer contract elsewhere.

  16. dandan says:

    Gallas showed at Brum last year that his thinking is less than joined up. Wenger has been fortunate in that Cesc has matured as a person and a captain,this in turn has reduced Galas’s influence within the squad, as incidentally has the single mindedness of Campbell.

    Gallas will now get his head down because he more than any other player is in the shop window,IMHO whether he goes or stays, good performances are crucial to his future.

    Who will give him the contract he seeks if he is not playing consistently at his age, does he have the mental strength to work his way back as Sol did. WG needs Wenger every bit as much as we need him.

  17. Morning London

    I think the anxiety comes from it being so close to the end, 6 games after this one, thats not a lot of time to make up points from a slip up.

    But you’re probably right, it’ll be fine. Where are you going to watch the game? Are you going to Fins Park?

  18. London says:

    Great comment DanDan….right on the money

  19. Rasputin says:

    I agree about the team selection. Song may be at CB today although I doubt it. If Sol plays today, I’d expect Song to play at CB against Barça.

    AW is right, we can do without any distraction from contract negotiations – this could be the opportunity for Gallas to end his career on a magnificent high!

  20. tommystout says:

    morning all…. arsene has already said… well implied that sol will play today!

  21. London says:

    Morning Peaches

    Yes, I will be going to the 12 Pins in Finsbury Park

  22. Rasputin says:

    Morning dandan,

    If WG is injured and the contract stuff is irrelevant to his availability to play, then I agree with you. It’s a brilliant comparison to draw between him and Eduardo – one sits on the halfway line suliking instead of being in a position to intercept a parry from the keeper and the other gets his leg broken and fights his way back into the team.

    Gallas is an enigma. The player we’ve seen since he was stripped of the captaincy is the player he should have been when he was captain.

  23. Rasputin says:

    Morning Tommy, – am I right in thinking that Nik is definitely out? I would have loved to have seen Nik and Eduardo playing together up front, that had th makings of a strike partnership that we haven’t seen since Bergie and TH14.

  24. Do we think Eduardo will start today?

    Good comment rasp about Gallas being a better player for us since he had the captaincy taken away.

  25. tommystout says:

    morning rasp..
    dont know about nik, but arsene said he expected him to be available.. so i’ll go with that.
    my team would be:-
    al
    sag,syl,sol,gael
    cesc,song,diaby
    nas,nik,aa

    all out for the quick kill, with a view to resting some players injury permitting. edu for nik, ros for cesc and walcott for sol (song dropping back).

    and our secret weapon today is jack wilshire who is gonna single handedly destroy utd in the late kick off!

  26. dandan says:

    Hi Rasp

    Gallas it seems to me is susceptible to adversity and circumstance ( its not fair syndrome) rather than to pressure.

    Much will be learnt about Edaurdo if he appears at all today, the Brums will give him a mixed reception, don’t expect appreciation from the mentally challenged among there support. Although I do believe the vast majority of regulars who saw him carried off will be pleased to see him back playing (scoring would be another matter )

    Don’t forget either Gallas came to us through the same kind of scenario that reading between the lines suggests exists right now with us.

    Time will tell

  27. dandan says:

    Was anyone else as impressed with Johan Djourou as I was last night on Arsenal TV. Articulate and self depreciating seemed a nice guy.

    He chose Bendy as his first scorer so he is probably playing unless of course he is part of a mammoth Wenger con LOL

  28. I’m one of those – I’m susceptible to ‘its not fair syndrome’ – do you mean hes a bit of a girl :roll:

  29. tommystout says:

    Djourou….. soon to be TV’s side kick and No.1 pairing in the league!

  30. London says:

    The only way Gallas will get the contract he wants is by playing consistently and by playing consistently well.

  31. I’m afraid that although I’m sure you’re right dandan that there will be many B’ham supporters happy to see Eduardo play I won’t be surprised if theres some vile song connecting Eduardo and Ramsey ………

  32. Rasputin says:

    I think at the age of 32, Gallas may well have had enough of the ‘physical side’ to the prem and could be looking for a return to France or perhaps Spain or Italy.

  33. dandan says:

    Peaches I am sure you are all woman, rather than a bit of a girl……. But yes that would not be an outrageous description of of Mr WG.

  34. TVS says:

    Hi, every one.. Can any body predict the score?

  35. Rasputin says:

    Hi TVS,

    I’m going for 1:3. Almost as important as the score will be keeping everyone injury free and getting into a position where we can conserve energy for Barça. We should let the ball do the work today and have them chasing shadows.

  36. kelsey says:

    Hi Tvs,,

    Bedntner, Denilson and Arshavin to score. 0-3.

  37. Morning TVS – I’m happy to predict 1-3

  38. Rasputin says:

    The nightmare scenario would be an injury to Cesc. He’s been kicked from pillar to post all season and the refs have ignored the presistent fouling of the opposition.

  39. Rasputin says:

    Let’s just hope the destiny of the Prem Trophy doesn’t rest on goal difference…..

  40. ‘presistent’ does that particularly apply to fouling :lol: :oops:

  41. TVS says:

    I would love to see eduardo scoring. It’ll be a salvation to him

  42. dandan says:

    Peaches will the Game be streamed today do you know

  43. Absolutely right TVS – Eduardo to score anywhere would be fantastic but up there would be a double blessing.

  44. dandan says:

    Its ok peachey your live on line is doing it

  45. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    Evening all

    This will be one tough fixture.

  46. SharkeySure says:

    Afternoon All.

    Great write up Radders….

    I am so nervous for today, not worried, just on edge.

  47. kelsey says:

    Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Campbell, Diaby, Clichy, Denilson, Song, Walcott, Fabregas, Rosicky, Bendtner.
    Subs: Fabianski, Nasri, Eduardo, Vela, Arshavin, Eboue, Traore.
    Referee: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire)(oh dear.)

    good team and strong bench.

  48. Rasputin says:

    Ki gg, sharkey, kelsey…

    Am I to believe that Diaby is playing as a CB from your team news kelsey?

  49. TVS says:

    Good afternoon all…Oh ! Do we got the webb again as ref.

  50. kelsey says:

    What a poor first half, hope cesc is not injured. They have done their homework on us. Can’t remember one decent shot, though Theo hould have done better with his second chance.Watch ouit for changes in the second half.

  51. Very disappointing – yet again Cesc getting absolutely no protection from the ref, AW should have taken him off.

    But on the other hand we haven’t been very creative….

  52. Hi kelsey – sorry I missed you earlier

  53. kelsey says:

    Webb is definitely their 12th.man. So far he has given them 14 free kicks, booked two of ours and given us two free kicks.

  54. dandan says:

    Got to get the ball to the goal line and pull it bag, air balls down the middle are a waste of time with those 3CH playing

  55. dandan says:

    Sorry Back not bag

  56. kelsey says:

    agreed dandan. if only theo could control the ball.

  57. Rasputin says:

    At last… substitutions …. 10 minutes too late!!

  58. Rasputin says:

    Perfectly good goal disallowed ….. is it going to be one of those days?

  59. Rasputin says:

    Phew….. thank god for Samir, AW got away with it but he should have made the subs earlier…

  60. Rasputin says:

    Disaster……..

  61. kelsey says:

    oh dear, oh dear oh dear.

  62. Very upsetting – not a good game by any stretch of the imagination.

  63. Rasputin says:

    I can’t see us winning the title now. Chelsea have just improved their goal difference by 5 and are 3 points ahead of us. I’m afraid AW is guilty of returning to his old ‘Conservative’ ways. He had an eye on Barça and left his subs way too late. A one goal lead was always going to leave us vulnerable. It sounds like an atrocious display by Webb – disallowing a perfectly good goal. He is another ref who wants to make a name for himself instead of officiating fairly.

  64. SharkeySure says:

    Gutted.

    Fucking Almunia…useless !!

  65. kelsey says:

    I can’t repeat what is being said on the other channels.
    One could say Almunia is getting a bit of stick, as is Arshavin and Nasri which is a bit unkind.

    Theo World Cup, no chance.

    We had an off day all round, but it most probably will have cost us the outside chance of the title.

  66. kelsey says:

    Rasp,

    if only we would shoot more from outside of the box. Can’t blame Nic, he got next to no service.

  67. Rasputin says:

    Almunia is just not good enough ….. I wanted him to be a hero, but he doesn’t have it in him. He punches balls that Seaman and Wilson would have caught with their eyes shut.

  68. Rasputin says:

    It sounds like Tomas had a few shots from outside the box. I have a terrible feeling. In the last few years we’ve had a pivotal week when everything is possible and within the space of 2 games we just have to hope for next season. A manu loss tonight is the only thing that will restore our chances in the title race.

  69. we are still in this

    need boltona and super jack to do the business

    NO ROONEY!!

    chelski got utd, spuds and pool away

    we are only 3 pts off them

    title is still well on!!

  70. rasp – three points off of chelsea – not over yet

  71. Should have started with Nasri and Arsh and then taken them off when the game was safe

  72. Rasputin says:

    Well one thing is for sure .. it’s out of our hands. If we are allowed one blip – that was it. We now have to take maximum points off totnum and citeh.

  73. I’ll talk to you SH – I remember you saying when we talked about the last 10 games that this game against B’ham was going to be a draw

  74. hi peaches, hope you enjoyed your day yesterday.

    gutting to let 2 points fritter away like that.. but we got to hold this together

    webb was totally crooked today, that man will be exposed as bent in years to come

    we can go to the spuds and win for sure, they will open up against us.

    this barca game cannot come and go quick enough… for out title hopes.

    arshavin i will be watching closely, if he suddenly plays like a superstar on wednesday night

    i will be mighty pissed off!!

  75. As London watched it in the pub it’ll be interesting to know what the mood was like there.

    As for predictions, I thought the game against Hull would be a draw so we’re still on target as far as I’m concerned.

    They have to draw next weekend though – the chavs and the mancs

  76. they must have been going mad at almunia in the pub for sure.

    we cannot let this fester

    i expect good news in under 2 hours time.

  77. Thanks SH – I had a really lovely day :)

    Should Carr have gone off for his tackle on Arsh, he didn’t even get a card

  78. Blimey Jacks having a go – Come on Jack

  79. peaches – he is up for this :)

  80. Rasputin says:

    What channel are you watching the manure game on?

  81. It’ll be interesting to see if manu do struggle without Rooney

  82. he got a yellow , peaches.

    and yes, he should have gone, hart was well off his line and arsh was lining up a loft over him.

    clear goalscoring chance prevented.

  83. Sorry, did he, I must’ve missed it.

  84. rasp – you can watch it on the stream

  85. Rasputin says:

    I’ve just seen the brum goal …. 100% Almunia’s fault. If we don’t win the title it will be down to him (or the person who didn’t replace him last season)

    http://football-talk.co.uk/2542/arsenal-videos-watch-almunias-horrific-mistake-plus-nasris-superb-goal/

  86. season is not over rasp, stick in there.

  87. i am more annoyed with arshavin than anybody else.

    all his moaning about buying new players..

    like i said, lets see how “injured” he is on wednesday night.

    i can live with players F ups, if they are trying

    when a player turns up and plays when it suits him

    ARGGGHHHHH

  88. dandan says:

    Don’t get to despondent it wasn’t that bad, The pitch was awful all kinds of bounces and bobbles. Both AA and Bendy missed shots they would have buried on a decent pitch. Poor old Walcott will take stick when he hardly got a decent ball all night.

    Would like another look at the goal felt it might of been offside.

    We were playing long balls straight down the middle, our GK kept hitting blue shirts, I cant believe AW wont replace him for next season,

    All that being said Song was great at CH, Diaby is growing each game Sammy and AA changed the tempo. Just hope Cesc is really fit for Weds. he was only half a player today

    And we got done by a fortunate goal on our unlucky pitch

  89. It was a dreadful error just when we need him to be at his best.

  90. dandan says:

    Am I the only one who Chris Twaddle really annoys

  91. Take no notice of him he talks rubbish – except he does think that Jack’s rather good

  92. even an simpleton like him could not get that wrong :lol:

  93. Bloody own goal again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  94. kelsey says:

    Looked at the brum goal again. it was an unfortunate comedy of errors. It’s easy to be wise after the event that we should have played keep ball, but honestly at 0-0 I didn’t think we would score, and they also missed a sitter.Cesc was completely blocked out of most of the game and today that made a huge difference.

    The two players who performed above average where Song and Diaby .

  95. kelsey says:

    We kow the team’s short comings but we have to live with what we have got.

    Bumpy pitch, is that really an excuse as there are lots of bumpy pitches, so we need to adapt our style sometimes.

  96. pffft, now that was a mega frustarting 45 mins of foobtall.

    so.. they have had OG’s into the double figs this season

    have howard webb on their payroll

    almost a billion bucks in the red

    come on, where is the karma here?

    its got to come, it just has to!

  97. Rasputin says:

    You lot are all far more generous than I am. Every time I watch their goal it gets worse. Almunia completely lost his bottle as he does in all big games. The ball was looping gently into his arms and he panicked and tried to pary it over the bar. Because it had so little pace it looped over his head and into the net while he went sprawling embarassingly after it …hopeless….

    My verdict on him in my recent post where I questioned his competence, ‘Villains to Heroes’…

    Of all the players mentioned, he is the one we need to see step up and prove the detractors wrong (myself included) if we are to pursue the dream of a prem and CL double.
    …… I really want to be proved wrong. We need Manuel to play the best football of his life for the next 2 months.

    Can he get better ….. can he?

    I now know the answer…..

  98. jack is soooo going to be world class, not a good player, a world class diamond.

    gave neville a right seeing to :lol:

    can’t wait to see him play week in week out for the arsenal.

  99. Rasputin says:

    2 nil manure … that faint hope evaporates …

  100. 3 nil and the goal difference gap gets wider

  101. kelsey says:

    Who has the pleasure of doing tomorrows post?

  102. I’m hoping London will check in soon and tell me hes got it covered.

  103. how pap were we today point tho

  104. London says:

    He was last seen dangling from a rope

  105. London says:

    Kelsey

    Did you ask that question because you fancy writing the match report?

  106. Rasputin says:

    Hi London, just remember the Charles Dickens line from A Tale of Two Cities, … “It is a far, far better thing that I do now, then I have ever done before” :P

  107. London says:

    Hi Rasp

    I am sure that is well meant but you have lost me.

  108. London – before you re-visit the rope, my afternoon was rubbish too – do you fancy writing about yours?

  109. Alfa says:

    London,
    Rasp means that sometimes you have to take one for the team and it’s much appreciated.

    I should have stayed in Oz!

  110. London says:

    So do I take it that Kelsey is not in the middle of writting a match report?

  111. London I suspect you’re correct in that assumption, please tell us how the mob in the 10 Pins felt about the game

  112. Alfa – is this all your fault? Can you get back on the plane please :oops:

  113. maybe chelski could beat utd next weekend, they seem back on form

    and then lose points away to pool and the spuds who will be bang up for points in the fight for 4th.

    next weekend is pivotal.

  114. London says:

    Actually, the Twelve Pins angle is a good idea Peaches, I have actually written seventy percent of it already, for some reason that I do not understand the rest always comes to me in the morning.

  115. Thats fine – you can finish it whenever – just please remember to save it :roll:

  116. London says:

    Do you want to save? YES

  117. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    Bloody hell that makes it hard now :(

  118. depends on how hard life is for us following the demolition of wolves next weekend

    and then.. the result of the manure chavski game.

  119. You see in life there are those that are positive and those that are less positive – its not over yet but it is a great shame we haven’t got a world class keeper :(

  120. London says:

    New post

  121. jayes says:

    im finkin of going to 12 pins pub 2 watch arsenal barca game…what time do you think i need 2 be down there to get a seat?…do they chuck people out if too full?…theres about 7 of us

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