Aston Villa vs Arsenal preview: Bobby, oh Bobby! Plus favourite line-up
Written by Chris on November 26, 2010 19:32
The last seven days or so have been a nightmare for Arsenal and having put themselves in a very uncomfortable position ahead of the last game of the Champions League, the players are now under even more pressure as we travel to Villa Park for tomorrow’s early kick-off.
As it is almost always the case when we lose many games in a short period of time, those who want Arsene Wenger to be sacked are out in numbers and out in numbers are also those who are quick to remind us what our manager has done for the Club in the past and how hard he is working to achieve objectives in the future.
I, for one, prefer to focus exclusively on our present situation and the present says that our home form is very, very disappointing – embarrassing I would say – and so is our away record in Europe.
But, as funny as it may sound, with Chelsea facing the always-tricky Newcastle and Manchester United hosting 11th in the table Blackburn, on Sunday we could be top of the table. Ironic, isn’t it?
Anyway, I wanted to conclude my introduction by again expressing my disappointment with how captain Cesc Fabregas is being treated by many. Yes, he wanted to join Barcelona but was not allowed to but understand he is now an Arsenal player and a very important one as well. It is not fair to bring up last summer’s transfer saga whenever he doesn’t perform especially now that many are questioning our lack of leaders in the side. Cesc can be a leader but he needs no additional pressure to be a proper one.
Needless to say, we cannot underestimate Gérard Houllier’s side, especially since – if my memory serves me right – we failed to get all three points in our last two games at Villa Park.
And of course, it could also be the game of Robert Pires, one of the most important players to play for Arsenal in the last decade or so. At the age of 37, the Frenchman is back enjoying Premier League football though as Arsene said yesterday let’s hope he keeps it quiet out there, at least tomorrow.
With Lukasz – of course – starting in goal, I would keep the same two who played in mid-week in the Champions League in front of him.
To those who believe I have something personal against Johan, that’s not true, I incidentally believe he possesses the perfect physique to be a monster at the back. But he was disappointing when returning from injury, something which is no longer the case as in fact he was one of the few players who I was impressed with against Braga.
One who also impressed me on Tuesday was Kieran Gibbs. I understand he was far from impressive in the defensive department when we conceded the second but I believe he deserves to feature in a big game to put pressure on Gael Clichy.
In midfield, with Cesc Fabregas out, I believe Samir Nasri should take a more central role with Andrey and Theo on the wings. The Russian got in mid-week the rest he so-much needed and I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up as one of the best on the pitch in tomorrow’s game.
Finally, up front, with Robin not yet 100% fit, Marouane will of course be back in the starting eleven after Nicklas’ horrible performance in Portugal. The Dane was given a golden opportunity after all the talking and he didn’t take it.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger revealed he was very surprised when Gérard Houllier accepted to make his return in England with Aston Villa especially because he was enjoying a very good position as director of the French Football Federation.
I wasn’t surprised that Aston Villa took him but I was surprised – because he was in a position as director of the French Football Federation – that he chose to leave his job and come again into a hot-seat after what he has gone through.
Ahead of the game, Aston Villa’s Gérard Houllier declared how Stephen Ireland is a special player and could do a lot for his team but needs to give more. The former Manchester City midfielder has failed to live up to expectations and according to the Villa boss, patience is required with the Irishman.
I am very patient and I hope everyone is as patient as I am. His attitude is fine. I expect more than he can give at the moment.
He knows. This is not an issue. I am prepared to talk about the team, not individuals. All I know is he has just come to the club. Whether he wanted to come to the club, I don’t know.
As a player, he has got something special. I like that. But his input has got to be better.
The Gunning Hawk Coverage
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