26 September 2014

Match Preview: Arsenal v. T*******m H*****R, Emirates Stadium, Sept. 27 12.30am (EST)

According to the Ox, Sanchez is incredibly hyped
for his first NLD.
(Credit: Ronnie Macdonald)
Saturday sees the 174th meeting between The Arsenal and their old rivals, Sp*rs, and the 44th under the management of Arsène Wenger. Both clubs come in to this game on what can best be described as mixed form; however, as the old cliché goes, you can throw the form book out the window in a game like this.

Arsène Wenger and the board have come under scrutiny early on this season (especially from yours truly), partially due to a questionable transfer policy and partially due to mixed results to open the season. Last time out in the league, Arsenal bounced back from a disappointing (in terms of the Gunners were unlucky not to win) draw against last season's champions Manchester City and a 2-0 drubbing away at Borussia Hipster with a 3-0 win away at Villa Park (though it should be noted that Villa's squad was hit with a case of what can best be described as the sh*ts). Three goals in 192 seconds earned Arsenal their first league win since the opening day of the season and helped lift the Gunners to fourth in the - admittedly very young - league table. More importantly, the match saw Danny Welbeck score his first goal in an Arsenal shirt and the return to form of Mesut Özil, who scored a goal and assisted Welbz.

Wenger used the midweek League Cup fixture to rotate his team, thus allowing most of the fit senior players to rest up ahead of this key fixture. This means that Per Mertesacker and Kieran Gibbs will be fit to start after being on the bench against the Saints on Tuesday, while Mathieu Flamini will also be available and will likely feature in the match-day squad. Olivier Giroud and Mathieu Debuchy remain long-term absentees, and Theo Walcott is due back next month, so will miss the chance to again troll any Spuds at the Emirates. There are no other injury concerns, so expect a similar line-up to the one that played at Villa Park last week; though fans will surely be clamoring for Alexis Sanchez to start, and for Özil to continue in his preferred central playmaker role.

The small club from down the road come in to this fixture in worse form than the Gunners, without a win in their last three league games. This run of poor results includes a home defeat to West Brom - many pundits favorites to go down this season - at Shite Hart Lane last weekend in which Sp*rs could only muster one shot on target; this is part of a longer, worrying trend in which they have lost each of their last 10 games in which they have failed to score. This poor start has them in ninth after 5 games. In midweek, Mauricio Pochettino made 11 changes from the team that faced the Baggies, so he has no injury worries and a full squad to choose from; this means that our 'favorite' Togolese striker, who, according to the song, is not as good as Yaya Sanogo, will be likely to start up front.

Last season, Arsenal beat Sp*rs three times in three games without conceding a goal. The corresponding fixture featured an early goal from Giroud, with the Gunners holding out to win 1-0. The last 5 games at the Emirates have featured 4 Arsenal wins, with one reverse - in fact, that win was the only time Sp*rs have won at Arsenal in their last 25 attempts. If Arsenal avoid defeat, it will be the first time in seven years that they have gone unbeaten through their first 6 games, while Sp*rs have their worst points total after 5 games since they were managed by Juande Ramos in the 2008-09 season.

Probable starting XIs:
Arsenal: Szczesny; Chambers, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs; Arteta, Ramsey; Sanchez, Özil, Cazorla; Welbeck.
Sp*rs: Lloris; Dier, Kaboul, Vertonghen, Rose; Capoue, Dembélé; Lamela, Eriksen, Chadli; Adepaymemore.

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