Everton come to the Emirates on Saturday buoyed by the news that David Moyes has signed a new 5 year contract. This must be a very welcome break from the bad headlines that have followed them this season. Losing to Standard Liege 4-3 on aggregate earlier this month, a result which saw them exit the UEFA Cup was not what they needed after their Carling Cup defeat to Paul Inces’s Blackburn. They lie 15th in the Premiership with eight points having lost three matches. Short on confidence and having several players injured, The Toffees are talking up their chances of getting something from an Arsenal team yet to get into top gear.
Gooners will wonder why it is that this fixture is so important coming as it does after the dreaded International break. Well it will be an opportunity for players to bring some kind of form into the fixture and get back into winning ways. Arsene Wenger will be hoping that the stuttering form of Everton will not be revived in time for their trip to the Emirates. Matches against Everton are somewhat unpredictable as witnessed by past scores. Arsenal however have a good record.
Last season it was a Niklas Bendtner sublime header from a Traore cross that was the difference between the two teams, with Everton needing the points to cement their UEFA Cup challenge. The defeat did not prevent them from entering the competition as their rivals Aston Villa slipped up. It will be rather strange playing Everton so early in the season as mnay of the past encounters, including some classics to win the Premiership have taken place at the end of the season. It is unlikely that Everton will see themselves on the end of a four or five goal thrashing, as the gulf between the sides has decreased.
I expect Arsene Wenger to still rely on van Persie and Adebayor despite the stuttering performance, as Carlos Vela may be exhausted and jet lagged. Theo Walcott will be trying to make up for a lack lustre England performance midweek, so that he does not lose his place to Eboue. Samir Nasri may play and the most interesting observation will be at defensive midfield. Denilson is in prime position to hold onto his place but Diaby is fit and may return to the bench, and the question is will Arsene put Bischoff in the squad after his excellent performance in the reserves? All eyes will be on tomorrows press conference.
Gooners on International Duty
The news that Robin van Persie has recovered from his Hamstring and managed to play 30 minutes unscathed will be a relief to all. Holland top their group having won with a 63rd minute strike from Van Bommel which sees them on 10 points. Rafa Benitez will be less happy to hear that Babel limped off injured, which added to the loss of Torres means the league joint leaders will have a setback to deal with.
Emmanuel Adebayor scored four in his nation’s six nil win over Swaziland which enabled Togo to progress to the group stage of their World Cup CAF qualifying round.
Hopefully he won’t get lost on the way home.
Cesc Fabregas laid on an assist for Iniesta in Spain’s 2:1 win over Belgium, after coming on in the 17th minute for the injured Torres. Cesc appears to be coming back to form which is just as well as he now has competition in the form of Aaron Ramsey whose wonder strike against England U21’s is still the talk of the town.
Johan Djourou was substituted in the 46th minute of Switzerland’s win over Latvia and didn’t feature in their next game against Greece, there is no news as to whether he was injured or not.
Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy came through the bruising matches of Romania against France and the relatively easier fixture against Tunisia and should report for duty, as did Carlos Vela who ended up on the losing side against the Reggae Boyz of Jamaica who keep their hopes of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup just alive in the CONCACAF group, and at the time of writing Carlos Vela was in the Mexican line-up to face Canada.
Gallas picked up a thigh strain whilst training for France and will not feature against Everton, leaving the way open for a first team debut by fellow Frenchman Mikael Silvestre.
Lukasz Fabianski sat on the bench and watch Artur Boruc let in 2 goals in the defeat of Poland by Slovakia.
The Rocket, Hollway Road
This weekend sees the Rocket taken over by the Herts and Beds Arsenal supporters club and the appearance of Arsenal TV star SHOVEL. So come early and lets “big up” the Gooner who is one of us on the TV channel that needs more characters like him. I will be there too! Bring your credit card because there will be a charity auction of some amazing memorabilia, including signed shirts from Arsenal legends Nigel Winterburn and Ian Wright.
Twenty minutes before the game there will be the anti-Usmanov march to the stadium, which is bound to be more vocal than usual, so that will get us off to a good start. If any fans can make folded banners to sneak into the stadium and hold them up during the game, I am sure this kind of protest will attract the TV cameras. Please do not be disruptive however as the stewards may eject you. Lets tell fattie in no uncertain terms that no matter how much he loves us, we aint bending over no way, no how….
***USMANOV ARSENALINSIDER SHAREWATCH ALERT***
There has been a significant upsurge in the trading of shares with Usmanov having bought thirty shares in a few days. The share price has recovered from £7,000 and now stands at £7,500. When the rest of the markets are in free fall, only Usmanov’s desire to reach the 25% blocking share is keeping the share values high.
Current share total 15,355 – only 200 shares short of the the magical 25% block (15,555).
At this rate, he will have the shares by Christmas!
WILL GOONERS STOP SELLING THESE SHARES TO USMANOV, if you need a loan come and ask the AST or Arsenal Football Club rather than allow USmanov to succeed FFS!
Have a great weekend, and tomorrow it’s Friday, so you know what that means, with Ask the Oppo returning to more sensible interviews on Saturday morning.
My prediction? Arsenal 2 Everton 1.
Fabregas the King