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Preview: Arsenal v. Olympiakos

Arsenal travels to Greece in the Champions League tonight, but you'd be forgiven if you felt like tonight was a Carling Cup fixture. In fact, this squad might be less experienced then the one that traveled to Manchester last week. In the squad we have a total of 10 teenagers, and I reckon 4 or 5 will start. Despite Olympiakos' own massive injury list, the Greeks will be liking their chances of progressing against the young side, much to Liege's chagrin.

Here is the 18-man squad: Carlos Vela, Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey, Alex Song, Mikael Silvestre, Jack Wilshere, Lukasz, Fabianski (GK), Vito Mannone (GK), Fran Merida, Kyle Bartley, Francis Coquelin, Thomas Cruise, Craig Eastmond, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, Kerrean Gilbert, Luke Ayling, Mark Randall, Gilles Sunu

I suppose the starting eleven could be this:


Gilbert, Song, Silvestre, Cruise

Eastmond, Thomas, Ramsey

Walcott, Vela, Wilshere

JET and Eastmond being the Song-Denilson partnership, and Ramsey filling in for Cesc. Though, with Merida being locked in contract negotiations, I wouldn't be surprised if the Spaniard made the first XI. I just think we can't afford to throw on another attacking player. Anyways, Wilshere and Walcott have their work cut out for them. They need to help defend, but also provide ample support to Vela, because he was way too isolated against City.

The match will be on ITV1 in England and DirecTV in the States. Have a good week Gooners!

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The Journalist

Writer: Brice Coffer Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday December 9 2009

Time: 4:19PM

Your Comments

Reserve team captain, Kyle Bartley, could also start alongside Silvestre.
Starting line up: Fabianski, Gilbert, Bartley, Silvestre, Cruise, Walcott, Song, Wilshere, Ramsey, Merida, Vela
not too happy that Song is playing... should be a fun game though regardless!
There was some kind of problem with JET's registration. So he's not even on the bench
Aaron Ramsey is in a class of his own. That kid will be BIG, he looks miles above everyone else, he has to be ready to be a first team regular soon surely.
Keplaz, I agree with you about Ramsey, but at the moment he tends to try and force passes, but I do like his ingenuity
two more thoughts. Who knew Theo thinks he can hit FKs? and pool are playing most of their starters, including Dive Master Gerrard, which I feel can only be good for us.
ALL I want is for Song and Ramsey to finish the game unscathed honestly.
When I saw Theo hitting that freekick, I was wondering the same thing. I think he bullied the others out of it tbh, seniority kinda thing. I was hoping Fran would take it. And Ramsey is a real box to box player, he seems to be everywhere and Merida looks quite good as well. Is Torres playing for Pool, TPowell?
I'm praying nothing happens to Song. Coquelin and Eastmond are on the bench aren't they? Hopefully Arsene tosses one of them in soon.
no, torres isn't playing, but Mascherano, Kuyt, Benayoun, and Agger all are. Our defense just keeps getting caught out, no real surprise they scored first, oh well! it doesn't really matter, haha
Theo takes another FK! I never really thought of him as technically sound enough to take those, and it's kind of showing, I've seen Ramsey come close from FKs before, so I wish he would have taken those
Yeah agreed on the free kicks. Aaron, Fran and Jack should come before Theo in that department for me. Theo and Carlos should try to get onto the end of a free kick. And yeah TP for the first time this season I was 'Oh well, haha' when Leonardo scored. And correction: please Song, Ramsey, Carlos, Theo and Fabi all have to come through the game unscathed.
...Theo takes another FK and wastes it. Fran should be taking these, really. Seen him score for the Spain U21s from FKs.
Maybe, as this game is meaningless, Wenger is experimenting with letting theo take these FKs in a real match. Hopefully this is the end of this experiment. My take on the game: Ramsey and Merida are doing a really good job, just that their final passes into theo and vela are just missing; also, all of our defenders are playing quite bad, often being caught out of position.
Do you guys think Theo's a bit rusty or lacking some of the skills or that Bravo guy and Mellberg simply doing well in stopping him? I'm a bit worried about him.
The boys have got to play for a draw, at the least. These things go into the records, not the circumstances. Losses are not good for the psyche when you are looking to graduate into first team positions.
A spirited display from the kids. Song played his heart out, and it was good to see Ramsey, Merida and Wilshere. But a few observations - Gilbert is rubbish, he was caught out of position on numerous occassions. Isnt there another promising RB that Wenger can play? Starting to become worried about Theo, and I hope this is only lack of game time (although I have seen the same lack of skill even when he plays regularly). Vela missed a couple of gilt edged chances, and we really should have drawn this game atleast. Disappointed with his finishing. The kid is getting his chances - its time to show Wenger that he's ready to start. Thats not happening atm.
The boys played really well and definately didn't deserve to lose. Really proud of the lads and I really don't think I could, and nor would I want to be, critical of any of the players tonight.
...Theo needs just one good outing, then he'll come good, I think. But, who's going to give him such a game with most full backs playing to impress for WC places? Difficult to say about Theo; I am worried too.
well done lads! the way theo took the FK were very selfish running after them when we all know that ramsey is far better free kick taker! he is starting to get in my nerve the way he keeps ignore to play with the team and try to force a run and play with lower divisions style, kick and run. and what worry me more is that he don't learn
Gooner SA
Essien is out for a month, just in time to miss the the ACN. This goes along with Terry, Cole, Lampard, and Drogba being too injured to play in the latest internationals but were magically fit in time to play us.
The point is not to be critical of the players, but simply to state what was observed. Vela and Theo are first team players, and hence, the criticism, coz the expectations from them are far higher than from the other kids.
I was waiting for this TPowell how many of us are actually surprised?
I agree prits, I won't be critical of Cruise, Gilbert, and Bartley as they won't be anywhere near the first team for the rest of the year. And hopefully none are surprised, DBerg.
Ramsey looked good but Merida was at least as good. Song and Silvestre held things together pretty well. Vela and Walcott's movement was good just missed the touch and control to take advantage of the chances that came their way. Looked a level or more too much for Wilshere, Bartley, Gilbert and Cruise.
If Essien is out for a month and as the ACN doesn't start until mid Jan what is there to gain if he's injured now?
we'll see how it works out Amos
The ACN is from Jan 10-31. I would think the Ghanaian FA wouldn't just take Chelsea's word for it and would want to confirm for themselves re Essien's supposed injury.
Pretty expected outcomes, probably except Liverpool and Bordeaux for different reasons. Now which one do you want: Bayern, CSKA Moscow, Milan, Porto, Lyon, Inter or Stuttgart? I just want to avoid playing Moscow in Feb/Mar. Then probably Inter but I'm not too worried now that we've avoided all the big guns by finishing as group winners. Oh, and not Porto again, yawn.
I've been watching a lot of Bordeaux this year lou, for some reason. They're good, and Chamakh would definitely help us out this year. I guess I'd prefer Stuttgart, we'd get to see Hleb and mad Jens again!
Stuttgart, Milan, cska, in that order of preference. What are the odds we get Inter or Bayern?
any team but bayern
Gooner SA
Gotta say, as a United fan I'm pretty gutted about how good Ramsey is. Cesc will probably go back to barca soon, but you definately wont miss him!
Ramsey played very well, a pity he didn't score with that header, but he played some beautiful passes which should have lead to goals. Overall no a bad performance from the 2nd team!
I was very pleased with what I saw, I thought Ramsey was excellent but I'm surprised nobody has mentioned how good Fabianski was, coming out and being positive and taking the pressure off of his defence. His handling and decision making was spot on all night. Song, Silvestre, Fabianski and Ramsey all seemed to be taking responsibility in their areas of the pitch last night and that was very pleasing indeed. We just missed the finishing but I'm enthused that we created chances in the 2nd half, because for all the possession we didn't make many in the 1st. We deserved at least a draw out of that.
Little Dutch
You know I was thinking just that, reading how the keeper is pleading to be played against L'pool. Fabianski did make a case for No.1 spot for this weekend's game, imo; his handling is near perfection and his confidence is growing everytime he plays.
Fabianski really deserves the nod in my opinion, for an extended amount of time as well. Not best pleased in Vela, Wenger's comments didn't really help either saying he's a top top finisher - aint seen it yet boyo!

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