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Arsenal vs. Birmingham

The Emirates Stadium

12/01/08

15:00GMT

Arsenal V B'ham Preview

Arsene Wenger will be confident that his side will still be at the summit of the Premiership after this weekend's round of games, as The Gunners' face Birmingham At The Grove on Saturday afternoon.

We'll see something much closer to Arsenal's first team after Wenger rotated for the last two fixtures - both against much lesser teams (Burnley and Tottenham).

No, in all seriousness, it's the sort of fixture that you have to watch out for. A team touted for the drop, playing under a new manager and their performances have greatly improved under new manager Alex Mcleish. Indeed, they gave United a run for their money at Old Trafford in the last round of Premiership games.

Unfortunatly for them, it's goals that win games, not just brave performances. Their last six games has seen just one win - a 3-0 victory over Middlesbrough. Last six: P6 W1 L3 D2.

Arsenal, however, have won four of their last six. Portsmouth are still the only team to have taken anything from Arsenal in the Premiership in those games. Last six: P6 W4 D2 L0.

Vital Quotes:

Arsene Wenger says that his team are more likely to be suffering mentaly than physically at the moment after he rotated much of his team in the last two games. During his pre-match press confrence Wenger said: 'We rested a few players recently to give them a breather mentally. It is all more mental than physical at the moment.

'But you still need an edge in these kinds of games and I feel that is down to how well you prepare, especially mentally. That will make the difference.'


Birmingham midfielder Fabrice Muamba believes he made the right decision when he left Arsenal for Birmingham, and says it was not a hard one: No, it wasn't a difficult decision. I could have stayed if I had wanted to.

'The choice was to stay, but not be guaranteed playing week in, week out. So I went, and I have been playing week in, week out here. It was the best decision.'

'It's about being patient and I was losing my patience.

'I was here last year and I played almost 35 games and when I went back to Arsenal people said 'hold on, you're not quite ready yet' and I wasn't prepared to watch other people in front of me play when I could do just that. That's why I thought it was best to move on and try to do something with my life really.'

Arsenal Team News:

Arsenal will welcome back a whole host of first team players on Saturday. Gallas, Clichy, Fabregas, Flamini, Rosicky and Almunia will all return to the line up. In addition, Adebayor, Alex Hleb and Big Phill Senderos have all been passed fit to face Birmingham.

Eduardo is likely to partner Adebayor up front as the pair look to build a partnership.

Player to watch: Cesc Fabregas

The half-pint Spaniard hasn't scored for a while, and I think he'll back to his best after a two-week rest.

Muamba will give him a good game, but Cesc will run the show for 90 minutes.

Birmingham Team News:

The big news for Birmingham fans is that Oliver Kapo has been passed fit to play after recoving from a knee injury. Damien Johnson is set to play just two weeks after suffing a depression fracture of the skull.

Martin Taylor has been recalled after being told by his manager that he can leave if Birmingham recieve a good offer.

Player to watch: Oliver Kapo

This lad has bags of class, and Birmingham were lucky to get him. He can pass, dribble, shoot and tackle. What more to you want from a midfielder? He gave Chelsea a torrid time when he faced them at Stamford Bridge earlier in the season.

Flamini will have his work cut out keeping him quiet.

Ref Watch:

Mr Phill Dowd will referee the match. He's officiated over only nine Premiership games this season, giving out 24 yellow cards and an astounding 6 reds. The only Arsenal player he's booked this season is Flamini.

Match Prediction:

It's not going to be an easy game, but I think the freshness of Arsenal's team will see them through to a convincing win. 3-1 Arsenal.




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The Journalist

Writer: Nick Simmonett  Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday January 11 2008

Time: 11:51PM

Your Comments

Not havin that. A two goal margin?
Goofle
Looking forward to seeing the game tomorrow. Brum don't score many away from home but they do concede a few so we should win by a couple of goals. But then they did hold ManU to just 1 goal on their last outing. On the other hand it looks as though we will have the full compliment of midfielders so we should be able to create a few chances.
Amos.
Not worried about our back line or our attack, but it would be good to see our midfield move up another gear... I dont think Cesc's passing has been up to his high standards and he looked jaded at times. Time for Tommy/Hleb to score a a couple too!
Andy-bayor
Very good point Andy, i think the reason we have been struggling so much this last month or so is because of our midfield. Cesc has not scored for ages and is playing more like he was last season.
AB_Arsenal
Andy and AB, Cesc was off colour since he's back from injury - and his first major injury that was. I guess he was finding his rhythm back. But he showed glimpses of his old self in his last game against West Ham. It's his ball into the box that Dudu turned into a goal only 2 minutes into the game. I say he's back! :)
Lou the Gunneress
It's a game we have to win, it doesn't matter if we grind out a 1-0 or stroll to a 4-0, we have to win. I enjoyed the comment of drug-test-skipper Rio Ferdinand. He said it is all in Manure's hands now, if they win their games they win the title. Actually, that's not true, and the only team that can say that is the team in first place. And it isn't the spiritual offspring of the Moors Murderers.
elbondo
pick the ars to walk away with this one
ozanne park rangers
I think that the players will be back.. fresh and fit.. except for RvP.. and we should have a fairly solid game.. hopefully Senderos wont make any blunders and we should be fine.. 2-0.
arsenalrulz4ever
Have you guys noted how many headers Eduardo has won so far in only 18 mins into the game...wow, he just won a penalty now while am typing....Adebayor taking it..
CoastarianGooner
and he SCORES!!!!!....ADEBAYOR!!!!!!! Thank you DUDU...now let them goals come!!!!!!
CoastarianGooner
Adeeeeeeeeeeeeee 1-0 :)
AB_Arsenal
Hi AB_Arsenal ;)...do you see Dudu scoring today? I do.
CoastarianGooner
why isn't Tommy in the squad? hope he hasn't suffered another injury..
luckys_10
I think Dudu will score later!
Lou the Gunneress
Luckys, they said before kick-off that Tommy Gun suffered illness when he got up this morning so he's not in the squad. Guess it's just some flu or something.
Lou the Gunneress
Am I the only one who thinks Senderos is doing ok alongside Gallas? It's just less than 40 mins I know, but so far not bad.
Lou the Gunneress
luckys_10, the commentator said he was withdrawn late from the squad..i gues he picked a late injury.
CoastarianGooner
We were playing really sloppy there towards the end of that half, we need to wake up and get a second before we start doing all the fancy stuff.
AB_Arsenal
True AB_Arsenal, its like the lads are taking things for granted..they have shown any seriousness to kill the game in the first half. We need 2 more goals before we relax. Anyway, awesome first half especially with Pool and Spuds being both 1 down although would love if Spuds gain a draw today at least.
CoastarianGooner
A corner again :(
AB_Arsenal
can sombody give me a link 4 sopcast plz
Jaybods
Now we are level..what a cheap goal to concede :(
CoastarianGooner
Jaybods, http://www.fsicrew.info/streams/todays-links/ or http://www.myp2p.eu/broadcast.php?matchid=4458&part=sports
Lou the Gunneress
Should of shot.....noooo :P
AB_Arsenal
I still think Dudu does best up front, but without Tommy, I guess Bendtner for Theo was a good substitution. Hope things get better now.
Lou the Gunneress
I'm getting nervous :(
AB_Arsenal
Phew the ref didn't book Hleb for the 2nd time! He could have been sent off for that challenge...
Lou the Gunneress
AB, me too, but I try to remind myself of all the late goals we scored before.
Lou the Gunneress
It'll be unacceptable if we even DRAW this one.
stukazufuss
Well that's a crap result!!!
Rocky7
You just have to say that McLeish's doing a good job so far.
Lou the Gunneress
Ohh... SH*T...
stukazufuss
We paid for not taking this game seriously enough in the first half. You don't take your foot off the gas when you are only 1-0 up.
Wyn Mills
Well no late goals this time though it didn't really look like it was ever going to come, don't think we will be top after today :(
AB_Arsenal
******** ********* ****s ******** well *****ed off ****s
nikolaijns
i'm battling with my flu here and here it comes the result..
MYgood-ners
with home form like this i'm not sure when we traveling to fulham later..
MYgood-ners
Lou the Gunneress, or may be you just have to say that our team took Birmingham for granted and thought they will win. Look at how they played when we got the penalty. Frankly I was disappointed with the first half performance where they could have wrapped up the game.
CoastarianGooner
Manyoo will lose.
k_chelski
i have a feeling united won't win today..
luckys_10
sure they can
MYgood-ners
Cesc was really poor today, scored an own goal and continually wasted the ball. We have now lost, like last year so many points to teams at the bottom of the table and that second half was copy and pasted from the frustrations of last season.
AB_Arsenal
Newcastle have lost their last 3 games and have no coach, i am struggling to see how Man Utd won't beat them :P
AB_Arsenal
Coastarian and Wyn Mill, you're right, I also felt we took it for granted. Flamini and Cesc didn't look focussed enough. Theo was not contributing much to be honest. I don't know if that's complacency or what. But come on, fair play to Birmingham, they did defend quite well in the 2nd half.
Lou the Gunneress
I agree with AB, I just don't see how a managerless Newcastle could get a point at OT. Looks like we'll slip to 2nd place in the table on goal difference.
Lou the Gunneress
man utd has scored more goals in there entire history against newcastle then any other team thank you u pr1ck diarra for unsettling the team
young-Gunner
not a good result but we'll bounce back from this.. credit to birmingham as they scored and got the maximum they could hv wished for.. its just a freak result really, just like man utd lost to west ham whereas we did the double over them.
McGooner
As big as senderos is not commanding in the air and moves like a truck we need djourou back fast a team will never be settled if they have to worry about that doughnut senderos
young-Gunner
Am I the only one who feels like it's a defeat...?
Lou the Gunneress
Walcott was garbage
young-Gunner
Blame Wenger not Diarra or anyone else. You can't give the players a winter break & then expect them to come back & play like they was previously. The first team should have played against either spurs or burnley & then we would've won today because the players would be that much sharper. Its when Wenger does things like this that can cost us the title. Man Utd were awful against Birmingham but they still won & thats the difference.
Ashburton Gooner
score 2 goals and then ease off we haven't the defense to keep a one goal lead with senderos
young-Gunner
Massive 2 points lost.. This was a stone wall win.. or it was supposed to be one.. not trying to sound like and arrogant person here.. but we should be getting 3 points against teams such as Birmingham.. and to come away with 1 is pretty dissapointing.. I think we underestimated our opponents and that is again very very dissapointing.
arsenalrulz4ever
AG manu were lucky vs Birmingham, and what a chance Gallas had in the end. and i don't understand why our players make runs into the six yard box. when hleb put that ball in, it deserved a goal. but ade, cesc and dudu were all standing behind and not one of them gambled to get in there, it's really *****ing off..
luckys_10
man utd have the opportunity to go top and this time the wont serenader it so easy. And all that talk Wenger was going about we must focus on are own results and performances and this **** happens
young-Gunner
I believe in irony.
k_chelski
Yeah ManU weren't strong against Birmingham who did well in that game. And Young Gunner, I thought Senderos was better than I thought and he's definitely not the worst one on the pitch. He's slow but did had a few clearances. I thought Theo was picking the wrong options and his skills aren't strong enough for the league yet. AG also has a point about the players' sharpness, having had no action in more than a week. But I wouldn't 'blame' Arsene as FAC at Burnley and CC were more for youth and not worth taking the risk of getting anyone injured. Like against Spurs, what a scare it gave us when 3 players got injured.
Lou the Gunneress
What p!sses me off even more is that I now have to put up with watching ManU bcos of this anxiety this title chase gives me.
Lou the Gunneress
Lou the Gunneress do you think we can win the title with senderos at the back
young-Gunner
And I believe in supporting a my local team Kev but there you go each to their own.
nikolaijns
NIko, you think it's wrong for people in other countries to support arsenal or chelsea?
k_chelski
Ashburton gooner it's all very well blaming Wenger but if Fabregas, Adebayor, Hleb or any of our creative players had picked up injuries playing Burnley everyone would be up in arms screaming why did we play the first 11? we should have enough to beat Burnley!, Wenger has always stated his intentions regarding the cc so if they aint good enough to win at spurs thats the end of it, nooone is to blame save for the collective squad that turned out on the pitch today.
nikolaijns
Not at all kevin, just thought we were having a heart to heart about belief, you believe in irony I believe in supporting my local team why, do you think its wrong for me to support my local team?
nikolaijns
I believe in irony, which means I don't believe in religion or karma. You believe in supporting your local team, so by the logic, you don't believe foreigners/people who live in other countries, should support a british club, because by your beliefs, they should be supporting their local team. Is that correct? That wasn't the very best wind-up attempt, and it failed because (lol,irony) I wasn't having a go at Arsenal, I was just replying to some, how I felt Manyoo would lose to newcastle, just after fat sam left.
k_chelski
Irony is'nt a belief system and has no relevance to either religion or karma but you could still be a religious/karmic person appreciating irony so dont really understand the whole mutually exclusive thing you are trying to push, regarding who supports what from where I really could'nt give a ****, I said I believe in supporting my local team and you got uppity and insecure. which in fairness aint my problem.
nikolaijns
Young Gunner, I'm still not sure about Senderos. He's not good enough for an entire season in a title-chasing team, that's what you meant/implied, yeah? I tend to agree to that, he's definitely not there yet. But whether he's good enough to cover Kolo for 5 league games during these 6 weeks, yes I still think he should be given the chance, which he is now, until 'proven' guilty (to some he is already, but I'm still open). He did seem more composed alongside Gallas today. To be honest he's not the main guy who cost us 2 points - that's a combination of a bit of complacency, lack of sharpness and Flamini's lack of defensive focus in that moment when O'Connor headed in the equaliser that cost us a win IMHO.
Lou the Gunneress
Not all is lost guys. Given's having a fantastic game, helping us blcok out ManU's waves of attack. :)
Lou the Gunneress
Lou the Gunneress, i stated last week that as long as Gallas is playing, anyone partnering him will do ok if not better so am not worried there. Its the lack of seriousness in killing the game that cost us the 2 points. Also, Fabregas and Flamini were coming up the pitch together alot instead of one at a time (meaning taking the midfield for granted is theirs). Last but not least, Adebayor dropped a lot deep in the midfield to get the ball. If he does that job, who will do his upfront? This is all I saw from first half, didn't see much of 2nd half (thank GOD) as I had an emergency of taking a friend somewhere.
CoastarianGooner
I don't buy this "anyone playing alongside Gallas would come good" thing, if that's what you meant. Senderos also grew better and better in the 2nd half, which you didn't see. I'm not saying he's a long-term solution, but it's just that as long as Gallas is there, we're fine. Again, keep praying he stays fit and healthy when Kolo's away. Judging from latest performance, I don't think Djourou would have done any better to be honest. Like you said, we didn't win but bcos all these other factors we mentioned. I hope the team will take this as a wake-up call.
Lou the Gunneress
It's a bit of a torture to wait for ManU to drop points...
Lou the Gunneress
Irony for me is a belief system, look at MAnyoo, they won 6-0. You thought I had a go at arsenal, and tried the "support local team" wind up. You probably don't even believe in that, just a bad wind up, let's carry on, the title race looks even more interesting now. May the best team win.
k_chelski
c'mon guys.....i actually saw only bits of the game and hleb looked really good so did bendtner.......my god now manu hav but a goal diff of 7.....we r not quite used to being outscored are we....neway it does spice things up a bit .....its gonna go down to the wire methinks......
karley
Well that was frustrating!! Even waiting for them to come out at half-time I was feeling pretty complacent that we would win comfortably. Sadly the same complacency seemed to infect the team. We should have wrapped it up in the first half - Hleb was playing unbelievably well. We could even afford to carry Walcott who tried hard but looks like the little boy too good to play with those his own age but not yet up to playing with the big boys. Ade was in the frame of mind that convinced him every move had to include a back heel. Brum were offering no threat at all. There was no way they could score unless they got lucky from a set piece. Having done so straight after the break they could spend the next 45 minutes frustrating us. Had they not scored when they did they would have had to take greater risks and we would have scored again I am sure. Senderos played well, Almunia is apparently 'Englands no. 1' , Beckham watched from the stands and gave the crowd a self conscious wave when the stadium cameras were on him, and the Emirates Gunners getaway prize of travel vouchers was won by a Mr Lehmann!!! Disappointing result and the feeling that the big prize this year might be just a season too soon for us.
Amos.
True Hleb played very well as a LW. I liked the cross that Dudu headed straight at Taylor. Also true Walcott looked weak and Le Boss said the reason is him playing 3rd game continous at his age but that reason made me think of Fabregas at the same age playing many games in a row!..May be Walcott is way weaker than the other young startlets who managed to show staming and strength at same age.
CoastarianGooner
Amos, maybe it's a season too soon - that's what I thought back in summer anyway. I keep reminding myself that what we're getting now is bonus. But it's still 2 points dropped. If you had told me at the start of the season that we'd keep winning at home but only draw 2 games, I would have jumped right on. But only drawing ManU and, er, Birmingham? Sigh. Really disappointing - especially when the first-teamers were given a week's rest before this. Instead of coming back refreshed, they lacked sharpness. Don't know how much rest is optimal.
Lou the Gunneress
i think the fact than utd are top of the table is a blessing in disguise me thinks.. now, we r under pressure thats when we always do well.. i think our team has the knack of proving ppl wrong.. just when ppl thought we're gonna struggle against the likes of everton, we put 4 past em.. and when we're expected to roll thru brum, we draw 1- 1 at home.. u ppl seem so defeated, there no need for that now.. feel defeated if we dont win anything at the end of this season
McGooner
McGooner, you're right. Like your optimism.
Lou the Gunneress
A disappointing day... Walcott is not a winger, and if we are going to ease him in, then lets put him up front for the last 15 minutes of each game... Cesc still seems jaded, and Ade is too complacent... At this time of the season we should be in a higher gear than this. Hopefully they'll snap out of it for next week.
Andy-bayor
It WAS disappointing, but I think we could have done with some luck. The Brum took a deflection, and they didnt really pose a goal scoring threat otherwise, and we created 2-3 good chances which we should be putting away. It is 2 pts dropped, and the title race is hotting up now. I doubt ManU will drop more points coz they had their stutter at the start of the season, and we are having ours now. The players will come back strong from this and thats all I would like to see - a strong response.
prits
CoastarianGooner, different players have different growths it would link with biology. Just because Fabregas played so many games on the trot doesn't mean any other 18 should be able to as well as they have different growth rates and time. When he reaches age 21 you can start to say things like that. About the result, it's not so much the draw I care about what I want to see is their response to this winning the premiership takes mentle strength you will not win every single game you will sometimes lose or draw to poorer teams but it's how you bounce back. I just hope they bounce back next game.
Gunners
I so want to get over this that I wish we could play Fulham tomorrow.
Lou the Gunneress
Wenger - "I felt that we were caught by the feeling that it would be easy to win the game - and we lost our focus."... nuff said. And no.. I don't think that we should expect Man Utd to drop points everytime we do too.. I think they will hav their 'tricky' fixtures when they could drop points.. although I don't knw if they would ever make any fixture tricky for themselves at the moment!
arsenalrulz4ever
well, they still hv to play us.. so its still in our hands and we dont need other teams to do us any favours.. as long as we dont do united any favours
McGooner
Ade was bad, Hleb nearly got sent off, Fabregas was out of sorts and Walcott played like Bramble. I'd rather Wenger had started Diaby, at least he'll cut into the middle and try a stinger. Bendtner missed the target quite alot of times. I think we should drop out of the FA or League Cup now or we'll lose even more points. ManUre played in only one of them so they still looked sharp. Not jaded like us.
stukazufuss
nah, keep the youngsters going in the FA and League cup. The fact is that whilst I believe we can win the Premiership and that, obviously I would love us to, a second place finish is more than acceptable from this young team. Winning would be great, but ahead of schedule. Lets keep going in all four competitions as far as we can.
ArsenalRob
Irony is a belief system? You twadge.
Moorish
I said for me it is, personal opinion, you dillweed.
k_chelski
 

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