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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

22 of 38 - Arsenal (away)

The first game of a New Year sees us up against our former neighbours Arsenal who departed over the water in 1913 as they were so embarrassed at being relegated to the Second Division. Reluctant to rename themselves Holloway they followed the bellicose mood of the time, kept the Arsenal bit and got rid of the Woolwich just as the Great War was kicking off. They remain one of only two clubs in the Football League not named after a place ( Port Vale are the others) but have now become the only one to name their stadium after a country, or is it supposed to be an airline?

Back down to earth, however, is our new Manager, who, apart from protecting his unbeaten run with the Addicks is also planning his first Double of the season after getting his win bonus over the Gunners on Guy Fawkes night with a very late Harewood strike. That night there was a bit of a bust-up between the two as Pards seemed to enjoy winning a bit too much for Arsene liking but he's not too concerned about meeting Wenger again and assures everyone that he'll shake hands before the game. He's also famous for having the curse over the Arse, seems they have never beaten him and reading the previews he certainly seems to be looking forward to the challenge.

I was too, until I read Wyns Page where he tells us that not only is Adebayor fit again but that Darren Bent is OUT FOR SIX WEEKS with an ankle injury.....


Remember Nov 4th 2001!
Who doesn't! But the truth is we've only beaten this lot 9 times in exactly 50 games so wins are as valuable as gold dust. Dig that dirt, Pards.

The Opponents
Unbeaten in their new Ground!
The last time the Arse played at home they scored 6 against Blackburn and they've enjoyed four symmetrical 3-0 wins over Spurs, Liverpool, Watford and Sheffield! But even though they've enjoyed those 5 wins at home there are another 5 teams, namely Pompey, Newcastle, Everton, Middlesbro' and Villa all of whom came away with a draw.

Perhaps it can be explained by the fact that The Arse, like Sheffield Utd, do start badly and of the 10 home games played, they've been losing at half-time on 4 occasions but then subsequently recovered. In fact the Arse are the best 2nd-half team in the Premiership and have scored a massive 16 times in the 2nd half at the Oilfields stadium. So obviously Plan A will be long balls to Darren, snatch an early lead and then defend like crazy.

The good news from the Arsenal camp, of course, is that that french geezer will still be missing and to add to Wengers Woes he's not the only one. Also missing through injury are: Theo Walcott, Alexander Hleb, Emmanuel Eboue, Emmanuel Adebayor (?), Abou Diaby, William Gallas, Johan Djourou and Freddie Ljungberg....

The Addicks
Same Again?
Its very possible that Pards will field the same team that beat Villa on Saturday. He's not got a lot to play with. With the experience of having put one over Wenger already this season he will know what to go with. Sadly it does seem that its the physical that will upset Arsenal and that doesn't really apply to us, does it.

Once again they'll be no Reid, Faye or Young although the Beeb seems to think that all three are back in training and although Ossie Sankofa is gaining in confidence at right-back its in the midfield that we will need to hold the Gunners.

Will Pards cram the middle of the park, as many Arsenal fans predict, with the likes of Kish, Hughes and Holland or will he favour putting out two wingers to scare Arsene? Seems like a toss-up between Kish or Hughes to be honest and the rest should be the same as on Saturday.

Before we end there's a bit of a review of Pards' Tactics against Villa in the guardian to get everyone in the mood of what to expect.

Of course predictable "Mr Lets Move On" sees an easy 2-0 home win because, of course, in his opinion we are a load of crap. But for me its a different story with a fighting 3-2 to the Arse, I'm afraid, with a stunning 2-0 half-time lead lost in the second 45 as they turn the screw.

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