FA Cup Preview: Leeds Signals All Change

Arsenal travel to Elland Road for only the third FA Cup Third Round Replay during Arsene’s time in charge at the club. Both previous occasions have seen Arsenal prevail away from home against a team from the division below, Sunderland in 1996/97 and Port Vale, a season later. Which is an altogether more cheerier stat than reminder everyone that on this day in 2000, Arsenal exited the FA Cup following defeat at Leicester on penalties in a fourth round replay.

But not quite as cheery as reminding Leeds United that they have never beaten Arsenal in an FA Cup tie played outside of London. This is the sixth time they have tried, Arsenal have prevailed on three on previous five occasions, the remaining two have been draws. That cannot happen tonight, the tie resolved by penalties if necessary.

Personally, I find replays anachronistic. The Carling Cup has moved to resolving matches on the day, the FA Cup should go the same way. There has been talk that the competition will be moved to midweek, similar to many on continental Europe. The TV companies may rattle on about the glory of the FA Cup but it has been relegated to third place in the trophy target list of those clubs which qualify for the Champions League. Not that it is unimportant, simply diminished by the money on offer elsewhere.

But cheery is something that Arsenal are not at this moment in time.

Arsene is unhappy because he cannot find a centre back, or as he put it, “I cannot tell you [about the type of player] at the moment because it has to click in my head and nothing has happened yet“. Goodness knows why he cannot find one, he gets enough advice on a daily basis as to whom he should buy. Arsene, you need to read all of the scouts out in blogland, they have an eye for a bargain or two.

His problem is exacerbated by Squillaci’s injury – is his a rolling two-week absence? – which is going to necessitate a rest for Johan Djourou, Wenger admitted that the Swiss has played more than was intended at the start of the season. Tonight is likely to see Ignasi Miquel make his debut for the first team as a result.

Elsewhere, Denilson’s comments prior to the original meeting with Leeds have been regurgitated by The Sun, who it seems cannot be arsed to fix up an interview with the player himself, instead thieving content from Arseblog and Arsenal Brasil.

There is an element of truth in that Cesc tends to lead by example on the pitch, rather than being a vocal performer in the mould of Adams or McLintock. It however, also highlights Denilson’s own immaturity in needing a leader, a disappointing trait in one who has played as many first team games as he has.

Back to this evening. Earlier this week Arsene spoke of the need to rotate and he can do so with most of the squad fit. He noted, however, that not so many changes would be made as the first tie, pointing out the underperformance of many in that encounter. No doubt a few will be given the chance to put right those wrongs.

With Miquel likely to start in defence, it is entirely possible that only Koscielny will retain his place from the weekend. Sagna would offer the young Spaniard a more experienced head to guide Miquel through his debut. Gibbs on the left would complete three changes in defence.

Who is Arsene kidding? Looking at the team on Saturday, a strong case could be made for nine changes although Arsene is likely to resist that many with Wilshere retaining his place alongside Denilson and Rosicky. Up front, I would personally use Walcott and Arshavin with Chamakh leading the line. Wenger is likely to persevere with Bendtner on the right.

Arsene’s line-up is probably,

Szczesny; Sagna, Miquel, Koscielny, Gibbs; Rosicky, Denilson, Wilshere; Bendtner, Chamakh, Arshavin

Personally, I would take Denilson out and leave Song in, Walcott replacing Bendtner on the right with a case for Fabregas starting rather than Rosicky. The bench is likely to give Wenger his options, no surprise if it includes Fabregas, Nasri, van Persie and Song just in case things are going awry.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it. ’til Tomorrow.

482 thoughts on “FA Cup Preview: Leeds Signals All Change

  1. Paul N says:

    Shotta, I am not putting NB down. I just dont think, even in this match, that he is great on the right wing. Irregardless of being able to be flexible, different players are better suited for certain positions.

    Thats just me though.

  2. shotta-gunna says:

    My god cbob. Something good to say about Leeds.

  3. shotta-gunna says:

    OK Paul N, I see where you are coming from. But with RVP and chamakh better at leading the line, where else is he going to play?

  4. IndianGooner says:

    cbob,
    They have played a lot better than some ‘Premiership’ clubs…

  5. Irishgray says:

    Consolsbob – are you feeling ok? Or have you broken out the good stuff a bit early?

    IndianGooner- I like Sagna and Eboue too, had actually thought he might have played them tonight.

  6. Paul N says:

    True Shotta, we have a wealth of talent, thats a good problem. I hope to see him get his chance in the middle, he is instinctive and very good with his head.

  7. consolsbob says:

    To be fair, I had my first pint of cider some three hours ago.

  8. 1 loose cannon says:

    Sagna has been awesome, wonderful player, cause them all sort of problems and was solid . MOTM for me . A great performance from all the players. Leeds played football and gave good account of themselves.

  9. shotta-gunna says:

    Cbob – You were premature. That was hack by Howson.

  10. Irishgray says:

    Consolsbob – figured!!! 🙂

  11. IndianGooner says:

    colney,
    Apart from the FA Cup 5th round game, We have 7 home game with just 1 away game between those..

  12. Gadget says:

    Same old Arsenal…

    Always winning.

    Fuck ’em

  13. IndianGooner says:

    Kos and Sagna are joint MoTM for me..

  14. Gogsy says:

    Great performance, great result. Fair play to Leeds for making a game of it. Arshavin worked hard at least, even if nothing came off for him. This is more like it though. Dancing with the snood Boys!

  15. consolsbob says:

    No, tell a lie, it was four hours ago.

  16. colneyblog says:

    Yea your right Indian, we have 7 out of 9 at home, Newcastle away and the 5th rd FA tie TBD

  17. 1 loose cannon says:

    Indiangooner. Agree, Kolcieny was fantastic too but Sagna was a right back and a winger rolled into one simply awesome defnding and going forward.Everyone was great.

  18. IndianGooner says:

    colney,
    I’ve included that..
    22 Jan BPL H Wigan Athletic
    25 Jan CC H Ipswich Town
    30 Jan FA Cup H Huddersfield Town
    01 Feb BPL H Everton
    05 Feb BPL A Newcastle United
    12 Feb BPL H Wolverhampton W.
    16 Feb UEFA CL H FC Barcelona
    19 Feb FA Cup N Fifth Round
    22 Feb BPL H Stoke City

    26 Feb BPL A Tottenham Hotspur
    (This game will be moved if Arsenal reach the Carling Cup Final)
    27 Feb CC N Final

  19. consolsbob says:

    Cesc and Samir looked bloody good in the post match interview.

    Eyes on the prize. Like hawks after my chickens.

  20. shotta-gunna says:

    Is Muppet writing for le-shite? They were really in super-doomer-drive today. I take that back. I doubt Muppet will go that far in comedy and satire.
    Truth is stranger than fiction.

  21. Irishgray says:

    I don’t get Sagna, running up and down that right wing like a headless chicken or as The One, The Only, The Legend Chris Waddle would say a “Theo Walcott”, and then by pure luck one of his usual god-awful crosses is knocked in by Kasper The Friendly Goalkeeper!! You would never see Emanuel Eboue being so reckless with his defensive duties. Meh!!! Sagna…..pfff!!

  22. IndianGooner says:

    cbob at 10pm,
    That attitude is what we all have been waiting for some time..

  23. colneyblog says:

    Wenger will still need to rotate a bit before february. I don’t know who makes the schedule but this is ridiculous,

    22 (H) Wigan
    25 (H) Ipswich
    30 (H) Huddersfield
    01 (H) Everton only 2days to recover before we play the toffees in february
    05 (A) Newcastle
    12 (H) Wolves

  24. Gadget says:

    Bendy chipped that ball in like a golfer. fantastic cross. He played much better in the 2nd half. That’s AW’s talk

  25. Muppet says:

    shotta-gunna,

    No. I’ve had a look at some of their comments over there, and they quite take your breath away. Not arsenal supporters, that’s for sure.

  26. Frank says:

    well well well

    Robin Van Persie….clickclickclick

  27. colneyblog says:

    Hopefully Squillachi is healthy enough to play Huddersfield so Djourou can get a rest. Only 2 days to rest before Everton, who makes these schedules anyway?

  28. consolsbob says:

    Yes, love it colney. That’s the way to win titles and doubles. Keep it rolling. Engender the fear in their hearts and minds. Make ’em all dread playing us.

    I tell you, we are in a very good place.

  29. steww says:

    c’bob – ref the radio show, I’m off air at the present time after a dispute with the station bosses. Politics, pschah

  30. Muppet says:

    Strachan just said that Song was the best defensive midfielder in the league.

  31. IndianGooner says:

    I feel the players have found the way to play the high-tempo game even after making all those wholesome changes.. The struggles against Wigan, Leeds and Ipswich has started to pay off…

    The early goal helped tonight though..

  32. ormer says:

    Gordon Strachan “Song is the best defensive midfielder in the league”. He must be wrong, song is shit isn’t he?

  33. consolsbob says:

    You bolshie bugger steww.

    The next thing you’ll be telling the world that we are ‘..the best team in the land’.

  34. Muppet says:

    Notice how Adrian Chiles did his level best to hint at arsenal frailities, weaknesses and fragilities… and it totally backfired. Ditto Tyler and Townsend.

  35. colneyblog says:

    “Strachan just said that Song was the best defensive midfielder in the league.”

    What???? I want the old muppet back :), they must be tearing their hair out at le moan

  36. Firstlady says:

    Am having swt drms tonight.were we motivated or were we motivated!thanks Denny.

  37. 1 loose cannon says:

    Muppet- We knew that a long time ago but you still get pundits including some former gooners who believe Arsenal need a holding midfielder, sometimes I really don’t understand it, I’m a jsut a football fan and I can see he is the best, how come these so called professionals can’t see it. Not long ago Wenger was mocked and ridculed for not buying Palacios.

  38. colneyblog says:

    Palacios is not fit to lace Song’s boots. Song is progressing every year and seems to be adding more to his arsenal. Next year i won’t be surprised if Song starts to shoot more from long range

  39. colneyblog says:

    Eyes on the prize gunners!!! Eyes on the prize!! Let’s get behind the team good, bad or worst. Upwards and onwards!!

  40. Muppet says:

    1 loose cannon,

    Well, sure, there is the point that Song isn’t a defensive midfielder. It’s been well documented that he doesn’t sit in front of the back 4 a la Makelele.

    I think this comment by Strachan can be regarded as reasonable praise for Song. It’s not like Strachan is a tit. He has a good CV. Of course, it’s a bit hard to accept praise for arsenal when it comes from the same people who are dish out the usual bland statements and platitudes.

  41. shottagunna says:

    Muppest – After scanning the post itself (written it seems by Geoff, the dumber, Pedro is merely dumb) I was taken aback. Thought it was one of your best impressions. Realizing that it was deliberately written to inflame the AAA crazies, I blanched at reading the posters. Not for me. Let me enjoy my team rolling Leeds.

  42. shottagunna says:

    Muppet – After scanning the post itself (written it seems by Geoff, the dumber, Pedro is merely dumb) I was taken aback. Thought it was one of your best impressions. Realizing that it was deliberately written to inflame the AAA crazies, I blanched at reading the posters. Not for me. Let me enjoy my team rolling Leeds.

  43. Muppet says:

    Shotta,

    Nah. I can’t post on Le Moan. They have a list of the IP addresses I regularly direct abuse at them on, so my stuff never gets posted, unless it contains criticism of the club, or I go on there and promise not to direct abuse. They want me to go on there and be clean and nice, but abuse directed towards me, or the club and players is acceptable. It’s the most ridiculous set of double standards you have ever seen.

  44. Paul N says:

    Great, Great win!!!
    I want to commend Arshavin. He really played hard, the ball just wouldnt stay down for him. I am looking forward to seeing him score some great goals (the norm for him) in the near future.
    I really hope the Arsenal supporters get behind him going forward. Class player!!!

  45. Veske says:

    To add on Palacios talk – A few months before he was on trial with us he was on trial with Red Star Belgrade. I was on my vacation in Serbia and I actually saw one of the games that he played and I honestly thought that he sucked. He played like a regular bone-breaker. To compare him with Dr. Bilong is ridiculous. And I actually agree with all the moaners, Song is not a DM – he’s actually a complete midfielder.

  46. shottagunna says:

    Muppet at 10:47 pm |
    You don’t believe I am serious about you writing for le-shite? But today they did a serious impression of your best work on this site, I had to ask. Comedy gold.

  47. Gainsbourg69 says:

    The ball movement was sharp tonight. Denilson is not as awful as some think when he plays with the likes of Nasri and Cesc, is he?

  48. dupsffokcuf says:

    Seems the guy who scored the Dirty Leeds goal was a product of the Arsenal academy and a life long gooner.

  49. joshua says:

    I’d like to really commend our two CBs tonite… I thought that Kosceilny in particular was outstanding. I also think that Wenger’s insistence on playing all members of the squad is now starting to pay dividends. Chamakh looks refreshed and very much like the player from earlier on in the season. Denilson and Gibbs had very good games and Arshavin and bendtner can only improve by playing games. Neither one of Arshavin nor Bendtner were outstanding but they both worked very hard. Given the congested fixture list that we face at the moment the decision to get as many of our players involved in games as possible may well turn out to be an absolute master stroke by Wenger. I ‘d have no qualms about seeing a starting line up with Chamakh and Denilson in it if Wenger decided to go with those two, nor would I quibble with Gibbs replacing Clichy nor Eboue in Sagna’s place. We really do have strength in depth. It’s interesting that neither Walcott nor Wilshere had a kick tonite… and there’s still Diaby and Ramsey to return for us. I think that we are really, really good enough to do something special this year.

    We were much, much better than Leeds tonight… but for some good saves by Schmichael and some wayward finishing and last ditch tackles we’d have been well out of sight before they even got their goal. Adrian Chiles is fast becoming a bit of a tit. I fully appreciate that the so-called neutrals would like to see the big team humiliated in a match like today’s but it is ridiculously unprofessional to start spouting idiotic tropes about Arsenal’s mental fragility when you are the supposedly impartial moderator of a TV programme. And how idiotic are these lazy Arsenal stereotypes anyway? We have the best away record in the league, how is that possible if our team is mentally fragile?? Idiots.

    I have to say that we played at high tempo today but for me the main difference between today and the match at the Emirates was the fact that we scored early. It made such a difference to how the match panned out in the end.

    Shotta…

    You’re so right about the two dummies over at Le Grove. Pedro is just a bit thick. He once suggested that Arsenal should adopt Real Madrid’s spending approach and justified that piece of lunacy by claiming to look at their annual business statement! Imagine writing such rubbish and then…. PUBLISHING IT FOR THE WORLD TO READ!! Geoff IMHO is not all there. The guy is a sandwich and pickle short of a picnic. I know that diagnosing someone on the internet is fraught with all manner of dangers but the guy has got all sorts paranoid tendencies… and his hatred for Wenger is quite incandescent and utterly inexplicable.. when he goes into one of his anti-French/ anti Wenger tirades my skin quite literally crawls. Pedro is a bit thick but Geoff… Geoff is just weird. anyway enough of the stick-in-the-muds. Tonight was one to savour. Onwards and upwards. COYG!!

    Good night all.

  50. 1 loose cannon says:

    Barcelona got beat tonight 3-1 by a second division team Betis and Messi missed a penalty as well. I have to say our bench is a lot better than theirs. If they face us Without Messi xavi and Iniesta they will get hammered. Except those players I mentioned very rarely get injured or miss any big games.

  51. Gainsbourg69 says:

    How come none of the mugs who show up here when we draw or lose have the balls to comment when we win?

    Joshua, I wouldn’t mind bashing that cunt Geoff in the face.

  52. Gainsbourg69 says:

    I love how those wankers at Le Moan say that our bench players aren’t good enough. If they’re not good enough how come we’re three points off the top, into the next round of the CL, semis of the CC and fourth round of the FA cup eventhough our best 11 has only been available since the Chelsea game in December? Being the proper realists they are, how come they never talk about that?

  53. shotta-gunna says:

    joshua | January 19, 2011 at 11:36 pm |
    I could never in a hundred years of writing better your depiction of those two bozos over at le-shite. Their paranoia and xenophobia offends me from both a footballing and Afro-Caribbean perspective. I hardly waste my time reading their blog but today I felt impelled to read their perspective on the game. I never got beyond the 1st page. I am still retching.

  54. shotta-gunna says:

    Just read the Denilson postings by some of the regulars here earlier. By now both the club and the players involved have exposed the Sun and arseblog as willing purveyors of a transparently deliberate mis-representation of Denilson’s comments. Worst is how many who should know better fell for it hook, line and sinker. All because Denilson is now the favorite demon of a certain section of the Arsenal support. Shame on you guys.
    We saw it all before. Eboue was demonized when he seemed to be a threat to Walcott 1st teams .chances. Poor Denilson just happens to be competing with Wilshere. No coincidence he is now belittled by some at every turn.

  55. Gainsbourg69 says:

    I think Denilson would play well too if he were sorrounded by our best 11. I don’t care if Jack is English and Denilson is Brazilian. I’m just glad we have two very good youngsters who can play in a very demanding position without there being a drop in quality.

  56. IndianGooner says:

    GB69,
    I feel the movement of Nasri and Cesc is what makes Denilson play at his best.. The movement of other players is needed to make his pass-and-move game click..

  57. IndianGooner says:

    Loved this quote from Arsene:

    “On Huddersfield…
    I have Benik Afobe there, at the moment he is injured. There is a link between Huddersfield and Arsenal from a long, long time ago. I am happy to play them at home.”

    especially the link between us and Huddersfield..

  58. ZimPaul says:

    I thought Bendtner looked very good, Arshavin too. Sagna was a joy. It was a balanced team with Bendtner mainly on the right and his forays and defensive work too in all parts of the field. Bendtner looks lean and fit.

    This is very good news for us because he is a fine player, a match winner too, he gets into interesting positions. It was Bendtner’s post-Xmas return last season that clicked the team into gear if you remember. I wouldn’t go so far as to say he is ‘pivotal’, but you know, he just might become so in the latter half of the season. He needs a few goals to get scoring confidence back, and then watch out.

    I thought Denilson was classy last night. He’s is consistently getting better every year, he is going to become a giant of a player.

    I miss Diaby. boo hoo.

  59. goonerandy says:

    Great win.

    Our back 5 dealt with anything Leeds could muster, and Kos and Djourou were especially good. Our midfield controlled the game, and when Cesc came on he basically took the game over. I don’t think any of our front three had great games, but all three worked hard. Great ball by Bendtner for our 3rd though. Pinpoint stuff.

    It was a tough game, in difficult circumstances and we came through with flring colours. How calm is Nasri in front of goal?

  60. Gadget says:

    GA, I just realised what it is that irks me about your posts! Your choice of phrase is a little too negative for my positive reeinforcement tastes!

    For example,
    “I don’t think any of our front three had great games, but all three worked hard”
    change that to
    “I think our front three had decent games and they all worked hard”,
    and it’s suddenly brimming with positivity without changing the overall content of your message.

    Still, don’t mind me, I’m a positivity Nazi (can there ever be such a thing? seems pretty oxymoronic to me)

  61. goonerandy says:

    Gadget – Heh, sorry mate. I don’t mean to irk you. I suppose I should quantify me saying I don’t think they had great games, being in comparrison to what we know they can produce.

    AA – Worked hard (more than useual), but nothing is coming off for him at the moment.

    Bendtner – Can’t seem to impose himself on game, and can be quite lazy. Worked hard last night though, and a great ball for the 3rd. Involved in our 2nd as well.

    Chamakh – I really like him, and he always works hard. I have noticed he does not seem to play as well with Bedntner in the side. (maybe they take up the same positions and get in each other way).

    So, although I don’t think any of them played well (by the standards they have set themselves), they all worked hard. And you can’t knock a player for not being on form if they work hard. Against Leeds last night a high workrate was a must, and those three worked as hard as anybody in the side.

  62. LimparAssist says:

    Anyone else see Song get the old trivela out toward the end? That’s what happens when you train with Mozart…

  63. LimparAssist says:

    MotM was Gibbs for me… and Denilson… and Song… and Ong-Bac. The whole defensive unit as a matter of fact, were superb.

  64. goonerandy says:

    MotM for me was either Kos or Djourou (who was towering). Mention also for Nasri, who dictated the pace of the game.

  65. shottagunna says:

    Gainsbourg69 | January 20, 2011 at 3:23 am |
    “I think Denilson would play well too if he were sorrounded by our best 11. I don’t care if Jack is English and Denilson is Brazilian. I’m just glad we have two very good youngsters who can play in a very demanding position without there being a drop in quality.”
    Exactly my point. But many at heart believe that the best way for Wilshere to thrive is to demean Denilson. Go read any AAA blog and the English press.

  66. ZimPaul says:

    I love it when Wenger leaves the dugout and shakes the air with both fists raised high, knowing him as a somewhat mellow fellow, one could almost describe him as shy at times, certainly his behaviour and language is ‘considered’ and ‘respectful’, a watchful old bird of prey.

  67. shottagunna says:

    Le-shite is in their manic mode today. Somebody must have taken their pills.

  68. LimparAssist says:

    Grating Super-shite Plunditry ClichĂ© #1 The Scene: Arsenal are in full flow. Players strain every sinew and cover every inch of the pitch in a bewildering display of pass and move. When possession is finally lost it’s never for very long as every player in the team busts a lung to harry and tackle and win the ball back for the team. It’s a tour-de-force, Arsenal are everywhere, and no matter how hard the opposition chase, how hard they throw themselves into their tackles… they barely get a sniff. Cue anonymous clueless plundit number 63…
    …”Arsenal are in ‘cruise-control’ mode.”

    STFU you know-nothing mug. If you had any idea how much labour and skill and concentration and courage and endeavour and focus and application it takes to dominate a team like that all over the pitch… especially a team as up for it as Leeds were last night… well it belittles every player involved. Cruise control! Absolute fucking rubbish. Arsehole… whoever he was.

    A real put your shoulder to the wheel and push with all the rest performance from every Arsenal shirt last night. Thoroughly enjoyable. The chasing down right from the front three was heart-warming and the kind of effort that inspires everyone involved with the club.

  69. Dgob says:

    Glorious,

    Once again. Things are starting to come together nicely and I feel that we couldn’t have much better preparation for the Barca match than what we have before and behind us.

    Every player deserves praise for their performances and/or effort tonight. Arshavin will find his form and that might occur quicker if the neaderthals who occupy certain blogs and sections of the Emirates get off his back and allow him to play into confidence!! Yet, my special praise (as always) goes to Arsene: rotation policy, team selection, perseverance with under-rated players all being well thought out and adhered to even when popular opinion challenges him most strongly. And now – the only team in all four competions is?

    COYG

  70. LimparAssist says:

    And just when I thought Niklas Bendtner was doing a real stand-up job illustrating why you don’t have to be a right whinger to play on the right hand side of a front three… he pearls in a perfect 9 iron right on Mr Arsenal’s bonce all the way out from the touchline and totally ruins my point.

  71. Markus says:

    And there was me just saying “it’s not as if Bendtner will be expected to provide any crosses from the right wing”. Doh! What a ball big Nic!

  72. goonerwife says:

    Joshua i gotta say i feel the same way. Makes my skin crawl.

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