Tag Archives: Olivier Giroud

The Best Arsenal And Tottenham Combined XI

Ahead of Saturday’s mouth-watering North-London derby between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium, we here at IntoTheTopCorner have decided to make the best combined XI using both the team’s players.

In goal, Spurs’ second choice keeper Hugo Lloris takes the place in between the sticks ahead of Brad Friedel, Wojciech Szczesny and Vito Mannone. The defence is formed of Tottenham’s Kyle Walker, along with Gunners central defensive pairing of Per Mertesacker and Thomas Vermaelen, and Jan Vertonghen at left back – where he has played admirably in the absence of Benoit Assou-Ekotto.

The midfield is dominated by Arsenal with Mikel Arteta, Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere in the middle with task of driving forward and putting in some killer passes. Finally, the forward line is a brilliant combination of pace, width and finishing. Theo Walcott and Gareth Bale would stretch the play and trouble the full-backs with their speed, while Jermain Defoe – who gets the nod ahead of Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Emmanuel Adebayor – will lead the line.

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Premier League Team Of The Week – Gameweek 11

See who have made our Team of the Week from an exciting eleventh weekend in the Premier League. West Ham United are the only side to provide two players, while there is one each from Chelsea, Arsenal, Fulham, Liverpool, Aston Villa, Manchester United, Stoke City, Norwich City and Everton.

Jussi Jaaskelainen (West Ham United)

Kevin Nolan returned to St. James Park to haunt his old club, but the win was only possible thanks to a wonder save by the West Ham shot-stopper. Demba Ba thought he had levelled matters for Newcastle with a powerful header, but the keeper sprang across his goal to claw the ball away before it crossed the line.

Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)

For some time, the Blues have struggled to find a solid right-back who can fulfill the role with consistency and the Chelsea new-boy looks like he might be the one who can cope with the demands of playing in the Chelsea defence without buckling under the pressure. He was impressive against Shakhtar Donetsk and even more adventurous against Liverpool.

Ryan Shawcross (Stoke City)

The former Manchester United defender has enjoyed an excellent start to the season and looks set to challenge for a spot in Roy Hodgson’s England side in the next few months, and that continued on Saturday as he put in a commanding display in the Potters’ 1-0 win over QPR. He kept Djibril Cisse quiet for the whole game and was also a threat inside the attacking third.

Sebastien Bassong (Norwich City)

It was one of those desperate games for Norwich where they had to put their bodies on the line to defend but in the end they earned a valuable point against Reading. The former Tottenham and Newcastle man had one of his best games of the season as he single-handedly kept Jason Roberts, Stephen Hunt, Jobi McAnuff and Pavel Pogrebnyak quiet.

Jose Enrique (Liverpool)

Chelsea’s lack of width in the midfield gave Enrique all kinds of space and the Spaniard needs no invitation to go forward. He controlled the left flank for the Reds against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. He was unable to keep a clean sheet, but impressed for Brendan Rodgers’ side and almost scored an injury time winner.

Andreas Weimann (Aston Villa)

Scoring two goals against Manchester United and ending on the losing side felt like ‘losing a cup final’ to Weimann. He can, however, take plenty of heart from the fact that he was able to breach a Manchester United defence on two occasions. His first was an unstoppable drive which fizzed past David de Gea and his second saw him display some predatory instincts inside the box.

Marouane Fellaini (Everton)

The Belgian midfielder is in the form of his life and there is no doubt he is attracting so much of interest from the top clubs. He has taken his game to a new level this season with talismanic displays put in on a weekly basis. Another inspirational showing on Saturday saw him score one and make the other for Nikica Jelavic as the Toffees overcame Sunderland 2-1.

Kevin Nolan (West Ham United)

Nolan gets the nod over Tottenham’s Sandro and Manchester City’s David Silva, as he collected three points and scored the winner for West Ham against his former employers at St. James Park. The former Bolton man put in yet another professional display for his side and not only scored the only goal of the game but also provided Andy Carroll with a chance to seal the game.

Olivier Giroud (Arsenal)

It has taken a while for Giroud to get going in the Premier League, but he is now displaying the kind of form which saw him score for fun in France and earn international recognition. The powerful frontman netted a brace against Fulham over the weekend, with the only surprise being that a man brimming with confidence did not step up to take a late penalty.

Javier Hernandez (Manchester United)

Manchester United’s brilliant comeback win over Aston Villa has been mentioned a lot in this past week but it would have been impossible without this man. Voted as United’s player of the month, Hernandez started from the bench but was introduced at the interval to devastating effect. He completely turned the game on its head with his brilliant hat-trick and went home with the match-ball.

Dimitar Berbatov (Fulham)

While Giroud was good for Arsenal on Saturday, Berbatov was even better. He too helped himself to a brace, but also provided an assist as Fulham held Arsenal to a thrilling 3-3 draw at the Emirates. The Bulgarian’s class was seen, as he controlled the game at his own pace, and the composure he displayed in slotting home a penalty perfectly illustrated what he is all about.

Manchester United v Arsenal Preview

Manchester United’s blockbuster summer signing Robin van Persie takes centre stage on Saturday as the former Arsenal skipper comes up against his old employers for the first time in an United shirt.

The Dutch international, who scored 132 times during his seven years with the Gunners before departing in a £24million deal this summer, has already made an impact at Old Trafford. Van Persie already has seven goals to his name from just seven Premier League starts to show why Sir Alex Ferguson was so happy to land his signature despite competition from Manchester City and Juventus. The striker’s priceless ability to win games on his own will be sorely missed by the fans who once idolised him, and even though Arsene Wenger has called for respect from the travelling fans, the hostility is likely to come out from the away section.

Arsenal also need to banish the memories of last season’s Premier League visit to Old Trafford in August, when they suffered an 8-2 humiliation in what ranks as one of Wenger’s darkest days in his otherwise successful career.

The London club are six points behind United and while it will be to immature to write them off their title ambitions in November, a nine-point gap would be a significant deficit to bridge. On the other hand, victory for Ferguson’s men would take them at the top of the table for the first time this season as Chelsea are not in action until later in day when they travel to Swansea.

TEAM NEWS

Manchester United

The Red Devils have no fresh injury issues following their two dramatic matches against Chelsea over the past week. Defender Chris Smalling continues to make good progress in training, but the game at Old Trafford will come too soon. Fellow centre-back Phil Jones (knee) is also not ready, while Nemanja Vidic and midfielder Shinji Kagawa (both knee) remain sidelined. Sir Alex Ferguson made a host of changes for the Capital One Cup clash and will bring back his big players for the big Premier League encounter.

Arsenal

The Gunners will go back to a more recognized team after changing their entire starting XI for the surprising Capitol One Cup success at Reading. Jack Wilshere and Bacary Sagna are in contention, but Theo Walcott may be back on the bench after playing whole 120 minutes at the Madjeski. Midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hip) faces a fitness test, but winger Gervinho (ankle) will be out for around three weeks, while defender Kieran Gibbs (thigh), first-choice goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny (ankle), midfielder Abou Diaby (thigh) and Czech winger Tomas Rosicky (hamstring) all continue their rehab.

HEAD TO HEAD

Played – 193
Manchester United Wins – 84
Draw – 42
Arsenal Wins – 67

HEAD TO HEAD FIXTURES (LAST FIVE)

22-Jan-12 – Premier League – Arsenal 1-2 Manchester United
28-Aug-11 – Premier League – Manchester United 8-2 Arsenal
01-May-11 – Premier League – Arsenal 1-0 Manchester United
12-Mar-11 – FA Cup – Manchester United 2-0 Arsenal
13-Apr-10 – Premier League – Manchester United 1-0 Arsenal

FORM GUIDE

Manchester United – LWWWW
United come into this match on the back of a very important win at Stamford Bridge in the league and are currently just one point behind leaders Chelsea in second place.

31-Oct-12 – Captial One Cup – Chelsea 5-4 Manchester United
28-Oct-12 – Premier League – Chelsea 2-3 Manchester United
23-Oct-12 – Champions League – Manchester United 3-2 Braga
20-Oct-12 – Premier League – Manchester United 4-2 Stoke City
06-Oct-12 – Premier League – Newcastle United 0-3 Manchester United

Arsenal – WWLLW
The Gunners lie in sixth place in the Premier League, six points behind their opponents having won four, drawn three and lost two of their nine games.

30-Oct-12 – Capital One Cup – Reading 5-7 Arsenal
27-Oct-12 – Premier League – Arsenal 1-0 Queens Park Rangers
24-Oct-12 – Champions League – Arsenal 0-2 Schalke 04
20-Oct-12 – Premier League – Norwich City 1-0 Arsenal
06-Oct-12 – Premier League – West Ham United 1-3 Arsenal

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Robin van Persie (Manchester United)
All eyes will be on the former Arsenal man on Saturday. The 29-year-old has added an extra dimension to United’s attack this season, and is the club’s top goal scorer with nine goals in all competitions. The Netherlands international will be keen to show his former club what they lost. However, he will show some respect to the club he represented for seven years but most Arsenal fans won’t feel the same.

Theo Walcott (Arsenal)
The 23-year-old has been in headlines this week, for reasons on and off the pitch. Contract talks are stalling because the England international isn’t happy with his lack of playing time, but after scoring a hat-trick against Reading in midweek he is making it very hard for Arsene Wenger to leave him out. Walcott on song is a great attacking player and added to the likes Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski and Jack Wilshere, they could easily stun the Red Devils.

PROBABLE LINEUPS

Manchester United (4-2-3-1): David De Gea; Rafael, Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans, Patrice Evra (C); Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley; Antonio Valencia, Wayne Rooney, Ashley Young; Robin van Persie.

De Gea is most likely to take back his place in between the sticks from Anders Lindegaard after the Danish international let in five goals against Chelsea in the mid-week. Ferdinand and Evans will return to central defence after the youngsters – Scott Wootton and Michael Keane – failed to stand up to the challenge at Stamford Bridge. Alexander Buttner, who was substituted at half time, will also make way for Evra. Carrick and Cleverley are expected to return in the midfield along with Valencia and Young on the wings. Rooney and Van Persie were rested for midweek clash and the star strike duo will take field against an under-performing Arsenal defence.

Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Vito Mannone; Bacary Sagna, Per Mertesacker, Thomas Vermaelen (C), Andre Santos; Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta; Theo Theo Walcott, Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski; Olivier Giroud.

First choice keeper Wojciech Szcesny is close to recovery but the Pole is not fit to make a start against the Red Devils, leaving Mannone as the only option for Wenger. Kieran Gibbs is also out with injury, giving Brazilian full-back Andre Santos more first team action this season. After his hat-trick in the mid-week against Reading, Theo Walcott may get the nod on the right wing in place of Aaron Ramsey, while both Andrey Arshavin and Marouane Chamakh are expected to be back on the bench after their impressive performances in the Capital One Cup. Giroud did score against Reading but his league record has been very poor but Wenger will most likely rely on the Frenchman yet again.

OPTA FACTS

  • 1 – Wayne Rooney scored his first Premier League goal, his first in the Premier League for Manchester United and his 100th Premier League goal against Arsenal.
  • 1 – Only one of Arsenal’s 14 league goals this season have come before the half-hour mark.
  • 5 – Manchester United have scored and conceded at least two goals in the same Premier League game five times this season.
  • 7 – Manchester United have won seven and lost none of their last eight against Arsenal at Old Trafford in all competitions.
  • 9 – Manchester United have won nine of their last 10 meetings with the Gunners in all competitions.
  • 10 – Arsenal have scored just 10 goals in 20 Premier League visits to Old Trafford, with last season (8-2 defeat) being the only time they have netted two in one game.
  • 21 – Robin van Persie has hit the woodwork 21 times since August 2009, nine more times than any other Premier League player in the same period.

REFEREE

Name – Mike Dean
Based – Wirral
Age – 44
Games – 6
Yellow Cards – 15
Red Cards – 0

MATCH ODDS

Manchester United 8/11, Draw 13/5, Arsenal 4/1

PREDICTION

It’s been an incredibly entertaining goal-filled week in which both sides conceded five goals in the Capital One Cup. This fixture last season delivered an equally ridiculous scoreline when Manchester United ran out 8-2 winners. Arsenal’s failure to score in league games this season and having to see Robin van Persie play against them will surely make matters worse for the North London side. The game is expected to be another entertaining one for the neutrals, but Sir Alex’s side should have too much for the Gunners in this one.

Predicted Score: Manchester United 2-1 Arsenal

Premier League Team Of The Week – Gameweek 7

See who have made our Team of the Week from an exciting seventh weekend in the Premier League. Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United have provided two players each, while there is one each from Manchester City, Reading, Southampton, West Brom and Wigan.

Alex McCarthy (Reading)

The young stopper has made the number one jersey his own in the absence of the injured Adam Federici and he continued to shine during the Royal’s 2-2 draw at Swansea. McCarthy made eight superb saves to deny Swans from taking the lead, but couldn’t prevent the Royals throwing away a two-goal lead.

Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea)

The Serbian is having one of his best seasons at Stamford Bridge and again on Saturday he was at his very best. He crossed in for Fernando Torres to score Chelsea’s second of the game and then he himself volleyed in towards the end of the game – Chelsea’s fourth – which wrapped up the game for the leaders. The right-back has now scored the same number of league goals as Fernando Torres.

Jose Fonte (Southampton)

Fonte rescued the Saints from defeat at home against Fulham with a last-minute goal which sealed a 2-2 draw at the St Mary’s. The Portuguese had earlier made his mark on the match by scoring Southampton’s opening goal after just four minutes, when he forced home Adam Lallana’s corner.

Jonny Evans (Manchester United) 

The United defence has been criticized a lot this season, but on Sunday they were at their best and kept a clean sheet against Newcastle at St James’ Park. Evans was particularly the star of back four, as he didnt only keep Papiss Cisse (later Shola Ameobi) and Demba Ba quiet for the whole game but also opened the scoring for the Red Devils early in the game with a powerful header from a Robin van Persie corner.

Aleksandar Kolarov (Manchester City) 

The Serbian full-back was City’s main man as they registered a comfortable 3-0 win over Sunderland on Saturday. Kolarov put his team in the lead after just four minutes with a brilliant free-kick. Later on, in the second half he crossed in for Sergio Aguero to score City’s second and then played a role in James Milner’s goal – City’s third – late in the game.

Santi Cazorla (Arsenal)

Arsenal’s summer signing again showed his true class as he pulled the strings in midfield in the Gunners’ 3-1 win over West Ham. The Spaniard troubled the hosts with his passing and capped a commanding display by adding the Gunners’ third goal, curling home a wonderful strike from 25 yards.

Juan Mata (Chelsea)

The Spaniard joins his Chelsea teammate Ivanovic in this team. Mata put in another intelligent display and was undoubtedly the top performer for the Blues in the 4-1 win over Norwich at home. He didn’t get on the score-sheet but he played a role in three out of the four goals they scored and was at the heart of every Chelsea attack.

James Morrison (West Brom)

Morrison is a surprise inclusion in this week’s Team of the Week but the Baggies midfielder played a key role in helping his team win against QPR on Saturday.  He showed some great determination in scoring West Brom’s opener after just five minutes and didn’t fade at all as the game progressed.

Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)

The England and Manchester United striker played at the top of United’s new midfield diamond and was at his best. He didn’t find back of the net but put in a tireless shift and was often the link between the attack and the midfield. He put in one of his best performances of the season and reminded everyone how a good a player he is even if he isn’t scoring goals.

Arouna Kone (Wigan Athletic)

Scoring twice against a disciplined Everton side is not at all an easy thing to do and the Ivorian did that on Saturday. He tormented the Toffees back four for 90 minutes and was denied his first Premier League hat-trick only by some great defending. One of the bargain buys of the season.

Olivier Giroud (Arsenal)

The France international striker makes his debut in our Team of the Week after a fine display at Upton Park, which included a goal – his first in the league – and an assist. He equalised for the Gunners in the first half with an instinctive finish at the near post and then set up Theo Walcott to score Arsenal’s second of the game.

Premier League’s Twenty Most Expensive Transfers Of The Summer

The summer transfer window has shut down and as expected the Premier League clubs were the most busiest this summer, spending a total of around £480 million. In our today’s Picture Special, we look back at the twenty most expensive transfer deals of the season.

Eden Hazard (LOSC Lille to Chelsea – £35.2m)

Luka Modric (Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid – £30m)

Oscar (SC Internacional to Chelsea – £25m

Robin van Persie (Arsenal to Manchester United – £24m)

Joe Allen (Swansea City to Liverpool – £16.7m)

Santi Cazorla (Malaga to Arsneal – £16.7m)

Moussa Dembele (Fulham to Tottenham Hotspur – £16.7m)

Javi Garcia (Benfica to Manchester City – £15.8m)

Alex Song (Arsenal – Barcelona – £15m)

Steven Fletcher (Wolves to Sunderland – £13.3m)

Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund – Manchester United – £13.2m)

Jack Rodwell (Everton to Manchester City – £13.2m)

Matija Nastasic (Fiorentina to Manchester City – £13m + Stefan Savic)

Gaston Ramirez (Bologna to Southampton – £12m)

Fabio Borini (AS Roman to Liverpool – £11.7m)

Lukas Podolski (FC Koln to Arsenal – £11.4m)

Adam Johnson (Manchester City to Sunderland – £11m)

Jan Vertonghen (Ajax to Tottenham Hotspur – £11m)

Matt Jarvis (Wolves to West Ham United – £10.7m)

Olivier Giroud (Montpellier to Arsenal – £10.7)

Premier League 2012/13 Predictions

The wait is finally over as the new Premier League season kicks-off today and here my predictions for the 2012/13 campaign.

Champions?

Manchester City are the favourites for me to win the title again this season. They broke their duck last season and got the monkey of their back. They now know how to cope with certain situations and how to get through games. Roberto Mancini and City both will have learnt a lot from last season. I know they haven’t sign anybody – except for Jack Rodwell – but they already have a very strong squad which is more than capable of winning the league again.

At the same time, I expect the title race to be very close like last season and may again go down to the very last day. Manchester United have got Robin van Persie and they will surely be right up there. They have also go their skipper – Nemanja Vidic coming back from injury, and he would be like a completely new signing for the club.

Top Four?

The two Manchester clubs will occupy the top two places and it will be either Chelsea, Arsenal or Tottenham for the remaining two places. I will go with Chelsea and Arsenal.

The Blues will be a better team than what they were last season. They have bought some very good young players like Eden Hazard, Marko Marin and Oscar, that are going to attack a lot. With Didier Drogba moving to China, Fernando Torres will have a big season, as he will have to fill the big shoes of the Ivorian. If Torres could get his old Liverpool form back, which made him one of the most dangerous forwards in the world, then the Blues could even challenge for the title.

It’s going to be very tight between Arsenal and Tottenham for the final Champions League spot. I fill Arsenal will just sneak into fourth because of the great football they play. They may have lost Van Persie and might also lose Alex Song, but in Lukas Podolski, Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud they have bought in some quality players. As for Tottenham, Andre Villas-Boas is a very talented manager but he needs to get the forward line sorted soon and also find a replacement for Luka Modric.

Bottom Three?

It’s really tough to call who will go down this season. Every year I feel Wigan will be relegated but they somehow stay up. This season again I am going to say Wigan. They have made two good signings in Ivan Ramis and Arouna Kone, but they could lose Victor Moses and should be down there again. Norwich had a very good season last term under Paul Lambert, but with him moving away to a bigger club they are going struggle along with Reading. I really hope the Royals stay up but they are a very attacking side. That will make them entertaining but also vulnerable.

Surprise Package?

With the expected arrival of Gaston Ramirez, it makes Southampton one of the entertaining teams in the Premier League. They have lots of exciting attacking players throughout the side and I can see them doing what Norwich or Swansea did last season. At the same time, I think Mark Hughes’ QPR side will be the overachievers this season. Hughes kept the R’s up on the final day last season and I am expecting a very good campaign from them this year. They have made some very good signings in Park Ji-Sung, Junior Hoilett and Jose Bosingwa. They will be very hard to beat and could even finish in the top half of the table.

Top Scorer?

We will be looking at a lot of the same names again this season. Van Persie and Wayne Rooney will form a deadly combo at United, while Luis Suarez – if he can control himself – will benifit a lot in Brendan Rodgers attack-minded Liverpool side and with Arsenal creating lot of chances Lukas Podolski will also be up there. But in the end Sergio Aguero will win the Golden Boot this season. He had a tremendous first season in England and I expect him to get even better this season. If City do go on to defend their Premier League crown, it will be because of his goals.

Player to Watch?

There are so many exciting players to watch in the Premier League this season. As a United fan I love watching Steven Gerrard play because he is a true inspiration to his team-mates and can single handedly win a game for Liverpool and I hope he stays fit for the whole season.

However, I feel Eden Hazard will be my player to watch this season. His transfer saga went on for months and in the end he revealed on Twitter that he had decided to join Chelsea. He is one of the top talents in world football and was named the Ligue 1 Player of the Year for the second consecutive time last season. He will have a huge role to play for Chelsea this season and will also have to justify his big transfer fees. If he can star as he did for his previous club then the Blues could be in with a shout for the Premier League title.

Premier League 2012/13 Team Preview – Arsenal

Welcome to IntoTheTopCorner’s team-by-team preview to the new Barclays Premier League season. Here we look at Arsenal’s vital stats, their summer transfers and analyse their chances.

Manager: Arsene Wenger.
Captain: Thomas Vermaelen/
Stadium: Emirates Stadium (60,361).
Last season: 3rd.
Leading scorer (PL): Robin van Persie (30).
Odds: Title 6-1. Relegation 500-1.

In: Santi Cazorla (£16.7m, Malaga), Oliver Giroud (£10.5m, Montpellier), Lukas Podolski (£11.4m, Koln).

Out: Benik Afobe (Loan, Bolton), Manuel Almunia (Free, Watford), Pedro Botelho (Free, Atletico-PR), George Brislen-Hall (Released), James Campbell (Released), Joel Campbell (Loan, Betis), Denilson (Loan, Sao Paulo), Gavin Hoyte (Free, Dag & Red), Sean McDermott (Released), Jeffrey Monakana (Released), Rhys Murphy (Free, SC Telstar), Carlos Vela (£3.3m, Real Sociedad).

Kits

Key Man – Santi Cazorla
With Jack Wilshere out till mid-October and Robin van Persie’s future at the club uncertain, the latest addition to the squad from Malaga will be the key man for the Gunners this season. The versatile midfielder, who can play anywhere behind the striker, will be primary playmaker for the upcoming season and will try and create or score as many goals as possible.

Opening Fixtures
18-Aug – Sunderland (H)
25-Aug – Stoke (A)
01-Sep – Liverpool (A)
15-Sep – Southampton (H)
22-Sep – Man City (A)
29-Sep – Chelsea (H).

Probable Formation (4-2-3-1): Szczesny; Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Song, Arteta; Walcott, Cazorla, Podolski; Giroud/RVP.

Verdit: The RVP situation could be unsettling for the club and a Wilshere return is still unlikely in the foreseeable future. However Wenger has added three major signings to his squad that could make the Gunners serious title contenders. I don’t see them to be serious title challengers come May, but a sure top for finish.

Prediction: 4th.