I think it’s going to be the tale of the two on form strikers in the London derby between Chelsea FC and Arsenal FC, with both finally seemingly putting their injury troubles behind them.

Chelsea FC vs Arsenal FC
Venue: Stamford Bridge

It’s that time again, it’s another epic “Battle of the Bridge” as Chelsea FC host Arsenal FC to a tantalizing encounter this weekend. I reckon that the two men whom hold the key to victories for their respective teams are Fernando Torres and Robin van Persie.

Fernando Torres in particular looks like a rejuvenated player, with him striking with goals against Manchester United, Swansea and even against Genk, making that his first goal in the Champions League since Liverpool FC faced Chelsea FC (ohh the irony of that).

Robin van Persie seems to be carrying the weight of the Arsenal FC side in recent weeks, knocking in goals for fun, although the rest of the team seem to be struggling with getting the goals. This was emphasized against Stoke City, where the Dutchman had to come off the bench and score two goals to secure the win at The Emirates Stadium.

I’ve been checking on odds of both of them scoring this weekend, and it seems that Fernando Torres is the one that the bookies (and the general public) are generally going for, with bets placed on him scoring at anytime during the game against Arsenal FC as low as 10/1 (Bet365).

Robin van Persie has rather decent odds himself, bookies putting him at 15/8 (Bet365) to score. Bet on at least one of the two scoring, because here you have two in form strikers in Fernando Torres and Robin van Persie.

I’m carrying on with my current feature on Arsenal FC’s youngsters, with today’s loan down on Arsenal FC midfielders Ryo Miyaichi and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain. 

PLAYER PROFILE| Alex Oxlade Chamberlain (Arsenal FC & England)
Age: 18Favoured foot: Left Position: WingerValue: €5,000,000


Attributes: 
Speed, Crossing and Temperament 

Height Club Weight
Place of Birth
Former club
 1.80m Arsenal 70kg Portsmouth Southampton

Chamberlain’s reputation as a speedy winger has only increased in recent weeks, with some glowing reports from his appearances for both Arsenal FC and the England youth teams, it seems to be only a matter of time before Chamberlain is a first team regular for Arsenal FC.

Lacked the killer instinct against Bolton to score when he was handed to clear cut oppourtunities, but he has time to improve and with Arsenal, he has one of the best managers when it comes to the youth there is.

PLAYER PROFILE | Ryo Miyaichi (Arsenal FC & Japan)
Age: 18Favoured foot: Left Position: WingerValue: €5,000,000


Attributes: 
Speed, Crossing and Temperament

Height Club Weight
Place of Birth
Former club
 1.83m Arsenal 71kg Aichi N/a

Miyaichi was in the middle of a tug of war in the summer, with authorities refusing the Japanese prodigy a work permit for him to play for Arsenal FC. Arsene Wenger saw to it personally that he would get the work permit, just a sign of how important he thinks the youngster can go in the coming future.

Plays mainly as a left midfielder whom crosses the ball, Miyaichi had a wonderful season with Feyernoord last season, where he even managed to notch up 3 goals in 12 appearances for the Dutch team. It is only a matter of time before he hits the big time with Arsenal, a fantastic talent.

Arsenal FC’s Carling Cup encounter provided a taster to what will come from the Gunners in the future, with Arsene Wenger going with his usual tactic of playing his youngsters in the League Cup.

Wenger opted for youthfulness in his squad, having just enough experience to back that up and to get past Bolton, so here are the names that could be Arsenal FC starting XI players in the very near future.

PLAYER PROFILE| Ignasi Miquel (Arsenal FC & Spain)
Age: 19

Favoured foot: Left

Position: CB

Value: €1,000,000


Attributes: 
Composed, Physically Strong, Good Passing

Height Club Weight
Place of Birth
Former club
 1.93m Arsenal 85kg Barcelona Cornella

Ignasi Miquel was snapped up as young as 15 years of age, and it’s not hard to see why. His passing from the back is composed and his marking is excellent, although it needs some working on. He does seem to have all the attributes required to succeed in the English game.

Making his debut against Liverpool FC, albeit helping with the conceding of one of their goals – his clearance his Ramsey and went into the back of their net – but it doesn’t seem to have deterred him, making an assured display against Bolton last night, bullied a little by Bolton’s loan signing Gael Kakuta, but managed to pick up the pace later on.

PLAYER PROFILE| Nicholas Yennaris (Arsenal FC & England)
Age: 18

Favoured foot: Left

Position: RB

Value: N/a


Attributes: 
Pacy, Composed, Good Tackling

Height Club Weight
Place of Birth
Former club
 1.74m Arsenal 70kg Leytonstone Arsenal

Nico Yennaris made his Arsenal FC senior debut yesterday against Bolton and provided Arsenal FC just a glimpse of what he has to offer. The fact that he played in defence instead of his usual comfort zone in the midfield proves he is willing to do anything to get into that first team.

Yennaris was more of a right wingback, tracking back when he could and stifling out the threat of Tuncay from the left hand side of Bolton’s attack. He looked fairly comfortable throughout and didn’t really put a foot wrong. A splendid debut from the youngster.

Part II is coming out soon!

For all those who are unfamiliar with Ian Ayre, he is in fact the managing director of Liverpool FC, and he recently came under fire for his comments, suggesting that Liverpool FC aren’t getting enough money from the current TV deals.

It’s not in the spirit of the game. True, the bigger clubs deserve more money for being so successful and expanding their fan base in recent years, but this move will only trigger one thing, too much supremacy for the big teams. This move will ultimately mean that the Premier League will be very similar to the La Liga, with (only) two real challengers to the crown every single year.

If you’re in Kuala Lumpur, there isn’t anyone subscribing to watch Bolton

Ian Ayre, Managing director of Liverpool FC

The move is greedy, it is not according to the spirit of the game. I personally find this as disappointing to hear about as the Suwon-Al Sadd encounter, where an Al Saad player unsportsmanly-like scored a goal after Suwon kicked the ball out following an injury to a player. I’m personally still waiting for the second leg to see whether they’re going to let Suwon score a goal from the kick off.

The last time we heard of such a breakaway, Peter Kenyon’s suggestion was dismissed in a vote amongst Premier League chairmen way back in 2003. You would seriously expect the 3.2 billion pounds would be enough to go around, but clearly some people are more greedy than others.

Peter Kenyon’s suggestion, requiring 14 votes to trigger the move fell way short of the required amount, with him being the only representative to vote in the move’s favour, out voted 19-1. Liverpool FC seem headed the same direction – humiliation because of greed.

This move has upset the most passionate of Liverpool fans, with some a bit unhappy that Ayre come up with such a rash announcement in such a short time. Clearly it was one that should have been considered earlier and crucially, it had to be discussed before his announcement to propose such a challenge.

Money can bring the worst out of people.

Lionel Messi, as brilliant as the young Argentine is, is simply not good enough for the immense responsibility that comes with taking a penalty, with his penalty conversion record not good enough.

As Maradona-like as Messi is (if not better), Lionel Messi’s penalty taking skills leave a lot to be desired. Many of his penalties go to either the bottom right of left hand corner of the goal, making it rather easy to safe/predictable for the goalkeeper.

Talking about predictability, Varas, the Sevilla goalkeeper was confident prior to facing the Argentine for the spot kick, and then saving. It wasn’t a fluke. The goalkeeper had studied the Argentine’s previous penalties and found a very interesting tendency, Messi shot to the right much more than he shot to his left.

The stats don’t lie. The Argentine had shot to his right 15 times out of 21, including seven of the last eight spot-kicks. The interesting thing, the other 1 out of the 8, he blasted it high and wide, so it’s not too hard where he’s going to shoot, is it?

Compared to the conversion rate of that of Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi’s conversion rate is very poor. Put it this way, Lionel Messi has 16 goals from 22 penalties in official matches. That then equates to a penalty percentage conversion rate of 73%. Maradona? He has achieved 41 goals from 45 spot kick attempts. That gives him a 91% conversion rate.

Forget the modern day technology. If a penalty is good enough, and accurate enough, it WILL go into the back of the net. There just can’t be predictability in anyone’s penalty taking. Like it or not, Lionel Messi has to step down as penalty taker and let someone take on that responsibility.

The Argentine is costing Barcelona points. (but no doubt he’ll earn that back from open play anyways)

Just a few weeks ago, Arsenal FC were languishing in 16th place, humiliated 8-2 by the Red Devils. Their recovery, swift and significant, and they now lie in an impressive 7th place.

The main man behind their recovery? It can only be Robin van Persie, their Dutch captain whom has been banging in the goals for the Gunners recently. The Dutchman has stayed injury-free for this season, and the result – 7 goals in 9 appearances in the Premier League.

The thing that must be noted about the Gunners is that they have found stability in their set-up. Their squad is maturing (oh, how many times have we heard that before) and they’re improving with every passing week. By maturing, what do I exactly mean? I mean that Mertesacker is improving his positioning, Aaron Ramsey is gaining in confidence with his passing and Gervinho is growingly threatening from the left side of Arsenal FC’s attack.

Szczesny
Djourou-Mertesacker-Koscielny-Santos
Song-Arteta-Ramsey
Walcott-Chamakh-Gervinho

First of all, Chamakh is simply not up to scratch. Chamakh, at the moment is not performing for Arsenal, and I won’t be surprised if the Moroccan decides to move back to the Ligue 1 in the coming January transfer window.

On close analysis, the squad sent out against Stoke City was fairly strong. In Szczesny Arsenal have a secure goalie that they can trust, and a goalie whom can organize the penalty box really well. Djourou, Mertesacker, Koscielny and Santos are all improving by the week and will be very hard to beat if they continue at this rate. Koscielny in particular has been improving immensely in recent weeks, keeping the opposition out as much as he can.

In Arteta and Ramsey Arsenal FC have two creative midfielders whom can distribute the ball and to create chances for the strikers. Alex Song plays the role as the midfield destroyer whom allowed Arteta and Ramsey to move forward.

Gervinho was quality against Stoke City. He scored a goal and set up two for van Persie to score. His dribbling and ability on the ball is absolutely amazing. Walcott’s contribution was much less, but he still provided a threat from the right nonetheless.

But the reliance on van Persie proves that Arsenal FC are still on their road to recovery. Their formation is pretty much there, team blend is growing by the game and their shaky defence looks more stable now. Don’t bet against Arsenal nicking that 4th place from Tottenham, Newcastle OR Liverpool.

The New Boys are here to stay

Norwich City, QPR and Swansea have reason to be pleased with themselves. All of them are now placed above the relegation bottom 3 boundary.

It comes as a surprise, really. The initial expectations of neutrals following the Premier League always seem to guess that the new boys will always go down. It’s not been the case this season, as both Norwich and QPR lie in the top 10, whilst Swansea lie in a respectable 15th position.

So what’s happened? Have the Premier League clubs’ level deteriorate? Do the newly promoted clubs have better financial backing? Or is it simply the passion and ambition of being in the Premier League bigger than of those whom were already in the Premier League last season?

I’ve already written an article about Bolton. Bolton sit in 60 million pounds of debt and they look the worst equipped in the battle against relegation, although Blackburn and Wigan are indeed in big trouble as well. So here’s what I think about the situation.

A good time to look at would probably be Gameweek 7, when the 3 clubs sat right next to each other in the Premier League table. I don’t reckon it’s at all because the fixture lists have been kind to them (Swansea had Man City on week 1 for crying out loud), but their team’s are actually very rounded from winning the second tier of English football.

10 Queens Park Rangers 7 2 2 3 -8 8 10
11 Swansea City 7 2 2 3 -3 8 11
12 Norwich City 7 2 2 3 -4 8 12

So let’s think about spending.

The biggest signing of the three clubs is:

10 FW England Graham 22 Watford £3,500,000

In today’s football world, that’s a relatively small fee to fork out for a record signing among 3 clubs in the Premier League. Danny Graham has made a rather successful start to his Swansea career as well, notching up 3 goals in 8 appearances for the Welsh outfit since his move.

When comparing the figure to the other clubs, transfer activity amongst the 3 newly promoted sides has been limited – although they’ve signed many players on loan / as free transfers over the summer.

But their free transfer activity has been pretty significant. I especially think that QPR’s signing of Joey Barton from Newcastle United is still an absolute steal despite the Englishman’s highly unpredictable temperament on the pitch.

It is likely that Norwich City are low on transfer kitty following a two year drop in the annual extra 40 million pounds that being in the Premier League immediately pockets you per annum. They rely on the Premier League money to keep their finances intact, hence there might have been a bit of issue in that department because of this.

Now that’s interesting, because if you don’t spend much money when you are expected to be relegated already even with spending, how the h*ll do you stay afloat in the Barclays Premier League. If you don’t spend, that means that your players you have at your disposal (to try and win the second tier) are already good enough, or even better than required to beat the drop – that the standard in the BPL is perhaps dropping.

I am interested though in what’s happening to Adel Taarabt. He lit up the Championship last year with QPR and this year he’s gone a bit flat. I do wonder whether he is able to cope with the physicality of the Premier League.

The new boys are beating the drop. Now the question is, how long can they keep it up?

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