Olivier Giroud

Weekend Preview and Predictions

@0riginalfooty takes a look at the fixtures for the third weekend of Premier League football. Last week we got six out of ten correct with two correct scores, will we do better this time around?


Burnley vs Man Utd (12:45)
Neither side has recorded a Premier League win this season and The Clarets are yet to register a point. In fairness to Burnley, they produced a good second half display against Swansea and they will be encouraged that they won’t be pointless for too long. United, on the other hand, have made a terrible start to the season and, worryingly, are showing no attacking creativity or incisiveness to strike fear into any opposition. Their midweek hammering by the MK Dons has made things even worse and confidence will be at an all time low. On the plus side, United have brought in a world class player in Angel Di Maria, one of the stars of Real Madrid’s Champions League victory last season. Playing away from home should take some pressure off the players and they will hope that the signing of Di Maria will give them enough of a lift to record their first three points. Judging by their current form, however, don’t be surprised to see them slip up once more.
Prediction: Burnley 0-1 Man Utd

Man City vs Stoke (15:00)
Manchester City may not have hit their best form so far but they have still recorded two relatively comfortable victories over decent opposition. In contrast, Stoke have made a stuttering start to the season by losing at home to an unfancied Villa side and only managing a draw against ten-man Hull. On the plus side, they did record a comfortable victory against Portsmouth in the Capital One Cup, although they will face a much sterner test here. Stevan Jovetic appears to have put his previous injury concerns behind him and looks a real threat going forward, which will really please Manuel Pellegrini. Provided City aren’t overconfident, this should be a straightforward home victory.
Prediction: Man City 3-0 Stoke

Newcastle vs Crystal Palace (15:00)
Newcastle, whilst only having one point on the board, have made a solid start and look set for a good season. Meanwhile, Crystal Palace have had a nightmare start to the campaign, although they avoided an upset against Walsall in the cup with a confident three goal victory. They have appointed Neil Warnock as their new manager, so they will have some stability on that front, and are set to re-sign Wilfried Zaha on loan so there should be a slightly more positive buzz around Selhurst Park. Having said that, Warnock’s record at this level is fairly poor and fans may question the appointment. Newcastle will feel confident going into this one and should have enough to earn their first three points of the season.
Prediction: Newcastle 2-0 Crystal Palace

QPR vs Sunderland (15:00)
Harry Redknapp and his side have made a really disappointing start to the campaign and there is already talk of him facing the axe. Sunderland, in comparison, have drawn both their matches and performed very well against a struggling Man Utd last weekend. Redknapp’s players will be shot of confidence after their thumping at the hands of Spurs and the fans will be expecting a big performance this weekend. Sunderland look like a tough side to beat and they should come away with another point here.
Prediction: QPR 1-1 Sunderland

Swansea vs West Brom (15:00)
Swansea have made a truly magnificent start to the season and Garry Monk will be delighted with the performances of all his players thus far. West Brom may not have made such a glamorous start but they have a couple of points on the board and Alan Irvine will be pleased with the battling qualities his side have demonstrated to date. Irvine’s side seem well organised and won’t roll over easily so Swansea’s 100% record may come under threat here. A draw seems the most likely outcome in this one.
Prediction: Swansea 2-2 West Brom

West Ham vs Southampton (15:00)
The Hammers bounced back from opening day disappointment to easily dispense of Crystal Palace with the free-flowing football that Allardyce has promised. Ronald Koeman won’t be too disheartened by his side’s performances so far, although they appear less dangerous in attack this season. This is yet another game that’s very difficult to call but West Ham seem to be on a high and should just about manage a victory, although with less ease than last weeks encounter.
Prediction: West Ham 2-1 Southampton

Everton vs Chelsea (17:30)
Everton have thrown away leads late on in their first matches of the season and will be bitterly disappointed to only have two points when they could easily have had six. Chelsea have waltzed to two comfortable victories against the promoted sides but this is their first real test. Jose Mourinho won’t underestimate his opposition and will be likely to keep it fairly tight, making sure they don’t lose the game, and try to nick the three points. Roberto Martinez won’t change his attacking philosophy and will go all out to try and win this one but Chelsea have the quality to pick them off. This should be an entertaining fixture and one Chelsea will just nick.
Prediction: Everton 1-2 Chelsea


Aston Villa vs Hull (13:30)
The Villans had made an excellent start to the season until their midweek home loss to League One side Leyton Orient. Goals seem to be the biggest issue for Paul Lambert’s side but they will be happy enough defensively (https://originalfooty.wordpress.com/2014/08/24/villa-solidity-gives-great-reason-for-optimism/). Lambert will also be aware of their terrible run of fixtures following this match that combines trips to Anfield, Stamford Bridge and Goodison Park with hosting Arsenal and Manchester City. They will want to leave this match with all three points so they don’t slip too far down the table in a period where they are unlikely to pick up many points. Hull, like Villa, have also made a good start to the season and will be feeling buoyant about their chances of finishing well in the league. They will be disappointed to have crashed out of the Europa League on away goals but it could prove to be a blessing in disguise. Hull were, realistically, unlikely to win the competition and it would have added a large number of fixtures to their season that may have effected their league form. Villa could do with the win but a low scoring draw seems the more likely scenario.
Prediction: Aston Villa 1-1 Hull

Spurs vs Liverpool (13:30)
This should be a very interesting encounter and will give us more of an indication of how far Spurs have come since Mauricio Pochettino’s arrival. They have been very good so far this season and have won all their matches. Liverpool haven’t made the start they might have hoped for and, once again, defensive errors cost them against Manchester City. On current form there doesn’t seem to be too much between the two sides so we can expect an entertaining draw.
Prediction: Spurs 2-2 Liverpool

Leicester vs Arsenal (16:00)
Leicester have had a terrible run of fixtures to start the season but have performed admirably. Earning a point against Everton was a good result and there is no shame in defeat at Stamford Bridge. Arsenal have made a slower start than many people expected but showed good fight to score late goals in both their matches to earn four points as opposed to one. Arsene Wenger has been rocked by the news that Olivier Giroud has been ruled out until late December with an ankle injury and it remains to be seen if he drafts in a replacement for him. Leicester, on the other hand, have added experienced midfielder Esteban Cambiasso to their ranks and they will hope that he can provide some additional quality and bite to their midfield. Regardless of whether he plays or not, Arsenal should still have too much for them.
Prediction: Leicester 0-2 Arsenal


Majestic Arsenal Batter Below-Par City

The Community Shield saw FA cup holders Arsenal run out 3-0 winners over Premier League champions Manchester City at Wembley.

Santi Cazorla fired Arsenal in front with an expertly executed finish whilst Aaron Ramsey smashed home a second just before half time.

Olivier Giroud completed the rout with a stunning long-range strike over Willy Caballero.

It was a very impressive team display from the North London side who looked solid at the back, dangerous going forward and were rarely troubled by their Premier League rivals.

City, however, offered an extremely flat performance and Manuel Pellegrini made no effort to hide his frustration on the touchline.

Calum Chambers, Alexis Sanchez and Mathieu Debuchy all made their competitive debuts for Arsenal whilst Fernando and Caballero made their first starts for City.

City were missing some key players such as Sergio Aguero, Fernandinho, Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta so Pellegrini won’t be too concerned by how easily his side were dismantled.

Arsenal were also without World Cup winners Per Mertesacker, Lukas Podolski and Mesut Ozil and will be delighted to have performed so ably without them.

The result should give them a big boost for their match against Crystal palace next weekend but City will need to recover confidence before their opener against Newcastle.

Arsenal started the brighter and Mathieu Debuchy was particularly impressive down the right hand side in the opening exchanges.

Samir Nasri, the former Arsenal player, was verbally abused every time he touched the ball by Arsenal fans.

He almost silenced their jeers in the 13th minute but Calum Chambers was quick to block his goal-bound effort.

It was Arsenal, however, who deservedly took the lead in the 22nd minute through Santi Cazorla.

The Spaniard evaded Gael Clichy on the edge of the City area before firing a low left footed strike into the corner of Caballero’s goal.

Yaya Sanogo, who scored four goals in a pre-season friendly against Benfica, had a chance to score his first competitive goal for Arsenal but dragged his shot wide.

It was Arsenal who continued to impress and Clichy deflected a long-range Cazorla shot for a corner.

Sanogo had another chance from the resulting corner but his header landed comfortably in Caballero’s arms.

City almost equalised five minutes before half time after Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic combined well during a quick break, but a swarm of Arsenal defenders managed to block.

Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey scored moments later, however, to double their advantage. Sanogo held up the ball well in the box and fed Ramsey who smashed the ball past Caballero.

Alexis Sanchez had an opportunity to make it three at the end of the first half but Caballero was quickly out of his area to slide at Alexis’ feet and deny him.

David Silva, Nacho Monreal, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Giroud were introduced at half time for Nasri, Alexis, Laurent Koscielny and Sanogo.

Fernando was booked early in the second half for pulling Jack Wilshire to the ground.

Jovetic came agonisingly close moments later after rising over Debuchy to thump a header against the post.

City had begun the second half much brighter than the first and Wojciech Szczesny was finally called into action to deny Jovetic, who fired a stinging shot towards the keeper’s right hand post.

James Milner and Bruno Zuculini were then introduced by Pellegrini to replace Edin Dzeko and Yaya Toure.

Giroud scored an absolute screamer with his left foot from outside the area and bent it over Caballero to give Arsenal a three-goal advantage.

Jovetic, who was City’s most creative attacking force, attempted an elaborate overhead kick but it flew comfortably over the bar.

Mathieu Flamini and Tomas Rosicky were then called upon by Wenger to replace Wilshire and Cazorla.

Micah Richards came on for Aleksandar Kolarov as substitutions began to disrupt the flow of the game.

Jesus Navas was also withdrawn for Scott Sinclair and Aaron Ramsey replaced by Joel Campbell; Arsene Wenger’s final substitution.

Dedryck Boyata had a great opportunity to grab a consolation for City but his header from a corner went wide.

Premier League Preview: Arsenal

Devastatingly, the World Cup is over. But fear not. There is only a month to wait ‘til the start of the Premier League. Over the next few weeks @0riginalfooty will preview the new season, take a look at each team and offer our predictions as to where each side will finish. We will move alphabetically and begin with Arsenal.

Arsenal enjoyed their best season in 9 years last term, finishing fourth and achieving glory in the FA cup. They appear adamant to build upon their success and are making some decent inroads in adding to their already capable squad. Arsenal fans will be eager for the new season to start as soon as possible and will be confident of pushing the likes of Man City and Chelsea all the way.

The Manager
Arsene Wenger is an experienced Premier League customer and the longest serving boss in the league. His every move has been scrutinized over the past 9 years as they failed to deliver any silverware and he appeared to be too ponderous in the transfer market. However, after delivering big-money signing Mesut Ozil and victory in the FA cup, every Arsenal fan is behind him and they’re beginning to believe that he can challenge once more for Premier league glory.

Wenger is the longest-serving manager in the Premier League

Wenger is the longest serving manager in the Premier League

Biggest Signing
Arsenal have already pulled off a major coup in the transfer market and one that is unlikely to be topped. Alexis Sanchez has arrived from Barcelona and is a proven world-class performer. The signing has given the fans a similar buzz to when Mesut Özil arrived last summer and will give fresh belief to those fans who dream of Arsenal being the best side in England once more. Sanchez is not only a top player but he is also versatile. He can play anywhere across the front three, offering competition for the likes of Walcott and Podolski, and even an alternative option to Olivier Giroud.

Alexis Sanchez is a great signing for Arsenal

Alexis Sanchez is a great signing for Arsenal

Who is tipped to join them?
As with every transfer window, Arsenal are linked with a host of top-quality footballers that will have every supporter drooling with excitement. Mario Balotelli has been mooted as a new striking option, which would be particularly pleasing for Arsenal supporters as there are question marks over Olivier Giroud’s abilities to be a title-defining centre forward. Juan Cuadrado is also being linked with a move after an impressive World Cup and again could be a fresh and exciting option to Arsenal’s attack. Mathieu Debuchy has been selected to replace the departing Bacary Sagna at right-back and should sign within the next few days.

Debuchy is widely expected to join Arsenal in the coming days

Debuchy is widely expected to join Arsenal

Who should they sign?
I have always doubted Mikel Arteta’s ability to be a title-winning centre midfielder and they should look to replace him this transfer window. Sami Khedira has stalled on a new contract in Madrid and is reportedly keen on a move to the Premier League. Linking up with German compatriots Mesut Özil, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski could be an intriguing proposition. Arsenal would be signing a proven centre-midfielder who has just won the Champions League and the World Cup so Wenger should make his signing a priority.

Khedira would prove a fantastic piece of business should Wenger lure him away from the Santiago Bernabeu

Khedira would prove a fantastic piece of business should Wenger lure him away from the Santiago Bernabeu

Key Player
Aaron Ramsey. Sanchez and Özil may be the global superstars of this Arsenal side but it is the Welshman who makes them tick. He was in scintillating form at the beginning of the season until unfortunately succumbing to injury and they really missed him. He offers intelligent deep runs from midfield that no other Arsenal player has in their locker and is a deadly finisher. If he remains fit, he could help Arsenal go all the way.

Arsenal fans will be hopeful that star man Aaron Ramsey can stay fit in the upcoming campaign

Arsenal fans will be hopeful that star man Aaron Ramsey can stay fit in the upcoming campaign

Arsenal performed capably last season and I expect them to improve on their performance this time around. They look like they will keep hold of all their top performers and are adding genuine quality to the squad so should keep improving. They will offer a title challenge but are just short of usurping Man City and Chelsea at the top of the pile. If they have a title challenge and can bring home more silverware in one of the cup competitions then that would be viewed as a good season for them. Expect Arsenal to finish 3rd.

Match Report: Switzerland 2-5 France

What a game. A contender for game of the tournament so far, as well as the performance of the tournament by France. Patrick Vieira noted that Didier Deschamps left out both Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy but this was for the good of the team, and France are really reaping the benefits of leaving out disruptive influences.

Deschamps: Right to leave out Nasri and Clichy

Deschamps: Right to leave out Nasri and Clichy

Switzerland started the game shakily and were punished when Olivier Giroud rose highest to thump a header past the Swiss goalkeeper Benaglio. A minute later, Benaglio’s head was in his hands again as he failed to save Matuidi’s shot to make it 2-0. Mathieu Valbuena capped a breathless breakaway goal to put France 3-0 up with Giroud and Varane at the centre of the move.

In the opening 45 minutes Benzema earned and missed a penalty, with Cabaye inexplicably missing the rebound. Switzerland were let off.

The second half quickly followed the fashion of the first with Benzema capitalising on a Senderos mistake to slot the ball past the goal keeper to make it 4-0. A defence consisting of Johan Djourou and Phillipe Senderos looks and feels like an Arsenal Carling Cup back 4 circa 2010, and it is no surprise that they didn’t win that cup in the past 9 years with these two clowns as back up defenders.

Senderos endured a torrid night against France's forward line

Senderos endured a torrid night against France’s forward line

Benzema was involved in France’s fifth goal, playing in Sissoko with a perfectly weighted pass, who struck to further condemn Switzerland. The score line really didn’t flatter France. They were in scintillating form, and Switzerland were awful.

It was only after the Swiss were 5-0 down that they showed some intent. Dzemaili pulled a goal back with a 30 yard free-kick, but the French wall should have done much better. This was before Xhaka added another goal, taking down Inler’s chipped pass with a superb controlled volley.

Benzema was denied a great late goal as the full time whistle had gone before he curled the ball around the goalkeeper with a first time effort from the edge of the box, sparking premature celebrations.

Benzema won a penalty, missed a penalty, scored a goal and was denied a goal by the full-time whistle

Benzema won a penalty, missed a penalty, scored a goal and was denied a goal by the full-time whistle

Benzema and Giroud were immense together. France really look like the real deal this tournament and they will be hard to beat. It’s a shame that England didn’t look at France’s example of playing with a balanced team instead of the “on-form” players who may not necessarily complement each other. Nasri would not have fit into this team, and France are now on the brink of qualifying for the last 16, and whoever plays them is up for a tough task.