Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Arsenal vs Ipswich, SA vs India, Rahul Dravid, Arsene -the best coach of the decade

So, Arsenal go to Ipswich to play the first of the Carling Cup semi-final ties (2nd one will be at home after 2 weeks). They got a real kick up their arse, drawing 1-1 at home to Leeds.

On Vermaelen, Wenger says
Vermaelen is out for another setback, which could keep him out for another month

On Squilacci,
Squilacci is out for minimum two weeks and maximum three weeks

He has mentioned that he is on the look out for a defender. It is not often that Wenger comes out in public and says he is looking for someone. So, if he has said it, then rest assured, he really does mean it.

On Ignasi Miquel, the young Spanish center back, Wenger said
He will be, at minimum, on the bench

Young Gunner- Ignasi Miquel

So, we can expect a mix of the our "first" and "second" teams, a mix of the team we played against Wigan and the one that played Chelsea/Birmingham. Ipswich were hammered by Chelsea 7-0. But that is hardly any good news for us. We had hammered Newcastle in their home in Carling cup only to lose to them at home in the premier league game. So, nothing is done till it is done. We have a great chance to get home a trophy and we can not relax till we put it in the cabinet.

India take on South Africa in one of the more "meaningful" ODIs of the recent times. Like Vettori said recently, there are far too many non-meaningful ODIs. This one is important for both teams as they prepare for the world cup. I know the conditions over there will be totally different to the one that will be there in the world cup. But, for India it will be a test of character. Nothing better than a win against a strong team, as far as building the confidence in concerned. With injuries to Sehwag and Gambhir, the team almost picks itself. At least the batting order.

I would play Sachin, Kohli, Yuvraj, Rohit Sharma, Dhoni, Raina, Y Pathan, Zaheer, Ishant/ Munaf, Harbhajan and Nehra

The reason I will not play Vijay (despite him being a natural opener) is that with Gambhir and Sehwag returning to the squad, I do not see Vijay making it into the team for the world cup. It will also give Kohli the opportunity to play the new ball, which he might have to if he comes in at the fall of two early wickets (batting at four in the world cup). We still need a second spinner for the world cup and the tussle is between Ashwin, Ojha and Chawla. From what we have seen in the IPL, Ashwin seems to have the variations needed for the limited-over format. However, with the likes of Yuvraj, Pathan, Raina, Rohit in the side, I do not see a need for a second spinner, unless he is a top notch one. So, maybe he might be replaced by Harbhajan. I also think that we need to keep faith in Yusuf Pathan. As inconsistent as he maybe, he gives us the X factor, as we saw in the 4th ODI against NZ. Especially in the sub-continent, he can turn the game on its head in the space of five overs. For South Africa, there is talk that they might play two spinners (World cup in mind again!!!), Plessis and Pakistani born Imran Tahir. I do think that only one of them will play. If Tahir does make his debut, he will be the second Pakistani born to play for another country in the space of 10 days (Usman Khawaja, the other). Stein-Tendulkar contest promises to be another cracker! As does the Zaheer- Smith contest, this one only for the Indians! Praveen Kumar's injury must be a concern for the Indians. Not only can he swing the ball both ways, he is very handy with the bat down the order and a safe fielder. Munaf/Ishant do not really inspire too much confidence in most Indian supporters.

Talking about confidence, on 11th Jan Dravid celebrated his 38th birthday. Just like his batting, this one went unnoticed. Here's a toast to the one-and-only Jammy!

Oh, and to those who doubt our gaffer's credentials, here is something for you:

Arsene Wenger has been named the best coach of the decade, beating Alex Ferguson and the rusty little twat coach of Real Madrid.

Overall, I believe Wenger is the best!!

Ryan Babel has been fined/reproached by the FA for putting this picture up on his twitter:

The ref gave soft penalty to Man U and sent off Gerard in the FA cup game between Liverpool and Man U.

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