Rival Lines

Match Preview: Arsenal v AFCB
6 October 2019
Blogger Interview: The Daily Cannon
Twitter: @DailyCannon

This week I had a chat with Lee who is the correspondent for The Daily Cannon. Arsenal have had a reasonable start to the season and no doubt the have been enjoying the Champions League results of Tottenham. But not all Arsenal supporters are content and the questioning of Unai Emery is far from quite, so are Arsenal in good shape to take on the Cherries?

CC: Unai Emery has taken a lot of criticism from the media in recent weeks, but are the fans mainly still behind what he is trying to do at the club?

TDC: Not really, if I'm honest. There is real frustration with him from the way he is treating Mesut Ozil to the defensive, cowardly way he plays in the league. A very large section of the fanbase would be happy if he went tomorrow. We're scoring less, conceding more and playing far worse football than Wenger's last days.

CC: Are Arsenal playing a bit too open at times, like in the recent game against Man United when they looked vulnerable to the counter-attack?

TDC: That's just Arsenal now and the way Emery sets us up, especially in the league. For some reason he has no clue how to field a balanced midfield.

CC: What have you thought about David Luiz's performances - has he added some leadership?

TDC: He hasn't been as good as some expected nor as bad as others said he would be. He's not really stood out, beyond the two penalties he gave away but that's standard for an Arsenal defender these days.

CC: What can you tell us about Bukayo Saka (left winger) and Dani Ceballos (midfielder)?

TDC: Bukayo Saka looks like he's the real deal despite only being 18. He's already now being looked at as a first-teamer rather than a member of the second string for the cup competitions. He's direct, fast, and keeps it simple to great effect.

Dani Ceballos is one of the most skillful midfielders we've had at Arsenal and it baffles me that Zidane doesn't like him. If Cesc Fabregas and Santi Cazorla had a lovechild, he would be Dani Ceballos.

CC: Were you pleased or disappointed to see Iwobi leave in the summer?

TDC: I think if the club could have found a buyer for Ozil, Iwobi would still be at the club. It's always hard to watch a player who has come through the youth ranks leave, but I think he needed a fresh start for his own sake. He'd gone a bit stale in recent seasons and had stopped progressing as he should.

CC: Does Pepe just need a goal or do you think he is going to find it hard to win over fans this season?

TDC: I think Pepe is struggling a little with the pressure of playing for Arsenal and his price-tag, but he'll come good. He's just in his head a little too much at the minute but you can see the talent is there.

CC: Do Arsenal rely too much on Aubameyang for the goals?

TDC: At the minute Auba is scoring the bulk of our goals in the league but isn't that what your club striker is supposed to do? Nobody asks that of Spurs and Kane or United and Rashford. Lacazette should be back later this month and he is criminally underrated in England.

CC: The last home match you had against Aston Villa was a really difficult game for Arsenal. Do you think more teams this season are being more adventurous against Arsenal at the Emirates? Has the fear factor gone for opponents?

TDC: Under Emery I don't think there's any fear factor, especially not in the league. He's a defensive coach so that encourages the opposition.

CC: Arsenal have been linked with Ryan Fraser. is he be the sort of signing that Arsenal need, especially for the assists he is noted for at Bournemouth?

TDC: As good as he is, I'm not sure where he would fit in the side at present. He would be competing for a spot with Saka and the club, in order to keep money down, are trying to field youth where possible. That being said, I wouldn't rule us out going for him again in the summer.

CC: Who is injured at the moment for Arsenal?

TDC: Arsenal only have Alexandre Lacazette (ankle) and Emile Smith Rowe (concussion) unavailable.

CC: How do you think Arsenal will line up against Bournemouth?

TDC: Leno - Kolasinac, Sokratis, Luiz, Chambers - Xhaka, Guendouzi, Ceballos - Saka - Aubameyang - Pepe

CC: Where do you feel Arsenal and Bournemouth will finish in the league this season?

TDC: If Emery doesn't burn his main players out so much that we collapse again at the end of the season, we should get top four. As for Bournemouth, they should finish in the top half and if United don't sort themselves out I can see you finishing above them.

CC: What is your score prediction for the game?

TDC: 2-1 Arsenal, we'll absolutely concede at least one.

CC: Thanks to Lee for giving us the inside information on the Gunners. Bournemouth have a few new players in the Arsenal squad to get acquainted with. I watched Saka against Man United in Arsenal's last match and he does look a raw talent. But I am hoping Bournemouth's defenders can live with him while the big job will be whether AkΓ© and Steve cook can stop Aubameyang. Bournemouth really need to stop the service to Arsenal's striker and I think they can get to Arsenals' new midfield.

Make sure you check out all the Arsenal news on the Daily Cannon before the game.

Match Preview: Southampton v AFCB
Podcast: SaintsFCPodcast
Twitter @SaintsFCPodcast
This week I caught up with Tom Parker who is one of the hosts of Southampton FC Podcast. We have crossed paths a few times when talking on the airwaves at TalkSport, so I though it was about time that I invited him on to our Rival Lines section to tell us why Southampton are yet again likely to cause AFCB some problems!

CC: What are the fans' feeling about Ralph HasenhΓΌttl and his style of play for his team?

SFCP: It is safe to say that after a few duff appointments the Saints' board have chosen a manager the fans can really get behind. Ralph is someone who plays a fast, aggressive style of football with a high press. It's thrilling to watch and with the young players we have it promises to be an exciting season ahead.

CC: Who were the main new signings that the club brought in last summer?

SFCP: Che Adams was one of the top scorers in the Championship last year and while he is yet to score he is clearly crucial to the high press Saints are trying to play. He just needs a goal and I think that will come against Bournemouth.

Djenepo is the player grabbing all the headlines with two contenders for goals of the season already. Fast, skilful and strong he is being tagged as the new Mane and if he is half the player he was then Saints have got a bargain.

Finally Kevin Danso is a previously unknown to Saints fans but is a full Austrian international left sided centre-back. He has had a steep learning curve but looks solid and comfortable on the ball.

I'd expect all of the above to play against Bournemouth.

CC: You have played two of the clubs that finished in the top six last season already, so do you feel that Southampton will have a better season that they had in 2018-19 having got in amongst mid-table?

SFCP: Last season was awful until Ralph took over but after a strong start Saints fans will be hoping that is a distant memory. We appear to be defensively stronger and in 4-2-2-2 have a system that plays to our strengths. It is clear that the players have bought into the high-press, high-intensity style of football that Ralph wants us to play and this bodes well ahead of a difficult run of games in the coming months. Overall, there is a lot of positivity among the fans who are excited about what lies ahead for the team.

CC: Which result have you been most pleased about so far this season?

SFCP: The 1-1 against Man Utd was an important one. We showed that we could come back from the disappointment of conceding an early goal and held out with 10-men against a team that would normally get a winner against us. The team showed a lot of character and it is no surprise that Ralph celebrated the final result as if it was a win.

CC: Jannik Vestergaard seems a big physical character and defends very courageously like Virgil van Dyke - do you see many similarities?

SFCP: I'm afraid not. Jannik is an enigma. A big man but not particularly strong or good in the air. VvD is the best centre back in the world... let's just say Jannik is a little way away from that!

CC: Which striker do you think will score most goals for you this season?

SFCP: Che Adams. Fast, aggressive and with a wicked shot. When they start to come for Che they won't stop. He just needs to get a lucky first goal!

CC: James Ward-Prowse scored some great goals last season, has he been playing well of late and do you think he could get into Gareth Southgate's England squad?

SFCP: Unfortunately JWP has reverted to type and doesn't seem to have carried last season's form into this one. That said his set pieces still cause a problem and his work rate is to be admired. His versatility is also important, enabling Saints to shift their shape to 5-3-2 by slotting in at right-wing back. There is no doubt of his talent though and I'm sure he will be in and around the England squad for years to come.

CC: How highly do you rate your keeper Angus Gunn?

SFCP: Before we let Forster go to Celtic we had three keepers, all of which could have staked a place for the number 1 spot. Gunn has it firmly for now and is showing himself to be an adept shot stopper, making crucial saves against Man Utd and Sheffield Utd. England has a glut of good keepers at the moment but I think you'll see Gunn in the full squad soon enough.

CC: What did you feel about the way Southampton played away at Sheffield United - a team that Bournemouth draw at home with on the first day of the season?

SFCP: We rode our luck a little but in the end we did a very professional job. The team switched its system at the start of the second half and from that point on we felt more comfortable. Players like Romeu and Hojberg do a great job in difficult away games and they were vital against Sheff Utd. Overall it was a very professional performance capped with a wonder goal from Djenepo making for a very satisfying day for the away fans.

CC: Which Bournemouth player do you think Southampton have to be most worried about?

SFCP: SFCP: Ryan Fraser always gives Saints problems. We struggle to defend against pace and he has that in spades.

CC: It was an absolute cracker the last time these two teams met at St Mary's. How do you think Southampton might have improved since that 3-3 draw?

SFCP: That game had the air of a crazy end of season one. I think Saints will be much more disciplined defensively and it'll be a lot tighter. Saints will rightly take Bournemouth very seriously and the opportunity to go third (for both teams) should mean it'll be a great game.

CC: What's your prediction for Southampton's starting line-up?

SFCP: Gunn, Danso, Vestergaard, Bednarek, Soares, Romeu, Hojberg, Ward-Prowse, Boufal, Adams, Djenpro

CC: What's your score prediction?

SFCP: 3-1 Saints

CC: Thanks to Tom for giving us a better insight into the thoughts of Southampton fans before the game. It's time to take a sharp breath and hope that Southampton are not quite as good as they have been in some games and that the AFCB that has goals a plenty turns up at St Marys. While there may be noises from both managers about the 3-3 being too open last season, I get the impression that we might see both sides trying to go goal crazy again, especially when the prize of sitting on 10 points will be a great one to have at the end of the game.

For more talk from Southampton FC Podcast go and have a listen to their latest podcast - South Coast Derby Special - so it is a derby then!

Leicester City v AFCB
Blogger Interview: Leicester Till I Die
Twitter: @Leicestertid

This week I spoke with Leicester Till I Die blogger Chris Forryan about his team's start to the season and the impact that Brendan Rodgers has had at the club. Leicester have also lost one of their main central defenders to Manchester United and yet they seem to still be able to get some good results as they sit fourth on the table.

CC: Were Leicester City fans annoyed at the lateness of the Harry Maguire deal to Man Utd going through or did you feel Leicester got the best of the deal with the final price-tag that was achieved?

LTID: To be honest, No. Deep down think we knew he was going would have been more annoyed to lose him last summer post world cup when he was playing better and err yes £80m+ for a player we paid £17m for and we didn't wear a mask lol.

CC: How do you feel the defence has done since Maguire's exit?

LTID: Maguire who? Soyuncu & Benkovic were bought last summer ready for a possible Maguire exit and Morgan retirement, so despite being linked with every defender available with two man of the match performances from Soyuncu, lets just say we havn't missed him.

CC: Were you happy with signing Ayoze Perez from Newcastle United for £30m and has he shown signs of repaying some of that yet?

LTID: Was a shock and very un-Leicester like. Target a player, check his get put price and pay it. He's being used as an Albrighton replacement at the moment, but has scored a few pre-season and may prove an adequate replacement for any Vardy injuries.

CC: Just how good is Youri Tielemans and are you surprised that Leicester beat off the competition for him and breaking the Foxes transfer record?

LTID: Watch out for the big boys knocking on our door next summer, this guy could be the new Hazard and I think it speaks volumes of our club that he WANTED to come to Leicester following his loan spell with us over some of the so called top six sides that were chasing him.

CC: How important was the win against Sheffield United and was it a harder game than expected?

LTID: Always hard against the new boys but that first win is always going to be important, and it keeps us unbeaten.

CC: Who do you see as the three weakest sides in the Premier League this season?

LTID: Wow that's a difficult one. I think it will be very tight down at the bottom, more so than for many a year. Brighton I think will struggle as will Newcastle who are like the Titanic looking for the Iceberg. Sheffield United will find it tough going and I hope to see Villa in the bottom three, but that is more personal.

CC: What have you seen about Brendan Rodgers way of playing that has been better than Claude Puel?

LTID: We now play, fast, attacking, football aimed at getting the best out of Vardy. None of the aforementioned could be said in the same breath as Puel.

CC: Which player form Bournemouth's team would you happily have in your squad this season if you could and why?

LTID: Nathan Ake was linked during the 'will he won't he' leave Maguire saga and if we had managed to sign him I would have been very happy. Callum Wilson would be a good addition as we do struggle if Vardy is out, but that said I have never been happier over a LCFC squad going into a new season.

CC: Would it be disappointing not to get European football at the end of this season for Leicester fans?

LTID: Winning the League has meant we always start a new season thinking we can do it again. Blue tinted glasses off though, and yes it would be disappointing. Having a good, young, squad with an experienced attack minded manager, I think we could break into the top six. But then what do I know? Lol.

CC: How do you expect to line up against Bournemouth and has Leicester any major injury worries or long-term absentees?

LTID: Nothing long term from the main squad Ndidi, & Chilwell short term worries but -

Pereira, Soyuncu, Evans, Chilwell/Fuchs
Chowdry/Ndidi, Praet
Perez, Maddison

CC: What is your score prediction for the match?

LTID:You have always been our bogey team but I think we might just have too much for you this game so I'm going a 2-1 win to the Foxes.

CC: A big thanks to Chris who is no doubt feeling pretty good about the table at the moment and the prospects for Leicester City. Fo Bournemouth, this is a chance to go up against a side that is likely to finish in the top 10 and to try and get against a team that is unbeaten so far. Such games between Leicester and Bournemouth are usually tight, so it is bound to be quite a nervy watch this weekend. To read more about Leicester City and to see my answers to Chris' questions on AFCB Bournemouth, head over the the Leicester Till I Die website

Match Preview: Aston Villa v AFCB
Blogger Interview: A Villa Fan
Twitter: @Avillafan

This weekend we kick off AFCB's first away game and it is against Aston Villa. I managed to grab a word with Stuart Young who works on the A Villa Fan website to see how he thinks Aston Villa will go this season and who we should be looking out for.

CC: What has Dean Smith given Aston Villa that previous managers were unable to do to get them to win matches?

AVF: He has given them belief. Jack Grealish highlighted this last week when he stated that Smith makes him feel like the best player in the world.

On top of that he has United a relatively split dressing room, and even club. The fans and players are one for the first time in a very long time. There is a real buzz around the place.

Something that impresses me personally is that he doesn’t insult the fans intelligence. For example, the defeat to Spurs, he highlighted where we did well and where it went wrong. Previous managers would have just taken the 3-1 defeat as a positive.

CC: Although Villa lost the first game against Spurs, did you see plenty of positives about the performance for the season ahead?

AVF: Yes. As I have already stated, there is a plan by the hierarchy at Aston Villa and the fans are on board.

The constant comparisons are embarrassing from a journalism point of view. As Christian Purslow stated on Sky Sports News on Monday night - there was a plan out together that has been executed. Now we can only hope the plan is enough to see us progress in the right way.

CC: John McGinn scored a great goal against Spurs. Is that the kind of goal he would do regularly in the Championship, holding off the last defender and picking his spot?

AVF: John McGinn reminds me of Gareth Barry a little. They both use their body very well to keep the ball. He is of course a lot more active on the field. McGinn will surprise a few away from B6 season in the Premiership.

CC: Which player would you say is your best signing of the summer and why?

AVF: Engels looks very impressive and Trezeguet could add that little bit of magic once he settles in. But I think Tom Heaton might prove to be a great bit of business.

Not only does he have the experience but he is apparently a very good character to have around the dressing room. Something Smith seems to be very keen on.

CC: How special will next Saturday be when Aston Villa plays its first home match back in the Premier League?

AVF: I think that the game is most likely going to be a sell out, tells you everything you need to know. We believe we are back where we belong. Now we have to prove it.

CC: Can you see all three promoted sides surviving in the Premier League this season?

AVF: No. I think Norwich will regret not spending more money than they did. Sheffield United will be an interesting one as they won’t lie down and die. They have the never say die attitude but discipline may prove their downfall. Time will tell.

I am confident that we will stay up but we must get some points on the board ASAP.

CC: Is Jack Grealish a much better player than last time Villa were in the Premier League - how has his game developed?

AVF: Jack has grown up. He has matured. We have always known he has the talent but he needed to get his head in the right place which I believe he has now.

On top of that, he has added some muscle and he is closer to the complete product. But he must prove himself at the top level and no-one knows that more than Jack.

CC: What have you made of Tom Heaton in goal - was the keeper position something fans were worried about this season?

Many fans believed Jed Steer should have been given the chance of playing in the Premiership following his heroics last season.

Saying that, we did need that we experienced head in goal. The saves he has pulled off against RB Leipzig and Tottenham in recent weeks are showing just what a signing he could be for Villa.

CC: What position do you believe Aston Villa will end the season in?

AVF: We must aim as high as possible but I think we will finish around 12-14th.

CC: How do you think Aston Villa will line up against Bournemouth?

AVF: I think you will see a slightly more attacking side that the one you would have seen against Tottenham.

I believe Targett will come in for Taylor and Guilbert might replace Elmo. The only thing keeping Elmo in the side would be to help Trezeguet.

We may also see Luiz or Marvelous come in for Hourihane which will allow the wing backs to get forward while offering them cover.

Predicted XI: Heaton; Elmo, Engels, Mings, Target; Luiz, McGinn, Grealish; Jota, Trezeguet; Wesley.

CC: What is your score prediction?

AVF: I am going to go for a 2-0 home win. As I have already said, I believe we need to get points on the board especially at home.

CC: Great information from Stuart. While there are some Villa fans who expect their team to walk into the top six, Stuart can see that nothing is won easily in the Premier League. I fancy this will be a close match and perhaps there will be one or two mistakes on either side. I don't believe that defence is the strength of either team so I'm going for a 2-2 scoreline.

You should also see in the next couple of days some answers to the questions Stuart set me on the A Villa Fan website about AFC Bournemouth.

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