The utmost importance of us winning Sunday’s match against the billionaire boys club kicks off tonight at Wales where fifth placed Newcastle United are guests of Swansea City with the Magpies looking to boost their previously unlikely push for a finish in a Champions League spot.
And by the time the match of the weekend kicks off at the Ems, Sp*** could be three points ahead and Chelsea could be two points behind us (along with Newcastle) so in that sense, I believe Arsenal needs the win more than City do unlike the boss who believes otherwise (mind games I presume).
Nothing exceptional to report here as the boss stated that the crunch encounter comes a bit too early for glass feet Abou Diaby as well as youngster Francis Coquelin though he is confident both will start full training next week.
As for Jack Wilshere, Wenger stated the England international is recovering slowly and the club would rather not rush his comeback. Other than these, we have a full squad to choose from and it will be interesting to see who le boss starts this weekend.
Predicted line-up: Szczesny. Sagna, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Gibbs. Arteta, Song, Rosicky. Gervinho/Ox, Walcott, RvP.
A hint of complacency and doubting feet from Thomas cost us dearly last time out and I believe Wenger would resist the urge to start Aaron Ramsey this time. And while he may start the Ox; whose love for Drake’s music is now general knowledge, I think Wenger would go for the Ivorian headband (wearer).
The manager has hinted at a busy summer for us in the transfer market saying “Things are starting now [in terms of transfers]” while equally stressing that focus is needed in the season’s run in.
“At the moment we are so focused on finishing the season well, though, because what we have done over the past two months is absolutely exceptional.”
As you know, the deal to bring Lukas Podolski to the Emirates isn’t wrapped up officially as Wenger would readily tell anyone, while Yann M’Vila and Jan Vertonghen have been strongly linked to us this year.
Wenger meanwhile has praised Theo Walcott’s overall improvement as a player as proven by the 23 year old’s 10 goals and 13 assists this season; the second consecutive season Theo’s scored double figures.
“He is getting to where you want him to be now. I feel that he has made a step forward this season.” were Wenger’s words for Walcott, further stating that he now expects our Usain Bolt to now ship in the double figures every season.
For now however, he along with the rest of the team have a Champions League berth to fight for. Hopefully, Walcott along with the rest of the starting XI continue the ‘marked improvement’ on Sunday and personally, Robin van Persie can want to end his run of games firing blanks!
It has been quite a summer for Arsenal with the Gunners without doubt being the champions of transfer speculations all through. Can Arsène Wenger and his charges end a run of seasons without a competitive trophy at the seventh attempt?
An answer to that largely depends on the club’s mental approach going into matches and this is in two aspects. Firstly, we must kill games when leading and in the inability to do so, be able to hold onto such advantage till after the final whistle as evident from both legs of last season’s north London derby and home matches against Liverpool, Aston Villa, Newcastle United and West Bromwich-Albion as well as the infamous implosion at Newcastle where we ironically open this season’s campaign.
The other aspect of our mental approach to games is how we fare in the months of February and March, months that have proved the Achilles Heel in the leap towards a trophy in the last four seasons.
Last season’s episode proved the most painful, we suffered defeat to Birmingham City (now of the Championship) in the League Cup final on the last day of February, before enduring a mediocre run of form in March that pretty much ended all other title ambitions on other fronts.
And there’s the additional mental jabs dealt the team now no thanks to speculations surrounding the future of Samir Nasri & Fabregas who has reportedly agreed to a deal to return to his boyhood club. Which means a new era is about to start, one without the club’s best player. But no one man or player is greater than the club.
Meanwhile the latter is once more reportedly close to completing a £22m move to oil rich Manchester City, some reports even suggesting he may do so before the protracted tug for Fàbregas finally ends.
Arsenal’s hopes of ending the trophy drought will now rest on 20 year old Jack Wilshere(albeit not solely) as it was the English international who flourished – when Fàbregas was mostly half fit or out injured last season – with consistent and assured performances. While possessing admirable mental and physical strength, the rest of the team will determine just how much impact Wilshere will have this season.
With Laurent Koscielny apparently being the notable addition to the team last season, the Gunners actually did well until those dreaded months. This term, Ivorian forward Gervinho has joined and impressed so far with his quick feet and good composure.
Other than him, Wenger has (annoyingly) kept to his policy with a roll call of highly rated youngsters such as Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain and Ryo Miyaichi. The transfer window however is still over a fortnight from closing so some much needed experienced players may yet arrive at the Emirates.
While awaiting those, Gooners will be banking on Robin van Persie to pick up from the fiery form of the second half of last season that saw the Dutchman finally show us his potential with a high return on goals per game. Having him fit for a whole season on such form leaves the heights attainable by the team optimistically imagined.
In the event of him being out injured as he is sadly prone to, Theo Walcott gets my nod to spearhead the front ahead of the overly disappointing Marouane Chamakh and the England international has publicly stated his desire to play upfront rather than on the wings.
Last season, he posed a real threat to defences with his raw speed that was, unlike previous seasons, complemented with much technique. This sort of form gives promise of this season being perhaps a breakthrough season for the 21 year old.
Those other than the above players that could contribute to a successful league campaign, and perhaps success in any of the other competitions, are Thomas Vermaelen, Andrei Arshavin, Koscielny and goalkeepers Lukasz Fabianski and Woijcech Sczeszny just as I’m personally looking forward to how Aaron Ramsey fares with Abou Diaby’s injury presenting the Welsh midfielder a chance to impress.
Vermaelen on his part was out virtually all of last season injured and Squillaci failed woefully as partner to Koscielny. Consequently, the efficiency of our physios this season actually comes in just behind the team’s mental maturity as deciding factors on how this season will pan out.
Arsenal’s campaign begins at St. James’ Park in Saturday’s evening kick-off having survived getting postponed due to the violent scenes that besieged streets in London and Birmingham.
That match is then followed in quick sequence by games against title rivals Liverpool and Manchester United, with the Champions League qualifier against Italian side Udinese buttered between those red encounters.
In all honesty, Arsenal are strong contenders for the title and hopefully we avoid burning out at those times aforementioned!
That said, enjoy the season ahead, it’s great to finally be getting underway!
C’mon You Smokin’ Gunners!!!