Saturday, 27 March 2010

The Arsenal Paper Round: Saturday March 27

Cesc Fabregas, originally uploaded by Ashburton Grove Blog.
Good morning Gooners.

Plenty and I mean plenty in this morning's papers.

We'll start with our captain Cesc Fabregas who has given an exclusive interview to The Sun.

He's talking about the return to St Andrews, the first time since Eduardo had his leg broken in February 2008.

From reading this interview, it to me shows how much Cesc wants to win. I've never thought he was anything other than a winner, but this just hammers home the point. I love him and can't be more proud that he is our captain.

He is the one player who the others all look to. And he leads by example.

I think the Stoke game where we lost Aaron Ramsey to the horror tackle by Ryan Shawcross saw him really come of age as our captain. He pulled us over the line with a match winning performance. And the team certainly needed picking up after what happened to the young Welshman.

Talking of the Birmingham game, he said:

"This is a big day for all of us but it has nothing to do with what happened two years ago — that is all finished now.
"Yes it was a very, very bad injury for Eduardo and a very difficult moment for Arsenal Football Club.
"And from that day everything changed for us — that's true.
"We were top of the league and everything was going so well. But then ... But we are not the kind of people who dwell on two years ago and all that happened there.
"Eduardo is well again, he's back playing again.
"So for us it's all about right now and the future — not going back into the past. It is a big game for other reasons now — not for revenge but for something more important than that. It's because we want to win the league, not settle old scores."

And that's right. We want all three points not an on pitch fight to distract us.

Our manager has also been remembering back to that day as well. He says he hasn't forgiven Martin Taylor for his challenge on Eduardo.

The Guardian has the story.

They report: Wenger was terse when asked if his feelings towards Taylor had changed. "No," he said. Had they mellowed with time? "No. It is best not to speak about that any more. The best way to help Eduardo is not to speak about what happened there. For him, he has a good opportunity on Saturday to show that he has got over that."

Wenger said:
"I believe he is still on his way back, and still not completely back to where he was before, but the signs are positive that he is getting better. I knew it would take him a long time - don't forget that he had a second operation at the end of last season, and that surgery was decisive in helping him get back to where he was. He's also had a few muscle problems, but now he is coming back.
"Mentally he is convinced he is over it. I felt for a while that he had not completely found his sharpness, but in training over the last two or three weeks he has shown he's getting it back. But it took him a long time. Saturday is an opportunity for him to get over it completely."

I though at the weekend when he came on against West Ham that he was bright and buzzed around the place. Obviously six minutes plus injury time don't tell you a lot, but I thought he looked different in his approach.

I really hope he comes on today and causes Birmingham some problems. And I think a goal there would do him the world of good.

Next season for me will be his comeback year. I don't think the past two seasons we could think he would be the same player he was before the injury, but next season I believe he'll be back to his best.

For one thing, it will be good for him to have a Summer free of operations and football.

In the Daily Telegraph, Arsene goes on to talk about problems caused by that tackle.

He said:

"It was a dark day, but not the darkest. Gallas did not behave the way he should have done, but he behaved like that because he cared. Ideally you do not want to show any weakness.
"We did not lose the championship that day but it created some unrest. People always pick out one isolated incident and think it's all down to that.
"We did not deal with it well on the day but there were much heavier ingredients, like some players being not completely focused. Afterwards, we had players who were at the end of contracts."
I think we're a different team now. We've proved that at Stoke and also Bolton were we came back from being 2-0 down.
The momentum is with us. Six wins on the bounce. We've just got to keep this run going and hope that both Manchester United and Chelsea drop points.

The Daily Mirror have some quotes from the manager as well.

Wenger said:
"We've matured, but we've won nothing yet so we have another opportunity to show we've matured.
"Ideally you want to win games earlier than the last minute, like we did at Hull and Stoke, but we've shown we can keep our nerve, we keep going and those are good ingredients for a team fighting to win the title.
"We will need the same qualities again at Birmingham and maybe we will need to fight until the end of the game again."

In The Guardian Amy Lawrence has an interview with Samir Nasri. I would link to it but they've not put it on their website yet.

Nasri talks of the squad being close and having a great spirit.

He said:
"Since the start we knew we could do something great. I really enjoy being part of this. Outside the pitch we are friends and I think that also makes the difference. We are really together.

"You can see the solidarity on the pitch. Everyone is fighting for everyone.

"We are proud. Everyone said Arsenal is finished. But between us we said we wanted to prove we have the strength and the mentality to be winners. Last year we made some mistakes against small teams like Hull, and this year we make the difference. We are stronger in our heads."

Which is great to hear and so far they have proved that. I just hope that will continue until the end of the season so we can win the title and the European Cup.

In the Daily Mirror former Arsenal player Sebastian Larsson has been talking about Nicklas Bendtner.

The midfielder is now at Birmingham and was there while Bendtner spent his loan period in the midlands.

Larsson said:
"When he was at Birmingham and even when I was with him in the Arsenal youth team, you knew he had something special and he could go on and become a very good player.
"When people do criticise you, which happens quite a lot at a big club like Arsenal when you don't do well, then you have to keep believing in your own ability.
"Nicklas has always been a confident lad and believes he can play at the highest level. He has obviously done that and come good now. He has proved everyone wrong who doubted him in that spell.
"Playing for a club like Arsenal you have to deal with the pressure of trying to win things and winning every game.
"He has learned to deal with that as he has done very well lately.
"He has all the talent in the world and is a terrific player."

Other stuff not about the game around this morning.

Dara O'Briain has his regular column in The Guardian. Always an enjoyable read.

Alex Ferguson has been asking why Thomas Vermaelen didn't have his ban extended like poor Rio Ferdinand when we appealed against his red card.

The Daily Mail has the story.

I was under the impression that the appeal can only be frivolous if the offence was violent conduct which is what Ferdinand got banned for. Correct me if I'm wrong.

The Guardian has asked a panel of 'experts' to decide who is going to win the league.

These people include Joe Royle, Alan Kennedy, Andy Gray, Gary Speed and David Fairclough.

An interesting read because they basically write off Arsenal.

Stan Kroenke has increased his stake in Arsenal. According to The Times, he is now just ten shares away from buying the club.

And according to the Daily Mirror, Manchester City want to sign Alexander Hleb in the Summer from Barcelona, when his season long loan with Stuttgart comes to an end.

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