Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Szczesny's bullish - Rivals to hijack Oxlade-Chamberlain deal - Rosicky's out

Morning Gooners.

It's match day and probably the most important game of our season will be played tonight at the Grove. I don't think we should contemplate anything other than an Arsenal win. And even though it will be a tough 90 minutes, I'm sure if we attack the opposition in the same way we did at the weekend we'll win the game.

Ipswich will be up for it. They will defend for their lives. After all there is a Wembley final in it for them as well. The manager thinks they will employ the same game plan as they did against us at Portland Road. Defend deep with 10 men behind the ball and try to catch us on the break. It worked the first time but I doubt it will tonight. These Arsenal players cannot and will not be complacent against Paul Jewell's team.

The Arsenal players are talking up their game. Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, who will keep his place in goal following continued injury to Lukasz Fabianski, said:
"We just have to break them down and score as many goals as we can. They have a one-goal advantage which they will try to defend, but as soon as we score the first goal, it will be downhill for them.
"We are confident we can turn this around. We are confident for the second leg - we are Arsenal and believe we can beat anybody."
The one area we need to be cautious is with the direct counter attacking the Tractor Boys will employ. A hoof down the middle and one of their speedy forwards chasing the ball down. Arsene Wenger said in his pre-match interview with Arsenal TV Online that he was aware this is how they would target us. I just hope he has put a plan in place to combat the threat.

Employ the same work ethic as used against Leeds and we will create chances to score. And score we must without conceding. I don't think we need a nervy night. A straight forward win without them hitting the back of the net. And please, no "Ole's" tonight. We know what happened in that semi-final against the same manager in 2006.

Wenger is well aware of that game but believes it won't play a part in our thinking tonight.  

He said:
"History does not play a part. What plays a part is the players on the pitch and the quality of our game. That is what we want to focus on. 
"We want to find a way to score goals and we want to find a way to win the game. We want, of course, to play in a much sharper way than we did in the first leg."
Early team news suggests we'll have the same squad available as we did against Wigan at the weekend. Tomas Rosicky will still be absent, he picked up a virus and was in bed for a week according to the manager, but he could be in contention for the game on Sunday.

The manager said he wasn't going to be making any wholesale changes, but I would expect four or five players to switch from the bench to the starting line up.

Transfer window round-up

Sebastien Squillaci should be fit for Sunday according to the manager so it looks unlikely that we'll sign anyone as central defensive cover. He told ATVO that he's "nowhere near" signing anyone. And that includes Jonathan Woodgate, who he denied being interested in signing.

There is no further news on the signing of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, although there are rumours in The Sun that Manchester United have come in with a late bid for the 17-year-old.

His dad Mark, who used to play for Portsmouth and Stoke, seems more keen on a move to north London for his son.

He said:
"Arsenal, with the manager there, the way they play and how they develop players, I think they are the ideal choice."
If I were a betting man, I would have some money on the signing happening before the weekend, perhaps as early as tomorrow.


In The Sun, Arsene Wenger says he believes Cesc Fabregas could one day lead Spain. Whilst the Guardian, has a piece about the rise and fall of Andrey Arshavin.

Match preview will be on the blog later.

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