Sunday, 27 February 2011

Cup final - Djourou ready - Bendtner confident - Reina linked - Ramsey wants to play

Morning Gooners,

Well it's a big day for us all. At 4pm, the Arsenal supporting world will come to a standstill. Whether that is at Wembley, around Highbury or around the world, there will just be one thing on our minds:  The Carling Cup final.  

Like you all, I'm buzzing with excitement. This will be my first trip to Wembley for a Cup Final and I just want Arsenal to make it a special day for all us Gooners. I know that winning it will be special not just for us but for the players as well.

It will give them extra belief. They know they are good enough... we've already beaten Birmingham twice this season 2-1 at home and 3-0 at St Andrews. But today will be different. Cup football is when the form book goes out of the window so I'm sure we'll face an opposition today who will want to please their own fans with by trying to win their first major trophy since 1963.

There should be no self doubt from our own players. They have proved they can do it at the highest level against Chelsea and Barcelona already this year and today will be no different.

And quite rightly, Arsene Wenger has been talking about us pushing on and taking our momentum forward until the end of the season.

He said:
"For me to be satisfied I must feel that the team must go as far as it can. Why should we limit our ambition at the end of February?
"We don't want to win this trophy and then consider the season over. The real quality of the players and me is to go as far as we can. If we don't win the Carling Cup we will continue for the rest.   
"That time has come for us. I think so because we are close in every competition to have a chance of winning and this Cup is the closest one. You reassure yourself when you know you can do things."
And Johan Djourou has spelled out what it will mean to win for the players.

He said:
"To the players I think it would mean a lot because obviously it's going to be the first time for some of the players to become winners.
"I think that it's going to be a good thing for our mentality because we don't know how to win. That's the thing because people are questioning us by saying we haven't won a trophy for a long time.
"But by becoming winners we will become more confident and show that we can achieve a lot of things because we have a lot going forward as well."
This must become our stepping stone. Win today and then push on for the FA Cup, League and Champions League. We've got the players to win the lot. Lets go out there today, win the first one and progress through the rest of the competitions.

One player who has taken great strides this season is Jack Wilshere.

From half a season at Bolton, he's forced himself into the first team and doesn't look out of place.

Winning is natural to him. I think he's won pretty much everything at youth level. And Arsene Wenger was asked whether he could cope with all the things being a Premier League footballer can bring.

The manager said:
"He looks to have his feet on the ground and still lives with his family who will help him to deal with that.
"It's not easy and I'm not sure that me, at 19, would be able to handle that. Until now he does very well. I'm confident Jack will have a great career."
I'm sure Wilshere will take everything in his stride. Make sure you check out his twitter today as he's promised lots of pictures.

Nicklas Bendtner has been speaking with the News of the World.

He said:
"I have never been to a final as a professional but I've already seen it happening in my head.
"Since we played the last game to get to Wembley, I've been thinking about the feeling of scoring a goal, winning the cup final, holding that trophy... it is something you will probably never forget."
It was interesting to hear him speak in his Football Focus interview yesterday. He came across in a really positive way, not the way you expect him to when you read the quotes in the newspapers.

I like him a lot and think he could turn out to be an excellent player for Arsenal. I liked the bit in the interview where he had already pictured himself lifting the trophy and celebrating with his team mates..... A boys gotta dream!

There are quite a few other stories around this morning.

The club are set to offer new contracts to Samir Nasri, Andrey Arshavin, GaĆ«l Clichy, Johan Djourou, Tomas Rosicky and Lukasz Fabianski whose deals with the club run out next summer, according to the Sunday Telegraph.

We know the club are confident Nasri will renew his deal and there was talk in The Sun yesterday that he'd put pen to paper on a five year deal. However they could be slightly wide of the mark as the Telegraph quote Nasri's agent Jean-Pierre Bernes saying:
"We are in negotiations. Nothing is agreed yet but it is going well." 
I think investing in new contracts rather than new players is certainly the way to go.

The Daily Star link us with a £20 million bid for Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina, 

They say the 28-year-old's agent is currently in negotiations with the Merseyside club about an extension which would net the player wages of around £110,000 a week.

No matter how much we wanted a new keeper, and I don't think we need one at the moment with Szczesny and Fabianski performing well this season - there are three factors which I can see already as to why Reina wouldn't be our man.

Firstly the £20m Liverpool would demand as a transfer fee - then there's the player's age (28) - and his weekly wage demands £110,000. None of the three in my mind correspond with any bit of business Arsene Wenger has done since he's been manager at Arsenal.

Cardiff want to keep Aaron Ramsey on loan until the end of the season and it appears the player would prefer to stay in Wales to get as many minutes on the pitch as possible.

Bluebirds boss Dave Jones told the News of the World: 
"Arsene has called him back but we'll see what we can do and whether we can keep him on a 24-hour recall.
"I'll have a word with Arsene and Aaron is going to speak to him. He wants to stay with us. I don't think he wants to go back if he's just going to be sitting on the bench.
"I think he still needs a few more games but I appreciate what Arsene has done for us. If he goes back he will do so with our best wishes."
As we come to the business end of the season, we need as many players available to us as possible. We know how quickly our numbers can be depleted by injuries, so to have Ramsey there as back up would make sense.

Wenger wants to play Ramsey - he would be in the squad for Wednesday's FA Cup replay if he weren't ineligible to play. So I'm sure he'll get some playing time, although he won't start every week like he has done at Cardiff.

And that's your lot. I'll post a team preview a bit later. I think the boss could spring a surprise with his selection. Where ever you are going to watch the game, show you're support for the Arsenal. If you're lucky enough to be at Wembley, lets make some noise!!!

Come on you Gooners!

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