Saturday, 19 March 2011

Arshavin to be our Henry - Deadly silent Jens - Ramsey recalled

Morning Gooners.

To me, this afternoon's game is huge. Basically we have to match Manchester United result or better it and achieve that without some of our best players.

If we stay with them going into the international break, we've got every chance of winning the league. West Brom away will be no easy match. They proved that earlier in the season at the Grove. We certainly need to avenge that result.

Whilst at Old Trafford, Bolton are the visitors. Both games kick off at 3pm.

With three points between us and us having a game in hand, the most important thing for me is that we come away with a result after a three week period.

Today's game is our 'Liverpool moment'. You'll remember the game in 2004. We were 2-1 down at half time and came back to beat the scousers 4-2 at Highbury with Thierry Henry scoring a hattrick.

We need the same mental strength today and some of our players to step up to the plate and take the game by the scruff of the neck and win it for us like Titi did seven years ago.

This week must have been as tough for Arsene Wenger then as it was back in 2004.

"What is at stake is a championship and that means that the team has been the most consistent and, when you want to be consistent, you have to deal with disappointments."
The manager admits the dressing room now is not as vocal as it has been previously. That's hardly a surprised considering the characters in his squad. There aren't the experienced players in there who can tell them what it's like to win a medal and help all the younger players through this period. It's about going out on the pitch and learning.

The signing of Jens Lehmann will help, although the manager says the German isn't the vocal type.

There are obviously going to be some changes to the personal the manager has this afternoon. There is no Cesc Fabregas, Theo Walcott, Alex Song, Abou Diaby, Wojciech Szczesny, Lukasz Fabianski, Thomas Vermaelen and Johan Djourou.

We know there is only one player who will replace the Swiss international - we have only one other fit first team central defender who can play besides Laurent Koscielny - Sebastien Squillaci. Wenger says he has no problem with playing him.

The manager has got an interesting team selection to make. And my gut feeling is he'll go for experience over youth. (More on the team  when I preview it at lunchtime).

Andrey Arshavin is likely to start and he's been speaking about the team's final goal this season.

"Now we are in a close chase for the title with Manchester United and still have chances to finish first in the Premier League.
"If we fail to do that I would consider this season completely lost for us.
"At the moment physically I feel well, but I cannot say the same about my emotional state.
"No footballer likes to lose and I am no exception."
I think the next ten games are huge for the Russian. For me, he could single handily win us the league. If he puts the effort in.

We need for his head to be right and his commitment to be at 100%. It could really be his sink or swim moment as well. Do we keep him in the summer or move him on. I think the manager will make that big decision at the end of May, but ten huge performances could have a big baring on which side of the line Wenger comes down on.

Other news around this morning, Kyle Bartley - who is on loan with Rangers - has damaged his knee ligaments so will be out for a month at least.

The manager in his pre-match interview with Arsenal TV Online cleared up the confusion as to when he decided Thomas Vermaelen wouldn't play for us this season.

And finally, congratulations to Aaron Ramsey for his recall to the Wales squad for their forthcoming international games.

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