Friday, 1 April 2011

Wenger's master plan worked - Bring back the feel good factor

Morning Gooners.

Finally we are here. Looking at a weekend when we've got a game of football we actually care about. Arsenal take on Blackburn tomorrow in our final Saturday kick off of the season. For the eight games after, we play on Sunday, apart from the Wednesday night came with Spurs. 

I'm a bit of a traditionalist and enjoy the 3pm Saturday kick off. So to have already played our final game in that spot with a quarter of the season still to go feels disappointing. I absolutely hate late kick-offs especially on Saturdays. It ruins the rest of the day.

In his pre-match interview with Arsenal TV Online, Arsene Wenger points out that near enough every game between now and the end of the season sees us play after Manchester United. How can that be fair?

Surely the TV companies could have alternated the fixtures between Saturday and Sunday for both teams? I suppose the only good factor to all of this though is that all of our remaining games are broadcast on TV.

So nine games to go, five points off the top position in the league with a game in hand. How many people would have given us a chance to be here at the start of the season?

Not many would be my answer. When I looked at all the predictions of where we would finish at the start of the season, very few - I'm talking probably three maximum - journalists and columnists in the national press placed us as Champions.

But we can do it. And where we end up is our own destiny.

In his pre-match interview with Arsenal TV Online, Arsene Wenger said:
"We wanted to be in the position we are in. We are in this position, so lets just go for it."
Every Gooner I spoke to prior to the season wanted us to be within the pack of team who could win the league as we headed into the final straight.

No one wanted us to be out of the title race in November or March. We've had our wobbles, this is true. But we still have something to play for.

The manager also spoke in his ATVO interview about the team playing without the pressure that maybe they put ourselves under. He used the phase "light hearted" - but when asked if he meant without pressure he said that was what he probably really meant. 

This season I feel we've lost the game we play when you see the players playing with smiles on their faces. The one reason I put behind this is because we don't start the game at a high enough intensity that the opposition can't live with.

We put ourselves under too much pressure in the second half when we could have easily scored some or even just created more of our chances in the first.

There haven't been too many occasions this season I can remember the manager getting the best out of the team in the first 45 minutes. Perhaps that's the one area he needs to work on with this team. Whatever he says to the players at half time - maybe he should say that prior to the match?

We need more of a feel good factor and I suppose that is built by winning but we've also got to enjoy the game we play more. I think the manager was trying to relieve some of the pressure on his team, however I also think we as fans have a part to play.

Going to the ground to watch games like Chelsea and Barcelona there was something in the air - a spark - which seems only to be generated when we play those sorts of teams.

That spark needs to be there for the remaining four home games. This is a time when this team needs our support more than ever.

Early team news for the game tomorrow sees Cesc Fabregas, Theo Walcott, Alex Song and Abou Diaby all available after being injured for the West Brom game. 

So Arsene Wenger's master plan of having all four available for the title run in and not injured on international duty worked!

Robin van Persie and Aaron Ramsey will have fitness tests but Denilson is out with a stubbed toe.

The manager will speak to the media at lunchtime, so expect to hear the latest on whether van Persie and Ramsey pass their tests then. I expect they will both be available.

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