Saturday, 14 May 2011

Wenger jabs Merson - Pires: Buy English - Nasri will be sold

Morning Gooners.

Arsene Wenger held his pre-match press conference yesterday ahead of Sunday's game. I would describe it as being very business like. The manager wanted to get it over and done with, although he had time to share a joke with the boys and girls of the media on the subject of Alex Ferguson being charged by the FA over comments he made about Howard Webb being the best referee in the country.

The Frenchman is clearly angry about what has come out in Paul Merson's new book. The Times must be kicking themselves. They paid to serialize the book exclusively but either failed to spot or didn't make a big deal of Merson's claim he was injected with a unknown substance when at the club. It wasn't until Thursday when The Sun picked up on the story that Merson's claims have been aired in the national press.

I didn't mention it on the blog because quite frankly I can't believe Merson's claims. And the manager shot down the former player's assertion that there was anything underhand about the injection and said he had never asked a player to take a shot to play in a game, no matter its size or importance.

As much as I love Mers as a player during my youth, he is a loose cannon now. You don't know what he's going to say next.  I think Wenger firmly put this one to bed. (As an aside, why is the manager wearing a top with the initials 'MJ in this picture the Daily Mail have used '?)

Heading back to football and the real world, the manager was asked about where the team would be finishing this season. We've got to win on Sunday to take us to the magical spot where we'll be guaranteed not to have to play a Champions League qualifier.

Manchester City have the Cup Final to play today and have already guaranteed their place in the top four, so hopefully they won't care too much about finishing third or fourth. But we do care and need to ensure we don't have another performance like last Sunday against Villa.

Wenger said:
"We can still catch the second place and we can finish second, third or fourth, depending on our results. Of course we want to finish in the top three and if possible second.
"It is not unrealistic [to finish second] when you are just three points behind. Manchester City can want third place because they are only two points behind, so it is open."
Personally I want us to finish with two performances which shows how good we can be rather than another abject performance showed at Stoke. I don't want the players to turn up and go through the motions. They're not on their summer holidays yet.

And I'm not yet going to start to worry about where we might or might not end up next season in the league. The Daily Mirror with a scare headline to worry any Gooner: Wenger fears Arsenal will end up in Europa League

The manager didn't say that, nor did John Cross write the headline. Wenger did say there was no guarantee we'd finish top four next term which you can only agree with. You start getting complacent we'll finish top four, you'll end up like Spurs and Liverpool.

Elsewhere Robert Pires who will return to the club for quite possibly the final time as a player this weekend has some interesting things to say about Wenger's policy and says the manager needs to bring in or promote from within more English players, something the Daily Mail love!

Not much has been said about the Black Scarf Movement's peaceful walk prior to the game on Sunday. There is a very good piece in the Ham and High, which states their case. Not a lot you can disagree with.

Some early team news ahead of tomorrow's game. Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri are to under go fitness tests today but Laurent Koscielny, Abou Diaby and Tomas Rosicky are all out.

That could mean a return to the defence for Thomas Vermaelen. Shame it's nine months too late. All the same it will be nice to see him back.

The manager has tried to reassure all Gooners that Cesc Fabregas will be an Arsenal player next season. However Wenger can't be as confident with Samir Nasri, who is still to sign a new deal. My gut feeling is that Nasri will be off in the summer. I do hope he signs the extension and all the talk coming from the club is that he will. I've just got this nagging suspicion he won't go through with it and will be sold as a result. I hope I'm wrong about it though.

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