Thursday, 9 February 2012

Wenger wants consistency -Vic Akers finally finds Kieran Gibbs -Park long-overdue hibernation

Morning Gooners.

A whistle stop tour of the headlines making the news this morning as I'm already running late.

Arsene Wenger has said we need "exceptional consistency" to finish the season in the top four of the league.

He said:
"We had a good week last week. We had a good result against Aston Villa and a good performance against Bolton.  
"We had the same number of chances [at the Reebok] that we had against Blackburn but we scored on Saturday. We still have real hope that we can finish the season the strongest. We have a good spirit and desire within the group - and we have quality. 
"We know that with the position we are in we need an exceptional consistency, so that is the challenge we have in front of us at Sunderland." 
Finishing in the fourth place spot isn't beyond us. But we need to ensure we play to our strengths and not pick up injuries. I know the second of those points we have hardly much control over, but if a player is  in the so-called "red zone" is it worth it?

We also have to be more consistent in our home form, especially against the big teams. We've still to face four of the other sides in the top six at home, so it is vital we take points from those games.

We've had a week of rest and recouperation ahead of Saturday's trip to Sunderland. It's also been a week of tactical planning for the next spell of fixtures. Following this weekend's trip to the north east coast we're off to Milan and then head back to face Martin O'Neill's men for a second time in a week for a fifth round FA Cup tie. Sunderland won after extra time last night, so hopefully their legs will be a little heavy for Saturday.

Our own team news is good. After his comeback against Bolton and a cameo against Blackburn, Bacary Sagna looks set to resume at right back. Whilst there will be celebrations in some quarters that we'll be able to welcome back a recognised left back in Kieran Gibbs for this weekend's match. In a long running game of hide and seek, Vic Akers finally found Gibbs in the treatment room - surprised he didn't look there in the first place!

Anyway, it's great to have Gibbs back. It could mean we'll get to see Koscielny and Vermaelen play together again. It will be interesting to see whether Gibbs starts the game or whether the boss will not want to risk him from the kick off and bring him on as a substitute, especially with the Milan game less than a week away.

Other team news is that Marouane Chamakh will be available after returning from the Africa Cup of Nations, so that will mean Ju Young Park will disappear off the bench for the next few games.

Johan Djourou has signed a contract extension with the club until 2015 according to the Swiss FA. While the Daily Mirror say Andrey Arshavin will be sticking around until the summer at least.

And that's it. The manager will speak to the media later and give us all the latest team news. It'll also be interesting to hear him explain the comments he made about having to make £20m each season...

Until tomorrow.

Follow Ashburton Grove on Twitter, chatting Arsenal throughout the day. To receive the blog everyday you can subscribe via e-mail or take the RSS feed to your favourite reader.

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