Monday, 12 March 2012

Wenger to make one change for Newcastle match -Gunners delegation sign Podolski

Morning Gooners.

There is often talk of relegation six pointers. Well tonight is a six pointer in terms of which of either us or Newcastle will finish in the top four in my eyes. Another weekend has seen those from down the road drop points and if we win tonight, that ten point gap last seen when they visited the Grove 15 days ago, will be down to a solitary point with ten games to go.

We have the momentum with us. We've won our last three games in all competitions on the bounce and have taken three points in all of our last four league games. Tonight we face a tricky test in a Newcastle team who have done well for themselves under the despicable Alan Pardew.

But the momentum is with us. We've got a target now and it's not fourth place, it's taking third. If this team has learnt anything from the last three games is that hard work on the pitch will be rewarded with wins. It would be nice if we didn't have to go a goal down before we lift ourselves into the game but start tonight as we did against Milan.

There is no pressure on us. We know what we have to do when we step out on to the pitch. Take the handbrake off and be instinctive in front of goal. Playing more direct football at pace like we used to has helped a lot. And it may have coincided with the renaissance of Tomas Rosicky who has been outstanding in our last three games playing in a central role behind Robin van Persie.

Wenger said:

"Newcastle is a team that has offensive strengths so a good defensive performance will be needed. 
"For consistency of top results, this is the best team I've had for a while because for a long time, we didn't put one big result after the other. There is also the quality of our games.  
"You can say what you want but [in the last three home games] we score seven against Blackburn, five against Tottenham and three against Milan. We have a flow in our game because maybe the confidence is higher."

Home form has to be key to our chances of taking third. We need to win all our remaining games and there is absolutely no reason why we can't with the current form we are in. The players shouldn't be down because they went out of the Champions League last week because the effort they showed in getting back into that game despite being 4-0 down from the first leg showed their commitment and desire to play at the highest level. And to get back into the competition next season, we need that level of performance until we are certain of our top four spot.

One thing which I believe has been key to lifting this team has been the crowd at the Grove. There are lots of fans that come to our games but there needs to be more supporters getting to their feet to urge the team on and be vocal in their backing of this team.

Team news going into this game is good. We should have Kieran Gibbs, Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Yossi Benayoun all available.

I think the manager will try to make as few changes as possible to this winning team.

I expect him to go for:
Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Song, Arteta, Walcott, Rosicky, Oxlade-Chamberlain, van Persie.

I expect there to be a fantastic atmosphere tonight, especially after the result in Merseyside on Saturday night. We need to be loud and create a fantastic atmosphere, like we have been against Milan and Spurs.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail report a deal to sign Lukas Podolski was agreed this weekend. A delegation from the club were in Germany to thrash out the details of the deal. However it won't be announced until the end of the season.

That's your lot for today. I'll see you down the Grove tonight. Until tomorrow.

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