Monday, 30 April 2012

Benayoun candid on RVP's future -Diaby's fitness -Yanga-Mbiwa and Susaeta scouted

Morning Gooners.

I wasn't expecting anything other than two wins from our London rivals in the race to finish in the top four. Chelsea demolished QPR, while in north London Blackburn didn't register a shot on target in their defeat to Spurs. It should make the midweek matches, Chelsea v Newcastle and Bolton v Spurs very interesting. Everything looks set to bunch up at the top.

Which is why coming away from the Britannia Stadium on Saturday with a point was so important. Our destiny is still in our own hands. Two wins and we are guaranteed a place in the Champions League group stages automatically. Finish fourth and we have to wait and see whether Chelsea - god forbid - win the thing.

Coming fourth causes all sorts of repercussions. It'll mean that when we sit down with Robin van Persie at the end of the season to discuss a new deal we won't know whether we'll have Champions or Europa League football next season. That will only be known once he's reported to the Dutch training camp and then a deal would be unlikely to be agreed after the European Championship. Which is why winning our two remaining games is vital.

Yossi Benayoun is of the opinion Robin will sign a new deal. Let's hope he is right.

The Israeli said:

"I think everyone knows it's important (that he stays).  
"Each club wants to keep their best player and of course Robin is our best player and he's proved it this season.  
"I'm sure he will stay for a long time."

It will be interesting to see whether we offer Benayoun a deal. We have the option to keep him permanently and I certainly feel there could be room for him in the squad. At 31, he wouldn't be a player we'd sign on a long term contract but just to give us time to develop Alex Oxlade Chamberlain and Ryo Miyachi. I think I would do the deal if I were Arsene.

The manager has said that we've become to reliant on Robin's goals, but there is little he can do about that now.

Wenger said:

"He has to push us over the line. There are two games to go. We have been a bit over-reliant on him, I concede that.  
"But it is difficult to change that before the end of the season."

The signing of Lukasz Podolski will go someway to helping us solve the issue. You'd hope that Theo Walcott and Gervinho will chip in with more goals next season and then we need to add to the amount of goals we score from midfield, where Mikel Arteta has been the only player who has added his name to the scoresheet inconsistently.

On Saturday, because Walcott was injured, the player with the most amount of Premier League goals behind Robin was Thomas Vermaelen. I'm glad the manager has recognised it and will do something to sort it out in the summer.

While on the subject of Saturday's game, fair play to Joe  Lovejoy writing in his Guardian match report about the abuse Stoke fans dished out to Aaron Ramsey. Lovejoy called it sick. I wouldn't disagree with that but I'm not holding my breath that the abuse directed at the Wales captain will be mentioned elsewhere because the game of all games is happening tonight, allegedly.

It looks as though Abou Diaby will miss our last two with a calf strain. A great shame for him considering he has only been able to make five substitute appearances this season. Let's hope he can come back fitter and stronger next term.

Elsewhere it's been a busy weekend for Arsenal's scouts. Gilles Grimandi watched Montpellier's 1-0 victory at Toulouse on Friday night. It is believed he was there to run the rule over Montpellier defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa.

Meanwhile in Spain, Arsenal representatives were casting their eye over Athletico Bilbao winger Markel Susaeta.

With no midweek match, the players get another day to rest their legs today and will return to training tomorrow. The manager will want to have them prepared for Saturday's big game and Pat Rice's send off.


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