Friday, 25 January 2013

Podolski's honesty is refreshing -Wenger needs Villa to secure Champions League football

Morning Gooners.

I'm still on a high from Wednesday night and that's probably because we've not witnessed an Arsenal win this year until then. It's annoying how good and bad this team can be in the space of a few days. They showed a lot of character in the second half at Stamford Bridge but at the end of the game, we still lost.

Against West Ham something changed from the off. We weren't second best. We fought for the 50:50s. The tempo of our passing game was right and the players had clearly been instructed to make a pass as quickly as possible. The movement off the ball was also there.

But something else changed. We saw a player other than Jack Wilshere take the game by the scuff of the neck and change its outcome. This season we've seen Lucas Podolski make an impact in matches in fits and starts. Against West Ham, he was the one who dragged us from being one-nil down back to win the game with an outstanding man of the match performance.

We heard that the manager called the players in for a team meeting on Monday and from watching the game on Wednesday night, it's clear that he's called on his players to take more responsibility for the results the team aren't currently achieving.

Too often in seasons gone by players leaving the club (Na$ri is a prime example) have spoken about leaving to win trophies. But they never take any personal blame for the fact they were partly responsible for us not winning silverware.

Podolski said after the game that with 15 league games to go, this team needs to be playing like we did against West Ham every time we take to the pitch. I'm hoping that something clicked in this team on Wednesday night which will see us rewarded with committed performances until the end of the season.

The German said:

"We must believe in our game. We have great players in the team and after the games against Man City and Chelsea, the atmosphere was not so good. 
"But we won 5-1 and we look to the next game in the FA Cup on Saturday. It was one game and we have three points, which is important, but we have 15 games more to play. 
"It is not about saying ‘Arsenal are back’ because we need more of these games and more of these points. Then I think we [will get] back into the top four."
Closing the gap on Spurs to four points was vital. We go to their place in March and by that time I hope we're very much in the race for a top four place. I want us to finish in a Champions League place. I know there are fans out there who would like to see us finish outside the top four, but I don't think that would be in the best interests of the club or us as fans.

Financially playing in the premier European competition is vital for us. The amount of money the club would need to find if we didn't play on a Tuesday or Wednesday night is roughly £30m. And who do you think would end up paying? Us, the fans.

So making sure we qualify is a top priority. I still believe we need a couple of signings before the end of the month. I know the manager believes these players are capable of producing the kind of displays we saw on Wednesday night. But they've been too inconsistent, blowing hot and cold all season, especially in front of goal.

That's why I'm convinced we need a world class striker to give us a boost. Again our substitutes bench provided us with few attacking options, so for me that is an area we should be strengthening. If David Villa is available I really think the manager should pull out all the stops. We've got less than a week to get any deals done, so let's ensure we have the players we need to ensure Champions League football at the Grove next season.

The manager will hold his pre-match press conference ahead of tomorrow's clash with Brighton later. Hopefully we'll have some good news on the injury front. We need it.

That's it for now. Back tomorrow with more.

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