Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Wenger talks Villa and Cavani with Gazidis -Ramsey/Diaby for tonight?

Morning Gooners.

It's Liverpool who visit the Grove later and it's an opportunity to pick up three points for the second time within a week. If the team who take to the field later is the one who played West Ham off the park last week, we should be ok. However if we're going to turn up intimidated by the name on the opposition's shirt, we're going to struggle.

I'm not sure in my own mind whether this could be a good or bad time to face the team from Merseyside. It's got to hurt the players that they were dumped out of the FA Cup on Sunday by League One side Oldham. And they wouldn't have been happy to have heard their manager slam their performance. So will we face  a backlash?

The manager believes if we turn up and impose our own game on the opposition, we should be fine.

He said:

"It is always a big disappointment to go out of the FA Cup. You never speculate because you never know exactly what kind of response you get. It depends on the team. 
"What is important is for us to be at our best and cope with what Liverpool will offer us. 
"Of course it’s a shock when you go out but we just look at ourselves to play well together and don’t look too much at how Liverpool will respond to that."
We cannot rely on any favours from Liverpool. This is a big game for us. We've got to take three points tonight and ensure we take our recently built momentum forward with us. Play with tempo, play with one/two touch passing and play our usual pass and move game should create a good foundation for the game. Then we've got to take our chances in front of goal.

The team news is pretty much as expected. Captain Thomas Vermaelen will return to the starting line up, along with the outfield players who made up the bench at Brighton on Saturday.

I guess the big question is whether the manager will play Abou Diaby and where he might fit into this team. My feeling is that he won't. He'll start with Aaron Ramsey in the deep-lying role alongside Jack Wilshere and play Santi Cazorla behind Olivier Giroud, with Theo Walcott on the right and Lucas Podolski on the left.

I'd expect the starting line-up to be: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Ramsey, Wilshere, Walcott, Cazorla, Podolski, Giroud.


The manager was quizzed on his transfer dealings before the window closes at 11pm tomorrow night. It's been obvious that he's been after a couple of big name strikers. Whether he'll be able to pull of a deal for either of them in the short period of time he's got left remains to be seen.

Speaking on the issue of a striker, Wenger said:

"As numbers we have enough. We have plenty of quality strikers. We could do with top quality, one more, but you have to find him. 
"No [I don’t see it as a problem]. When you speak about ‘anyone’ coming in, I could just go out and buy anyone just to give people hope. 
"What is important is that you bring in players who can strengthen your team, or you do nothing and are strong enough to do nothing. 
"That is what is important for us, to bring in a player who can strengthen the squad."

And the manager is right. There is no point bringing a Park Chu Young to the club if he's going to sit on the bench for a few games and then disappear into obscurity. He's got to push the boat out in order to sign a proven player who'll be able to quickly adapt to the Premier League.

I'm not too worried about whether they'd be eligible for the Champions League. But if we're looking at David Villa or Edinson Cavani, they won't be able to play in Europe for us for the remainder of this season.

The manager has admitted that he's spoken to Barca about Villa. It's now a case of deciding whether spending £16m on a player who is 31, just coming back from injury and has just 18 months left on his contract is worth it.

As for Cavani, we'd seriously have to splash the cash for him. Wenger has had Steve Rowley watching the Uruguayan play for Napoli. But will he bite the bullet and spend the cash?

The manager held talks with CEO Ivan Gazidis yesterday. Hopefully they're plotting a last minute strike.

I'm at peace with myself that we won't make any signings. If we do, it will be a nice surprise. So that means putting my full support behind the players pulling on the Arsenal shirt until the end of the season, continuing against Liverpool tonight.

That's it for today. Back with more on the final day of the transfer window tomorrow.


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