Saturday, 26 January 2013

Wenger to make three changes this afternoon -Villa and Diame still targets

Morning Gooners

It's the FA Cup today and I'm really excited. We'll be heading to Brighton's new ground to play in a 3pm Saturday kick off... what's not to like about that? It's a competition we can win silverware, the players should certainly be up for it and I know the 4,000 Gooners heading to the game will certainly be.

The manager knows how important this game is. We have to keep our momentum going. He's got to take the game seriously and I'm sure will put out a strong side.

Wenger said:
"I have won the FA Cup four times because I take the competition seriously. 
"It is important to go for every trophy."
The manager has few options when it comes to rotating his team for this afternoon's game. Captain Thomas Vermaelen is out, as is Mikel Arteta and Francis Coquelin.

However Abou Diaby returns to the squad and Tomas  Rosicky is added to it after his lengthy spell on the sidelines.

The manager has to make a decision on Jack Wilshere as well. There is a lot of talk of him being handed the captaincy today, mainly because Vermaelen handed him the armband when he left the pitch injured on Wednesday night. With Arteta out there is neither captain or vice-captain in the squad today.

As a one off I think Wilshere being skipper today would be fine. Expect I think he needs a rest and I wouldn't be surprised to see him on the bench. However if he was just a substitute I'm not sure there are too many obvious candidates to lead the team, not that the manager pays too much importance to who wears the armband.

I expect a few changes from the side which destroyed West Ham on Wednesday night. I would have thought Carl Jenkinson will get a run out at right back with Bacary Sagna's form being indifferent for the last month. Then a change in midfield with Diaby returning, possibly for Wilshere and then Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain coming in for Theo Walcott on the right.

My starting line up would be: Szczesny, Jenkinson, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Ramsey, Diaby, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cazorla, Podolski, Giroud.

I think Cazorla could do with a rest as well. But I don't think the manager will want to switch him out with Rosicky - his most obvious replacement - just returning again from injury having only made four appearances this term.

The players know of the importance the FA Cup is to the fans.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain said:
"You’ve got to approach every game as if it was a Premier League game and the FA Cup’s a massive competition. We want to do really well in it and we want to get to the final and win it.  
"We’re going to have to go to Brighton expecting a tough game, because they can play football. They’ve got players in their team who are committed at the same time. 
"We’re going to have to go there, make sure we don’t take our foot off the gas, give them the respect they deserve, and make sure we match them physically and commitment-wise.  
"We’ve got to try and play our own game and make sure we get the result and get through to the next round."
In the third round the south coast team beat Newcastle at home. Clearly the form the north-east club are in means that most Championship club could have beaten them, but to be fair to Brighton they're doing well for themselves.

They deserve respect. The players should not go into this game thinking they can win it just by turning up. We've got to work hard to win the ball back. Play our passing game at the right tempo and take our opportunities when they present themselves in front of goal.

In The Guardian, Wojciech Szczesny speaks to Amy Lawrence about how important today's game is for this team's chances of winning silverware this term.

Now let's move on to the transfer window. Another member of the first team squad has departed on a loan move, this time Emmanuel Frimpong who will play for the remainder of the season for Fulham.

The Daily Mirror link Carl Jenkinson with a loan move away from the club. They say he's wanted at Stoke, West Ham, Wigan and Fulham.

Meanwhile with time running out, the manager says there shouldn't be a January transfer window and if there has to be clubs should be restricted to making two signings.

Wenger said:
"I think it [the January window] should be all completely cut out or limited to two players. 
"It is unfair for the league that some teams who have [twice] played, for example, Newcastle, already have an advantage on teams who play Newcastle now they have bought [a number of] players.  
"You do not face exactly the same team so I believe the number of players you could buy should be limited."
And while you take his point about Newcastle - a team we next face in the league on the last day of the season - that is not the rule which is in place now, so why should any club be restricted from signing players.

I understand that he can see the potential in this squad. But the problem for him is that this group of players is too inconsistent. We never know which Arsenal team is going to turn up at the match. And the level of quality of player has dropped with the departures of our best players over recent seasons, something we've not replaced when signing new players.

So signing a superstar player like David Villa is a good option. He has the quality and you know in front of goal he will take his chances. There is still a chance we'll sign him before the end of the month, but with every day passing, that chance is less and less.

The Daily Mirror say we're still in for Villa and West Ham midfielder Mohamed Diame, despite what the manager said in his press conference yesterday. Only time will tell whether we get these two players.

That's it for today. I'm heading to the Amex for this afternoon's game. See those of you going to the match there. I''ll be back here tomorrow with more.

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