Sunday, 6 January 2013

Wenger uses personal touch to tempt Spain international -Midfielder and defender linked

Morning Gooners.

Finally today is our chance to play in the FA Cup third round. It's arguably our only realistic chance of winning a trophy this season. But going to Wales and defeating Swansea will be a tough ask. To be honest I'm not very confident about our chances.

I think it's all about how we go into the game. If the mindset is right, we're up for the battle and chase every ball, we've got a chance. But if we perform the way we did against Southampton on Tuesday, it is hard to see us coming away with anything.

What we really don't need is a replay. January is already a difficult month. Having been held to a draw last night against Manchester United, West Ham now face a replay to get into the next round. That means our postponed Boxing Day fixture with them now takes place three days after our trip to Stamford Bridge on January 23.

Since beating us at the Grove, this afternoon's opponents have only one once in the league against Fulham at Craven Cottage. However they had a decent draw against Manchester United at the Liberty, which they should have really taken all three points from.

Out form has seen us win four out of our previous five games. They've been gritty performances and until we know which Arsenal side is going to turn up this afternoon, it's anyone's guess what the result might be.

The manager doesn't have much option but to pick his first team for this fixture. I'd expect the same team who drew at St Mary's to start today.

That would be: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Arteta, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cazorla, Podolski, Walcott.

The only possible changes could be the recall of Carl Jenkinson for Sagna, Francis Coquelin could start in place of Arteta and Ramsey might come in for Oxlade-Chamberlain. The manager might also want to give Per Mertesacker a game.

Kick off is at 1:30pm and the game is live on ESPN.

There is plenty of transfer speculation in the Sunday newspapers.

It seems as though the manager is still undecided as to whether he'll bring any players into the club this month.

He said:
"I find it difficult to analyse the players and to know what they are capable of. 
"When you score seven goals in one game and only get an own goal in the next one, of course, it is hard. 
"We have good offensive potential but we are not consistent enough. I change my mind whether I need to go into the transfer market from game to game. 
"If you look at the Newcastle game, you’d say fantastic but if you look at the Southampton game you can say we need to strengthen our offensive department."
To me it's clear we've not been clicking up front. But is that to do with the forward players or those behind them. Is the real reason we're not dominating games to some extent down to the fact Mikel Arteta is playing out of position? Could the side benefit from a strong tackling midfielder who would do a better job at the base of the midfield spine than Arteta is currently doing?

I like Arteta and think he is incredibly valuable to the side. I don't think where he's being played though is his strongest position and makes best use of his abilities.

Yesterday Arsenal's longest serving player under Arsene Wenger - Johan Djourou - left the club on loan until the end of the season. He's joined Hannover 96.

The People report that Arsene Wenger has called David Villa to persuade him to join Arsenal. But the Daily Star Sunday say a move this month is unlikely because Villa wants to stay in Spain for the birth of his third child.

The Sunday Mirror meanwhile say we're going to bid £8m for Wigan's Republic of Ireland international midfielder James McCarthy.

The Sunday People link us with a move for Montepellier defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa. But they claim we'll only make a move for the France international once Sebastien Squillaci is off the books.

The Mail on Sunday says the manager is still deciding whether the club should up its offer to Theo Walcott and reports that no contract talks took place in the last week, apart from a courtesy conversation between Arsenal executive Dick Law and Walcott’s representatives.

Elsewhere in the Sunday Mirror, the manager has revealed that it is him who decides how much his players get paid.

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

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