Thursday, 28 March 2013

Cazorla praises "very good signing" -Wenger's big decision -Wilshere ready? -Gervinho off?

Morning Gooners.

The players who were away on international duty will return to first team training at London Colney today in preparation for this weekend's clash with Reading. Mikel Arteta, Abou Diaby and Andrey Arshavin will have to stop their shooting practice against Lukasz Fabianski. Sebastien Squillaci will be pleased as he won't have to act as ball boy any more.

Arsene Wenger has some big decisions to make ahead of the game. Does he recall Wojciech Szczesny and Thomas Vermaelen to his starting 11 (provided both return match fit)? Does Bacary Sagna start in place of Carl Jenkinson? Who does he play at left back... Nacho Monreal or Kieran Gibbs? Is he able to start Jack Wilshere after his lay off?

I think that provided Fabianski, Jenkinson, Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny and Monreal are all fit to play he should start with the same back five who played at the Liberty Stadium and the Allianz Arena.

Fabainski has been training in London while Szczesny has been away with Poland. Jenkinson has also been at London Colney, while Sagna hasn't played a competitive game since the home leg of our Champions League clash with Bayern Munich.

Mertesacker has played twice for Germany (quite how some people can call him not good enough is beyond me), Koscielny played once for France, while Vermaelen has featured in both of Belgium's matches.

Monreal stared in Spain's win over France while Gibbs has been training back in London.

What's been key to our recent defensive solidity is playing the same players each week. They're also the right mix. So until one of them gets injured or is out of form, I think Wenger should stick with those who have given us a fighting chance of a top four finish.

Speaking to Arsenal magazine ahead of the game against Reading this weekend, Monreal said:
"We still have matches left to fix the situation and to try to meet our objectives. 
"It is logical that people talk because the situation has not been as it should be, but the players and club in general have to ensure that doesn't affect us. 
"We have to use our energy for the matches. If you are thinking of what people are saying, you are wasting that energy. You have to concentrate on the next match. 
"Every fixture now is a final we have to win. That has to be our mentality. I am sure we will put it right."
With nine games to go we have to claw back the four points Spurs are in front of us but also target finishing above Chelsea as well. We really don't want to be playing in a Champions League qualifier in August.

And although on paper we have what many say is an easier run in than those around us in the league table, I hope the players aren't believing any of that kind of nonsense. Reading will come to the Grove wanting to put in a performance for their new manager and attempt to put themselves in a position to stay up.

Abou Diaby believes all the players know that Reading will won't be a walkover by any means.

He told the official site:
"It is very difficult [against teams near the bottom of the table]. They are fighting against relegation, and we are fighting to be in the top four. 
"We may be favourites, but we know it’s not going to be an easy game. But if we can play our game, we know we can score goals."
I think the one thing which impressed me against both Munich and Swansea was that we had options right across the pitch. We've now got players in defence who are keen to win their places back. We've got midfielders fighting for a start and we've got forwards itching for a chance to show what they can do.

Clearly losing Theo Walcott to injury wasn't part of the plan. But he's not been at his best for a few games now and was probably going to be dropped to the bench at some point. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looked good in Wales and for England against San Marino. He's now got the opportunity to show Arsene Wenger what he can do.

Another player who can have an impact between now and the end of the season is Gervinho. I see the Ivory Coast international has been linked with a move to Galatasaray by the Daily Mail this morning. Personally I'd like to see him stay in north London because I believe he has a lot to offer this team. And between now and the end of the season he can be an important player coming off the bench for us.

And finally, Santi Cazorla has praised Arsene Wenger's signing of Nacho Monreal.

He said:
"Nacho is a footballer I really enjoy watching and playing with. He has adapted to the Premier League very well. 
"What's more, our style of play suits him because he is someone with a lot of movement. He is a very good signing, and is proving it. 
"I think Arsenal have really got it right with the transfer. I am very happy because he is a great mate."
I wonder how many more Malaga players Wenger will sign this summer?

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

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