Monday, 22 April 2013

Stable spine = wins -Wenger hails Vermaelen -Koscielny loves talking! -Wilshere's operation

Morning Gooners.

On the whole the weekend hasn't been a particularly bad one to be an Arsenal fan. We're still in the top four after our win at Fulham on Sunday and despite our north London rivals winning, it was good to see Chelsea slip up at Anfield.

It puts us still in the driving seat as both teams have to play one another and will drop points from that game. But that means winning all our remaining games, including this Sunday's clash with Champions elect Manchester United. I would really like to see them wrap up the league tonight. For me I have no problem with our team giving them a guard of honour. It's better than them winning the title at the Grove.

Not that I think we'd lose Sunday's game. I've been certain for weeks that when Sunday comes we'll end up taking all three points, them being champions or not. If the sequence of our last six league games has told us anything, it's that we've got a team with one target and that's to secure a top four finish no matter the performance or how we do it. We are the league's most inform team with five wins and a draw from our last six.

The basis we've turned our fortunes around is from having a stable spine of the team. Four of those six games saw Lukasz Fabianski in goal, with Per Mertesacker and Laurent Kosicelny in front of him and Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey in front of the central defenders. Olivier Giroud has led the line.

I believe it is the stability to the core of the team which has helped us. Of course with Fabianski injured, we have had to recall Wojciech Szczesny between the sticks and Thomas Vermaelen has come in for Mertesacker when he was suspended. Szczesny has kept two clean sheets in the process.

But while there are stories about Thomas Vermaelen being sold in the summer, personally I don't see why we would consider offloading the Belgium. If we've learnt anything from the last few months it's that we need a big squad to allow for healthy competition for places. We need hungry players who know that one bad performance could leave them on the bench. Plus I've never read a rule which says you're only allowed a certain quota of exceptionally good players in your squad.

The manager has found what many of us would agree was his best pairing in Mertesacker and Koscielny but he knows that he's one red card away from having to recall Vermaelen.

Wenger said:
"Thomas is one of the best defenders in England, like the two others. 
"I told them at the start of the season that we have three outstanding central defenders. It’s about game by game that I make a decision — and it is about partnership as well. 
"Thomas has been a substitute for quite a few games and he still plays a big part in the game — I don’t see him as a substitute at all. 
"Koscielny was in that position for a long, long time and that can change very quickly."
Against Manchester United and for the remaining three other games you can't look any further than the Mertesacker/Koscielny partnership and baring injury or suspension, Vermaelen won't start.

Kosicleny has been diplomatic in his comments after the Fulham win.

He said:
"We play well together as a pair. We communicate well. His experience is vital and it helps us work together. 
"So we try and talk to each other a lot and it is important at the back to have an understanding. 
"We need the results to make sure we are in the top four and in the Champions League next season. Now it is me and Per. We must do whatever is right for the team. 
"Per is a very good player. He reads the ball well. He is clever. He attacks the ball and wins headers whereas I can go behind and be quick and cope with the long balls. 
"He is good technically so he is good for the defence. Per is calm on the pitch. He is good for me and he uses his experience and this helps me and the team."
For me there is no reason for us to change the defensive pairing. Neither have put a foot wrong and against Fulham were outstanding, both in attack and in defence.

Elsewhere this morning, the Daily Mail report Monaco are monitoring the situation of Bacary Sagna who will have just one year remaining on his contract at the end of the season.

And as reported yesterday in the Sunday Mirror Jack Wilshere could face a operation on his ankle at the end of the season.

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




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