Sunday, 19 May 2013

Wenger to make two changes -Gibbs and Cazorla target silverware

Morning Gooners

The final day of the season is upon us. 274 days of Premier League football since that sunny August day when we opened our campaign with a 0-0 with Sunderland at the Grove, today we end it by fighting for the right to play in the Champions League next season.

Destiny is in our own hands. Win and our place in the top four is secure. And that's all that I want. Three points. I don't care how they come about, I just want our position in the top four secure by 6pm. We've seen some gritty performances in recent weeks but once we went ahead against Wigan for the second time on Tuesday night the handbrake came off and we played some nice stuff.

This team should be confident of finishing the job. We know the fantastic form they've been in since our defeat at Stamford Bridge. Only one defeat on the other side of north London, three draws but 11 wins has seen has rise from sixth position to fourth, bridging a seven point gap with Spurs (who were fourth) to lead them by one and an 11 point gap with Chelsea (who were third), to trail them by one going into today's season finale.

Former captain Tony Adams has been speaking to the Sunday Mirror ahead of today's game.

He said:
"Newcastle will keep it tight. They will not want to lose ­heavily again in their last home match of the season. 
"There will not be much space about and Arsenal will have to work hard for every opening. However, they have the players to do that. 
"They have players who can create chances and find space, and I feel that will be enough to bring them the win they need.  
"Whenever I see Arsenal play, I fancy them to score goals, and that is important in a game like this one."
Team selection will be pretty much as it has been over the last few weeks. The one major injury concern as we know is Mikel Arteta, who the manager will speak to later to decide whether he'll be able to start this afternoon's game. If not, then Jack Wilshere will come into the team ahead of his ankle operation next week.

The only other change I'd expect the manager to make is upfront, with Olivier Giroud being recalled following his suspension in place of Lukas Podolski.

My team would be: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Arteta (Wilshere), Ramsey, Walcott, Rosicky, Cazorla, Giroud.

Two in today's expected starting line up have been speaking about this season and their ambitions for next.

Santi Cazorla said:
"The aim is to win trophies. This year we haven’t been able to, for various reasons. I hope next year will be another story. 
"We want to be fighting for the Premier League and all the tournaments we enter. We’re a great team and I’m sure we will.  
"What I’ve taken from this year is that we weren’t very consistent for half of the season, which cost us. Now we’re a lot more consistent and that’s the form we were lacking before."
While Kieran Gibbs speaking to the Sunday Times (£) said:
"Next season, should we keep everyone together and fit, we have the quality to [challenge for the title]. We have to push because they talk about us being a young team but before we know it, we're going to be 28 and it'll be, like, 'What have we done?'  
"If you start thinking, 'It's OK, I'm young, I'll do it next year, I've got time', before you know it, in football it's gone.  
"I was 19 four years ago and think, 'Where's that gone?' I feel I'm running out of time: 23 doesn't sound old but in a football career you're halfway. I've got to make sure I catch up and go on and do the things I want to do."
It's clear there is desire to do better next season. Provided we can keep everyone together in the squad, add a few quality additions and move on those who have failed to make an impact in Arsenal colours, we should be up there with those who have traditionally fought for the title.

Let's not kid ourselves, next season we've got a huge chance to make an impact in the title race, should we secure a top four place this afternoon and Champions League football next season. That will allow us to buy the type of players we need to challenge for the title.

Arsene Wenger is under no illusion as to the opportunity which is presenting itself to him with changes of managers at both Manchester clubs and Chelsea in the closed season.

He said:
"There is an opportunity for us. The change of manager might not work everywhere. So you can have a little advantage on some teams.  
"Although Jose Mourinho coming back doesn’t look to be a completely new experience, Pellegrini coming into a new country? It’s difficult, yes. It’s very difficult to predict how it will work.  
"It is also very important that we will be stable. Let’s finish well, then we’ll see. It will all depend on the Newcastle game."
And that's all we can focus on until the season is over. There is little transfer speculation around in today's Sunday papers involving Arsenal. Mainly because the target's names are well known. We've just got to do the business. And despite a win bonus for Newcastle's non-playing staff, we all know why Spurs supporting Mike Ashley has dangled that carrot...

I expect Arsenal to do the business this afternoon. And wouldn't it be wonderful if Chelsea didn't win, handing us third place on a plate. I know, wishful thinking!

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

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