After last night’s game, Arsenal have got a reprieve and are now masters of their own destiny. Two wins from the last two games against Wigan Athletic and Newcastle United will ensure a top four finish and continue the incredible run of qualifying for the Champions League under Arsene Wenger. As the Gunners are just two points behind Chelsea in third place and they have two hard games against Aston Villa and Everton, as well as the Europa League final against Benfica in between them, there is still a chance for Arsenal to snatch third place.
Things are getting very tight at the top of the Premier League. Arsenal have got four games left to ensure a top four finish and qualification for the Champions League next season. Arsene Wenger was dealt a blow yesterday when the FA deemed the red card and three match ban for Olivier Giroud would stand, leaving the professor with a tough decision to make.
I know that a lot of Arsenal fans are glad and think we will be better off without the French international striker, but he has been an integral part or Wenger’s plans for most of the season and the team will now have to adapt to a new front man.
Arsene Wenger has got a number of selection decisions to make for Arsenal’s trip to Fulham tomorrow. These may be affected by the relative fitness of some of the players, but for the purposes of this article I am going to assume that, barring Diaby and Fabianski, there are no major injury concerns.
Assuming that Wenger does not have a radical change of heart, he will be playing a 4-3-3 formation, probably with Giroud in the middle and Cazorla or Podolski on the left. This leaves the position on the right of the big Frenchman, and there are three Gunners vying for a start in this role, Theo Walcott, Gervinho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Arsene Wenger has selected the same side that beat Reading so convincingly last week, so Gervinho has the chance to continue his revival at the club. Santi Cazorla will start on the left of the attack again, although he will probably come inside quite a lot and try to influence the game from wherever he can. Monreal has recovered from the knock he took to make the starting line up.
Rosicky will be the central playmaker, and the absence of Mulumbu from West Brom due to suspension should make his job a bit easier. One less thing for the Arsenal defence to worry about is that Romelu Lukakau, the powerful forward on loan from Chelsea, does not start for the Baggies.
The importance of Alex Oxlade Chamberlain by KJ
The young Englishman was purchased by Arsenal from Southampton in the summer of 2011 for a fee believed to be in the region of £12million (plus add ons), and burst onto the scene against the likes Manchester City, Manchester United and AC Milan. This season has definitely been a difficult one for Chamberlain who has struggled to get game time but I believe he has an integral role to play during the latter stages of this season.
Race for 4th: Experience Is Key by DS
This time last year Arsenal had an almost identical February and March, within days knocked out of two cup competitions and sweating over a top 4 finish. Arsene Wenger responded by taking the pressure off his younger players and fielding as many experienced heads as possible. While no Gunner was distraught to see Benayoun return to his parent club Chelsea, the likes of the Israeli and Rosicky gave the side a certain assurance and calmness to proceedings. The result… Arsenal finished 3rd with the Czech one or our most inspirational players.
Arsene Wenger is hoping that Arsenal can pick up where they left off before the international break. The Gunners have lost Abou Diaby and Theo Walcott to injury since then, though, and Jack Wilshere is still not available. Arsenal should still be more than capable of a home win against the Premier League strugglers Reading, who have won just once on their travels all season and have lost all of their 11 games against the Gunners.
Arsenal vs Reading preview, match line up and score prediction by KJ
It’s been a long two weeks since the Arsenal last played and it was probably the worst time to get the international break. Arsenal were back to winning ways with back to back wins against Bayern Munich and Swansea. Tottenham were faltering, losing three games on the bounce bringing them to only 4 points above Arsenal with an extra game already played.
Stuart Pearce has lost his battle with Roy Hodgson over the Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere, but the manager of the England under 21 side is still hoping to get another Gunner from the first team to join his squad for the European Championship in Israel this summer.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was the star of the show for England against San Marion on Friday, and he already has 10 caps and two goals at senior level. He is still eligible for the under 21s, though, and Pearce wants to talk to Hodgson about getting permission to use him.
After the news broke yesterday that Theo Walcott had picked up an injury in training and would miss at least one match for Arsenal, most Gooners will have been dreading the international games last night, but the rest of the Gunners on duty emerged unscathed and it may actually have done some of them the world of good.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has not played as much as he would have liked for Arsenal this season, with just 11 starts in the Premier League, so he will have been glad to get a start for England. The 19-year old had an excellent game, scoring a goal after already hitting the crossbar and providing an assist for Defoe. The powerful midfielder was a constant threat and will have gained great confidence from his display.
Swansea 0 – 2 Arsenal, we are finally getting our Arsenal back! by KJ
Solid defending at the back built the platform for two late strikes that send us 4 points off Tottenham.
We started off the game pretty well with Alex Oxlade- Chamberlain hitting the post within the opening minutes. We did fizzle out a bit and were at times slightly ropey. However, this is to be expected against one of the best sides at home in the Premier league in my opinion. We did pretty well to keep hold of the ball; more than I expected actually.
The half ended with no real threat from Swansea and with us losing our way as the game progressed.
I would not have been too surprised if Arsene Wenger wanted to name the same Arsenal team that started the morale boosting game against Bayern Munich on Wednesday,. but unfortunately Kieran Gibbs looks like he will not be able to play, so Monreal will come in with Jenkinson on the other side.
Wenger said, “I think he(Gibbs) will be out on Saturday. He had a little reaction on his thigh. He is not injured but we have to be cautious with it.”
Bacary Sagna and Lukas Podolski are still injured, as is Jack Wilshere, so the line up could be almost the same. Vermaelen and Szczesny are available, but it would seem churlish to drop Koscielny and Fabianski after they did so well in Munich.