Next season could be an extremely important, even pivotal, one for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger. If the Gunners finish the campaign with no trophies and way off the top spot in the Premier League again, it could be all change. The Professor will be at the end of his contract and will probably not get another. That could have a bif affect on the future of the club as well, but I think that Arsenal will be much more competitive next season for a number of reasons.
The Emirates cup will be back at Arsenal this summer after missing last year because of the London Olympics. It will be played at the start of August and, along with Arsenal, will feature Napoli from Serie A, FC Porto of the Primeira Liga in Portugal and Galatasaray from the Super Liga in Turkey.
These are all good teams and will provide a useful test for the Gunners. It should be a great couple of days for the fans and will help to get the players match fit for the coming season. It is a season which the Gunners are under severe pressure to mark with a trophy.
There is no room for error for either team tonight as only a win will do for Arsenal and Wigan Athletic at the Emirates stadium. Although the Gunners would still have a mathematical chance of overtaking Tottenham on the final day of the Premier League season if we drew or lost tonight, realistically it would mean that Arsenal would be consigned to the Europa League next season.
Arsene Wenger has made just one change to the side that beat QPR 10 days ago, while Roberto Martinez starts with exactly the same side that started at Wembley on Saturday. The Spanish manager will be hoping their confidence and adrenaline from that trophy win gets them through.
The Arsenal vice-captain is not expecting an easy game against Wigan tonight, in fact he thinks the FA cup winners will give it everything they’ve got. He is, however, confident that Arsenal can get the win and the three points we need, as long as they don’t let the occasion get to them.
“They will play for their lives,” said the Spaniard. “For them it’s massive to stay in the Premier League. I’m sure they will give everything they’ve got.
“I don’t know how much they’ve got in the tank but, whatever they’ve got, they are going to give it. They are a dangerous team as they showed here last year when they played against us.”
These last two games of the season are so massively important, we can’t afford to inject the typical poor support for the team that those who usually attend home games emit. This is the time to get behind the team 120%! None of these awkward silences and conspiring whispers and jeers. For these last two games, our fans need to be so vocal, that it draws attention from the commentators, distracts the opposition, and energizes our beloved gunners.
It is being reported in the Mirror this morning that Arsenal have secured the biggest ever sponsorship deal with Puma, which means that Nike are getting pushed out after a 20 year relationship with the Gunners.
According to John Cross, who obviously has a good relationship with an insider at Arsenal, the partnership will be worth £170 million over the next five years, when added to the £30m-a-year that they get from the Emirates for sponsoring their shirts will make the Gunners a very rich club indeed.
Stan Kroenke seems determined to stay in charge of Arsenal, even if the proposed takeover offer is forthcoming, the American billionaire is ready to dig his heels in at the Emirates. With Alisher Usmanov topping the UK rich list and desperate to get a seat on the Arsenal board, a lot of Gooners are not happy about Kroenke’s stance but there is little we can do.
The Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen will probably be sitting on the bench today as the Gunners go up against the runaway Premier League champions Manchester United. It has been extremely painful and disappointing to see Arsenal fall away from challenging for the title since we last won it in 2004, but Vermaelen believes that the Arsenal players can use their disappointment to focus them to challenge United for supremacy again.
“Everybody here wants to do what United have done,” said the Belgian defender. “We are all ambitious and have a big desire to win titles.
“We want to be doing it every year and the desire is within all of us.”
It is aslmost nine years since Arsenal won the Premier League, but Arsene Wenger remembers what it feels like and the effect it can have on the players. Thinking about that, Wenger believes that Manchester United might ease off in the last few games of the season, but thinks they will still be on a high when they visit the Emirates tomorrow. The Gunners have to get a result, but the manager has warned his players that they will get ne help whatsoever from Ferguson and his team.
“It’s easy to ease off, yes,” said Wenger. “I do not hope too much. It is a special game always, a little bit because naturally the stress is not there any more.
It has still not been decided one way or the other, apparently, whether the Arsenal team will give the newly crowned Premier League champions a guard of honour. It has become a football tradition that the Premier League winners are clapped on to the pitch by the home team, but it is not set in stone and there is real reluctance at the Emirates to do this for Manchester United on Sunday.
The players are not exactly crazy about the idea, but the main concern lies with the weight of feeling among Arsenal fans. Us Gooners have had about as much as we can take recently after seeing another captain and star player force his way out of the club that nurtured him for years.
I am not sure that Arsene Wenger fully understands how mush the sale of Robin van Persie from Arsenal to Manchester United got under the skin of the fans. The Frenchman was left with two horrible choices when the Dutch striker refused a very good new contract offer in the summer, and the fee offered by United for a player with just a year left on his current deal seemed good at the time.
The veteran Czech midfielder Tomas Rosicky was brilliant in scoring both goals against West Brom last week, but Arsenal’s newest secret weapon believes that the Gunners need to start being consistent at home as well and need to win all our games to make surte of a Top Four finish.
He said: “During the last couple of games we have produced some good football,”
“It gives you confidence when you win in Munich and at a place like West Brom when in the last 20 minutes your backs are against the wall.
“But if you are speaking about third or fourth place you have to win your home games. Our form there must improve.