The latest injury news for Arsenal is that Mikel Arteta is still likely to miss the crucial final game of the season away to Newcastle United. The 31-year old Spaniard is not a flashy player and does not really get the plaudits of the fans as much as the likes of Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere, but he has started in more games than anyone bar Cazorla this season and done a great job for the Gunners in the problem position of defensive midfielder.
Arsenal have one foot in next year’s Champion’s League by DG
Arsenal duly dispatched of Wigan 4-1 in last night’s match at The Emirates, with the result leaving us poised to secure a top 4 spot this Sunday. In contrast, the result was the final nail in the coffin for newly crowned FA Cup winners Wigan. They must now face up to the dreadful reality of not performing as well as they should have all year. The FA Cup is a wonderful achievement, but Premier League survival means so much more to the future of the club. The result leaves Arsenal on 70 points, just 2 points behind Chelsea in third spot.
Everybody concerned with Arsenal Football Club is concentrating on one thing at the moment, finishing in the top four ahead of Tottenham or Chelsea, or preferably both. This will make it a good finish to another disappointing campaign, though, and it is just not good enough for the fans or the players.
Mikel Arteta took a pay cut to join the Gunners, apparently, and must have hoped that he would have helped us to some silverware by now. He has, of course, had the chance to play in Europe’s elite competition, but giving the Guard of Honour to Manchester United on Saturday has just reinforced the need for Arsenal to put up a proper challenge to win the league ourselves next season.
Arsene Wenger has spoken about Jack Wilshere and the ankle problems facing the young Arsenal star. The manager gave him a rest on Saturday against Fulham, bringing him on for the last 20 minutes as the Gunners held on for a vital win. Wenger admits to having to be cautious with his midfield star, but expects him to be able to feature against Manchester United on Sunday, a game that we need to get something out of as the battle for Europe heats up.
Wenger surprised people by starting Jack against Everton, a very physical game just a few days after the Norwich match. Wilshere suffered a reaction to that, so Wenger felt he should not start against Fulham. His manager also believes that Jack’s style of football leaves him more susceptible to injury.
The Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud has come in for a pile of criticism, despite scoring 16 goals already this season, and he is becoming better known for the goals he misses rather than the ones that end up in the back of the net!
He especially came in for a lot of stick after Tuesday’s 0-0 draw against Everton, when he had at least a couple of good chances to get us all three points, and many Arsenal fans have been calling for him to be dropped today in favour of Lukas Podolski.
With eight wins, two draws and just one defeat in the last 11 Premier League games, it is no surprise that Arsenal are clear favourites in the Betfair Premier League betting to beat Fulham at Craven Cottage tomorrow, so a basic Gunners win will only get you 3/4. However, Fulham have a decent record against Arsenal recently, with three draws and a win against us in the last four games.
For that reason, along with the missed chances against Everton combined with Arsenal’s away form, the 3/1 on offer for a draw is much better value than the 4/1 for a shock Fulham win. It is likely to be a nervous affair, at least for us, and Arsenal have let in just 14 goals in 16 away games in the Premier League, so 12/1 on a no score draw could be worth a go.
I am sure that I am not the only Arsenal fan thinking that Chelsea might have struggled against Fulham last night. It was a local derby and Chelsea had played an energy sapping semi-final at Wembley on Sunday and a Europa League match on the Thursday night. Fulham had been in decent form as well, with just two defeats in the last nine games, but they rolled over and let Chelsea tickle their belly last night. I just hope they are in as accommodating a mood when Arsenal turn up at Craven Cottage on Saturday.
There is little doubt that Arsenal should have won the game against Everton at the Emirates last night, but it seems to me that a lot of fans are taking it too hard. Yes, it was a great chance for the Gunners to fire themselves into a commanding position in the Premier League, but we are still in with a very good chance.
Everton were allowed to be extremely physical by the referee Neil Swarbrick, but Arsenal stood up to it well. It was the sort of game we used to lose a few years ago, so I am not overly disappointed with a point. If Everton had nicked a win, the situation would be much worse, but we have got a tough game out of the way and can focus on the next five matches with optimism.
Per Mertesacker thinks that the Arsenal players should be kicking themselves today. The German international feels that the Gunners should be celebrating an important victory over Everton, but instead can only rue that the opportunity to firmly grab pole position in the race for the Champions League slipped away.
The 28-year old central defender was understandably pleased about the way Arsenal stood up to the physical prowess of Everton, as he and Koscielny had Anichebe in their pocket throughout most of the game. Even our usual Achilles heel of set pieces were dealt with well, and Mertesacker feels that this solid platform should have been built on more, especially the chance to launch quick counter attacks.
Did Arsene Play For A Draw? by Chunners
There were obvious hints in the Arsenal team selection against Everton that Arsene Wenger wanted to boss the midfield with a high work-rate. Arteta, Ramsey and Wilshere have had really low goal and assists stats this season, so it was likely we wouldn’t be getting too much of a goal threat from our midfield. But was this the whole point of the game? Did Wenger want to play for a draw?
Arsenal 0 – 0 Everton, a point that should’ve been 3. by KJ
The physicality of Everton was difficult to deal with in the first half but Arsenal had numerous chances to win the game in the end and now have put top 4 contention out of their hands.
The game was definitely well contended for the first 20 minutes and Everton were on top. They were overly physical (with Fellaini deserving at least a yellow card for his nonsense) and kept hold of the ball well enough in good areas. We struggled to hold on to possession and Everton pressed well.
Arsene Wenger believes that Arsenal should have taken their chances and also won all three points in last night’s match against Everton, and he thinks that David Moyes’ men were overly ïntimidating” at times. Wenger was asked what his thoughts were after the match: “My first answer is that we should have won the game.” he replied.
“The second, it keeps us still in a strong position in the race for the top four. Basically, the game was very intense physically. I felt that in the first half the referee didn’t deal at all well with the intimidating physical challenges, but that we responded well to the physicality. We had fantastic commitment. It was detrimental a little to the fluency of our game, but we kept going and had good concentration.