Southampton Vs Arsenal vis-a-vis Arsenal's Point of view

Southampton Vs Arsenal vis-a-vis Arsenal's Point of view

Post by The Doct » Sun, 27 Feb 2005 11:52:57


By Richard Clarke

A fateful fortnight starts around lunchtime tomorrow at the St Mary's Stadium in Southampton.

Ars?ne Wenger believes the next two weeks will decide the success of his season. The period includes two FA Cup ties, two Premiership games and a massive Champions League clash. Five victories, by two goals in the case of the European game, would go a long way to settling nerves and calming fears.

The 1-1 draw with Sheffield United in the FA Cup and 3-1 defeat at Bayern in the Champions League left players, supporters and the manager himself feeling frustrated and disappointed in equal measure. However he remains upbeat, knowing that his side are still very much in contention in both competitions. This is a time to keep faith in the principles that have brought so much success in the past.

"We are very disappointed with our performance on Tuesday night," he said. "So it is it is very important we give a good response.

"What makes me positive is that I know the mental strength of the players and how much they still want to win.

"We know the next two weeks will decide our season and we all have to do more is to improve our defensive stability.

"This team has performed like no one else in the championship over the past three years so we should not throw them away too quickly

"These players are strong and they will respond.  I don't believe their hunger to be the best has gone. We have had some problems this year, I don't deny that, but when times are more difficult I expect us to gather ourselves and respond well."

Injuries and suspensions will not help the response. Jose Antonio Reyes and Dennis Bergkamp start three-match bans tomorrow while Francesc Fabregas is also out for a match after collecting his fifth booking last weekend.

Sol Campbell (ankle) will miss the next two games and is considered a doubt for the Champions League second leg with Bayern on March 9. The same can be said of Edu. As he spoke to the press ahead of the Southampton game Wenger was awaiting the results of scans on the Brazilian's hamstring. A tear would mean three weeks out. Justin Hoyte (ankle) is still absent but at least Ashley Cole is back after flu and Jeremie Aliadiere has been named in the squad for a competitive match for the first time this season.

Arsenal will have no time to*** their wounds, however. They visit a Southampton side who are scrapping for their Premiership survival. Wenger believes the wheeler-dealing of Harry Redknapp in the transfer market could still see them escape.

"The quality of the players they have bought in might mean they avoid going down," he said. "There's Quashie, Redknapp, Le Saux's return is important for them and Camara, who for me is a very good buy. Harry always finds one like that - a Yakubu or Camara - and I feel he could be a key for them."

Then there is Peter Couch, the 6ft 6in striker who has hit seven goals in 13 games since mid-December.

"Couch is basketball size," said Wenger. "I saw him at Tottenham and you felt a little bit sorry for him because he had trouble to move his legs but you could see there was something because he was always intelligent in his game.  He has developed very well and I rate him. You can see him developing into a Niall Quinn if he gets bigger."

Our question for the Southampton game is: On the evidence of Tuesday night, in which areas do Arsenal need to improve and why?

Arsenal Injuries:



February 22, 2005
Edu limped off during the first half of the Champions League game at Bayern Munich. The Brazilian midfielder suffered a recurrence of the hamstring injury which ruled him out of the FA Cup tie against Sheffield United last weekend.

Justin Hoyte

February 22, 2005
Justin sustained an ankle injury playing for England Under-21s against Holland earlier this month and missed the games against Crystal Palace, Sheffield United and Bayern Munich.


February 22, 2005
Sol Campbell twisted his ankle during the 4-2 defeat against Manchester United on February 1 and has not played since. He may not be fit in time for the second leg against Bayern Munich on March 9. "It is too early to say he will be back," said Wenger after the defeat in Munich. "I am not confident he'll play in the return leg."


February 22, 2005
Gilberto is back in England to continue his rehabilitation after a bilateral stress fracture of one of his lower vertebrae. The injury has sidelined him since September 18. Wenger expects the Brazilian midfielder to return before the end of the season. "We have to consider that the best of Gilberto could happen in mid-April," he said.

Jeremie Aliadiere

February 23, 2005
Jeremie scored on his return to action on February 23 when netted for the reserves against Fulham. It was his first appearance in an Arsenal shirt since injuring knee ligaments in the Community Shield victory over Manchester United in August.
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