It’s now or never for Arse­nal

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

LON­DON — There will be a few ‘hic­cups’ as Arse­nal bid to lift the Premier League ti­tle for the first time since 2004 but the squad is strong enough to pull through any sit­u­a­tion, mid­fielder Alex Oxlade-cham­ber­lain has said.

The Gun­ners were quick to re­spond to Satur­day’s em­bar­rass­ing 4-0 league loss to Southamp­ton by eas­ily dis­patch­ing rel­e­ga­tion-threat­ened Bournemouth on Mon­day, thanks to goals from Gabriel and in-form Me­sut Ozil.

The win meant Arsene Wenger’s men moved to the top of the ta­ble.

“We’re in a strong po­si­tion now, it’s where we would like to be,” Oxlade-cham­ber­lain told the club’s web­site.

“There have been some hic­cups along the way and I’m sure there will be a few more but we need to build on this half of the sea­son and go into the New Year pos­i­tively and in the right man­ner.

“You need to build mo­men­tum. It’s all about get­ting the right re­sults and as many re­sults as pos­si­ble from here.

“From day to day, we need to turn it around if we have a bad re­sult. We need to turn that around and we got the right re­sult.”

“We know we’re ca­pa­ble of win­ning games. The boss said to us that the team that lost at Southamp­ton is no dif­fer­ent to the one that beat Manch­ester City at home.”

With Alexis Sanchez, Santi Ca­zorla, Fran­cis Co­quelin, Mikel Arteta, Jack Wil­shere, To­mas Rosicky and Danny Wel­beck all ruled out with in­jury, Oxlade-cham­ber­lain hoped for a quick re­cov­ery for his team­mates.

“We’ll hope­fully get some in­jured play­ers back soon and that will boost us again, but the boys have been re­ally good so far,” OxladeCham­ber­lain said.

“We need to keep that go­ing and to­day was a good step and a good way to end the year.”

Mean­while, Arse­nal’s be­lief they can win the league should not sim­ply come from the weak­nesses of those they nor­mally count as their ti­tle ri­vals.

“It should come from their own im­prove­ment and in­creas­ing con­fi­dence.

The pieces of Arsene Wenger’s jig­saw look to be com­ing to­gether but they must now fight off what has of­ten been their fiercest en­emy - them­selves. Too of­ten Arse­nal have been the team that can­not be trusted when the pres­sure is on.

Can they change that habit of a re­cent life­time?

There is a grow­ing body of ev­i­dence that they can, thanks to the in­tro­duc­tion of one vi­tally im­por­tant new face and the de­vel­op­ment of those who have in­hab­ited the Emi­rates Sta­dium for some time.

Goal­keeper Petr Cech ar­rived from Chelsea for £10m in the sum­mer - a re­luc­tant sale by then boss Jose Mour­inho - and he has been a trans­for­ma­tive fig­ure at the club.

But it is not sim­ply on the pitch where Cech will be a fig­ure of such in­flu­ence. Hav­ing won three Premier League ti­tles with Chelsea as well as the Cham­pi­ons League, he knows what it takes to win ma­jor tro­phies and his ex­pe­ri­ence will be in­valu­able in the months ahead.

Me­sut Ozil is also prov­ing why Wenger spent £42.4m to bring the Ger­many World Cup win­ner from Real Madrid in Septem­ber 2013. If Arse­nal can get their big­gest as­set of all, Sanchez, fit and play­ing reg­u­larly af­ter his ham­string in­jury then Wenger’s side have the sort of qual­ity that gives them a real chance. What Wenger must do in Jan­uary Wenger was heav­ily crit­i­cised - with some jus­ti­fi­ca­tion — for his fail­ure to spend on a high-class hold­ing mid­fielder in the sum­mer, as well as on a world-class striker.

Goals have not been a prob­lem, but the sus­pi­cion re­mains his Arse­nal squad needed more strength­en­ing and the wis­dom of Wenger’s re­fusal to buy an out­field player will only be fully mea­sured at the end of the sea­son.

His­tory tells us Wenger is never busy in Jan­uary and the sort of class he needs is usu­ally unattain­able be­cause they are ei­ther play­ing for clubs in the Cham­pi­ons League or in the hunt for the Premier League.

Can­di­dates who could se­ri­ously im­prove Arse­nal and are able to be signed will be in short sup­ply, es­pe­cially for a man­ager who is no­to­ri­ously selec­tive about how he spends his money.

Wenger has no re­cent form for buy­ing big in Jan­uary to bol­ster his squad, so only time will tell if he changes strat­egy; it is likely to take the emer­gence of some­one spe­cial and who is sur­pris­ingly avail­able for him to al­ter his well-trod­den trans­fer course.

This means his main task through Jan­uary — and in­deed the rest of the sea­son — is to get all of Arse­nal’s big play­ers such as Sanchez fit and play­ing to keep them in con­tention un­til the likes of Danny Wel­beck, out un­til Fe­bru­ary with a knee prob­lem, and Santi Ca­zorla, miss­ing un­til March with knee lig­a­ment dam­age, can add depth.

If he can do this, and maybe pull off a sur­prise in the Jan­uary mar­ket, then Arse­nal’s wait re­ally could be over.

The Gun­ners will never have a bet­ter chance.

Next fix­tures Jan 2: West Ham v Liverpool, Nor­wich v Southamp­ton, Arse­nal v New­cas­tle,le­ices­ter v Bournemouth, Manch­ester United v Swansea, Sun­der­land v As­ton Villa, West Bromwich Al­bion v Stoke, Wat­ford v Manch­ester City. — BBC

Arse­nal are in a good po­si­tion to end their league ti­tle drought.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lesotho

© PressReader. All rights reserved.