Arsenal´s trip to Aston Villa IDEAL for Giroud says Wenger

Having scored his first ever hat-trick for Arsenal on his way to a well deserved Man of the Match award and getting the Gunners into the knockout stage of the Champions League, Arsene Wenger wants his fellow Frenchman Olivier Giroud to carry on and keep getting more goals on a consistent basis.

But even though the boss spoke very highly of the centre forward and his qualities in a report on the Arsenal website, he also made it quite clear that the big French forward would have to share the central striking duties with his smaller and faster team mate Theo Walcott.

The Arsenal manager said, “If you go on counter-attack of course he is not the kind of player that you want or select first. That is why when we played against Bayern, I chose [Theo] Walcott because you know you play more in your own half and you have to go out quickly.

“But when you dominate the game and need presence in the box there is no better player than Olivier. He gives everything in every session, he is not a guy who plays within himself, but he has a good stamina, good power. When you stand next to him as a defender, it is difficult to get in front of him because he is very strong.

“I believe as well because he is not an electric type of player, he gets less spectacular actions and less credit as well [because of that]. You see a guy who is electric and you say ‘that is fantastic’. But the kind of header he scored for the first goal [at Olympiacos], you do not get so much credit.

“Olivier wants to work more. You need to show that you don’t lose your confidence, but he’s ready to put a shift in and to work harder. I like the career of a guy who has come down and comes up again.

“That shows you that he has mental strength. Life was not easy for him in sport because he was in small clubs and came up and plays at Arsenal. That means he has the mental strength. Mental selection is the most difficult when you go down and then come up again and he has that strength.”

Luckily enough for Giroud and his confidence levels, Arsenal’s Premier League game this weekend is against Aston Villa, the club propping up the division, and so should be one that is ideally suited to the qualities Giroud brings to the table.

So can he follow up his Greek hat´trick with more goals in the West Midlands?

Arsenal Lucky? Yes but for just ONE key Champions League moment

After Arsenal pulled off the great escape in Greece last night, Arsene Wenger spoke about the game and suggested that getting through when all the odds had been stacked against us could mean that this will be our lucky year in the Champions League.

I am not too sure about that but you could definitely say that we were due a bit of good luck. After all we were handed a group with one of the big favourites Bayern Munich and then the only luck we had in the first two games was bad. I still feel that Giroud’s red card was very harsh, there were deflected goals and we just did not get the rub of the green.

As an report shows, Wenger was not talking about Arsenal being lucky during the game last night, but more in the way things have worked out for the best and left the team buoyant and believing that we can do anything.

He said, “It will make us stronger and strengthen the belief of the squad. It is a special night for us because, as we said before the game, we were in escape mode. We needed something special and when you deliver something special it can create positive memories for the rest of the season. Maybe it’s a lucky year for us in the Champions League, you never know.”

There was a big slice of luck for us during the game though. When Giroud turned his ankle right at the start of the second half it could easily have forced him off. It was only 1-1 at that point and we did not have many attacking options on the bench.

So the fact that Giroud’s ankle was okay was probably the key to us being in the next round. Arsenal could do with a bit more luck when the draw is made on Monday, but if anyone deserves it surely it is us.

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Arsene Wenger was clearly delighted with his Arsenal team last night and he had every reason to be as, to a man, the Gunners stepped up and put in a real shift to claim a first away win over Olympiacos and pip the Greek champions into second spot in the Champions League group.

Wenger hailed the performance as a real team effort, which it certainly was, but he also had some extra words of praise of the hat-trick hero Olivier Giroud. The France international striker probably felt that he owed his manager as well, after getting sent off away to Dinamo Zagreb in the first group game and helping to get Arsenal into the tough position we were in.

But Wenger was in no mood to give his centre forward anything but praise in the post match interview reported on the Arsenal website. The boss used words like perfect to describe Giroud’s game and was full of praise for the character and fight he showed as well as the finishing that bagged the big man his first ever hat-trick in an Arsenal shirt. Wenger also revealed that Giroud was set to take the penalty even before he had scored the first two.

Le Prof said, “He was on the list to be No 1. Number two was Walcott and No 3 was Ramsey, so we respected the order. It is maybe easier to take a penalty when you have already scored, but he took it well. He practised in training and it showed.

“It was a perfect performance because he scored a header, one with a good combination thanks to a good pass by Campbell, and also a penalty on top of that. He was sometimes in uncomfortable positions but he fought like mad and he has shown skill and character. I always defended Olivier on the character side because he has always had something special on that front. He showed that in the game again today.”

Now will Giroud push on from this perfect performance and score the goals to keep Arsenal on target for the Premier League title?

Flamini has MASSIVE job for Arsenal in Greece

While a lot of the talk and emphasis from Arsenal as we prepare for the crunch clash with Olympiacos in Greece tonight has been on the attacking side of our game, the Gunners cannot abandon the other side of the game. So it will be a big night for the back four and the keeper Petr Cech because an Olympiacos goal means we have to score at least three times.

But with all the focus on Arsenal creating and scoring goals against the Greek champions, I think the mist important position in our team is that of the defensive midfielder. I assume it will be Mathieu Flamini with Aaron Ramsey in the box-to-box role and it is vital that the Frenchman has a good game.

He needs to be very disciplined for one thing, especially in the early stages. None of this trying to join in with the attack and getting in the box. Flamini is the player that must be aware and ready to stop any possible counter attack from Olympiacos.

It would be nice to think that Ramsey could be disciplined as well but I have my doubts, especially if the need for goals keeps getting more urgent as time slips away. If we get into the last 15 minutes and things are looking desperate then it might be time to throw caution to the winds and get Flamini forward. Until then, however, the French midfielder has the most important job in the team and must provide good protection to the defence.

Is tonight the night we really start to miss Francis Coquelin?

Giroud says Arsenal are Gunner rescue Champions League dream!

We all know that Arsenal are up against the odds tonight, as we prepare for a must win game away to Olympiacos. The manager and players are no exception although they know that they will only have themselves to blame for the way we set about the first two group games.

While our France international centre forward accepts that it will require a Herculean effort from the Gunners tonight, Olivier Giroud also spoke with real belief about Arsenal being able to do it and prove the doubters wrong. His comments reported in the Daily Mail also alluded to the current injury crisis at the club.

He was not trying to make excuses before the game though, because he went on to say that there was plenty of talent left in the squad to go and beat the Greek team that we were expected to, and really should have, beat at the Emirates.

Giroud said, “Would it be massive if we didn’t qualify? No.

“But this group was within our reach and we put ourselves in a difficult position losing our two first games.

“Now, we have the opportunity to show our mental strength.

“We’ll have to leave aside the atmosphere because it’s going be a very hot game. We need to be at 100 percent.

“In this kind of game, 95% won’t be enough.

“We have a lot of injuries. Probably 40 percent of our squad is out.

“But we have a squad with quality and deeper than the previous seasons. The guys who replaced injured players last weekend against Sunderland did their job.

“We know we have enough quality to go and win there (in Greece) This is a game where we will have to be strong in our head. We have to be ready mentally.

“We believe we can make it. If not, the club would send the youth team. We have a good chance.”

So do you agree with Giroud about Arsenal having a good chance of being in the draw for the next round or is there another glorious exit on the cards?

Bullish Wenger backs Arsenal to be Greek legends

Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal players know full well what they have to do against Olympiacos in Greece tonight. Only a win will do and we must get enough goals as well so the tactics should be fairly simple and it should make for an exciting game from the Gunners.

The manager does know that Arsenal have a tough task though and that history is against us after we lost all of the three previous away games against the Greek club. But Wenger was bullish ahead of the game and wanted to channel the great Champions League away games we have seen in recent years, such as beating the great Bayern Munich in Germany and nearly rescuing our UCL dream away to Monaco last year.

The Frenchman´s words are designed to free his players from too much concern about the team dropping into the Europa League, with a sort of we’ll cross that bridge if we come to it attitude. He wants them to just go for it, as a Daily Mail report reveals and to believe in their own quality.

The boss said, “We have a history in these sort of games where we have positive results. We have won everywhere in Europe. We know we can do it.

“At the moment we are not in this scenario (where we have to think about the Europa League), we just want to give absolutely everything to qualify.

“If you want to jump over a hurdle you don’t think what happens if you miss.

“If you fall down then you respond, if you want to have a chance to get across you have to give absolutely everything to get over it.”

Hang on to your hats Gooners, it is going to be a real ride and I have a feeling that Arsenal will do it. What do you think?

Arsenal fans accuse Wenger of THROWING Champions League

If Arsene Wenger was fully committed to Arsenal doing as well as possible and going as far as possible in the Champions League, you would think that the Frenchman would pick his strongest possible team for every game in the group stage. And that definitely means Cech, not Ospina.

But just because the boss has chosen to rotate his squad for the first two games, does that really mean that he is not at all interested in the competition, other than the annual money it brings in? Well some Arsenal fans seem to think so, as a Metro report shows some of the things posted by Gooners on social media.

One wrote, “So has Wenger given up on even trying to win the Champions League, and just wants to have a go at Europa League?”

And another said, “This the champions league Wenger! He’s never won it ‘EVEN ONCE’….should treat this competition like his life depends on it!!”

And another asked, “Why do we even bother with the Champions League if we have Arsene Wenger as a manager?”

Yet another disgruntled Arsenal fan wrote, “It looks like Wenger isn’t taking this CL seriously. Doesn’t he want to win it?”

You have to think they have a point, although I believe that there is some arrogance at work here as well as a lack of respect for the UCL. I think Wenger assumed that Arsenal would have no problem qualifying but would not be able to top the group without a minor miracle and that is why he rested players against Zagreb and Olympiacos, but he has to then shoulder all the blame for the disaster that has unfolded.

Should Arsenal fans now ask for reduced priced European games if we are not going to give it 100 percent on the pitch?

The teams for Arsenal to avoid and hope for in Champions League

Arsenal have advanced through to the Champions League group stages for another consecutive season under Arsene Wenger after two thrilling legs against Fenerbahce in the qualification round. A 3-0 win in Istanbul and then a 2-0 win at the Emirates saw the Gunners progress rather easily win a 5-0 win on aggregate. But now we come to the real competition, where Champions League nights begin and the atmosphere roars around the stadium! Who could we face in the Champions’ League group stages this year?

Arsenal have been once again been put in Pot 1 alongside Europe’s elite in Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Porto and Benfica. Despite the lack of success from Arsenal over the past 8 years, to still be in Pot 1 surely shows we are still recognised as a big club, whilst Manchester City are still simmering low in Pot 3. To be honest, the way the coefficient is worked out by UEFA does us a really big favour.

So we can’t face anyone from pot 1, meaning we are relieved of the big guns for now, however there are several other very good teams lurking amongst the lower pots and so it certainly won’t be easy. In pot 2 we have Atletico Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, AC Milan, Schalke04, Marseille, CSKA Moskva, PSG, Juventus. There are some fantastic teams in this pot and so it certainly won’t be easy to get a comfortable group this time around. From this group I would probably like Marseille the most. A trip to Russia or Ukraine won’t be fun, whilst all the other teams are arguably at Arsenal’s level or maybe even above.

Next, the following teams feature in Pot 3: Zenit St. Petersburg, Manchester City, Ajax, Borussia Dortmund, FC Basel, Olympiacos, Galatasaray, and Bayer Leverkusen. Again we see some very good teams in this pot, it’s going to be a very interesting Champions League this year. We cannot draw Manchester City, and I don’t really fancy another trip to Turkey and Galatasaray. I’m sure Arshavin wouldn’t mind seeing us in Russia, however the away trip would be horrible for us, so I would be quite happy to draw someone like Ajax or Leverkusen. No doubt as always though we will get Olympiacos because for some reason we always do!

Then finally in pot 4, we have: Copenhagen, Napoli, Anderlecht, Celtic, Steaua Bucharest, Viktoria Plzen, Real Sociedad, and Austria Wien. This is meant to be the weakest pot; however it’s still full of good opponents that could give Arsenal a run for their money. Napoli is the one to avoid, but I wouldn’t mind a trip to Belgium with Anderlecht.

Overall I’d like a group of Arsenal, Marseille, Ajax and Anderlecht, because they are worthy opponents that won’t be easy but we should get through anyway. It also isn’t bad considering travel because going across Europe can be difficult for the players to get off a flight, play the game and then fly back and play again at the weekend. Worst case scenario is Arsenal, PSG, Dortmund and Napoli. That would be an extremely difficult group and although it’s possible we would get through, I think every game would have the highest pressure.

The draw takes place later today, who would you like to see Arsenal drawn up against?