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.
Arsene Wenger has a few decisions to make in his selection for the Arsenal team that travels north to St. James' Park on Sunday in the hope of beating Newcastle United and ensuring a top four finish, at least. The Prof will not want to change too much with the Gunners being on a fabulous run, especially with last night's goal-fest against Wigan.
The end of the season is unusually tense at Arsenal as we are sitting two points behind Tottenham in the race for the last Champions League spot and we have to play Wigan and Newcastle. The club gets a lot of criticism these days but the club always manages to finish in a safe position, however, this season things could be different.
This was always going to be ab open and exciting game, with Arsenal and Wigan needing to win for different reasons. Arsene Wenger made just one change, with Gibbs coming in for Monreal and the young England international did brilliantly against one of Wigan's main threats Callum Mcmanaman.
Arsenal made a great start and looked like they were going to blow Wigan out of the water.
Arsenal haven't had an easy time during the last few seasons, big players have left, captains have left two seasons in a row and every time a new season starts we find ourselves scratching our heads at why we have made another profit during the transfer window and how we can possibly move forward like this?
Considering that both Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey are both integral pieces of the Arsenal side this season, it may come as shock to most Gooners to find out that that they have only played together in the centre of midfield for the last seven games, and surprisingly enough that has resulted in zero defeats and five wins!
It was not too long ago that a lot of Arsenal fans thought that the inclusion of Aaron Ramsey in the Gunners starting line up was a bizarre form of torture inflicted on us by Arsene Wenger for some reason. It was also a clear sign, for some, that Arsenal were not going to win the game and was further proof of the French manager's decline into senility.
Arsenal are apparently preparing an early summer bid for Wigan midfielder James McCarthy. The young midfielder has been in good form this season and continued to grow as a player as he has done since his arrival at Wigan.
He was the subject of bids from many top English clubs when he was younger but he chose to move to Wigan in the hope that he wouldn't be left in the reserves until his early 20′s.
The Gunners midfielder Santi Cazorla has been an excellent acquisition for Arsenal this season, and has been arguably our most consistent performer, not to mention the crucial goals he has scored when called upon.
The Spaniard himself thinks that the inconsistency in the first half of the season is the reason we are so far behind Manchester United in the Premiership, but is convinced that next season Arsenal will hit the ground running.
I am not one of the Arsenal fans that think Bacary Sagna is all washed up and should never play for the Gunners again, but he did have a bit of a shocker against Manchester United last weekend and it ended up costing two valuable points. Alex Ferguson may have thought, or at least said, that his team deserved to win, but the truth is that Sagna's double mistake let them off the hook and changed the outlook of the Arsenal players.
Arsenal look set to let go one of the many ‘deadwood' players we have at the club this summer in Brazilian midfielder Denilson. Denilson is currently on loan in his homeland Brazil with Sao Paulo and they have today spoken about their willingness to sign the player to a permanent deal.
Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey have formed a great partnership at the heart of the Arsenal midfield. Arsene Wenger has started them together in eight of the last nine games for the Gunners. The defenders have credited them with a big influence on the improvement in the goals conceded tally and they provide a solid platform for Arsenal to control the game and push forward.
This weekend's game is certainly our toughest fixture in the run in to the end of the season and it comes against already crowned Premier League champions Manchester United. Arsenal will welcome back former captain Robin Van Persie, and although it's important not to focus on RVP for this game, no doubt that will be the main talking point.
Since the huge disappointment of losing the north London derby, Arsenal have bounced back with a great run of games. One of the key factors in that has been the Gunners defensive displays, conceding just three goals in seven games. Arsene Wenger reacted to the Tottenham defeat by dropping the captain Thomas Vermaelen in favour of Laurent Koscielny, and the French centre back has grabbed his chance.
About the only good thing that can be said about Arsenal after the game against Fulham, apart from the three points, was that we defended well again and showed once again that this Gunners side has much more resilience than previous incarnations. Both Arsene Wenger and Aaron Ramsey have praised this fighting quality, but will it be enough to see us over the line and into next season's Champions League.
As the end of the season approaches, there are more and more Arsenal transfer rumours appearing, especially in the weekend papers. I did an early roundup yesterday morning and here are a few more that we didn't discuss yesterday.
First of all, newly promoted Cardiff City are said to be very keen to bring the Welsh international Aaron Ramsey back to the club, as they are setting about building a squad that is capable of surviving in the Premiership next season.
In light of what Roy Hodgsen said about the lack of English footballers playing in the Premier League, Arsene Wenger spoke about the English talent he had in the Arsenal ranks. Wenger told Arsenal.com about the English divisions that implicate upcoming talent as well as the understanding that all the players want to play in the best league, suggesting that if all the highest quality of players are of different nationalities to English then its inevitable that there will be a decline in English players at the best clubs.
Aaron Ramsey is a player that the fans have mixed opinions on. For the majority of the season he's been knocked down by the fans but in recent weeks his strong performances have earned him a little more praise. In yesterday's game he wasn't the same player that we had seen put in some magnificent performances in recent weeks but he still manages to have control over the game and in fact his role in this team may be a little more important than we imagined.
The last time that Arsenal played Fulham, back in November at the Emirates, the Gunners threw away victory and were punished by their Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov, who scored twice and set up another. The defending by Arsenal that day was awful and we have improved greatly since then, but must be very careful not to give the former spud any chance to repeat his heroics at Craven Cottage today.
The England manager Roy Hodgson has been speaking about the English International side being at a disadvantage because there are so many top-class foreigners playing in the Premiership reducing the pool of players that Hodgson has got to choose from.
Wenger understands his problem and thinks that the England team are a victim of the success of the Premier League.
So, coming off a disappointing but not detrimental 0-0 draw with Everton, there are both positives and negatives to take. The first positive to take is the fantastic performances from Aaron Ramsey that we've seen both today and on Saturday.
There is no doubt that Aaron Ramsey's performances have improved drastically lately and he is now one of Wenger's first names on the Arsenal team-sheet. The Welshman believes that this is simply because Wenger has started playing him in his natural position in the centre of midfield.
"I'm delighted with the way I'm playing and how the team is playing," Ramsey said.
Mikel Arteta has been at Arsenal for just two seasons, after spending seven years at last night's opponents Everton. At 31-years old, people are starting to talk about when the Spaniard might retire, but Arteta wants to take a leaf out of David Beckham's book and play at the top level for as long as his body will allow it.
There are few things more likely to cause an argument between a group of Arsenal fans than the subject of Aaron Ramsey. The Welsh international midfielder could build a roof with all the slating he has had over the past two seasons, but he has been voted as the Man of the Match on the official Arsenal website in the last two games and may finally be back to the player he was before his terrible leg break injury.
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.
The game at the Emirates tonight between Arsenal and Everton could have a massive say in which team will be playing in the Champions League next season. Arsenal are in cracking form, with all four of the Premier League games since the north London derby going our way. Everton are also in good form, though, with three wins and a draw since going out of the FA cup to Wigan.
Arsenal 3 – 1 Norwich, the Gunners manage to somehow turn it around by KJ
This was an absolute bore-fest for the majority of the match and it was made even worse when we conceded an extraordinarily soft goal in the 58th minute. However, our substitutes rallied the troops and we somehow managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Arsenal named an unchanged side for the trip to West Brom, which is quite understandable after a 4-1 win over Reading. The game started as everyone expected, with Arsenal comfortable in possession, passing it around the pitch looking for an opening, while West Brom defended deep and hoped to break quickly, although their pacy forward Lukaku was on the bench.
Steve Bould seems to be in charge of Arsenal at the minute, at least when it comes to facing the media. Hopefully Arsene Wenger is off somewhere sorting out a big name signing, but I may be slightly optimistic. Anyway, Bould has taken the chance to lavish praise on one of Arsenal's most maligned players of the season, Aaron Ramsey.
The news that Jack Wilshere is taking longer than expected to recover from his ankle injury will have Arsenal fans feeling an icy sensation of dread, as the last time we heard that sort of thing, it was 17 months on the sidelines for the Gunners star.
According to Metro, medical staff at Arsenal are concerned that the 21-year old midfielder is not responding to treatment as they would expect.
Whatever Arsene Wenger has said and done with the Arsenal players since losing to Tottenham a month ago, it seems to have worked. I just wish he had done it in August. However, three wins on the spin and much better performances have given Gooners the belief back and indicated that another season in the Champions League is not just a distant dream.
This time last year Arsenal had an almost identical February and March, within days knocked out of two cup competitions and sweating over a top 4 finish. Arsene Wenger responded by taking the pressure off his younger players and fielding as many experienced heads as possible.
Arsene Wenger raised a few eyebrows with his Arsenal team selection against Reading. The main issues were the decision to leave Lukas Podolski and Carl Jenkinson on the bench, playing Cazorla on the left of the front three and Tomas Rosicky as the central attacking midfielder. With Walcott injured, Gervinho got the nod ahead of Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Arsene Wenger is hoping that Arsenal can pick up where they left off before the international break. The Gunners have lost Abou Diaby and Theo Walcott to injury since then, though, and Jack Wilshere is still not available. Arsenal should still be more than capable of a home win against the Premier League strugglers Reading, who have won just once on their travels all season and have lost all of their 11 games against the Gunners.
Arsenal vs Reading preview, match line up and score prediction by KJ
It's been a long two weeks since the Arsenal last played and it was probably the worst time to get the international break. Arsenal were back to winning ways with back to back wins against Bayern Munich and Swansea.
Robert Pires spent six seasons at Arsenal, from 2000-2006 and, like a lot of former Gunners, keeps the club close to his heart and follows what is happening. When he was at the club, we were enjoying a great period of success, winning two Premier League titles and three FA cups, as well as making it to the final of the Champions League, which was his last game for the Gunners before moving to Villareal.
How Ramsey will be integral for Arsenal in years to come by KJ
Aaron Ramsey has always caused controversy amongst the Gunners fans. Some say he's finished and needs to be sold as soon as possible, others feel he needs to be given a chance as he's only young and the final faction think that he's talented and has handled his first two proper seasons after his injury very well.
Surely Arsene Wenger will sign a defensive midfielder for Arsenal this summer, surely. I know that Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey have been doing a great job recently and that there is the versatile Francis Coquelin breaking through from the reserve ranks, but the need for a proper, no-nonsense midfield general has been stark at times this season.