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Arsenal FC: Importance of being fit till the end of the season

958   //    09 Mar 2012, 19:15 IST
Arsenal in action against AC Milan

Things are looking up

Friday and it still hurts a little that we did not qualify for the next phase of the Champions League. But it’s best we put that disappointment on the side and concentrate on the positives. We’re on a small run now, small run of victories. Only 3 consecutive matches won on the trot but big wins each one of them. I’m not referring to the scoreline but any run of wins that includes Sp*rs, Liverpool and AC Milan is bound to be good for the confidence.

By the time we play Newcastle on Monday, Chelsea could’ve caught up with us and even pip us if they win their game with more than a 2 goal margin. But we can’t let that affect us in any way because we from now until the end of the season, only need to concentrate on our own games. It is good to hear that the entire squad wants to finish ahead of Sp*rs. They are still a few points ahead of us but anything can happen between now and the end of the season.

The momentum is building for Arsenal at this point in time and by my count this is our 3rd good run of the season. The first two coincidentally came after defeats to Manchester United and this one started after the FA Cup exit at the hands of Sunderland. Going into the middle of March, I think we can ill afford to have another slump and look to start another run going. Even if we don’t perform as well as we could have, I hope there’s enough resilience in the side to simply refuse to get beaten.

Arsene Wenger is right when he said that no team will find it easy to play against us when we’re on form. As TheSquidBoyLike said on Twitter yesterday, he would have loved to see a full strength Arsenal side take on Manchester United. A notion I share with him and I believe that our best 11 is easily the better team compared to their best eleven. However, football games rarely pan out that way. It’s not a measurement of the individual qualities/attributes and see mathematically who comes out on top.

The players themselves have to show that they are up for the game. Preparations can be done off the field during training but once they pass the white line, it’s all up to the players. The mental strength to triumph in adversity, something we’ve seen from this Arsenal side but not consistently enough. The effort put in is also important and no more of the “we’ll win by just turning up” nonsense.

On a better note, we looked to have no new casualties from in the aftermath of the Milan game. With Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey looking set for a return to the squad for Newcastle, it’s good news all around. The midfield option has looked a little thin on Tuesday and their return (while might not be straight in the starting line-up) does offer us some options from the bench. Particularly when others start to tire, which is expected after our tough run of games.

The other good piece of news would be the return to full training of Andre Santos. This is not a dig at Kieran Gibbs. I like Gibbs, a lot. I thought he did well the last couple of games and obviously it was a little surprising to see him finish the last 2 games. Perhaps Gibbs is past the period where he picks up niggly injuries here and there. However, I think we still need to be a little cautious with him and not push him too hard.

Now, Santos himself has been out for four months and I do not expect him to come back straight into first team action. I’m sure Wenger and his staff will monitor his progress diligently and will pick their moments with him. This is turning out to be all hands on deck rolling to the end of the season. Carl Jenkinson and Bacary Sagna on the right, we’ve should have our full cast of full backs within the next few weeks. There’s no way I jinxed them by saying that.

I think this story is a sad one. The one of Abou Diaby claiming he’s not a fragile footballer. That is obviously a respond to the criticism he’s been getting. The question put forth by a journalist, who would no doubt has gathered the common consensus of Diaby. Imagine a professional footballer who’s has suffered so many injuries in his short career only to find out that everyone has written you off as a permanent crock.

Diaby is putting the effort in to recover. If I read correctly, it is his own initiative to source for treatment to his injury, albeit abetted by club doctors. It hardly helps the him to hear such things about him. If anything, us Arsenal fans should have learned our lessons from the example that is Robin Van Persie. We should give Diaby and Gibbs as well for that matter, a chance to get their body right.

Let’s show our support for now. Have a good Friday.

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