Despite the Arsenal team looking jaded and listless for the last few games, Arsene Wenger only made two changes to the side that had started the last six games. Admittedly we only needed a point against Sunderland so perhaps a draw was not such a great surprise, but surely Wenger will be worried abut our form ahead of the big FA Cup Final in ten days time.
Le Prof admitted that the team were tired after the draw against Man United, which is why I was so surprised he didn’t freshen up the squad, especially as we have so many fit players to choose from right now. After the game Wenger seemed resigned to the fact of our tiredness and was just happy to have confirmed third place.
He said on Arsenal.com: “You can say that we dominated possession and we lacked a bit of sharpness in our movement, in the way we prepared our chances and in our finishing as well. Physically it was an intense game on Sunday from what we have analysed and we were a bit jaded tonight. We haven’t scored in the last three games at home and the fact that we couldn’t score played a big part in our spontaneous attitude when finishing.
“We played with three strikers. Two wingers and one centre forward. We had the full backs going forward. Sebastian Coates especially and John O’Shea defended our crosses very well. We didn’t look like scoring, even if we had 28 shots on goal. There was something missing always and you could see that they would throw their body in every time. We needed something special to score tonight because they defended very well.”
Arsenal’s mis-firing strikers have made our opponents goalkeepers look good lately, and such was the case with Pantelimon last night, but Wenger was not surprised: “It is like that. You have to expect your opponent to play well and you to be good enough to beat them despite that. Overall it is what it is. We are in a strong position now to finish in the top three. Let’s do it and finish the season well in the cup final. We have to recover. It’s important to win on Sunday and give a good final game to our fans. After that we need to prepare for the FA Cup final.”
Although looking out of sorts Arsenal have still only lost one of our last 13 games, and Wenger was asked if this run has tired the team out. “I don’t know.” he replied. “When you don’t win, you’re frustrated and tonight some players looked like they had not completely recovered from Sunday. Now we know that the point we took at Manchester United was vital. Had we lost that game, then we would be in trouble.
“Have I got any nerves about finishing third? No. We want to win our game on Sunday, that’s all. We want to prepare to win the game on Sunday. You could see that some players are a bit tired. We played our 56th game of the season tonight and some players have given a lot. We still have time to recover for Sunday and prepare well for the FA Cup final. What is important now is that we win on Sunday.”
The Gunners have a seven-goal cushion above Man United, so I don’t think we have much to worry about, but what I think is much more important now is to NOT play the team that has started every one of the last seven games. I really can’t understand why Wenger has not rotated even a little bit until last night. It is obvious to all of us that they have burnt themselves out…
Let’s play ALL of our reserves on Sunday and give the team a rest!