Diaby on Facing Tottenham

Arsenal’s midfielder, Abou Diaby, has been looking ahead to the North London Derby on Sunday. The 26-year-old is feeling confident on the back of 5-2 wins in the last two encounters. However Arsenal lost the last time they traveled to White Hart Lane.

Wenger has since stated Diaby is a doubt, with only a 50/50 chance to play after picking up a knock against Aston Villa. He will have a late fitness test.

The Frenchman gave this interview to Arsenal.com earlier on, with a full Q&A below:

Q: How much do you look forward to these big games?
A: “Oh yeah, we all look forward to this big game. It’s not only important to us, but for the club, for the fans, it’s more than a game. So we look forward to this game and hopefully we win this game.”

Q: There have been 39 goals in the last 8 games between Arsenal and Tottenham. What is that brings such entertainment?
A: “Yeah, I mean is the atmosphere around this game I think. We all want to win and we just come in this game and playing and we want to win. Both teams want to win so it makes the game really exciting, so that’s I think why there’s so many goals.”

Q: How difficult is it to play away from home against your biggest rival?
A: “It is obviously difficult because they are playing in their ground, they have the crowd with them, supporting them. So you can see their exertion is more than usual. It is a bit difficult, but we need to deal with that and put ourselves in their level if you like.”

Q: Will the 5-2 wins in February and November give Arsenal a psychological edge?
A: “Yeah, of course, of course. From the last game against them we also take some lessons from that and we know them well, so we know how to deal with them.”

Q: How different a side do you Tottenham have become under AVB?
A: “I think first of all they have a new manager, they bring new players, so I think the manager came with a new type of play, and a new philosophy and that’s helped them a lot, and they bring some really, really good players as well so yeah, I think all those elements make them really good at the moment.”

Q: Many believe these big games are won or lost in midfield. What are your thoughts on that?
A: “Yeah, I think it’s true. If you have a strong midfield, I think you at 90% you know, you win the game. Cause the midfield is the heart of the team.”

Q: What do you make of Moussa Dembele?
A: “Ah, he’s very good. We play against him when we play in Belgium. He was quite impressive. But since he joined Fulham and then Tottenham, he showed a very, very good quality. He’s a very good player.”

Q: How big of a statement would it be to win at Tottenham, in this top-four race?
A: “It will be really important because if we win there, if we still at the same point, with the gap between us the same, it will be a really, really important game, because we will get closer to them or even take advantage. So it’s really, really important to win there.”

More to Come From Monreal

Wenger claims there is more to come from Arsenal’s latest addition, Nacho Monreal.

After the Spanish International managed his first assist against Aston Villa on Saturday setting up Cazorla’s winner, Arsene insists he will become an attacking force on a more regular basis once he has fully settled.

“The first thing you want from your defenders is to defend well, so we cannot reproach him for that. You will see the other aspects of his game more when his confidence has settled.

“Monreal is good in the air for a guy of his size, has a quick leap and has looked good. He is very strong in other areas too, his crosses for example, and his forward play you will see a bit later.

“It happened with Kieran Gibbs too, the more confident he became the more efficient he was going forward. It can take a bit of time to express that side.

“There is no better culture shock than to play against Stoke and Sunderland.

“He has not said a word to me about it, but he has spoken with the other players and he has seen all about the passion and commitment of the English game. You can say Nacho Monreal passed that test.”

Wenger also bemoaned the time spent on contract extensions and deals, but still believes that what was achieved was “satisfactory”, giving the impression he didn’t achieve everything he had intended or wanted to in the way of transfers.

“We had a difficult first six months of the season, because we were trying to extend the contracts of all the British players. That demanded a lot of work and then we had to deal with the (Theo) Walcott situation as well during January,” Wenger said.

“So personally I am relieved because we dealt with the situation and we extended all of our players (contracts), kept Walcott and bought Monreal, of course you can always do better but overall I feel the club has dealt with the situation we faced in a satisfactory way.”

Theo Walcott – “We Can Beat Absolutely Anyone”

Walcott wants to repay Wenger for the faith he’s show in him, and insists Arsenal are heading along the right track to return to their successful ways.

“The boss has always had so much belief in me from a young age, but we haven’t won anything for a long time now, so we want to pay him back by winning something.

“If we don’t perform he always takes it back on himself, but at times it is not fair because we are the players that go out there and do it.

“He definitely lets us know when we are not performing, though, which is the right way to do it.

“Once the team wins the first trophy, you will start to see us coming back to where we should be.

“When your team is playing well it makes your job easier and when you are winning games it is fantastic to be a part of it. However, it is when things aren’t going too well that you need to stand out and get your team back involved.

“We have got players in the dressing room who can create something out of nothing, and I want to be part of that backbone.

“You see it when we go a goal down, everyone thinks, ‘right, we need to step up here because it is not good enough’, but if we do that from the start we can beat absolutely anyone.

“I think we will get to a stage when we win games even when we haven’t dominated.

“We are starting to get there and as soon as we hit that target, I am sure we are going to be flying.

Jenkinson Believes British Core is the Best Way

As one of the six British players to sign a contract extension earlier on in the season, Carl Jenkinson believes a British Core will produce many long-term benefits for the Gunners. Carl has expressed his agreement with the boss about the importance of having British players as the central focal point of the team.

“I’ve seen what the boss has said himself [about a British core],” Carl told Arsenal.com.

“I think he said that signing young British players will [be beneficial because] they are more likely to be committed to the Club and stay at the Club for a long time. I think he’s right in that thinking.

“I think that there are good young players coming through at the moment. The boss has no commitment to sign players from anywhere.

“The boss just wants the best players for Arsenal Football Club. If he thought they were from elsewhere, I’m sure he would sign them. He obviously thinks that [by signing the British players up] we’re as good or better than any other options that he had. That can only be a good thing for us.

“From my point of view, I think it’s good to have an English core. We’re an English club and with English players and an English squad, the fans can relate to that. Arsenal Football Club are going to sign players that are the best and I don’t think it will really matter where they’re from.”

Peter Hill-Wood: “We Can Compete”

Peter Hill-Wood
After Arsenal announced half-yearly profits of £17.8m to the end of November last year and cash reserves of £123.3m, Peter Hill-Wood has attempted to assure the fans that the club are able to compete with the Premier League’s big spenders. 

Wenger stated last week that Arsenal would be able to afford the highly-rated Falcao of Atletico Madrid, if they wanted to purchase the striker. The forward is well sought after, and thought to be worth an  £40m; more than double the price of Arsenal’s record signing.Manager

Hill-Wood, who is the Arsenal Chairman, backed all this up when telling the Daily Star: “We are in a position where we can compete with most people.

“If there is someone we really want, then the price guide is secondary.”

Hill-Wood went on to defend Arsenal’s poor season and trophy drought set to extend to eight-years by the end of this season, adding: “I understand that they want us to win everything, but so do I. But we are in a damned sight better position than a lot of people.”

Also stating that there had been no discussions with Wenger about his contract, as initially planned: “Nothing has changed on that front. At the moment it is not top of our agenda, or his.”

Before claiming Arsenal will keep their best players: “Let me be quite clear that our intention is to keep our best players and recruit new talent to make us stronger.

“Although we were disappointed to see Robin van Persie leave the club, we have taken steps to secure our best players going forward and have recently signed Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott, Kieran Gibbs, Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Carl Jenkinson to new long-term contracts.

“During this financial period we also invested £40.9million in the acquisition of new players, Lukas Podolski,Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud, and the extension of other player contracts. More recently we added Nacho Monreal to our ranks from Malaga

“Our desire is to make everyone connected with Arsenal proud of the club. We know that comes through winning trophies but also through the way we do things and that will remain our constant guide.”