He is a fantastic player. He was one of those players who turned our season around two years ago after a long-term injury. And last season it was the same too.
“Many times our results have been linked with his presence. He will have a big impact this season if he stays injury-free and it is important for me to use him in the right way.”
That was Arsène Wenger talking about Tomas Rosicky at Friday’s press conference.
Of course, the manager’s media work was focused in two places that afternoon – the north London derby on Sunday and the closure of the summer transfer window the following day.
He believes both will have a profound effect on Arsenal’s campaign. For the last few seasons the final Champions League place has been a capital concern. The north of the capital to be precise.
Wenger’s men have managed to make it each time and, on Tuesday, confirmed their 16th straight season in the group stage. However the Club’s ambitions are bigger than just that.
The plan is silverware and the manager believes his side can catch up with champions Manchester United via various improvements – one of which is getting more time out of players like the experienced Czech international whose work he admires so much.
“You can make up that [ground] with a few things,” he said.
What is important for us is to get on a winning run. We have now [won the last three games we have played] so it’s important that we continue that.
“[Firstly], you need to improve what you have. Take Wilshere and Rosicky, they didn’t have too many games last season.
“The second thing is to strengthen the squad, which is something we are trying to do.
“The third thing is that teams like Manchester United may not have the good season they had last year.
“But to be credible contenders, we have to win our games – like the one on Sunday.”
The manager suggested Lukas Podolski is about “three months” away from the team after suffering a hamstring injury on Tuesday. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee) is two weeks into a similar absence. Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey will feature despite suffering knocks late on against Fenerbahce. Laurent Koscielny was an unused substitute in midweek so the head gash he suffered in the first leg in Turkey has had a little more time to heal.
In the last two seasons, this fixture has seen a pair of stunning 5-2 comeback victories from Arsenal. It should be no surprise; with 124, this fixture has seen more goals than any in the history of the Premier League. And the previous six meetings have yielded a quarter of that figure.
However this is a very different Tottenham team. Gareth Bale, the Premier League’s outstanding player last term, has not featured this season amid reports he is about to move to Real Madrid.
Manager Andre Villas-Boas has invested across his squad and one of the new men, Roberto Soldado, has scored penalties in each of their opening two games to secure six points out of six.
“Last year [Bale] made the difference, many times with shots outside the box in very difficult moments of the game,” said Wenger.
“Of course when a big player goes, you spread it a bit around. They have bought many players and they have a completely new team.
“But what is important for us is to get on a winning run. We have now [won the last three games we have played] so it’s important that we continue that.
“It’s a good opportunity for us to show our strengths against Tottenham because they have strengthened well their team. But I am confident that we’ll have a very good performance.
“It’s always a big game because it’s a special rivalry between the two teams,” he added. “But for me, it’s three points that are vitally important because we want to play at the top of the league.
“And, after our start, it’s important of course that we just win the game.
Arsenal: Arteta (thigh), Vermaelen (back), Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee), Podolski (hamstring), Diaby (knee).
Tottenham: Assou-Ekotto (doubt – abdominal), Adebayor (doubt – match fitness), Lennon (doubt – foot)
Source- Arsenal FC