Writer: James Craddock
Date:Friday April 23 2010
James Craddock from www.arsenalmania.com answered the following questions ahead of Saturday's match.
What sort of reception will Emmanuel Adebayor receive especially after the incident at the City of Manchester Stadium earlier in the season?
'I think we could be in for one of the fiercest and hottest receptions seen at the Emirates. Recent poor results, along with the collapse of our title challenge means that the importance of this fixture isn't as predicted a month or so ago, but it's fair to say that not many have forgotten the events of earlier this season.'
'After convincing many initial doubters during his time at Arsenal, he became a favourite on the terraces before repeatedly flirting with the likes of AC Milan, even comparing their interest to 'Beyonce'. Contrasting statements from himself during that summer meant that he lost a lot of the support he'd done so well to build.'
'His performances from there on in meant that the rapport he'd built with the fans was all but over, and a similar story seemed to be taking place in the dressing room. Of course, the celebration and reaction from the travelling supporters got the medias attention, but it was also the assaults on Fabregas and Van Persie that enraged a lot of us. They were his former team-mates, and the malice in those was clear to see.'
'He certainly won't be receiving the same reception as Patrick or Kolo anyway, but even their legendary statuses will be put aside during the game, as Thierry Henry found out just a month ago.'
How long do you think Arsène Wenger will remain at the helm and what do fans think of him?
'Support for Wenger is certainly being questioned. That's not to say that we all want to see him sacked of course. The majority still want to see him take this team to the next level, but still feel that significant improvements need to be made for that to happen.'
'He's superb at finding players that will suit the team, and at a fraction of the price to that our rivals spend. A net spend of around £40m since his appointment shows that. He's created sides in the past that were well oiled machines, and as long as he picked the correct side, the players would do the business for him. A lot of fans feel that he is tactical naive, and that it is this that has let us down in Europe over the years, and in recent times when sending out an inexperienced side.'
'The majority feel that we are two or three real quality signings away from being capable of really competing. Of course, we have been 'unlucky' with injuries, but that excuse is tedious now. I'm of the opinion that with Wenger's contract expiring next summer, the coming season will be Wenger's last.'
'Either, he leads this team to glory and feels its time to pass the job on to someone else within the club (especially someone working with youth squad such as Steve Bould or Liam Brady), or he feels that his tenure is up, and that his ongoing promises of this side growing in maturity and the desire of winning silverware are flawed.'
Who will win this years Premier League and why?
'Chelsea. I was of the opinion they would win the league at the beginning of the season, and still have been throughout recent times, despite many prematurely ruling them out after their draw at Blackburn. They're a team, quite literally, with a wealth of experience, and have put together a run of form when it's mattered most.'
'United have come closer than I expected, especially after the departures of Ronaldo and Tevez. Even we've done better than I think any Arsenal fan expected, and at one stage, looked as if we'd really push until the last day of the season. I certainly didn't expect us to fall out of the top 4 like some predicted.'
'Either way, it's not going to be us, so I'm really not bothered who lifts it. The thought of either Gary Neville or Ashley Cole lifting the trophy is frankly sickening.'
How many players do you think you'll sign once the transfer window opens?
'With Wenger, there's no guarantee. There's no questioning that we're in desperate need of an experienced number one. United, Chelsea, Liverpool and City all have goalkeepers capable of winning them games. The last time we had a similar performance from a goalkeeper was Mannone at Fulham, and he's certainly nowhere near ready, not at the moment anyway.'
'I've always been of the opinion that Fabianski wasn't of the standard to replace Almunia either, and mistakes at Porto and Wigan have only confirmed that in my mind. Szczesny (let me just check I`ve spelt that correctly), who's currently on loan at Brentford, has the potential to be of the required ability to be our number one in a few years time, but until then, we need an experienced, world class keeper. That's not to say that there's not other areas of the squad that need addressing.'
'We could potentially see three centre backs leave the club this summer. I'd personally like to see Campbell and Gallas given another year at the club, whilst leaving the door wide open for Silvestre.'
'There are still fitness doubts around the likes of Sol, Willy and Djourou though, and there's still some serious question marks regarding our defence. There is the impending arrival of Chamakh who gives us another option upfront, particularly with Eduardo failing to regain his form pre-injury. I'm also of the opinion that we need one more central midfielder to push Denilson and Diaby down the pecking order.'
'To put it short, there are still areas of the squad that Wenger needs to address. The money, so we hear, is there. He needs to have one summer where our net spend is in the red. That's what's required to take this team on, and what most fans feel is required of Wenger.'
Saturday's score prediction please.
'Moral is low. Our season is technically over, despite now having a battle on our hands for fourth place. Avoiding the Champions League playoffs is crucial, particularly after a World Cup and with the seeding system now scrapped.'
'Our injury list is frightening, as too is the potential match up of Tevez against Silvestre. I wasn't optimistic before Spurs, and after seeing our players embarrassingly throw away a 2-0 lead in ten minutes at a relegation threatened Wigan, I really cannot help but feel pessimistic about this one. Hopefully Song is available. He's become a crucial aspect of this side, and is arguably our player of the season. He'll be a massive boost if available.'
'We could also see Van Persie start this one, and any doubts about him recapturing previous form were put to bed in a superb 20 minutes against Spurs. However, I feel that City may just have too much going forward.'
'However, play with the 'handbrake on' (as Wenger would put it), as you did against United, and we could have a chance. Mancini got it tactically wrong last weekend, and it will be interesting to see how he sets you up this weekend. I'll be pushed to predict a 2-2 draw; however my head tells me we could lose this one.'
If Manchester City qualify for next seasons Champions League how do you think they'll do?
'Qualification for City will be massive: the attraction of Champions League football, the millions we know City have to spend, a continuity of Mancini's tactics - and City will be a real force, not only in this country, but in Europe. I think European success as immediate as next season would be highly unlikely, but if they continue to participate in the European Cup, then there's no question that a top four spot could very well be cemented. It could potentially, of course, mean bad news for us.'
'As for next season, I think any side would be fearing a playoff tie with City, and the same goes for top seeds in any potential group drawing. There's no questioning that City will spend this summer anyway, but with world class signings, stability, and a side that gels together, City could very well be on for silverware in the coming seasons.'
What does the outside world, especially Arsenal fans think of MCFC and why?
'On the pitch, most Arsenal fans recognise the threat that Manchester City pose. City are becoming a side capable of competing with the top, and you will further strengthen this summer. I think if City were challenging for 4th spot with anyone else but Spurs, we would probably be hoping that you fail to qualify. However, Champions League football or not, the threat you pose domestically won't change. I expect you'll come even closer to the top three next season.'
'Off the pitch, I guess there are many who feel that what City are doing right now is only detrimental to the game, particularly given the 'financial crisis' we're in. Chelsea bought success, and City could very well do the same. Facing an impending takeover ourselves, the fears of financial stability are always there. The difference with City being that your owners appear to be spending cold hard cash, and I guess that's pumping money into other clubs.'
Who will win the World Cup and why?
'I'm going to have to go with the bookmakers favourites, and say Spain. They showed in the Euro's that they're now the force they've always had the potential of being, and currently have some of the greatest technical players in the world. Xavi, Iniesta, Torres, Villa, Alonso, Fabregas. They also have a stable partnership at the back in Puyol and Pique.'
'It'll be interesting to see how Holland follow up their performance from Euro 2008. They were in sublime form, and Wesley Sneijder is still doing the business for Inter.'
'Chile also drew a lot of attention in their qualifying campaign, and with their usually be one outsider making it to the semi-final stage, they could be ones to watch. England has the best chance they've had in some time, but again will fall short for me, mainly due to the lack of striking options with Rooney.'
Our thanks go out to James Craddock from www.arsenalmania.com.
Date:Friday April 23 2010
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