Backpage Roundup: Wenger Hoping to Avoid Penalty Shootout, Giroud Ruled Out Of Bradford Game, Meade Talks about His Toughness, Wilshere Closing in On His Best and More

Wenger Hoping to Beat Bradford in Normal Time

Arsene Wenger has urged his Arsenal charges to win their Tuesday night’s Capital One Cup quarterfinal fixture against Bradford in normal time instead of doing it through the hard way of a penalty shootout.

The League Two minnows are an unusually impressive side when it comes to shooting from 12 yards out and they dumped Wigan Athletic out of the competition in last round on penalties too. They have emerged victorious in all of their last eight shootouts and therefore, Wenger wants his players to avoid playing to Bradford’s strength.

The Arsenal boss said: “We have to win the game in normal time. They have gained confidence in these types of competitions and confidence plays a big part in that. Hopefully we won’t need penalties. Bradford are a force in their league, they are a team who play very good football and very efficient as well. We take them very seriously. They are very efficient at set pieces, so we will have to be very strong on that.”

 

Giroud Ruled Out of Bradford Game

Olivier Giroud will not play any part in Arsenal’s Capital One Cup encounter with Bradford City due to an injury that he suffered over the weekend, coach Arsene Wenger has confirmed.

The 26-year-old forward picked up a knock in the Gunners’ controversial 2-0 win over WBA at Emirates on Saturday and joins Theo Walcott, Laurent Koscielny and Abou Diaby in the treatment room.

In an interview with Arsenal.com, Wenger revealed: “The only new player who is not available is Olivier Giroud. He got a kick on his back on Saturday. He has not recovered and he will be out. [But]We will have an experienced squad at Bradford. We have a good recovery time ahead of the game at Reading on Monday. So we can use the players we want to use.”

 

Meade: I Am Small but Tough

Arsenal youngster Jernade Meade feels that his fiercely competitive nature compensates for his physically diminutive stature.

Meade, who is set to feature in Arsenal’s Tuesday night Capital One Cup clash with Bradford, stands just 5 feet 3 inches tall, and while such wee size could be a major problem for some player, the 20-year-old says his fighting spirit covers his shortcomings.

… I am small, but I don’t get pushed around – I don’t give up. What I lack in height, I make up for in my drive and my fight,” he said before adding: “I feel I can do a job in this position. I’m fast and think I read the game well, although of course I can always improve.”

Meade is rated highly by coach Arsene Wenger, who recently said: “Jernade has his first start at left-back against Olympiacos and had a particularly good first half. Coming up from the under-21s, it is a massive change in the intensity of every fight. I was pleased with Jernade’s attitude and the face that he was not fazed. The first time he received the ball, he cut inside when he was closed down and played a pass. He has potential, for sure.”

 

Wilshere Closing In On His Best – Wenger

After Jack Wilshere’s impressive showing in the 2-0 defeat of West Brom on Saturday, coach Arsene Wenger praised the midfielder and said that he is close to reaching his optimum level.

Wilshere, 20, missed around 17 months of football due to a series of knee and ankle injuries before making his highly-anticipated return to competitive football in October against QPR. Despite spending so much time on the sidelines, he has looked in good touch since his comeback and Wenger believes that he will soon be back at the top of his game.

The French trainer said: “[Wilshere] is getting closer to the player we know he is and today I think he made a big step. You could see it already this week in training, that he has gained a little burst again, a little zip in the first three or four yards. That’s what you have to accept in football, you have sometimes to be patient. He can only gain it by playing but of course in the first games you cannot be at that level.”

The player himself told The Sun: “I am playing at maybe 90 per cent. I am not sure. Every game that goes by I feel better fitness-wise. When I get up to 100 per cent I will really show what I can do.”

 

Giroud Backs Wenger’s Conservative Approach in Transfer Market

Olivier Giroud has backed coach Arsene Wenger’s conservative transfer policy and said that his compatriot’s strategy of building Arsenal through wise spending is better than the other one that involves reckless splashing of heavy sums on world class players.

The Gunners haven’t won a single trophy since lifting the FA Cup in the summer of 2004. Such a long barren run has led to calls of making some big money purchases in the transfer market but Giroud believes that would be wrong.

L’Equipe have quoted the Arsenal centre-forward as saying: “My story proves that you can win titles without being a star. Manchester City became champions thanks to their chequebook. Montpellier took on PSG without using their chequebook. Here we bought Santi Cazorla and he did not cost 50 million! Arsene Wenger does not buy a team. He builds one. He built his group with this philosophy. Even though it’s been seven years since the club won anything, they have a strong identity. Even if the club lose some of their best players every two or three years, they do not deviate from this philosophy.”

He then talked about what needs to be done by him and his teammates on the footballing field to turn the club’s ailing fortunes.

Giroud said: “It is up to the new boys to make sure the others are forgotten. We need to be more efficient in all areas of the pitch – to be more realistic and to offer more variety. When you’re attacking, you hope for more crosses. It is not spontaneous enough when we are in positions to cross. I have talked with my team-mates about this. Arsenal has the culture of the passing game, perhaps too much. I am not staking a claim to be the coach, but I am fortunate to be at a club where we can talk about such things.”