AW: Bring on the Villa...

Not a lot of space devoted to the Arsenal this morning mainly because we play tomorrow and the tabloid pages focus on preview of the Boxing Day fixtures.
But the Mirror carries a report about AW discussing the money which has been pumped into football during his time at Arsenal that has made the game “much more dramatic and tense”.
A fascinating tussle with fourth-placed Aston Villa awaits on Sunday, and Wenger said: “It is a game where we can strengthen our position in the league, so that’s why we will be completely focused.”
Asked what differences he has noticed in the Premier League during his time in England, AWsaid have been both positive and negative changes.
“It has become a worldwide product and when I travel nowadays I see how popular this league has become and we shouldn’t take it for granted in England,” he said.
“Firstly it’s a worldwide product, secondly the ownership has changed completely, the structure of the game has changed. And don’t forget, for example, referees have become completely professional. The league has become much more professional, the pressure has become much bigger, financial input has become much bigger which means the quality of the games has become much better.
“All that has changed. In some ways for good, and some ways a bit more negatively because it’s less relaxed. Everybody is a bit more tense. I felt 13 years ago a defeat was less dramatic than it is now, it’s much more dramatic and tense.
“It is because of money and it is all about the Champions League now, being in the top four. A few years ago it was a bit more open and as soon as you are a bit out from what is expected of you now, it is a crisis.”
Elsewhere, the Sun has a yarn about Andrey Arshavin and his thouhts on just how tought life in the Premier League can be.
The paper says the Russian star is finally showing the form which persuaded Arsene Wenger to shell-out £15million to Zenit St Petersburg last January. Yet Arshavin, 28, struggled when he first arrived in London and clearly feared whether he would ever make an impact.
Ahead of the Villa game, he said: “I expected before I moved to England, that if you are a good player and if you play for a big team it is easier. But even if you play against Burnley or Wolverhampton, it is not easy – you don’t have time to turn or do any dribbling, if you get two touches you’re lucky.
“The manager gave me freedom, he requires of me to play as I see on the pitch. We have had some chances to be close to the top but we have not taken them. But now if we win games in hand we are still in the race – but at the same time we cannot lose more points.”
Despite enjoying life at the Emirates, Arshavin admits he is still struggling to adjust to life in London. He said: “For me, it’s not so simple to become fully accustomed to London. My difficulties are mainly related to parking and the large number of cars on the roads.
“I found it hilarious when it snowed recently – it seemed like an international disaster in London. For the locals it seems that so much snow causes a bit of a shock. But I am happy here. I sometimes think the fans at Arsenal like me more than my wife!”
And in the Times this morning, AW talks about Christmas and that match with Villa. He said: “Nowadays I think the only Christmas gift I can get is that my family is well and that we win the football games during the Christmas period,” the Frenchman said. “It is a game [against Villa] where, if you look at the table, you will come to a conclusion easily. It is where we can strengthen our position, so that’s why we will be completely focused.”
Martin O’Neill’s Villa team face a tough two weeks, with Barclays Premier League fixtures against Arsenal and Liverpool followed by matches against Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup third round and the first leg of their Carling Cup semi-final against the same opponents.
Rotation and “resting” has to be the name of O’Neill’s game in an effort to spread the workload of his players. It is an unchanged side that has reaped the maximum 12-point haul, but O’Neill believes that the pressure is bound to tell. “I have really good faith in the players,” he said. “They want to play. Imagine asking James Milner if he wants to rest up for Arsenal.
“I don’t want to be making promises that I’m unable to keep, but I think we will be able to change a few things [because] it will be difficult for the team to keep going in the manner that they have been.”

Have something to tell us about this article?
Let us know