AW: Phew, what a relief!

The win against a spirited Stoke side yesterday gave us and AW some light relief after a horrid few weeks and the boss was in good mood as he spoke to the media after the 2-0 win over the Potters at the Emirates.
The News of the World quote him at length: “It is a relief after the week I have had. And it is a relief for the team, especially,” he said. “I want the team to be successful. The defeat against Chelsea and Sunderland was hard to take and I will not talk about the Carling Cup.
“I am not an angel. I do not want to say that. I explained what I did and why I did it and I maintain what I did. I do not want to make too much of a fuss about it. I never spoke about any other manager after the game in the press conference of his behaviour. I just said that the ceremony of courtesy is important but the real courtesy is more important than the ceremony.”
Wenger is not convinced Andriy Arshavin can fill the boots of crocked Robin van Persie on a permanent basis. “I am convinced that Arshavin has good body power, movement and technique,” he added. “It worked today. When it works they like it. He could have had two or three goals. Overall he did very well. I don’t know if he is the answer to Van Persie’s absence. I have to try it away from home.
“I had many technical players around him. They all penetrated from deep positions. At the moment we do not have too much choice. The win was needed. We had a good first half but recent defeats played on our mind in the second half. What I liked is that we didn’t give any chances away.
“If our confidence drops we are in danger so it was important to get the confidence back. When Cesc Fabregas missed the penalty I thought it might be one of those days. Stoke are mentally strong. They do not need many chances. They are good at set-pieces. I hoped that it would not be one of those days.”
Move along, move along. Nothing to see here. On the occasion of his 500th Premier League game in charge of Arsenal, Arsene Wenger shook hands with an opposing manager for the 497th time and his patched-up side staunched the bleeding after three consecutive defeats.
The Mail points out the difference in the size of the players in yesterday’s encounter. It reads: When wounded and accused of being physically and mentally fragile, the last team you want to meet is Stoke City; tough, uncompromising and the tallest outfit in the Premier League. Arsenal made light of lumbering opposition, however, and their quicker and slicker pygmies caused havoc in the land of the giants.
None more so than Andrey Arshavin, who scored the first goal and set up the second for substitute Aaron Ramsey, easing in the process Arsenal’s crisis up front – despite a reluctance to play as a lead striker.
Back in the News of the World, meanwhile, tells how Aaron Ramsey got a word to the wise from AW after a poor performance in the 1-0 defeat at Sunderland a couple of weeks back.
The redtop says the Arsenal manager pulled him aside to give him a one-to-one pep talk that suddenly banished the blues of an under-par performance.
“It wasn’t my best game for the club and he pulled me aside at the training ground,” said Ramsey. “He told me: ‘You lost concentration a few times and didn’t make the correct decisions’. Then he told me he wanted me to improve my decision-making. It was great to have that feedback straight away.
“For him to pull you aside like that is a big confidence boost. He does it often, and if he says good things it makes you feel really good about yourself. As a player you want to improve on your weaknesses and when he says something, you listen.
“The way Arsene manages young players is the best around. His man-management is excellent. He is the boss and all the players have respect for him and listen to what he has to say.
And it’s been a week or so with know news of a certain Spaniard leaving the club, so how about some more speculation over the future of Cesc Fabregas? Certainly. Just pick up the Sunday Mirror and you’ll learn Barcelona and Real Madrid are preparing to enter into a January bidding war for the services of Fabregas, according to reports in the Spanish press.
Influential newspaper Marca claims that the Arsenal skipper has made up his mind to leave the club at the end of the season, but both clubs are preparing massive bids to tempt Frabregas away in the next transfer window.
Long-term suitors Barcelona would be the clear favourites for Fabregas’ signature, and Marca claim that the club’s vice president Sandro Rosell has already received a positive response after making discrete enquiries about the move.
Real Madrid are also on the look-out for a world class midfielder though. And with Steven Gerrard considered too old, they consider Fabregas to be the ideal partner for Xabi Alonso.
Oh, and time for a bit more transfer speculation staying in the Mirror, and they tell us that Carlton Cole is the number one target for Arsenal as AW looks to bolster his strike force in next month’s transfer window.
West Ham striker Cole is seen as the ideal man to add strength and physical presence to a forward line that has been left lightweight by the absence through injury of Robin van Persie and Nicklas Bendtner.
And while Danish international Bendtner will be back within weeks, Van Persie will be lucky to play any part in Arsenal’s season after a severe ankle injury he suffered while playing for Holland against Italy in an international friendly.
Wenger has conceded he needs to find another front man in January – and Cole fits the bill, so they say…

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