Gael force, er, wind...

Gael Clichy insists Arsenal are now right back in the race for the Barclays Premier League crown thanks to three straight wins and slip-ups by our rivals.
The Daily Mail says we could go top with a big win against Burnley on Saturday and Clichy is not surprised. ‘People were saying we were not good enough, when we were playing Manchester United and we lost against Chelsea, but we kept the confidence really high because we know we have the players and the quality to do it,’ said Clichy.
‘When you play for a team like Arsenal, you want to be the best and to be the best is to compete week-in, week-out against any team in the league. Of course, when you find yourself 11 points behind the leaders (as we were in November), you ask yourself: “It’s going to be really difficult. Are we capable of doing it?” and a few weeks later you find yourself back in the title race and that’s a good feeling.
‘So that shows you the character in the squad and, once again, with the players we have, I’m sure we can do it. It’s going to be difficult, but I’m sure we can.’
The Mail points out that we have been here before, setting the pace in 2007-08 only to fall away at the end of the season.
‘Two years ago was a good chance,’ admitted Clichy. ‘We stayed at the top of the table for seven months and we finished not strong enough and we didn’t win anything at the end. I don’t know if this year is the best opportunity, but certainly it can be a good year for us, if we can maintain our performance. We’ve played the big teams so now it’s down to us to show people we want it and we’re ready for it. We will try to grab the chance to win something.
‘If we win our games we have a really big chance of doing something this year, so that’s all that matters to us, to take game after game and show people that we can perform week-in, week-out.’
In the Sun this morning, England Under-21 boss Stuart Pearce has had a pop at Arsene Wenger’s criticism over his use of Theo Walcott.
The 20-year-old winger has just returned from his latest lay-off and was recalled to the full England squad for the friendly against Egypt at Wembley tonight.
AW questioned why Walcott was included in last year’s Under-21s European Championship campaign, when the young Lions reached the final. But Pearce insists the youngster became a better player for the experience — and any subsequent fitness problems were an issue for Arsenal, not him.
Pearce said: “I don’t agree with Arsene at all. Theo didn’t play for long periods of last season, but he was fully fit at the end so he came with me to the Championships. I can’t be responsible for him picking up an injury at Arsenal.
“Most of the injuries Theo has picked up have come while playing for his club so I don’t really understand where Arsene is coming from. Two years ago, when Theo played every match for the Under-21s, it built his confidence up when he wasn’t playing so well for Arsenal, they benefited and I didn’t hear any complaints then.”
Writing in the Bugle Henry Norris doesn’t mince his words: “Pearce? He was just a glorified thug of a player with a remarkable lack of personality, character and sense of humour and Lord knows how he is even in management. He couldn’t even manage to score a penalty kick in an important match I’ll wager!”
And in the Mirror, Bacary Sagna talks of the loss of his brother and the fact that he had to see a psychologist to help him with his grieving.
“I still think about Omar ever day,” Sagna said.  “Things are getting better with the passage of time. But it has been very tough for me, particularly as I was coming in for increasing criticism at the time.
“I felt lost. It was eating me up inside, without me even realising. One day Arsenal’s psychologist came to see me.  He told me: ‘Something is not right with you.  You have a blank look on your face.’
“I opened my heart to him about my troubles, and it was an enormous help to me. The critics have always been harsh with me.  I am a defender above all, and my job is to block off the opposing wingers.
“But ever since I started playing people have wanted to bring out my attacking side.  Even when my defending has been faultless I’ve been the butt of criticism, and I can’t understand why.
“I’ve been wearing my blond locks for 20 years, ever since I had a bet with my dad.  At that time I played as a striker, and he told me I could have them done if I scored twice in a game.
“I duly got a double, and I’ve never got rid of the locks since then.  It’s a bit painful when I go to the hairdresser’s – but you need to suffer if you want to look good!”
Look good, eh?

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