I’m not quite sure what he meant when he said it, but Arsène Wenger has said Sunday’s game against Manchester City is a big one for the future of Arsenal Football Club.
The statement was ambiguous and, when asked if he really meant it, the Frenchman seriously replied:
“Yes, it is that big.”
A draw on Sunday would as good as confirm Champions League involvement next season, a win would guarantee we are in the group stage. Maybe we’ll get more of an insight soon should we finish in the top three.
Though the main target is now to finish third this season, Wenger hasn’t given up hope of preventing a “one-off” and wants to catch Tottenham Hotspur.
“That’s our target now, to secure our position in the Champions League next year and, if possible, to get second place.
“At least secure third place. On Sunday we can do that, we have two games and if we win the two games we’ll be alright.”
The big team news was that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is out for the rest of the season and won’t play at Euro 2016 this summer after suffering a new knee injury in training during the week. Per Mertesacker was injured last week and will be replaced by Gabriel.
Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla are still available but unlikely to start.
Danny Welbeck will hope to start after scoring from the bench last weekend and Francis Coquelin could regain his place against a City side who are dangerous on the front foot.
Possible XI: Čech; Bellerín, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal; Elneny, Ramsey; Alexis, Özil, Welbeck; Giroud.
Manchester City went out of the Champions League in midweek, giving a disappointing performance in their semi-final second leg loss to Real Madrid.
The game was even more of negative with Vincent Kompany suffering yet another muscle injury; the Belgian defender lasted just 10 minutes.
David Silva, Aleksandr Kolarov, and Pablo Zabaleta are all also out.
There was a boost with Yaya Touré returning, he will compete with Kelechi Iheanacho for a place in the side after the Nigerian scored twice in last weekend’s loss to Southampton. Only one of Jesus Navas, Samir Nasri or Raheem Sterling is likely to start.
Possible XI: Hart; Sagna, Mangala, Otamendi, Clichy; Fernandinho, Fernando; De Bruyne, Touré, Sterling; Agüero.
Once again, the season has descended into a fight for Champions League places. However, if that brings new signings and new contracts for star players, it is at least something.
Let’s at least finish third.