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Wenger - Highbury pitch could favour Madrid

Credit: By Richard Clarke The tight Highbury pitch could help Real Madrid in Wednesday night’s Champions League tie, according to Arsène Wenger. Arsenal have a 1-0 lead from the first leg at the Bernabeu on February 21. It was a fully deserved advantage on a night when Wenger’s young side schooled their older opponents. Highbury’s pitch is 101m by 67m. It is one of the smallest in the English League but, it is worth noting, many have similar dimensions. However smaller is better if you have older legs. “I would say the atmosphere will help us yes,” said Wenger. “But the size of the pitch will not necessarily because they are technically very good in short spaces. “We are maybe a little bit more mobile than they are with bigger spaces. So the shortness of the pitch can suit them.”

Gilberto - Ronaldo is still the one we have to watch

Credit: Gilberto believes his friend and countryman Ronaldo will be a dangerman on Wednesday — despite the flak he has received in Spain. The Brazilian striker was left out of the Real team for the Madrid derby at the weekend. Just before the first leg of their Champions League tie with Arsenal on February 21, the 29-year-old talked about being unloved by fans at the Bernabeu. However form is temporary and class is permanent. That is why Arsenal’s Brazilian is wary. “He has been criticised in Madrid by the press,” said Gilberto. “But we cannot think about his form going into the game. He is a very intelligent man and a very intelligent player. “He must just forget everything on the outside and do his best for Madrid. We cannot think this problem will affect him on the pitch.” Real have two more Brazilian’s in their midst — Roberto Carlos and Robinho. “Yes I spoke to them afterwards in the dressing room,” Gilberto went on. “They were upset and very disappointed because they have quality in their team but they recognised we did well and made things difficult for them.” However the 28-year-old knows the job of qualifying for the Quarter-Final is only half-done. He believes his side must build upon their first-leg performance. “We need to be aware and concentrate,” said Gilberto. “It is very important that we keep our shape. If we think that we have done our job then it is a problem. Our team knows the importance of this game and we need to be the boss on the pitch.” “If we want to go through we will have to do more than we did in Madrid otherwise we will not win the game.”

Wenger will not rush Cole return

Credit: BBC Defender Ashley Cole will not be rushed back into action, according to Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. Cole, 25, sustained a thigh injury in January - on his return from a three-month spell on the sidelines after breaking a bone in his foot. The England left-back played 68 minutes for the reserves in midweek as he continued his bid for full fitness. But Wenger told Arsenal TV Online: "I am a little cautious with him at the moment because he had a few setbacks." The Gunners boss would rather Cole turns out in another reserve game before he is considered for a first-team recall and added: "It is difficult to say when he will return. "He responded to the reserve game with a lot of fatigue because he has hardly played in over four months. "The plan with him is to play him on Monday night in the reserves against Tottenham and assess him after that."

Ljungberg to miss Rovers trip but Bergkamp could be fit

Arsène Wenger has announced mixed injury news ahead of the trip to Blackburn on Saturday. Freddie Ljungberg is out after picking up a calf injury at Real Madrid in midweek but Dennis Bergkamp (calf) could be back. Emmanuel Adebayor is eligible once more after being cup-tied for the game in Spain. Ashley Cole is not available yet despite playing 68 minutes in a friendly played behind-closed-doors on Tuesday. The left back, who has played just an hour of first-team football in over fourth months, is set for a run-out in the Reserve game with Tottenham on Monday. “Dennis could be available,” Wenger told Arsenal TV Online. “He has practiced today. Emmanuel Adebayor will be available again but we have lost Freddie Ljungberg from Tuesday because of a calf problem. “We have not recovered Ashley Cole or Robin van Persie yet and all the other players are still injured.” Given the left back’s recent history, the manager will be careful over his re-introduction. “It is difficult to say when he’ll return,” said Wenger. “I am a little bit cautious with him at the moment because he had a few setbacks. He responded to the [midweek] game with a lot of fatigue because he has hardly played in over four the months. That is a lot to be at the top level.The plan with him is to play him on Monday night in the Reserves and assess him after that.” Ashley Cole spoke exclusively to this week and you can read that interview on Friday morning. Arsenal TV Online subscribers will be able to see the full video interview with Arsène Wenger at the same time. The manager reflects on: the victory of the Real Madrid game, transferring that form to the Premiership, switching between 4-4-2 and 4-5-1, Blackburn’s change of style.

Arsenal make history in Madrid

Credit; Mo Khan at If ever a team had embodied the football cliche of 'a wounded animal', it was Arsenal before last night's match. A run of poor form and a spate of injuries left many predicting an emphatic win for a Real Madrid side which had won 10 of their last 11 games. Instead, the Gunners made history. A famous 1-0 win - courtesy of Thierry Henry's solo goal - saw Arsenal become the first English side to win at the Bernabeu Stadium. There had been eight attempts by English clubs over the years dating back as far as 1957, when Manchester United lost 3-1. United have been back on three more occasions, in 1968, 2000 and 2003. They drew the first two and lost the other 3-1. Bobby Robson's Ipswich Town had tried and failed in 1973, drawing 0-0 in the Spanish capital. Derby County had been swept aside 5-1 in 1975 and, more recently in 2001, David O’Leary’s Leeds United lost 3-2. Only one other London club had faced Madrid — Arsenal’s neighbours Tottenham Hotspur 11 years ago. But Spurs only managed a goalless draw. Arsenal did more than that last night. They overcame the odds, confounded the critics and produced a performance to be proud of. Here is a complete list of English clubs' competitive ventures to the Bernabeu Stadium: Apr 8 2003 Champioins League Manchester United (Lost 3-1) Mar 3 2001 Champioins League Leeds United (Lost 3-2) Apr 4 2000 Champioins League Manchester United (Drew 0-0) Mar 20 1985 UEFA Cup: Tottenham Hotspur (Drew 0-0) Nov 5 1975 European Cup Derby County (Lost 5-1) Oct 3 1973 UEFA Cup Ipswich Town (Drew 0-0) May 15 1968 European Cup Manchester United (Drew 3-3) Apr 11 1957 European Cup Manchester United (Lost 3-1) Feb 21 2006 Champions League ARSENAL (WON 1-0)

Arsenal Squad to face Real Madrid

Arsène Wenger has named the following squad for the Champions League Second Round first-leg at Real Madrid on Tuesday, February 21: Arsenal squad: Jens Lehmann Abou Diaby Robert Pires Freddie Ljungberg Jose Antonio Reyes Alexander Hleb Thierry Henry Cesc Fabregas Mathieu Flamini Alexandre Song Gilberto Philippe Senderos Manuel Almunia Emmanuel Eboue Kolo Toure Sebastian Larsson Theo Walcott Johann Djourou

Kurt Angle Rivalries

Credit: Aftering seeing five of Kurt's top ten, I can only think that 1. KURT ANGLE V Stone Cold Steve Austin 2. KURT ANGLE V Brock Lesnar 3. KURT ANGLE V HHH 4. KURT ANGLE V Shawn Michaels 5. KURT ANGLE V Chris Benoit 6. KURT ANGLE V Edge 7. KURT ANGLE V The Rock 8. KURT ANGLE V Eddie Guerrero 9. KURT ANGLE V John Cena 10. KURT ANGLE V Big Show Stay tuned for the updates.

Thierry Henry is the Lanson/ Player of the Month

Credit: Thierry Henry has been named as the Lanson/ Player of the Month for January. The captain missed three of Arsenal's seven games in January - but he did enough in the remaining four to scoop 30.8 per cent of your votes in our latest monthly poll. Thierry could not find a way past Manchester United's back four on January 3 but was virtually unplayable when he returned to Highbury 11 days later for the Premiership clash with Middlesbrough. The French striker grabbed a hat-trick - the eighth of his Gunners career - and in doing so equalled Cliff Bastin's Club record of 150 League goals. Henry's first goal was the pick of the bunch, a sumptuous side-footed volley from Freddie Ljungberg's cross. Two more precise finishes helped Arsenal to an emphatic 7-0 victory over beleaguered Boro. It was the perfect way for Henry to celebrate his announcement seven days earlier that he intended to extend his stay at Highbury beyond the end of his current contract. The skipper failed to find the target a week later as the Gunners lost to a solitary goal at Everton, but he was back in scoring form when Wigan visited for the second leg of the Carling Cup Semi-Final. Henry's header from Kerrea Gilbert's cross brought Arsenal level on aggregate in the tie. The player who set up Henry's goal that night finished second in our poll. Gilbert was relatively unknown to most Arsenal fans at the turn of the year but injuries and international duty gave him a chance to impress in the first team. He duly delivered and deservedly earned 20.7 per cent of your votes. Another youngster - new signing Abou Diaby - was third with 11 per cent after a promising start to his Arsenal career. Jens Lehmann and Johan Djourou finished just outside the top three placings but were also recognised by the fans for their sterling efforts in January. Henry - 30.8% / Gilbert - 20.7% / Diaby - 11.0% / Others -37.5%

Clichy close to return after foot injury

Credit: Gael Clichy hopes to return to full training next week. The left back’s last appearance came on November 11 when he was playing for France Under-21s against England Under-21s in the European Championship Play-offs first leg at White Hart Lane. He failed to come out after half time having succumbed to the same injury that had sidelined Ashley Cole six weeks earlier — a stress fracture of the foot. Clichy had surgery and has been working hard at his rehabilitation ever since. Now the wait is nearly over. However the 20-year-old will not be rushing his return; a similar injury curtailed his participation at the end of last season. “I feel really good,” he told “I have been working with the fitness coach since last week. I hope that I can be back in the next week or maybe two weeks time. I am looking forward to playing again and helping the team. “I feel I could train full contact with the first team now but we want to be a little bit careful because it is the second time for me. There is no point getting injured again. So I’ll take it calm right now and hope that next week could be a good one for me.” The former Cannes defender is one of seven players used by Arsene Wenger at left back this season. Undoubtedly it has become Arsenal’s problem position with Cole, Clichy, Pascal Cygan, Lauren, Kerrea Gilbert and Philippe Senderos all filling the role at some point before Seb Larsson took over the mantle at St Andrew’s last Saturday. Clichy was not surprised to see the Swede cope so well. “We have some talented youngsters playing here,” said the Frenchman “It is not the first time we have seen it. There was the Carling Cup this season and last season. “Sebastian Larsson was playing amazing at left back on Saturday even though it is not his position. That sort of thing makes the coach and the players very happy. “If we can keep this sort of performance going in the next three or four games then it would be very good for the team.”

Campbell out for 'two or three weeks' but Ljungberg back

Credit; Campbell out for 'two or three weeks' but Ljungberg back Sol Campbell By Richard Clarke Even Arsène Wenger had to give a wry smile when he revealed the latest injury news to on Thursday afternoon. Sol Campbell is back in the fold once more having cleared the air with his manager after leaving Highbury at half-time during the West Ham match on February 1. But the England centre back damaged his foot during the first 45 minutes of that game and will be sidelined for two to three weeks. Campbell was one of eight defenders who missed the 2-0 victory at Birmingham last Saturday. None of those will be back for the visit of Bolton on Saturday. However Alex Song is available and could be an option at centre back. Freddie Ljungberg and Robin van Persie were rested for the game at St Andrews. The Swede will be in the squad for Saturday but the Dutchman is still bothered by the toe he broke against Cardiff on January 7. “You will laugh,” said Wenger in an exclusive video interview with Arsenal TV Online. “Sol has come back but he is out now because of a foot problem. He played two or three weeks with it but the injury became worse against West Ham. “We had a scan and he will be out for two or three weeks. He cannot kick the ball at the moment. It is an ankle injury but not a ligament problem. It is bone bruising." Elsewhere, the news was mixed. “Kerrea Gilbert just started to practice again today but he will be short,” said Wenger. “The good news is that Alex Song is back. He played at centre back for Bastia so he could be available. “Freddie Ljungberg is back but Robin van Persie is not because of his toe. We have decided to rest him this week.” The full injury list: Ashley Cole (thigh), Sol Campbell (ankle) Gael Clichy (foot), Pascal Cygan (hamstring), Lauren (knee), Kerrea Gilbert (back), Robin van Persie (toe) Emmanuel Eboue and Kolo Toure (both African Nations Cup). Arsenal TV Online subscribers will be able to see the full video interview with Arsène Wenger on Friday morning. In it he talks about: the scoring debuts of Emmanuel Adebayor and Theo Walcott, the way he and Sol Campbell cleared the air, the truth about Alex Hleb’s future, re-introducing the African Nations Cup players and Bolton’s Champions League chances.
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