Tuesday 20 March 2018

Arsene Wenger believes a week off can work wonders for his Gunners

Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey, battling with Aston Villa's Idrissa Gana, scored the Gunners' second in their 2-0 win.
Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey, battling with Aston Villa's Idrissa Gana, scored the Gunners' second in their 2-0 win.

Arsene Wenger thinks Arsenal will be in perfect shape for their crunch clash with Manchester City.

The Gunners host City next Monday after going top of the Barclays Premier League with Sunday's 2-0 win at Aston Villa.

Olivier Giroud's penalty and Aaron Ramsey's goal gave the Gunners a comfortable victory against the rock bottom hosts.

They are a point ahead of Leicester and City - although the Foxes will regain the lead if they beat Chelsea on Monday - and boss Wenger believes a week off will do wonders for the Gunners.

He said: "It's a big game, we want to win at home and beat City at home. We have eight days to prepare. It will be an interesting one but we at least can recover first and prepare then.

"I was a bit anxious because we had given a lot on Wednesday and came back very late on Thursday morning. I knew Villa were fighting to survive."

Giroud netted his 14th goal of the season and 50th in the league for the Gunners after Theo Walcott was brought down in the area by Alan Hutton.

He added to his hat-trick from Wednesday's 3-0 Champions League win at Olympiacos and Wenger says the 29-year-old deserves some credit.

He said: "I believe he is at the top of his game. He is questioned sometimes but finally the numbers get people to realise he is a good player.

"Olivier has improved technically. His link play is better and when you have the option to go for long balls he is always an interesting option.

"He's not got electric pace, he is more a player who likes to play with his back to goal. He is not spectacular individually but he is a very efficient player for the team. Mentally he is very strong."

Wenger managed Aston Villa boss Remi Garde at Arsenal, with Garde winning the title in 1998, and had words of encouragement for his former midfielder.

"It's not completely a lost cause yet. E very year we have seen teams survive that, before Christmas, everyone was saying they had absolutely no chance. Last year one of those were Leicester," he added.

Garde is yet to win in his five games as Villa boss with the side without a league victory since the opening day of the season and eight points from safety.

The former Lyon boss said: "We can still be safe but we are coming into a period where we have to win. I see this situation as more of an opportunity than a problem but we have to be ready.

"I still believe we are capable of winning the next game. I enjoy working in this league. We are struggling, I still haven't won a game and I'm very frustrated but I know in football you can change things with work."

But Garde knows his side need more belief up front with Villa the league's joint lowest scorers having netted just 13 times.

He added: "I'm happy to have a team who still create chances. Some of the players need more confidence.

"I know there is a big expectation for strikers when we play at Villa Park. We played the league leaders which is not easy for anyone."

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