BFG ready for Wembley pressure | Keown talks progress

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Per Mertesacker says Arsenal are confident heading into Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final with Reading, however, the BFG insists last year’s close call against Wigan serves as a warning that his teammates can’t take anything for granted.

Twelve months ago a nervy penalty shootout against Uwe Rosler’s side was followed by a swashbuckling fightback in the final against Hull – results that had Gooners across the globe chewing their fingernails to a bloody mush.

Aware that Wembley brings a unique kind of pressure, Mertesacker told Arsenal.com of his desire for the team to continue their rich vein of form.

“We felt [pressure] last season a lot. No one expected us to lose, for Wigan to go through and that will be the case again.

“We are more prepared but you are never perfectly prepared. There will be different situations and the team will have to grow in the match again, we will have to face the expectations and pressure.

“But with our level of confidence and with the team in good shape at the moment, I’m very confident. The energy is really great in the team, we have a fantastic squad and the most important thing is that feeling.”

Elsewhere ‘Invincible’ Martin Keown says a victory in the FA Cup and a second place finish will represent progress for Arsenal and sets the foundations for a title challenge next season.

Speaking to Sky Sports, the former centre-back noted: “It has to represent progress if you’re finishing two positions higher and still in the FA Cup.

“Chelsea will win it [the Premier League] but if you ask them next season, they won’t fear anyone but they will be aware of Arsenal. They will want to challenge next season and they will want to start well next year.

“They need to strengthen in one or two positions but I’m not talking about wholesale changes which some others may have to make if they want to compete.

“They look more convincing as a team than they did last year. The players look together.

“The squad is better equipped now, Gabriel is putting (Per) Mertesacker under huge pressure and (Francis) Coquelin is in midfield instead of (Mikel) Arteta and (Mathieu) Flamini who are maybe coming to the end of their careers.

“They have a whole array of players who can play off the front and (Olivier) Giroud and (Danny) Welbeck are vying for the centre forward position. The competition for places creates intensity.”

Incidentally, Keown’s Arsenal fanaticism could be put to the test this weekend with rumours his son, Niall, could feature for Reading at Wembley. On Monday the 20-year-old defender scored the winner for the Royals’ under-21s as they beat Steve Gatting’s side 1-0 at the Emirates.

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peteyb

Looking forward to it. We should have more than enough to beat any of the other 3 remaining so longs as we don’t do an arsenal.

Also, 5.20?? Even from a telly point of view I struggle to understand that.

flappylegs

Yes never do an arsenal while beating someone off.

Cornelius P. Snuffington III

Shit, on another article here yesterday, I commented that Keown’s son isn’t good enough for Arsenal. I take it back! Please don’t score against us!

Just telling it how it is

At the beginning of the season if you would have asked me I would have said we needed to bring in a new spine from GK all the way up top. Ospina, Gabriel, Coquelin & Giroud have all proved me wrong but I still would love to see some marquee names this summer even if it just means others cant have him. For example Reus, Sterling, Cech, Hummels, Pogba, Schneirderlin all of whom may be looking for a transfer this summer and why would they pass up the chance to come to 15/16 premier league favorites.

Cornelius P. Snuffington III

Well, Ospina and Coquelin were basically not in the picture at the beginning of the season, and Gabriel was signed in January, so you weren’t totally wrong in those. Giroud you were wrong all along about though. 🙂

Personally the only thing I really would like to see is some competition for Coquelin. Flamini isn’t good enough anymore, and while I still like Arteta and hope he sticks around, I’m not sure he’s really going to challenge Coquelin for a place in the side.

Scott P

This is true – we can’t expect Coquelin to play every game. My hunch is that Wenger will keep Coq and potentially play Arteta/Flamini alongside him in some games while using them to rotate in other, less important games. I would still like to see a longer-term option to challenge Coquelin, but maybe Wenger has ideas for an internal solution ala Chambers/Bielik.

ZA Gunner

Flamini’s contract is up on 30 June and I would be bloody surprised to see it get renewed. Agree with the other guy that a serious competitor for Coq in the ball winning role is most NB, because I don’t see Arteta doing the job he does and would hate to see us back to leaking unnecessary goals because Coq gets an injury of some sort and there is no like for like replacement for him…

forgot my usual username

I read all your posts in a saffer accent by the way.

Rozza the samourai

I am happy to notice Wenger has silenced the Klopp fan club members who were so agitated earlier this season. Your man is now free from Dormund but will have to take a job at City or perhaps QPR.

Hulk

Sterling is not a marquee name, he is just this seasons Lennon.

Chesty McBiggins

I love going back and watching Mertesacker’s goal against Wigan. He looks like he’s almost in tears at having redeemed himself after giving away the penalty.

brucejuice

Did anyone notice that our league standings since 2004-05 to 2014-15 (as it stands i.e. we come 2nd this year) form a proper mirror sequence. So we won in 2003-04, make of it what you will 😉
Also chelsea were 1st in 2004-05, followed by us. Which is what likely to happen this year!
The coincidence has many layers to it!!!

Kyuu

Arsenal Illuminati confirmed.

lonsdale

A coincidence within a coincidence within a coincidence.

Coinception, if you will.

sg gooner

We call this conspiracy theory.

DFS

A riddle wrapped up in an enigma and baked in a Pukka Pie.

Karl

Last year we stumbled towards the end. We went from 1st down to 4th after the injuries piled up and struggled in the semi and final. These past four months though we seem to have got our shit together after bringing back Coquelin and getting so many players back to fitness. We’re now the top team in Europe, points wise, per game since beginning of the year and we look like we can close out a one goal lead without us biting our finger nails to the bone! Hopefully we can put pressure on Chelsea and make it a little… Read more »

AntiSpud

I was very nervous before the Hull game because as mentioned above what happened against Wigan and also the Birmingham disaster still fresh in my mind. This time I am very confident that we will beat Aston Villa in the final. Simply because Liverpewl defence have no chance against benteke but BFG and Koshielny can tame him easily. YOU HEARD FROM ME FIRST . COYG

Hurensohn

If you could decide one result Arsenal v Reading or Liverpool v Villa, given that we’re heavy favourites against Reading and would be for the final should Villa get through, which would it be?

Arsepedant

If I could decide one result, it would be ARSENAL 12-0 Liverpoo in the final, with Gerrard getting a double hat trick of own goals before being red carded in the seventh minute.

North Bank Gooner

That’s crazy talk!!!!

Gerrard wouldn’t last 7 minutes 😉 #gonein40seconds

AnonymousGun

1 – nil to the Arsenal suits me fine.

forgot my usual username

Klopp in Wenger out. Shake it all about.

Double98

So That’s Klopp manager of the 10th team in the bundesliga with slightly over a goal a game and a negative goal difference Knocked out of europe with a 5-1 aggregate loss Semi finalists in the german cup but favorites to not progress to final IN and Wenger Manager of the 2nd placed team in the premier league with 8 wins on the bounce and 16 of 18 wins in all competition – the best streak of any club in all of europe – with 2 goals per game and a 31 goal difference Knocked out of europe on away… Read more »

Just a random user

Did you forget the awful start of the season and how many times Wenger got things wrong? The Monaco loss still pisses me off.

Glasgow_Gunner

Don’t want Liverpool to make the final. The whole gerrard last game thing may muck things up. Beating George gilet in the final will be fun enough.

Goonerratic

Arsenal are the best team to watch right now in PL.

santori

Per has been huge for us this season despite lack of pace. Who needs speed when you are already there? The RETURN of that man Koscielny has been even more significant. Without him, Per is an incomplete player (and one would argue vice versa to some extent) Our first half of season was compromised by a lack of option at Cback. We carried to our detriment inexperience in Chambers or unfamiliarity in Monreal both o whom cost us. Per’s performance was not a result of the mythical world cup hangover rather uncertainty at the back and most goals were not… Read more »

Fatgooner

We’re on a hiding to nothing on Saturday. If we thrash Reading 5-0 then everybody will just say “so what?”. But if we get knocked out it’ll be “the greatest upset ever, blah, blah,blah…” Last year we were pathetic in that semi and had to scrape through on penalties; let’s hope this year we see off the Royals without too much trouble. The other semi is far more interesting: I have a sneaky feeling that Villa are going to beat Liverpool on Sunday. That was a very good win for Sherwood’s side at Sp*rs at the weekend, and the Scousers… Read more »

CB

How was it in the ward with Antispud and the others?

Giroud Awakening

How can you be so sure that Klopp is a better alternative to Wenger? He left them sitting in tenth place. Yes, he had to sell his best players but so did Wenger, and we always finished in a CL spot. Sure, Klopp is a great manager but we’ve got to be grateful for what Wenger has done, because as bad as it has been winning nothing, finishing outside the top 4 like Klopp has done this year, would have been a lot worse.

SB

I guess (atleast my personal view), is Klopp is a cult favourite with some Gunner fans not because he is viewed to be better than Wenger. It’s because of the similar situation that Klopp faces (or faced), to Wenger – loosing his best players to direct rivals. From that perspective when Wenger hangs his rain-coat (?) up, Klopp is a similar manager to replace him. In his interviews as well after the games against us, he came across as someone who respects Arsenal and Wenger, usually praising our team. So that similarity to Wenger as well in terms of class,… Read more »

sg gooner

Kloop is like a sparkle. Shining brightly, but eventually die out.

Wenger is like a sun. Shining warmly, but nv die out.

Double98

“Yes, he had to sell his best players”

Also he also has a transfer deficit of 51 million euros in the last 5 seasons – so its not all sack cloth and ashes.

Runkeball

Yeah just imagine, we won the FA Cup last year. I mean how shit is that???

Wenger out, all the players out, all the fans out! Ah fuck it, KLOPP OUT!!!

Double98

Klopp be all like “yo krazy kats – tenth is a trophy”

As german teams found out how to flog his one trick pony and now he languishes in mid table obscurity.

Do we really want a pressing coach specialist just as football moves to counter this tactic?
Or if you could choose – would you pick the winningest coach in all of europe in 2015…
Mr Arsene Wenger

Woolwich Peripatetic

Klopp isn’t just a pressing specialist but his Dortmund have gotten more vulnerable to swift counter-attacks as their efficiency in the final third has dropped… WOAH DEJA VU!

Coincidentally, our own game has improved all round with greater offensive efficiency, the one game where our conversion rate was crap was our worst performance of the calendar year.

Runkeball

Boring Fat Gooner!

Arsenal's Legend

well someone is still suffering from hangover here

AntiSpud

Well all the evidence are proving that Klopp is a one hit wonder. He is going because now mathematically durtmund cannot get into champions league. He can come here and a moyes then move on. You got to watch what you wish for

- End Mike

Before reading the article, I took the title to mean that talks with Keown were progressing. I thought “which Keown?” Are we signing Niall? Is Martin going to join the coaching staff? Is there another Keown I haven’t heard of, some whizz-bang defensive midfielder we’ve uncovered?

Ha, no such luck. Keown’s talking about progress… Good, though.

Clock-End Mike

Sorry, for some reason Arseblog has been fiddling with my moniker . ‘End Mike’? who?

sg gooner

On a side note, I woke up to see bayern lost 3-1. Could we see a repeat of Porto-monaco fifinal?

Stringer Bell

No

last man standing

Monaco lost to Juve. They have no chance for final. I can see a Barca-Madrid (either) final

Ciderman

Shame we didn’t get past Monaco as I think we would have beaten juventus and then who knows what would have happened!!!

Double98

We would have got to the semi final for a start…