Writer: Barry Worthington
Date:Saturday April 11 2009
Steve Bruce takes his Latics side into this afternoons game against Arsenal trying to get the season back on track for his Euro hopeful team
Following last weekends drubbing at Goodison Park where Everton literally mauled the Latics it sparked a reality check during training this week and it was certainly back to basics.
Bruce says he doesn`t want the season to fade away now that the clubs survival is assured and he wants a push onto the next level, if not attainable at least striving for European qualification.
On the other hand Arsene Wenger is facing a game that he could do without, all ready suffering from a number of injuries the Arsenal manager brings his Gunners to the JJB, a place that he never seems comfortable with and he surely will have one eye on Wednesday and the visit of Villarreal to the Emirates for the Champions League quarterfinal 2nd leg
Arsenal are on level terms with the Spanish club but it is by no means a for gone conclusion that they will be lining up in the semi-final of a competition which must be Wengers priority for silverware this season.
This afternoon will hopefully produce a bit of flowing football with both teams comfortable in their league positions, lets just hope that Arsenal are sitting more comfortable than us and we can shake them a little and knick all the points for the first time against a top four side.
Latics boss Steve Bruce:
'For a club of our size the priority is to stay in this league, and at the moment it looks like it's mission accomplished.
'We've now seven games to go, and the last thing I want is for the players to develop a mentality of 'we're nearly on our holidays'.
'We've worked extremely hard to be in this position, and we want to finish the season as high as we can, rather than looking over our shoulder like we have done for the past couple of years.'
Latics skipper Mario Melchiot:
"Arsenal are one of the best technical teams in the league"
"They have speed and intelligence.We know anything less than 100 per cent from us means we`ll be in for a very difficult afternoon."
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger:
'What is important that we have a collective performance and I am confident that we can score goals.
'We must rely on the quality of our passing.
'It is super important that we keep the run going as our consistency is the mark of whether we have improved.'
Latics will be missing Cho Won-hee who is out for the season, Amr Zaki is recovering from a hamstring but wouldnt have played any way and Lee Cattermole completes his four match ban today.
There is a slight doubt over Charles N'Zogbia and both Dan DeRidder and Jason Koumas stand-by
Kirkland, Melchiot, Bramble, Boyce, Figueroa, Watson, Brown, Koumas, Scharner, Kapo, N'Zogbia, De Ridder, Rodallega, Valencia, Sibierski, Mido, Kingson, Edman.
Been a colossus all season and surely down for an England call-up
Arsenal have doubts over strikers Robin van Persie and Eduardo and Abou Diaby is also doubtful.
Keeper Manuel Almunia and full-back Gael Clichy are missing and William Gallas makes it three from the defence out today.
Fabianski, Sagna, Toure, Djourou, Silvestre, Arshavin, Denilson, Fabregas, Nasri, Walcott, Adebayor, Mannone, Song, Vela, Bendtner, Gibbs, Ramsey, Wilshere, Diaby
Class player with bags of talent
Latics 0-0 Arsenal
All Previous League Meetings:
Latics 0 wins, Arsenal 6, Draws 1
Alan Wiley (Staffs)
Games - 22
Yellows - 60
Reds - 2
Heart says Latics to win 1-0
Head says 0-0
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