Arsenal need United spirit – Squillaci


Arsenal know the next month must be far more impressive than the previous one if they are to challenge Manchester United for the Premier League soccer title.

The Gunners, who are at home to Blackburn Rovers in today’s late kick-off, added just two points to their tally during March.

Indeed, Arsene Wenger’s side tasted victory just once – at home to Leyton Orient of League One in an FA Cup replay – that month.

They were removed from the Champions League by Barcelona and then knocked out of the FA Cup by Premier League leaders Manchester United, who currently boast a five-point advantage over the second-place Gunners.

And the two Premier League fixtures – at home to Sunderland and away at West Bromwich Albion — both ended in draws.

No wonder, therefore, that Arsenal’s France international defender Sebastien Squillaci wants his side to be more like United.

“It is a bit of a bad time that we’re having but we have all got to get our chins up and show our mettle against Manchester United for the title,” he said.

“That’s the remaining target now and we’ve got to give everything for the cause. Really, it is a case of keeping going and getting the three points, that’s the most important thing.

“Look at Manchester United for example, they grind out the wins and that is what counts at the end of the season. So for us, that is the main aim.

“Bouncing back from the disappointments and getting our chins up, showing that Arsenal is a big club that can win the title,” Squillaci added.

With Johan Djourou and Thomas Vermaelen both injured, Squillaci is one of only two fit central defenders with experience that Wenger can call upon today but the 30-year-old was delighted to be in action after a stop-start first season at the Emirates Stadium.

“It’s fair to say that unfortunately I’ve not played that regularly and, of course, you’re happy when you’re playing,” he said.

“But the team has been playing well and it’s not about me, the main thing is the team wins and keeps picking up the three points, that’s all that matters.”

The Gunners are hoping Robin van Persie, Nicklas Bendtner and Aaron Ramsey can all shake off knocks following international duty, with Cesc Fabregas, Alex Song, Theo Walcott and Abou Diaby all also set to return after missing the 2-2 draw at West Bromwich Albion.

Blackburn are also in need of points for completely different reasons as they are fighting a battle against relegation and are one of four clubs on 33 points who know they are vulnerable to being over-taken by any of the bottom four, who are either one, two or three points behind.

And manager Steve Kean will have to do without midfielder Vince Grella, who will miss the rest of the season because of an Achilles injury that has required an operation.

“It has been hard for Vinny because he’s picked up lots of niggly injuries, then this one is a big operation on his Achilles where they’ve actually had to remove the plantaris,” Kean said.

“He’s had that removed, so hopefully he can get some rehabilitation under his belt and look forward to an injury-free season next season but he won’t play again this season.”


Today: West Ham v Man Utd, Birmingham v Bolton, Wigan v Tottenham, Stoke v Chelsea, Everton v Aston Villa, West Brom v Liverpool, Newcastle v Wolves, Arsenal v Blackburn.

Tomorrow: Fulham v Blackpool, Man City v Sunderland —Reuters