Nigel Winterburn reveals top four hopes as the Gunners legend talks all things Arsenal
- Credit: Picture: MARTYN HAWORTH
Islington Gazette sports reporter Dan Mountney spoke exclusively to Arsenal legend Nigel Winterburn to find out his thoughts on the North London Derby, the Gunners top four chances and Unai Emery.
What’s your North London derby prediction?
“I’m hoping for an Arsenal victory. I always do. But, as they always are, I think it’s going to be very, very intense, it’s going to be very close.
“We are coming into the game in good form, we’ve closed the gap on Tottenham as well and we’ve put ourselves in a great position to try and challenge for the top four.
“I think the next two games, Tottenham and Manchester United, for us is going to define whether we’ve realistically got a chance of getting in the top four. We need two real top performances.”
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Is the top four achievable come the end of the season?
“I thinks it’s definitely achievable. If you look at it a couple of weeks ago, I was thinking there was only one place available. If we sneak a victory on Saturday that opens it right up.
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“Even if you are only looking at one place, I think with what’s happening at Chelsea, Manchester United are on a good run, but I think they are still beatable.
“We’ve put ourselves in a great position. Consistency will be the key through to the end of the season.”
How important could the Europa League be to find a way into the Champions League?
“I think it’s very important. It’s a cup competition and a trophy at the end of the day. Not only that, you get back into the Champions League.
“You talk about the league and trying to get into the Champions League, the Europa League is exactly the same.”
What have you made of Unai Emery in his first season in charge?
“I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve liked watching how he’s changing the team, what’s he’s trying to achieve with the team.
“I’m just looking forward now to the end of this season and seeing what we can try and achieve going forward.
“I think he’s doing a good job, but we all know he needs to be backed with some money as well. We’ll see where we are come the end of next season as well.”
How important are the Arsenal fans going to be in getting the team into the top four?
“The fans are always important, but I don’t think they realise how important they are, how big a part they play, especially when we are at home.
“If it’s not going to well that’s when you really want the crowd to lift that momentum with the team.
“They play a huge part, but sometimes I don’t think they realise that.”
What have you made of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang?
“Well goals are always important in a team. The interesting thing for me is the two different styles of play.
“Aubameyang is an out-and-out goalscorer, unbelievable pace. Lacazette is a good player who holds the ball up well, he’s got a lot of power in and around the box.
“Do they play together? Does one of them play? It’s so fascinating to see what will happen.”
What do you make of the Mesut Ozil situation?
“Ozil is so, so talented. If you could put his level of performance as it was against Bournemouth then he’s plays ever single week.
“I don’t know if he’s struggled with the intensity of Unai Emery’s training and the way that he wants him to play. That’s maybe affecting his performance.
There’s no doubt in mind that’s he’s a super talented player, but that player has to deliver every single week.”