Song calls for focus amid fixture pile-up

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Alex Song has said Arsenal must maintain their focus amid a hectic run of games over the next two weeks. Having drawn with Leyton Orient in the FA Cup on Sunday, Arsenal will play five games in a 13-day spell, starting tomorrow evening. Song recognised that the addition of a Cup replay to their schedule was "not very good" but said that the players "need to be focused" ahead of a run that includes the Carling Cup final and their return Champions League game in Barcelona.

The sequence of games starts tomorrow evening with a home Premier League game against Stoke City, which was originally scheduled for December but was postponed because of snow. Then Arsenal contest the League Cup final against Birmingham City at Wembley. Soon after that they host Leyton Orient in the replay of Sunday's draw before facing Sunderland at the Emirates Stadium in the league. The sequence ends when they travel to Barcelona in the hope of reaching the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

"It is not very good to have another game," admitted Song, "because we are playing a lot, but we have drawn a game we wanted to win. Now we need to be focused because we have one game coming soon, which we need to win for the Premier League, and then we have the Carling Cup final next week.

"It is always very difficult," he continued, "when you play one big game [Barcelona], and when you come back you play a team you are supposed to beat. But we are still in the FA Cup and I am 100 per cent sure we will win the replay at the Emirates."

The fixture congestion is a natural consequence of competing on four fronts, and Song believes Arsenal can convert at least one of these opportunities into a trophy. "We have a very good team and always work very hard in training because this year is very important for us. We want to do very well because everyone has been waiting for this moment for a long time. We are in a strong position because we are in four competitions and that is very good for us. We need just to take it game by game."

Arsenal's busy schedule

23 February Stoke City (a)

27 February Birmingham City (Wembley)

2 March Leyton Orient (h)

5 March Sunderland (h)

8 March Barcelona (a)

Should Arsenal win their FA Cup replay with Leyton Orient, they will travel to Manchester United on 12/13 March.