Lukas Podolski believes the team spirit within the Arsenal dressing room can help them as they look for a first league title since 2004.
When Patrick Vieira scored the winning penalty to secure the FA Cup against Manchester United in 2005, not even the most pessimistic of Gunners fans could have envisaged this would be their last piece of silverware for several years. But having failed to add to their honours list since that Saturday afternoon in Cardiff, the Emirates Stadium faithful are simply desperate for their team to finally deliver this season.
With the campaign now in its business end, Arsene Wenger’s side are still in the hunt for three trophies. A 2-0 first leg home defeat to Bayern Munich means they are, even with the best will in the world, unlikely to progress beyond the last 16 in the UEFA Champions League. However, they are just 90 minutes away from an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley, although Everton are sure to put up a stern test in the quarter-final.
But if the fans could have any choice of silverware, the vast majority would no doubt pick the Premier League crown. It has been a decade since this particular honour was last paraded in the red half of North London, but with 11 matches remaining, they are in second position and just a single point behind Chelsea in what, when you consider the challenges of both Manchester City and Liverpool, is the tightest race for the title in years.
Whilst it is Jose Mourinho’s leaders or Manuel Pellegrini’s side which many expect to go on to win the title, one thing which Arsenal have an advantage over both, according to Podolski, is a sound team spirit. Indeed, the German international insists this is the best he has ever witnessed, and he feels this could help him and his team-mates past the post.
“The team spirit is always good here, even after defeats,” he told the official club website. “This is a great team – there’s a good atmosphere between us and up until now, we’ve had a super season. We need to keep that with us now. I’ve been at a few clubs and in different dressing rooms but I’ve never been in a team with such a strong spirit. You feel comfortable here – be it on the pitch or off it, and I think that helps us in matches.”
Unfortunately for Podolski, it appears as though the Gunners have the most difficult of run-ins of the three title contenders. Their calendar in March, for example, reads like a nightmare fixture list: not only do they take on the Toffees in the Cup, they have the return leg at Bayern, and away league matches at Stoke City, archrivals Tottenham Hotspur, and Chelsea – not to mention ending the month at home against City.