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Laudrup looks ahead to Arsenal test

PUBLISHED

13:13 14th March 2013

. . . Swans boss gives his thoughts ahead of Saturday's clash at the Liberty Stadium


Michael Laudrup insists Arsenal face a “very important game” when they travel to the Liberty Stadium on Saturday (3pm).

Arsene Wenger’s side travel to south Wales on the back of their exit from this season’s Champions League.

Arsenal claimed a 2-0 win away at Bayern Munich on Wednesday night but exited the competition on away goals, meaning there will be no English club in the last eight of Europe’s elite club tournament for the first time since 1996.

The north London club are also chasing a place in the top four of the Premier League and they currently sit five points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea.

And Laudrup believes that Saturday’s clash at the Liberty resembles a massive game for Arsene Wenger’s men.

“Their game against Bayern was a strange one,” he said. “Arsenal got an early goal but then they didn’t really create too much after that, despite getting a second goal late on.

“I think they knew before the game it was going to be difficult to progress. They will be disappointed that they are out, but perhaps they expected that after the first leg at the Emirates.

“But they come out of the game better than when they went into it. They have won away against a very good side but they are still five points away from fourth place.

“They will try and maintain the confidence from Wednesday night, but Saturday is a very important game for them with only eight games left after this weekend.”

Arsenal travel to SA1 without midfielder Jack Wilshere after the 21-year-old was ruled out for a number of weeks with an ankle injury.

It may prove to be a big blow for the Gunners in their quest to finish in the top four, and the Swans will be looking to do a league double over Arsenal following their 2-0 win at the Emirates back in December.

“They have some top quality players,” said the Dane. “Jack Wilshere and Cazorla are the two main players in their team, but with Wilshere not playing he will be the one to watch.

“I’ve always said that if you can stop the players who give the ball to the forwards and create the chances, then you’ve always got a chance.

“But we have had some good games against them this season, and I hope Saturday will be the same.”

Following the club’s exit from the Champions League, Arsenal and their supporters are facing up to a ninth year without silverware.

The club’s last trophy came back in 2005 when they won the FA Cup, but Laudrup had nothing but praise for the job that Arsene Wenger has done at the club since he arrived back in 1996.

“He (Wenger) has been there 17 years now,” he said. “And what he has achieved there is great. But if the fans want trophies then eight years is of course a long time.

“He has been there for so long because people have been pleased with what he has done, and I think we will still see Arsene Wenger on the Arsenal bench next season.”

Meanwhile, Laudrup confirmed that both Chico Flores and Kemy Agustien would miss Saturday’s game, while the club will assess the fitness of Leon Britton after the midfielder missed last weekend’s defeat at West Brom with a hip injury.

Neil Taylor, who has been out of action since suffering a broken ankle against Sunderland last September, is due to play 45 minutes for the Under-21’s when they travel to Queens Park Rangers this evening.

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