Not Gunner happen

O'Connor: scored at Emirates

Birmingham v Arsenal
12.30pm, Saturday, Sky Sports 1

Birmingham v Arsenal
12.30pm, Saturday, Sky Sports 1

"Don't get me wrong, Senderos is not a bad player, but we're talking about a team at the pinnacle of the Premier League and he's maybe a little bit short of the quality needed to be a regular at Arsenal."

Matt Le Tissier

Quotes of the week

It's not been the greatest week for Arsenal after a 4-0 FA Cup defeat to Manchester United and a 0-0 draw at home to AC Milan in the Champions League.

To be honest, I don't think they'll be too disappointed with going out of the FA Cup because that wasn't the highest priority for Arsene Wenger this season.

The manner of the defeat might have dented them a little bit, but I think they'll be more worried after only getting a draw in midweek.

Everything would have looked so much better if Emmanuel Adebayor had scored that open goal in injury time against Milan and every time I see a replay of it I wonder how he managed to miss.

For a man who is in such fantastic form, it was strange to see because I'd have put my mortgage on him scoring. There was talk of him having his shirt tugged but that's no excuse, it should have been a goal.

He's the main man for them at the moment after scoring in his last seven Premier League games and maybe he needs a little bit more help. But Arsenal are five points clear at the top of the league, so you can't really criticise them too much.

Without question, the Premier League now represents their best chance of silverware this season because it will be tough for them at the San Siro. I remember they got a 5-1 win on that ground against Inter in 2003, so they can take heart from that.

They're not completely out of the Champions League and have got the players to win away from home on the counter attack, but the Premier League looks like their best chance.

A five-point cushion is nice to have at this stage of the season and although they've got some tough games to come, they are playing with confidence, they are creating chances and if I was Arsene Wenger I'd be pretty confident.

Kolo Toure will be a big miss after he got injured against Milan because he's looked solid at the back with William Gallas.

Philippe Senderos will come into the side and I've always been a little wary of him; I'm not sure he's a top-drawer centre-back.

Don't get me wrong, he's not a bad player, but we're talking about a team at the pinnacle of the Premier League and he's maybe a little bit short of the quality needed to be a regular at Arsenal.


A tough week for the Gunners concludes with a trip to St Andrews to face a Birmingham side that haven't had a game for two weeks.

But while the Birmingham players might be a bit fresher, the gulf in quality between the two teams is sufficient for Arsenal to be able to overcome that.

Alex McLeish's side will take heart from the fact they got a 1-1 draw at the Emirates Stadium earlier this year. On that day they dug in and made Arsenal work hard, but Wenger will think they should have won by two or three goals

I'm not sure Birmingham have got enough quality to reproduce that result and their home form hasn't been particularly stunning. They've only won one in seven at St Andrews and that's why they're sat on the brink of the relegation zone.

James McFadden was the big signing they brought in to boost their chances and I'm not sure if he's got enough quality to drag the club out of their current position on his own.

I was surprised at how much money they spent on him because he's not been that great in the Premier League, although he did well under McLeish for Scotland, but maybe a move to a new club will re-ignite him.

However, they do have enough decent players to get them out of trouble and I'd say they've got a better squad than the likes of Derby, Fulham and maybe even Sunderland.

I tipped Birmingham to stay up at the start of the season and I'm surprised they are so far down the table. However, I will stick by my prediction and say that they'll be alright in the end.

But while I think they survive, I don't think they'll get much out of the game on Saturday.

Le Tiss Predicts

AWAY WIN - I'll go for a 2-0 victory for Arsenal. They've got too much quality for Birmingham, who got away with a draw at the Emirates, but won't get away with anything at St Andrews.

Matt's Main Man

ALEXANDER HLEB - I always pick Cesc Fabregas when I write about Arsenal because he's such a fabulous player, so I'll go for somebody else this time. I'll pick Alexander Hleb because he looks to have come to terms with the Premier League now and has emerged as the player we all hoped he could be. He took a while to settle, but he is clearly a very, very useful footballer.