English League 2

Allen claims January award

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Fri, 15 Feb 2013 11:50:00

Arsene Wenger feels Arsenal could go on and win the Champions League if they can knock out Bayern Munich in the last 16.

Wenger is ready for a busy week, with an FA Cup fifth-round clash with Blackburn coming before their return to European action, and he hopes the Gunners will come out of the back-to-back games with added confidence.

Bayern are looking to go one better in the Champions League, after losing last year's final to Chelsea, and they go into Friday's Bundesliga clash with Wolfsburg on an unbeaten run that dates back to the end of October.

But Wenger believes victory over one of Europe's best teams could be just the tonic they need heading into the final third of the season.

"We have a big game on Tuesday against Bayern. If we get past them, then why should we not go further and win it?" Wenger said.

"It looks at the start that (winning) the FA Cup is more reachable than any other competition, but you don't really know how difficult it will be.

"If you compare it to the Premier League certainly, we have more chances to do it because we are too far away in the Premier League.

"The FA Cup is an important target for us. We always take it very seriously, we're on a good run and we want to continue the run. We are the favourites, they're the outsiders, and have nothing to lose.

"However, if you look at who is in the squad, many of their players have Premier League experience, that is why they are dangerous."

Arsenal have fitness concerns over England midfielder Jack Wilshere, who went off at Sunderland last week as a precaution over a thigh problem.

Wenger said: "I will not take a risk. [That is because of] the rest of the season in mind and what happened to him before."

Captain Thomas Vermaelen should be back from his ankle problem, but fellow defender Laurent Koscielny (calf) will be assessed.

Ivory Coast forward Gervinho could be back in contention following the Africa Cup of Nations .

"We will play a team who has a good chance to go through with experienced players," said Wenger.

"We only have big names in our squad, so it will be a team of big names, for sure."

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The 25-year-old's ?10million summer arrival from Manchester City was greeted with glee on Wearside, but Johnson has struggled to hit the heights on a sustained basis and has lost his place in the international set-up as a result.

Injury prevented his presence in the squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine in September, and he was an unused substitute for the clashes with San Marino and Poland the following month.

But as he battled to make his presence felt at the Stadium of Light, Roy Hodgson overlooked him for the November friendly against Sweden and last week's victory over Brazil, and that is a situation he is determined to address as soon as possible.

Johnson told the Sunderland Echo: "It's always difficult because I have been in the squad for a while and then I have been overlooked for the last couple of games.

"I have just got to get my head down and get better, really. If I do that, then I am confident that I can work my way back into the squad.

"But the key word, in terms of form, is consistency. I think I have only shown tiny glimpses of my best form over the five or six months that I have been here.

"It's difficult for all players - you know it isn't going to be rosy all the time - but you just have to come out the other end of it."

Allen's promotion-chasing side won three of their five fixtures during the month and ended it top of the table, despite a 2-1 defeat against second-placed Port Vale.

The year began with away wins at Southend and Bristol Rovers, before the Gills bounced back from the loss to Micky Adams' side with a draw against York and a 2-0 win over Northampton.

"Martin Allen has had another fine month consolidating an automatic promotion place for Gillingham," said panel member Alan Curbishley.

"His side have shown great consistency to date in League Two and will be hoping it continues right to the end of the season."

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