Lehmann: My experience can help
Returning goalkeeper Jens Lehmann hopes some of his 'Invincibles' aura can rub off on Arsenal's young squad as they look to finish the season on a high by finally landing the Premier League title.
Lehmann, 41, has rejoined his old club on a short-term monthly rolling contract to aid an injury crisis after Wojciech Szczesny joined Lukasz Fabianski and Vito Mannone in the treatment room.
The former Germany international is set to provide experienced back-up to Manuel Almunia, whom he duelled for the number one jersey before leaving in 2008, and will be on the bench at West Brom on Friday.
Lehmann certainly brings plenty of kudos with him - having played in every game of Arsenal's 38-match unbeaten run to the title in 2003-2004 as well as lifting the 2005 FA Cup and helping the team reach the Champions League final in the following season, where he was famously sent off after just 18 minutes.
He is looking forward to helping the squad anyway he can as they look to recover from the bitter disappointment of defeat in the Carling Cup final at Wembley before then crashing out of both Europe and the FA Cup.
"I have got that - in terms of experience, I am still good, so I need to give that onto the young lads,'' Lehmann told Arsenal TV Online. "I hope we will be successful in getting the trophy, to give that extra bit of conviction to the players - that is why I am here and why the boss has asked me to come.''
Lehmann had retired following two seasons back in Germany with Stuttgart, and was working as a media pundit in the Nou Camp.
It was the finger injury to Szczesny which would ultimately lead to an SOS from Gunners boss Arsene Wenger - one which Lehmann revealed it took some time to get his head around.
"When Szczesny went out, I crossed my fingers for Manuel to do well, and he had a great game, but it never occurred to me that there was a lack of goalkeepers which could end with a request for me,'' said the German, who had been set to spend some time working with the Arsenal reserves this month as he started on his coaching badges.
"I got a text when I got back from Barcelona, it was (goalkeeper coach) Gerry Peyton and at first I did not recognise it because I was very tired, then on the second text I realised he wanted me to get my gloves out again
"Later Arsene Wenger called me to ask if I was available, and I said 'let me talk to my wife' - now I am here. I am happy about it, for an exciting finish of my career and I will try to get the best out of it.''
Despite what has certainly been a testing few weeks for his young Gunners, Wenger firmly believes there are plenty of reasons to be positive.
"If you look at what this team has given in the last three months, the players do not get the recognition of the effort and quality of the performance we have put in,'' he said. In fairness, we have not had many off days.
"We are on a remarkable consistent run in the Premier League, have gone out in the Champions League in special circumstances while at Old Trafford, we could have got a result, but were still a bit affected by Barcelona. We just want to keep belief high, togetherness high and give our best shot until the end of the season.''
Arsenal currently trail leaders Manchester United by three points, but with a game in hand, as they head to The Hawthorns. Wenger believes it is now a straight two-horse race for the Premier League crown.
"If we do not do it, it will be Manchester United because certainly the other teams are too far away,'' he said. "Unless Chelsea beats Manchester United and wins all their games, they might have a chance, but mathematically it is in our hands or Manchester United hands.
"The other teams can only come back if Arsenal or Man United do not take their opportunities, so it is down to our results.''
Wenger, meanwhile, must decide whether to appeal the one-match touchline ban imposed by UEFA following his spat with referee Massimo Busacca at the Nou Camp, where striker Robin van Persie was sent off for kicking the ball away only a fraction of a second after the whistle was blown.