Champion Kiwis not standing still
More injuries for Arsenal as Jose waits on a corner
ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger is “very concerned” with a mounting injury list and confirmed that Hector Bellerin will miss tomorrow’s North London derby against Tottenham Hotspur, while Laurent Koscielny faces a late fitness test.
The Gunners have a number of first-team players out injured, including right back Bellerin and central defender Koscielny, whose absence was felt in the 5-1 midweek defeat by Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
“We might have Laurent back but Hector won’t be available,” Wenger said yesterday.
“I’m very concerned. Because we are only in November and we have so many players out. We go into the Christmas period and I’m concerned because we have too many players out.”
Alex Oxlade- Chamberlain ( hamstring), Theo Walcott (calf), and Aaron Ramsey (hamstring) are out until after the international break, while Jack Wilshere (ankle) is expected to return in mid-December. Long-term absentees Tomas Rosicky (knee) and Danny Welbeck (knee) are scheduled to return in January
The Gunners go into the capital derby hoping to recover from their midweek mauling in Munich, which has left their hopes of progressing to the Champions League knockout stages hanging by a thread.
Wenger is not ready to give up hope of emerging from Group F and urged his team to reproduce their best form against Spurs.
“From one competition to the other, I believe in the Premier League we have a strong confidence and we want to reproduce it against Tottenham,” Wenger said.
“They have always in my memory had strong teams. It will be a tough opponent just like every year.”
Arsenal are second in the table on 25 points after 11 games, below leaders Manchester City on goal difference, and Wenger praised his team’s early season league form.
“It’s remarkable what my players have done. Now we want to take advantage and continue,” he added.
“It is too early (to say if Arsenal can win the league). We want to be in the fight and will do absolutely everything to do it. I think we have a chance, but it’s down to consistency.”
The manager also gave goalkeeper Petr Cech a vote of confidence despite conceding five goals against Bayern.
“He is gifted, super-talented and one of the greatest goalkeepers ever seen in this country,” Wenger said.
● Jose Mourinho is said to have hidden in a laundry basket when he was hit with a stadium ban 10 years ago, but today he might be found on a street corner near Stoke City’s ground.
Mourinho will not be allowed inside the Britannia Stadium for the game after deciding not to appeal a onematch ban imposed for comments he made to the referee during halftime in last month’s loss to West Ham United.
He will travel with the squad, but will have to make alternative arrange- ments for keeping in touch with his side’s progress as they seek a welcome three points.
A bristly Mourinho refused to confirm whether he had indeed defied a stadium ban in 2005 by hiding in a laundry basket during a Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich.
Asked how the stadium ban would play out, he said: “I will travel with the players and will be with them until the moment someone stops me, which is I think when I’m in the limit of the compound or the stadium or the facility.
“I don’t know where I will watch the game. Maybe I sit in a street corner with my iPad, I don’t know, maybe I don’t even watch the game, because I can’t contact (my assistants) so what’s the point?”
Mourinho said he has run through every scenario with his assistants Steve Holland, Rui Faria and Silvino Louro for today’s game, and will be fully responsible for what transpires despite being absent.
“If after 10 minutes we are playing with seven men my assistants won’t be prepared for that and they will have to decide for themselves,” Mourinho said.
“We’ve looked at the most incredible scenarios, you can imagine from winning 4-0, losing 4-0 and between that you have 1000 options, injuries, red cards to the keeper, right back, striker, the winger, we went through them all and are prepared.
“What is most important is that the players and assistants feel protected by the fact that it’s my responsibility and it’s just for the players to play and for the assistants to be with them and be supportive with them.”
Mourinho said he had not appealed against the ban because “it’s stupid to fight a fight you know you will lose”, but suggested that more managers will be banned if the current trend continues.
“Stadium bans should be related to something really serious in terms of aggressivity. This is connected to words, to complaints,” he said.
“In the future the stadium bans will happen a lot of times unless our association and those around Europe question in a very serious and legal way about the rights of the managers.” – Reuters
LAURENT KOSCIELNY: Will undergo a late fitness test.