Cham­pion Ki­wis not stand­ing still

More in­juries for Arse­nal as Jose waits on a cor­ner

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

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.

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