Date: 2nd December 2016 at 4:03pm
Written by:

With the disappointing League Cup quarter final loss to Southampton in midweek, manager Arsene Wenger is looking for a response when we make the trip to the London Stadium to face off against West Ham United this weekend.

Speaking to the Official Site in his pre game press conference earlier this afternoon, Wenger explained that it was for Arsenal to show a response to our defeat, but with four out of five on our travels now, he was confident we would do just that.

‘The response is to focus on the next one and rely on the confidence we have rebuilt with the win against Bournemouth. I believe that from the strength we have shown away from home, rely on the belief that we can do well absolutely everywhere.’

With a three all draw in the corresponding fixture last season, Wenger knew we could learn lessons from that match as we go into this one – although clearly it will be a different game.

‘I remember it, because we were 2-0 up and cruising and playing well and suddenly it was 2-2 just before half-time. We conceded two goals, after that we were 3-2 down just after half-time and I think it`s Koscielny who equalised after for the 3-3. It was an important game for us at that stage of the season and we came out of it disappointed because we were 2-0 up – you expect to win the game. We conceded two cheap goals on the day, and in fact it was Carroll who scored two good goals.’

It will of course be Arsenal’s first trip to the London Stadium.

‘Before, we knew exactly what was expected of us at West Ham. I preferred the first version of the West Ham stadium, when it was very tight. When they built a new stand the distances were a bit bigger and that probably made the first one the most intimidating stadium I knew. It`s a bit like when we moved to the Emirates. You feel a bit like you`re playing on neutral ground for a while. After that, the best way to prepare is just to focus on what we do and focus in a very strong way.’

And he was of course expecting a tough test this weekend given the players West Ham boast.

‘When you look at West Ham, they have a very strong squad. They have players of top quality, and recently they have picked up. They had a difficult start to the season but recently they`ve picked up with their quality and they played well against Tottenham and Manchester United. They are difficult fixtures so overall it will be a very tight and intense game.’

Given the plane crash in Colombia where 71 people lost their lives, including 19 Chapecoense players and staff, this weekend will see a minute’s silence held in memory.

Gabriel had friends in the squad as we know, and Wenger confirmed that he would make a late decision on whether he would play this weekend after they both had a chat today.

‘I think he will be able to play. I will have a chat with him today. If he is in the right frame of mind, he will play. He sent a very emotional message to the families of people involved in this crash, but he still played on Wednesday night and I think if he has recovered well physically and mentally I will play him.’

With news that Cazorla is out for three months owing to the operation he will now undergo, Wenger was asked directly whether he would be replaced in the January window, but he was happy enough with the competition we have in the middle of the park.

‘Not really, no. In midfield we have many players. There are two reasons – first of all we have the number and the quality and secondly, in the January transfer market, you will not necessarily find a Cazorla, even if you wanted to.’

In terms of team news and an injury update, Mohamed Elneny, Matthieu Debuchy, Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck featured in these conversations.

‘We have Mo Elneny who came out of our last game with sickness – I will test him today. (Debuchy) It`s a severe hamstring injury. Six weeks, I think. It`s frustrating for me, but even more for him because he fights very hard. He is a guy who has an exceptional attitude and is very serious. Overall, I think that he is absolutely disappointed, but he is as well a fighter and he will fight to come back.’

As for Giroud, he added.

‘I thought that Giroud might be available for Saturday, but he might not be available for tomorrow. Certainly for Tuesday, he will be available.’

And finally, he confirmed that although Welbeck was now back in training, he had plenty of work to do fitness wise before he could come into contention.

‘It`s great, but he is at least four weeks away from playing a game.’

Arsenal Blogger
Join The Vital Debate