Date: 22nd November 2016 at 9:07pm
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Arsenal host Paris Saint-Germain at the Emirates Stadium at 7.45pm later this evening, and Arsene Wenger has been giving his thoughts ahead of the match.

Speaking to the Official Site in his pre game press conference ahead of the Champions League clash, there were a number of topics covered – would Alexis start, what was the team news and also his thoughts on Hector Bellerin signing his new long term deal at the club – bringing speculation of a return to Barcelona to an end.

As for Alexis and the potential for giving the Chile international a rest, Wenger explained.

‘He had a bandage before the Manchester United game because he had a little bit of tightness in his hamstring, but he was just checked before the game. I follow the instructions of the medical staff and of the player, and after I make my decision. If they declare him capable to play and he declares himself capable to play, I`ve never forced any player in my whole life to play. I`ve never demanded anyone to be injected to play. If a player says he`s 100 per cent, after I make my decision, do I play him or not? The suggestions that we pushed him to play when he`s not fit are completely wrong.’

Pressed on giving him a rest.

‘If I have a possibility, I would like to give a winter break to everybody. We just had the luxury to do it with Ozil, because Germany didn`t pick him. But Chile played qualifiers for the World Cup and in fact, Alexis didn`t play in the first game, so he had a little break when they played in Colombia and he didn`t play. He was not overloaded with games.’

As for Bellerin’s new deal being signed on Monday, Wenger agreed it sent a message out – mainly to the media to come up with a new name to bang on about.

‘It`s a long-term contract. It just sends out that the media will have to find a different name for somebody who wants to leave the club! Overall it shows that the players we have educated here are committed, and that`s what you want. When you give chances and educate young boys, when you give them a chance to play in the first team, you want them to commit to the club. That`s an important quality that we have at this club, so we are very happy when they commit.’

Bellerin is of course out of the game, and Wenger added.

‘It`s a problem because I would prefer that Bellerin is ready to play. But as well it`s an opportunity for the players that come in for him and they can show that they are at the level to perform in these kind of games.’

Whilst not quite ready yet for a return, Wenger said he was more than content with the competition at the club, and that included Mathieu Debuchy.

‘Look, Arsenal is one of the 10 biggest clubs in the world. You cannot think there is no competition. We are in a highly competitive world, we have chosen this job and we accept it. We cannot be pampered and think just it`s our right to be there. It`s competition, that`s what we want, that`s what we love and that`s what we go for and Mathieu Debuchy has a fantastic mentality. He`s a great competitor.’

In wider team teams the gaffer confirmed that everybody had recovered from the last match, and he didn’t expect any problems with Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey – although they were left on recovery for slightly longer.

He confirmed Lucas was back in training now and ahead of schedule, but he wouldn’t be in the squad for the game.

He said more on Cazorla.

‘At the moment I`ve given a little bit up on that, I don`t know how far he is. It looks to me that he`s making progress but as long as a player is not in full-time training with the squad, it`s very difficult to set targets. It`s not a big injury that will harm his future but it`s an inflammation at the back of his Achilles and it`s always very difficult on inflammations to give a set time.’

And Debuchy figured in this questioning as well.

‘He is close now. He played only 70 minutes in the under-23s, I was hesitating to include him tomorrow. But for me, still, it is not enough competition to say I can throw him in in a Champions League game with the intensity of one of those games, and that he will be comfortable. I think he still needs one or two weeks. If he gets through this week well, I think he will come back into the group.’

As for PSG more specifically, having already qualified from the Group, Wenger knows that’s a luxury but he wants to go through in style.

‘I believe that the two teams have done the job until now. We have done what was expected and we have done it away from home, now we can finish the job at home. Of course we want to do it. We played a draw there and it`s just down to us to win the game there. Topping the group would mean that we have done the job until the end in a convincing way. When you play 1-1 away from home and then you play at home it`s a luxury to be qualified after four games. Last year we had to battle until the end and this season we could finish the job after five games. That would mean we have done really well.’

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