Date: 17th November 2016 at 1:06pm
Written by:

Manager Arsene Wenger has now met with the media ahead of this weekend’s game against Manchester United, and there’s Jose Mourinho talk, as well as an injury update.

Meeting with the wider media and press as he spoke to the Official Site in his pre game press conference, plenty of topics featured as they always do – and some topics definitely featured given his relationship with the ‘no longer special one’.

Of course questions opened with a Mourinho angle, and the always asked will hands be shaken.

‘Look, I don`t think I have to describe our relationship. He will fight for his team and I will fight for my team and I think that`s completely normal. (Handshake) Of course. I respect the ritual that is so important in the Premier League.’

With United struggling and plenty of stories emanating from Old Trafford thesedays about one thing or another, he was asked if this was the ‘best chance’ to beat a Mourinho team.

‘You know, we didn`t lose always. We have beaten them and there were many draws as well. I think I have won against every manager in the world during my 20 years here and I do not make of this game a competition between two managers. It`s between two clubs and two teams and I think I can understand that people want to create controversy, but it`s not that that makes the audience. What will make the audience is the quality of the game.’

Moving onto questions about big games so far this year, expectations and performances.

‘We have seen a few games since the start of the season where we didn`t respond completely to the expectation level between two big teams, and I think it`s important that it`s a top level game because that will be watched all over the world. For the reputation of the Premier League, it`s important that the quality of the game is good. That will be down to the players who are on the pitch. I think it is Arsenal against Man United and we have all won and lost games on both sides. You do not consider you play against a manager, you play against a team and you analyse the strengths and the weaknesses and that is it.’

With Wayne Rooney hitting the headlines of late, questions about alcohol came up and Wenger confirmed there was less of an alcohol culture compared to when he moved to England, and he also had his own advice for players.

‘Just to follow the instructions of their managers and their coaches. We have all been young, we have not all been angels at 20 or 21 but overall I believe it is part of youth to make mistakes and after that analyse it well. All the players who make big careers have that quality, a good assessment. All the big players make mistakes but after they have a good assessment of the situation and they address it in a positive way.’

As for injury news, unfortunately Hector Bellerin has been ruled out for a month, and Santi Cazorla is missing for this match as well.

‘Hector is out for four weeks. He got injured in the last 10 seconds against Spurs after a very strong tackle by Danny Rose.’

Adding.

Cazorla is still out. I don`t know exactly how long for. He`s still not even out in training yet.’

With questions following about Alexis Sanchez, Wenger confirmed that he did have a minor hamstring issue ahead of the international break, and he will be fully assessed following his two goals against Uruguay, but the player himself had texted to say he felt fine following the game.

‘I haven`t heard a lot because we were in doubt 24 hours before the game against Uruguay. We didn`t know if he`d play or not. In the end they decided to play him. He texted us to tell us he`s in good shape after the game. He came off after 84 minutes and now we have to wait. I see him tomorrow [Friday] morning and then I will see if he can be involved in the squad or not. What I will consider is the risk of injury because he played while recovering from a hamstring injury. I`ll consider the way he feels as well. On that front you depend on the honesty of the player, how they feel and how they recover.’

Asked whether there was a problem with Chile’s decision to play him, Wenger played down such talk, insisting he understood their decision.

‘You have to trust the medical people from Chile. I completely understand that Alexis wanted to play in qualifiers – they`re not friendlies. Chile are not in a fantastic position to qualify for the World Cup and I understand that Alexis is keen to play for his country in such an important game. After that, for us it`s a difficult period in November because it`s the first time when some of the players have played many games. Most of the time it`s a decisive period in the Champions League because it`s game No 5 and, for most of the clubs it`s a very important time in the Champions League. In the Premier League, the first decisive games are also coming up so you have to pay a price. We lost important players in November for long periods last year.’

Finally, and more specifically on United themselves, he admitted Marcus Rashford proved a surprise last time round and he again conceded the side were well below par in our trip to Old Trafford last February, but it’s a result he’s looking to right.

‘In 2016 we lost one away game and that was at Old Trafford. On top of that, it was a key game for us and that is where we did not respond with the quality of performance on the day. We did not only lose the game, but that`s maybe one of the few away games in the whole year where the performance was not at the level. So we want to focus on that and respond with a strong performance and after that we have to accept the result. But what will be very important for me is that we respond with a strong performance on Saturday.’

Despite Zlatan Ibrahimovic being missing through suspension for this game, Wenger knows we can’t assume that means the game will be any easier.

‘Look, certainly they would prefer to have him but, let`s not forget, last year the guy who killed us was Rashford. So let`s not speculate on any weakness of Man United. Yes of course (Rashford a surprise) but to me less because I watched him against a Danish team and he scored and I could see straight away that this guy could be dangerous. On crosses his movement was good, the way he moved in the box was strong. He took everyone by surprise because no one knew him in England.’

Arsenal Blogger
Join The Vital Debate