Arsene Wenger has given his regular pre-match press conference ahead of this weekend’s clash against Chelsea. The Boss spoke about team news, Mourinho’s book, and what he expects from Conte’s Chelsea. As always we have the full transcript here (via Arsenal.com).
Match: Arsenal v Chelsea
Stadium: Emirates Stadium
Kick Off (GMT): Sat 24 Sep 17:30
Aaron Ramsey is still struggling with his hamstring. I don’t think he’ll be available for our next game against Basel or at Burnley. Before the break he will not be available.
Players’ reaction to competition
Very well. It’s always difficult to pick my team because everybody’s doing well. You have seen that again against Nottingham Forest. It’s positive, we have a balanced mature squad where there is a fight for every single position.
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Significance of Chelsea match
It is an important game for us because we feel we are on the way up. Chelsea is a good test, a good opportunity for us to continue our progress.
Giroud ahead of schedule?
Yes, a little bit. I thought he would be short for tomorrow but we’ll see how he comes out of today’s training session.
Yes, we had a few disappointments, he was close to joining in but every time he is not completely right, he’s not far but we have to be cautious with him.
Are you concerned?
Not really, it’s nothing major. I’m a bit more cautious than I would normally be. If he was ready to play I would involve him in the squad of course, but he is not.
He’s doing well, he has started in a very strong way, after that they had little bit slowing down against Swansea then of course they had the big game against Liverpool which they lost. But I think Liverpool had a strong start and then they nearly came back in the second half. He has done well
Rivalry mellowed after Mourinho?
Not really. Honestly for me it was just a big game, an important game. The personal rivalry that you suggest existed before, it was never in my head, it was never a concern, it’s a big game. Chelsea in the past10 years has had strong teams, you realise that today as well. Before that period we were always beating them, after that they were always the stronger team for a few years. Now it looks like it is a new era where it is a bit more balanced again and we have a good opportunity to grab and change the inconvenient facts of the recent years.
Mourinho saying he wants to break your face
Look I haven’t read the book and I certainly won’t read it so I cannot comment on that. I talk about football and that is all I do, I’m not in a destructive mode never, I’m more constructive so I cannot comment on that. I’m focussed on tomorrow’s game and on the way we want to play football.
Has Xhaka done enough to start?
We had a good game at Hull and we had a good game at Nottingham Forest. Everybody at the moment deserves to start the game and to be in the squad so I will decide that today.
How important is discipline tomorrow?
We talk about that because in the last two games we played against Chelsea with ten men and so of course for the result tomorrow it will be important the way we play football but as well the way we behave. Discipline and results are strongly linked. The regrets we had in the last two games is that we couldn’t play with 11 players.
Why has the gulf narrowed between the clubs?
I would like to think that we have improved. That’s what we have to show. Last year we finished second in the year and the first team was Leicester, we have narrowed the difference between us and all the other teams. It’s a new start, a new opportunity for everybody and we have to show that we can continue our progress.
How different is Conte’s Chelsea?
They have always come to the Emirates with a strong defensive solidity and to catch us on the break because they know we like to take the initiative. Conte has very strong players in transition like Hazard, Willian, Diego Costa and certainly for us to stop them three players from being dangerous will be one of the keys to the game.
Are you worried that Ramsey’s strain could be a tear?
He has a small grade one, hamstring, but he is not completely free in his mind to push completely so we stop him every time when he has a little pain. He’s in the last, last, last days of his rehab as long as he is not completely comfortable we don’t push him.
Will he go with Wales?
I don’t think so.
How do you cope with Diego Costa?
By being completely cold blooded and just focus on the game and not respond. Just try to eliminate his qualities and his game. You need to be committed but by respecting the rules of the game and by not responding. I believe last year we were a bit unlucky at Chelsea to be down to 10 men, because he got a red card after, he was suspended after but in the second game we deserved the red card yeah because we were caught by a quality run from him.
Sir Alex Rivalry ending cordially, will Mourinho be the same?
It always finishes like that. Look, I do not want to especially comment because we play Chelsea tomorrow. I respect everybody in our game and I don’t feel I comment a lot on other teams, sometimes maybe I say what I think but that’s part of the way I am
Reaction to Mourinho wanting to punch you
What is amazing is that this has nothing to do with our game tomorrow. I personally am just focussed on doing my job and on respecting everybody else
Will we have to wait for your book?
I don’t know, I will maybe make a book one day but I am not ready for that yet.