Arsene Wenger gave his regular pre-match press conference and while many of the questions were focussed on his relationship with Jose Mourinho, he did talk about a few other things. The boss seemed confident about his side’s chances on Saturday, if a little bit uncertain about which players will actually be fit. As always, we have the transcript in full (via Arsenal.com).
Matchday: Team News – Predicted Lineup – Betting Preview
Match: Manchester United Arsenal
Stadium: Old Trafford
Kick-Off (GMT): Sat 19 Nov 12:30
How much do you know about Alexis’ fitness?
Not a lot, we were in doubt 24 hours before the game against Uruguay, we didn’t know if he’d play and in the end they decided to play him. He texts us back that he’s in good shape after the game, came off after 84 minutes but then we have to wait. I see him tomorrow and see if he can be involved in the squad or not.
What will you Consider when deciding whether to play him?
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What I would consider is the risk of injury because he played with a hamstring injury, and the way he feels as well. You depend a lot on the honesty of the players, how they feel, how they’ll recover.
The latest on Hector Bellerin and Santi Cazorla
Hector is out for four weeks, he got injured in the last 10 seconds against Spurs after a strong tackle from Danny Rose. Cazorla is still out, I don’t know for how long but he’s still not out in training.
Thoughts on facing Man United
We go into a period of big games one after the other. The way we play these types of games will be very important in our position in the league and our ambitions. We are in a very strong run, 16 unbeaten games, we had a little hiccup against Tottenham at home and we want to get back to winning our games and that’s what we’ll try to do on Saturday.
Was it the right decision for Alexis to play for Chile?
It’s very difficult for me to make a definite assessment on that because I don’t know how bad his injury was. You have to trust the medical people from Chile. I understand completely that Alexis wanted to play, these are qualifiers they aren’t friendly games. Chile is 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 a big game.
After that, November is a difficult period because it’s the first time where players have played many games. Most of the time it’s a decisive period in the Champions League because it’s game number 5, for most of the club it’s a very important game. In the Championship the first decisive games can turn up so it’s a period where you can pay a heavy price. Last year we lost important players in November for long periods.
Arsenal’s international players travelled further than Manchester United’s did. Will that have an impact?
I don’t think so, I believe that it’s not down to how many miles you make but more to how many good passes you make, and I don’t think a few miles more will stop you from doing that and how you fight together and how much we reconnect. The most important part is the mental. When the players have been away they’ve been under pressure with their national team and to reconnect with the club is the most difficult part.
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.
Will there be a handshake?
Of course, I respect the ritual that is so important in the Premier League.
Is this a good opportunity to get your first Premier League win over Mourinho?
We didn’t lose always, we have beaten them and there were many draws. I think I’ve won against every manager in the world during my 20 years here. I do not think of these games as a competition between two managers, it’s a competition between two teams and two clubs. I can understand that people want to create controversy but it’s not that which makes the audience, what will make the audience is the quality of the game. We have seen a few games since the start of the season that didn’t respond completely to the expectations of a match between the two teams. I think it’s important that it’s a top level game because it will be watched all over the world and 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 on the pitch.
10 years since a Premier League win at Old Trafford
It will strengthen our belief like every big game, it strengthens your belief when you win it. It’s not, some wins have been decisive at old Trafford but this will just be a strengthening of our position in the league and what we want to achieve.
Are you surprised to see them so far down the league?
No, because they are not so far. With a few three pointers things can change quickly, we have only played 11 games. I believe that none of the big clubs is definitely in and nobody is definitely out of the race.
Certainly they would prefer to play him but we have players out too. The guy who beat us last time was Rashford so let’s not speculate on any weakness of Man United. In 2016 we have lost one away game and it was at Old Trafford. That was a key game for us and that’s where we did not respond with the quality of the performance on the day. We did not only lose the game, that was one of the few away games in the whole year where our performance was not at the level so we want to focus on that and respond with a strong performance. We have to accept the result but what will be very important to me is responding with a strong performance on Saturday.
Did Rashford take you by surprise?
Yes of course, because I watched him against a Danish team in midweek and he scored and I could see straight away that this guy was dangerous. His movement was good, the way he got to the box was strong. But yes it took me by surprise because nobody knew him
Players drinking, have things changed during your time in England?
Yeah of course.
Advice to young players
Just to follow the instructions of their managers and their coaches
What instructions are those?
We have all been young, I think you have all been as well. I believe that it’s part of the youth to make mistakes and after that, analyse well. All the players who’ve made big careers have that ability. They make mistakes but after they make an assessment of the situation and react in a positive way.
Survey season tickets
I believe that we don’t have the most expensive average price so you have to be careful how you present that. For 4/5 years we haven’t increased the price of our tickets. Everybody at the club is concerned that we allow people in who are less rich as well. We are as well in a system that we do not master. When the wages go up at clubs like Manchester City and Manchester United or any other club, we are accused of losing our players to these clubs because we do not pay their wages that the players demand so we are in a system where we have to live with the demands of the players.
Do you have the upper hand over Mourinho?
I think it’s Arsenal against Manchester United and we have all won and lost games on both sides. You do not consider that you play against the manager, you play against the team. Analyse their strengths and weaknesses and that’s it.
9 point gap with a win
I consider more our position in the league than the difference that we can make with Man United. For us it’s a very important game because in the league we had an opportunity to go top against Spurs which we didn’t take and we want to respond straight away with a positive result.