Speaking at the press conference, manager Arsene Wenger said that Theo Walcott’s conduct during his injury period and rehabilitation has earned him extra respect. The Englishman recently started training after nine months on the sidelines, and even played in an Under-21 game last week, but Wenger chose to not risk him in tomorrow’s game, saying that he is content to wait a few more days.
He had a very difficult time. He’s a very polite and social guy, but behind that, he’s mentally strong as well.
For what he has gone through in the last nine months, you gain even more respect for him, because he had some difficult times and always responded very positively. He’s got a young baby, where they had some problems, but he has done extremely well.
In the same vein, the manager also praised midfielder Abou Diaby. The once promising player was struck down by a series of injuries that have seen him spend more time on the physio table than on the pitch. He made an appearance this season against Southampton in the League Cup, but is still not fully fit.
He [Diaby] is not in the squad because he has a small calf problem. He has little injuries at the moment, never anything bad, but he has been out for such a long time that when he plays it takes him a long time to recover.
It’s much worse for Abou because Theo has not gone through so many injuries. You wonder where Abou gets the strength back to come back and work harder and harder and harder.
When you come in in the morning he’s already in the gym to prepare. He has done extremely well – you cannot fault his attitude at all. You can only admire him for that. He is always in my mind. His first injury at Sunderland in the last minute – that was a huge blow in his career.
There was positive news however, in the form of Aaron Ramsey. The manager said that he was fully fit after a rest and was raring to go.
He had a good rest. Now we expect him to produce his performances that he produced last season. I think he is there and that will come naturally.
With the injury problems that Arsenal have suffered, some might question whether the gruelling schedule faced by the players is too much to handle. Arsenal played their last game on Wednesday, and will kick off against Sunderland a mere 65 hours after the game against Anderlecht.
However according to Wenger the schedule is acceptable and his team is ready to play.
It is not ideal [to play away from home again so soon] but it happens to the other clubs as well.
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There is no statistical proof at all that you make less points with only three days difference. [On the] contrary, on the European front it is the opposite.
Let us hope that Wenger is right and that Arsenal manage to record a win tomorrow to keep their title ambitions alive.