Arsene Wenger spoke today ahead of Saturday’s clash with Liverpool. He had words to say on who’s fit and who isn’t, Suarez, Sturridge, Bayern, and even Mourinho.
In regards to the team and who’s available for the trip to Anfield, it seems like there hasn’t been a huge amount of change in the last few days.
on the team news…
The team news is basically similar to the squad that was available in our last game against Crystal Palace. We might have Wilshere back and that’s basically it.
The news that Wilshere could be back would be a huge boost going into the game. Aside from Rosicky, our bench against Palace was lacking any real game changers. Even if he was only brought on late in the game, Jack could add that bit of impetus, energy, and urgency to the game.
on the boost of possibly having Wilshere back…
It’s important to have as many players back as possible in the squad. In the big games it is always decided by having the complete squad available. As many top players as possible because most of the time these games are decided by players who come on or strong players who have a big statement in a big game.
Towards the end of the Palace game there were fears over both the Ox and Arteta, having been struck with cramp and picking up a knock respectively. Alex appeared fine after the game however, and Wenger gave us an update on Mikel during the conference.
on Arteta, who was limping at the end of the Palace game…
Arsenal are so far the only team to prevent Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge from scoring when both start a game, and while this will possibly be a harder task at Anfield than it was at the Emirates, Wenger seemed confident in the team’s ability to do so when quizzed about it.
“[The key is] for us to dominate the game and leave them as few balls as possible,” said Wenger. “That will be one of our targets of course.
“At Liverpool the task might be a bit more difficult but the philosophy on our side has to be the same – to master the ball and to have the ball and to dominate the game.”
The team’s defensive displays this season have been outstanding, so if we can keep Suarez and Sturridge quiet, then I am fully confident we can put Liverpool to the sword.
Saturday’s game against Liverpool is the first in an extremely tricky run for Arsenal. With two games against Liverpool in the Premier League and FA Cup, visits from both Manchester United and Bayern Munich, and finally hosting an in form Sunderland side (all in the space of 14 days), starting off with a win becomes all the more important for the team’s confidence.
“When you’re in a good position to fight for something of course the closer you get to the end the more every game becomes vital,” Wenger said. “In a cup game it’s decisive but in the Premiership now every point is important so it’s a massive month for us.
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“We did fight very hard until now to be in this position so let’s just enjoy it and give our best. I’m sure we will.
“Mentally we are prepared and we have shown a great response throughout the season when we had difficulties. Physically we are prepared as well.
“It depends how many injuries we have because we need to rotate and it’s important that we have as many players available as we can. Big injuries can of course question the end of the season.”
Wenger was questioned about recent comments made by Mourinho, the Chelsea boss clearly playing mind games with his fellow managers. Wenger clearly knew this, and didn’t want to be drawn into any kind of war of words with the Portuguese manager.
on Mourinho saying Chelsea are a ‘little horse’ in the title race…
I don’t know, they are in there. It is easy to move out if you don’t want! I just think they are in there, of course. We focus on our side and do not listen too much to what people say. What is important is that it is a period where you show up with good performances.
He also had a small amount to say regarding our opponents in the Champions League, Bayern Munich.
on changing focus from the Premier League to Europe…
We have gone for a policy that is to just take care of the next game, because the confidence level is so important to go into the big games that you want to build your strength up by winning every single game. That’s just what we want to do. After, we don’t really look at what kind of competition it is at the moment, because we know, in the situation we are in, the most important thing is to win our next game.
on looking at Bayern’s results…
Of course I look at their results and how they behave, but not more than that. That will become more intense when we get closer to that game. At the moment it is just of interest, of course I look at them.
It’s good that he’s keeping not only himself grounded, but the players too. We are in a fantastic position in several competitions, but if we don’t keep our focus it could easily all slip away from us.
While we can’t ignore the upcoming games against United and Bayern, or our rivals in the League and their performances, our focus must be on Liverpool and getting through the season one game at a time. Given our position in the League at the moment, you could say that it’s still ours to lose.
The important information that can be gathered from Wenger’s words, are that there are no new injuries ahead of the weekend, and that Wilshere could be back in the picture. Let’s hope that a few of our other injury plagued players join him soon, in time for some of our important upcoming fixtures, and to aid us in our push for the rest of the season.