Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is convinced his squad can quickly recover from their Champions League humiliation at Bayern Munich by beating Tottenham but admits the growing injury crisis is a concern. The Gunners were thumped 5-1 at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday night to leave hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages slim.
Although center half Laurent Koscielny is expected to be available for Sunday’s north London derby following a hip problem, and goalkeeper David Ospina could also be in the squad after shoulder trouble, Wenger confirmed right back Hector Bellerin would not be featuring until at least after the international break because of a groin injury.
Captain Mikel Arteta faces a late fitness test on his ankle, but forward Theo Walcott, midfielders Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky and forward Danny Welbeck all continue their rehabilitation.
“I am very concerned, honestly, because we are only in November and we have so many players out knowing we go into the Christmas period soon,” said Wenger. “At the moment we have too many players out.”
Wenger, though, believes the side he will be able to select on Sunday can continue the form which has seen Arsenal move level on points with leaders Manchester City in the Premier League standings following five successive victories:
“It was a disappointing result on Wednesday night, but before that we did extremely well in the Premier League so we will try to continue from one competition from the other …
“I believe that in the Premier League we have a strong confidence and focus and that is what we want to reproduce on Sunday against Tottenham. It is always a game where the commitment and nervous force will be important.”
Ramsey suffered his injury during the home tie against Bayern on Oct. 20. Wenger suggested the midfielder had been ‘overloaded’ during the last round of Euro 2016 qualifiers, when Wales had secured their place at the finals. Wales boss Chris Coleman this week hit back at what he saw as a “cheap shot” from the French coach, who did not call him up directly about the issue and also questioned the decision to play Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale when there was little riding on the game against Andorra.
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Wenger, though, sees no reason to become embroiled in a war of words with the former Fulham manager:
“I didn’t blame anybody. I just said that it would make common sense to not use Bale or Ramsey once they were qualified and bring them on with 20 minutes to go to greet everybody and (say) ‘thank you’.
“It would have helped the clubs and it is just an opinion. I don’t believe there was anything spectacular or a desire to blame anybody.”
Wenger added: “I said as well in that press conference that I cannot call all the managers.
“I think we analyze the reasons why our players get injured and you always think that in a period like that, if a player can have one game less it is not bad.”
Despite their shortcomings in Europe, Arsenal remain in fine domestic form since defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in mid-September, blowing away Manchester United 3-0 during their recent hot streak. While some may be talking up hopes of a first title since the Invincibles of 2003-04, Wenger intends to take things one match at a time:
“(Title talk) is not too much pressure, it is just too early.
“I would like that kind of pressure but it’s too early – we have played 11 games and have 25 points.
“If there are five or six games to go, or 10 games to go, then yes, but now it is too early. We want to be in the fight of course and will give absolutely everything to do it.”
Wenger added: “At Christmas, yes, you start to see better.
“I believe we have a chance, but it is now down to consistency and to turn up in every single game with top-level focus.”
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