Growing injury list concerns Wenger

LONDON • Even as Laurent Koscielny could return for tomorrow's North London derby, Arsene Wenger is worried that Arsenal's injury list will hamper their chances of winning a first Premier League title since 2004.

The Gunners manager is currently without eight first-team players ahead of the clash with Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates, although Wenger rated Koscielny's chances of returning to the starting line-up at 80 per cent.

Yet, with first-team players Hector Bellerin, Danny Welbeck, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky all sidelined, the Frenchman is worried ahead of the hectic festive period.

"I'm very concerned because we are only in November and we have so many players out," Wenger told a press conference yesterday, adding that he can only assess his side's title prospects at Christmas.

DEFENSIVELY SOUND

They are a side who are strong defensively. They play in a committed way. They have done well. They have lost only one game. ''

ARSENE WENGER, Arsenal manager

YOUNG AND SPIRITED

It is very difficult to play Thursday and Sunday. We have a young squad that runs a lot. I'm not complaining. It is not an excuse. ''

MAURICIO POCHETTINO, Tottenham manager, after Thursday's Europa League win over Anderlecht

Arsenal have 10 fixtures in the Premier League and Champions League between now and the New Year, including games against leaders Manchester City, and must-win Champions League matches against Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiakos. And Wenger is not ready to give up hope of emerging from Group F in Europe despite Wednesday's 1-5 midweek loss to Bayern Munich.

"I want to stay in the Champions League and will do absolutely everything to stay in it," he said.

"From one competition to the other, I believe we have a strong confidence and we want to reproduce it on Sunday against Tottenham.

"It is a derby where the commitments and nerves will be important. They are a side who are strong defensively. They play in a committed way. They have done well. They have lost only one game."

Spurs' chances will be boosted by the fact that both Harry Kane and Mousa Dembele have begun finding the back of the net.

Midfielder Dembele has three goals in his last three games, including his winner against Anderlecht in the Europa League. Kane, who also scored in the 2-1 victory on Thursday, now has five in his last three games.

Wenger praised the England international but admitted that he will never sign Kane - or another Spurs player.

"He has great qualities and he will make a great career," said the Frenchman, whose one and only purchase from White Hart Lane was defender Sol Campbell in 2001.

  • Arsenal’s walking wounded

    Defenders
    Laurent Koscielny (hip)
    Hector Bellerin (groin strain)

    Midfielders
    Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hamstring)
    Aaron Ramsey (hamstring)
    Jack Wilshere (calf/shin)
    Tomas Rosicky (knee)

    Forwards
    Danny Welbeck (knee)
    Theo Walcott (calf muscle)

Kane and his team-mates will have little time to catch their breath after Thursday's exploits. But Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino says his side will cope with the short turnaround.

"I don't want to put any ideas out there that they have an advantage, but it is very difficult to play Thursday and Sunday," Pochettino told reporters after the win over Anderlecht put Spurs top of Group J.

"We have a young squad that runs a lot. I'm not complaining. It is not an excuse. We will be ready to compete and try to win the game."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 07, 2015, with the headline 'Growing injury list concerns Wenger'. Print Edition | Subscribe