Wenger to confront difficult choices

Arsenal's French players Olivier Giroud (top) and Laurent Koscielny will be assessed by Wenger prior to the West Brom match today to check if they are mentally ready to play.
Arsenal's French players Olivier Giroud (above) and Laurent Koscielny will be assessed by Wenger prior to the West Brom match today to check if they are mentally ready to play.
Arsenal's French players Olivier Giroud (top) and Laurent Koscielny will be assessed by Wenger prior to the West Brom match today to check if they are mentally ready to play.
Arsenal's French players Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny (above) will be assessed by Wenger prior to the West Brom match today to check if they are mentally ready to play.

LONDON • Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes that it is pointless looking at the Premier League table as his side prepare to face 13th-placed West Bromwich Albion away today.

Arsenal are unbeaten in six league games while Tony Pulis' men have suffered back-to-back defeats, including a 0-2 loss at Old Trafford before the international break. But the Frenchman is expecting a tough match at the Hawthorns, where he has a number of key late assessments to make.

"I watched them against (Manchester) United and they looked a very well-organised team which is absolutely fully committed," Wenger told a press conference.

"On top of that they are in a difficult situation a little bit in the Premier League and you expect what you always expect in the Premier League - a committed, physical, fast game and a game where we cannot afford to make any mistakes.

  • England unites for French tribute

  • LONDON • "La Marseillaise" will drift out across Premier League stadiums this weekend as English football continues its show of solidarity with France over last week's devastating terror attacks in Paris.

    English football's top flight has a French contingent of 72 players and two managers who are still reeling from the shock of the attacks.

    In the history of the Premier League, no nation has more non-English players in the competition than France.

    AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

"I would even say that you don't even look at the table any more because you know what you get.

"The difference between the teams has narrowed and today it is more about how much can you be close to your best which will decide the result, more than the team you play against."

Arsenal will almost certainly be without their best XI. Wenger will check on the mental state of France pair Laurent Koscielny and Olivier Giroud before the clash to see if they are still in shock after last week's terrorist attacks in Paris.

He will also have to decide whether he can afford to rest Alexis Sanchez despite the club's injury problems, with Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, Tomas Rosicky, Jack Wilshere, and Danny Welbeck all on the injury list.

Sanchez played the full 90 minutes for Chile in both World Cup qualifiers against Colombia and Uruguay despite calf pain and an appearance today would be his 30th game for both club and country this campaign.

The forward has not had a full off-season in two years, leading Chile to the Copa America title last summer. And his all-action game seems to have taken a toll as he has not scored in more than a month.

But despite playing eight times in 31 days, Sanchez is keen to keep going. "Hello Gunners. Now focused on Arsenal, my home. Come on Saturday," the 26-year-old wrote on Instagram.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2015, with the headline 'Wenger to confront difficult choices'. Print Edition | Subscribe