Evening all. Arsene Wenger held his pre-West Brom press conference this morning, as we look forward to the return of Premier League football in a couple of days’ time.
Team news is that Hector Bellerin is fit and available again after missing both our trip to Bayern Munich and the home encounter with Tottenham before the international break.
But Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain won’t won’t be risked for the Hawthorns, with the boss saying the pair should be available from Monday. And on Theo Walcott, Tomas Rosicky, Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck, he said:
He (Walcott) is doing well, he could be a bit ahead of schedule but still you count a few weeks more while Rosicky, Wilshere, Welbeck will be later.
Following the tragic events of late last week in Paris, Laurent Koscielny was visibly emotional on Tuesday evening as England hosted France at Wembley, and when Arsene was asked if his defender would be in the right frame of mind to play this weekend, he said:
I will talk with him. It’s a big game for us. I have not talked to him yet, but I will talk to him to see if he’s completely recovered and focused.
Arsene also remarked that he thought Laurent was a different player against England from the one he saw enjoy a fine performance against Germany on Friday. He followed up by saying that every player needs to be completely focused on the task at hand in the Premier League, so if there is any doubt at all in Laurent’s mind that he’s ready, the boss won’t select him.
Obviously only the player himself can say how he’s feeling but it’s reassuring to know we have a well-rested Per Mertesacker and Gabriel, in case that’s the partnership we need to go with.
Moving on and there have been reports over the past few days that Alexis Sanchez was nearing an agreement on an extension to his contract with the club and that Mesut Ozil would follow suit shortly. But Arsene revealed today that although he’ll sit down with the pair in the coming months, no negotiations have yet begun with either player:
We have not started to talk about that (a new contract) with Mesut. We are in the same situation (with Alexis). At the end of the year they have two-and-a-half years left on their contract so we still have some time. We are not in a hurry. Of course we want them to stay here at the club and we will start the negotiations at some stage. At the moment we have not started them.
Reassuringly however, Arsene suggested there would be no repeat of players running there contracts down to the last year like Robin van Persie or Samir Nasri, or to it’s end like Bacary Sagna, because the club was ‘in a stronger position to negotiate.’
Finally for today, the boss was asked what he made of Saturday’s opponents West Brom, and said:
I watched them against Man United and they looked a very well organised team which is absolutely – as always with Tony Pulis – fully committed. 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. 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.
I’ll be honest, I’ve paid next to no attention to how West Brom have performed so far this season but they have some dangerous attackers and will no doubt prove highly organised opposition.
That said, we’ve been sensational on our travels in the league so far this term so, as always, I’m confident we can secure all three points.
Back with more on Friday.