Tuesday 25 October 2016

Arsene Wenger eyes cup tonic in derby clash

Boss will field a strong Gunners team at Spurs

Arsenal Wenger has called on his Arsenal players to lay down a marker for the rest of the season in tonight’s League Cup clash with North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur
Arsenal Wenger has called on his Arsenal players to lay down a marker for the rest of the season in tonight’s League Cup clash with North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has called on his players to put their recent frustrations behind them by knocking local rivals Tottenham out of the League Cup at White Hart Lane tonight.

The Gunners go into the north London derby on the back of successive defeats, losing 2-0 at Chelsea following the away loss in their Champions League opener to Dinamo Zagreb.

Wenger believes his men were on the victims of some rough justice in both matches, seeing forward Olivier Giroud sent off in Croatia while there were controversial red cards for both defender Gabriel and midfielder Santi Cazorla at Stamford Bridge following Saturday's fiery Premier League encounter.

The Arsenal manager, though, hopes having another big showdown can help his players get back on track.


"I believe we were unfortunate in Zagreb to have a man sent off, and at Chelsea as well, but you want your players to behave in a perfect way and not to show any response at all," Wenger said.

"We have shown our frustration a little bit in both situations and you cannot afford that."

Wenger continued: "We want to get back into winning habits and that is why the momentum is even more important for us.

"Every single game that you play with Arsenal you want to win, especially this one which is a bit more special because it is always a big meaning."

Tottenham beat Crystal Palace 1-0 on Sunday to move into ninth place, and just a point behind Arsenal.

Wenger has been impressed by the development of Mauricio Pochettino's squad.

"They had a slow start but since then they have had two good wins, so that will have boosted their confidence," the Gunners boss said. "It makes you think it will be a very even game tomorrow."

Wenger suggested he would not be intending to blood too many youngsters at White Hart Lane, with Alex Iwobi and Glen Kamara perhaps the most likely to be promoted to the senior squad.

"We go game by game, so I will make changes, for sure. How many? I have not decided yet," said Wenger,

"It will be quite an experienced squad with one or two younger players."

While Gabriel and Cazorla are suspended, centre-back Per Mertesacker is available again following illness.

Defensive midfielder Francis Coquelin picked up a knee problem during the first half at Chelsea. Wenger said: "His knee is swollen and he is being assessed, but we hope it is just a short term problem."

Meanwhile, David Seaman believes the signing of Petr Cech could give Arsenal the consistency they need to mount a sustained title challenge.

The 33-year-old was Wenger's only signing during a quiet transfer window at the Emirates Stadium as the Arsenal boss looked to find a goalkeeper he could fully trust.

He may sit out tonight's cup clash against Tottenham, but he has been backed by former Gunners number one Seaman as a man who can turn the club into bona fide championship contenders.

"It is a problem solved for Arsene," Seaman said. "You have got a goalkeeper there with great quality, great experience and who commands immediate respect from the Arsenal players for what he has done in the game."

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