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Friday 17 August 2018

Wenger dismisses Henry claim of rift at Arsenal

Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez. Pic: PA
Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez. Pic: PA

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has dismissed claims by Thierry Henry that there are signs of a divide in his squad.

Henry, Arsenal's all-time leading goalscorer, made the comments in his role as a pundit on Sky Sports after it was noticeable that only a few of Alexis Sanchez's team-mates celebrated his goals with him in the 3-2 victory at Crystal Palace.

The Chile international appeared annoyed by this and even beckoned them over to join him - to no avail.

Henry suggested it was a sign that all is not well at the club but Wenger has refuted the comments, saying his former captain cannot be insightful all the time.

"I don't know, I don't listen to what he says and other people says," said Wenger ahead of tomorrow night's Premier League showdown with Chelsea at the Emirates.

"We focus on our own problems, that's the only thing.

"There are people who are paid to talk, it's difficult sometimes when you are paid to talk, to talk, to talk and only say things that are true and intelligent."

It was Sanchez's deflected free-kick which brought Arsenal's goal at West Brom on Sunday and this time every outfield player celebrated with him.

It was not enough for all three points, though, as a controversial penalty meant Arsenal had to settle for just one point after Calum Chambers was adjudged to have handled a cross by former Gunners full-back Kieran Gibbs.

Nerve

Referee Mike Dean pointed to the penalty spot and Jay Rodriguez held his nerve to convert the last-minute spot-kick to ensure it finished 1-1.

Petr Cech was one of several Arsenal players to question the decision and the goalkeeper was not impressed by Dean's handling of the situation.

He said: "I'm just disappointed. I expect, when I walk towards the referee with respect and ask him a question, I would like him to answer me in a normal way and not give me a yellow card and say nothing."

Meanwhile, Antonio Conte believes Chelsea's new year can be even better than their last after they finished 2017 by hammering Stoke 5-0.

Chelsea won the title in May and reached the FA Cup final but their hopes of defending their Premier League crown look all-but over given Manchester City's blistering form this term. Even if City's lead proves unassailable, however, Chelsea remain in contention in the League Cup, FA Cup and Champions League. As a result, Conte is optimistic for the year ahead.

"It was a fantastic year," Conte said. "To win the title in England is not simple. To be able to do this at your first chance, I will remember this year in my mind forever.

"But we are still involved in the Carabao Cup where we play against Arsenal. Last year we were eliminated in the second round against West ham.

"At the same time we reached the final of the FA Cup and it won't be easy to repeat this. In February we restart the Champions League against Barcelona. I think we have a lot of great games to face."

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