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Friday 15 December 2017

Wenger must deal with Wilshere and Sanchez blows ahead of North London derby

Alexis Sanchez.
Alexis Sanchez.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will again be left to deflect questions over off-field issues when he faces the media ahead of tomorrow's north-London derby against Tottenham after photos of Jack Wilshere holding a shisha pipe at a nightclub were posted on social media.

Wilshere appeared to hit back at his critics yesterday, when he posted on Instagram a video of himself in training as he recovers from ankle surgery along with the message: "Worry about your character not your reputation, because your character is who you are and your reputation is only what people who don't know you think about you!"

The Gunners are to seek clarification from Wilshere over the circumstances of the incident, which is understood to have happened during a night out with friends in central London last week.

A picture of Wilshere was uploaded to Instagram, before being removed and replaced with an edited version where only the face of the Arsenal player is visible in the background.

However, the original snap, where the England international held the shisha pipe, was then subsequently reposted on Twitter, sparking much debate across social media as to the player's behaviour ahead of the north London derby.

Arsenal take a dim view on players smoking. In January, goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was hit with a £25,000 fine after it emerged he lit up in the showers following the 2-0 defeat at Southampton on New Year's Day, since when the Pole has not started a Premier League match.

The latest revelations around Wilshere - criticised in the past for two high-profile incidents of being pictured with a cigarette, the previous occasion while on holiday in Las Vegas last summer with England goalkeeper Joe Hart following the 2014 World Cup.

Leading scorer Alexis Sanchez will again be out because of a hamstring injury which saw him miss the 5-0 win over Aston Villa, but England forward Danny Welbeck is in line to make a return after being out since December 28 with a thigh problem.

Wenger confirmed: "Alexis is not ready. He is not far away, the Leicester game is a possibility. He is of course very difficult to keep quiet. He is training, but it's light training."

Wenger added Wilshere was set to be "back in full training next week."

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