Arsene Wenger was in positive mood ahead of Saturdays North London Derby.
Whilst playing down the importance of the fixture he remarked on the passion, energy and emotion that’s associated with the local derby, emphasising his players need to remain tactically and technically focused. Wenger pointed to a good team dynamic, the arrivals of Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan having provided hope and a timely boost at a crucial juncture in the season.
He attempted to deflect the attention away from Spurs, insisting his main focus was on gaining ground in the table, prioritising the race for top 4 and Champions League football.
Commenting on Arsenal’s poor away form this season, Wenger mentioned the frustration of losing games despite 75% possession and the affect an accumulation of bad luck and poor refereeing decisions have had, referencing Watford & West Brom games in particular. Wenger intimated that it has affected them mentally, with mistakes against Bournemouth and Swansea testament to that.
Playing at Wembley shouldn’t be a factor in the game citing Arsenal’s recent impressive record there and the comfort of familiar surroundings.
After accusations of diving in recent weeks, Wenger, without mentioning any names, answered on how the trend has changed from foreign players to “The English have learnt very quickly and maybe they are the masters now.”
Wenger, insisted he doesn’t encourage his players to dive, however shifted the onus on the referee to decide how far you can go.
Wenger faces a challenge in fitting all his star players into the team, Alex Lacazette missed out last week and was clearly not happy.
Wenger stated that Lacazette would have made an appearance if not for the injury to Cech.
Asked about Harry Kane, Wenger was reserved in his praise saying only that his goal return was good and that they hope to keep him quiet on the pitch. He instead shifted the attention to Arsenal’s attacking talent claiming they are “Top class in Europe”.
When quizzed about his counterpart, Mauricio Pochettino, Wenger commented that he has proven his talent since he arrived in the Premier League.
On reports of a leaked dossier prepared by Newport County Manager and detailing Spurs’ weaknesses, Wenger swiftly reacted – “I will call him as soon as I come out of the press conference”.
Arsene Wenger provided an injury update ahead of the game; Danny Welbeck may return to the squad but Petr Cech is doubtful and unsure if he’ll be available for selection. On a positive note, one of Arsenal’s most consistent performers this season, Nacho Monreal is fit again and available for selection.
"I believe that when one day I look back, certainly I will be very proud of what I have done."-Arsene Wenger pic.twitter.com/LY0pkK8Gh7— Danny WelBeast (@WelBeast) April 21, 2018
Passion, respect and success- that is what Arsene Wenger is all about. Thank u for what you've done for us at @Arsenal and the football world. ⚽️ I'm grateful for everything you've taught me & all the trust you've put in me no matter how difficult the situation was.Merci Boss! pic.twitter.com/2KyoLyWrVT— Mesut Özil (@MesutOzil1088) April 20, 2018