Arsenal boss Arsène Wenger confirms Harpenden’s Jack Wilshere out for West Brom clash

London Colney: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger spoke at a pre-match press conference (Photo by Stuart

London Colney: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger spoke at a pre-match press conference (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images) - Credit: Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Arsenal boss Arsène Wenger today (Friday) dashed hopes that Harpenden based star Jack Wilshere will return for this weekend’s Premier League match against West Brom Albion .

However he told media at the pre-match conference, at the club’s training grounds in London Colney, that Roy Hodgson’s pledge to have Jack in England’s World Cup squad was a safe gamble.

When asked about the likelihood of Kieran Gibbs and Jack returning on Sunday (4) Arsène said that Kieran was “very, very close”, and that Jack is “not far away as well to integrate with training”.

Although the FA cup match against Hull City is a fortnight away, Arsène said he was concentrating on the West Brom game.

He went on: “Thirty-six points should keep you safe this season. It is strange because if you look mathematically at the table, it looks like every big team could lose everywhere.

“And you would think the difference between the teams would be much closer, but if you look at the points, the gap between the top teams and the bottom teams is bigger than any other year before, so there is a contradiction between what you see visually and mathematically.”

Arsenal’s boss said he expected a challenging game against West Brom, describing them as a “good side” which had recently controlled their games “much better”.

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Asked whether Roy Hodgson was taking a gamble on including Jack in the England squad for the World Cup, he replied: “It is not a gamble if he is completely fit.

“It will strengthen the team. If there was a medical doubt, yes, it would be a gamble but I think if he is safe from that front, medically, he should be alright.”

Discussing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Arsene said: “We will see how he progresses. For the World Cup he should be OK.”

French international Bacary Sagna, who has a knee injury, “is a doubt for Sunday”.

Arsène was also quizzed about warning Bacary on the risks of leaving Arsenal.

He replied: “We want the players to be part of this club. We are very keen to have players to love the club and stay for the football we play and for being part of a club that is special.”

However he declined to comment on his own future.

But Arsène did talk again about the departure of so many managers, saying it was not “good for the quality of the game”.

Looking ahead to Sunday, Arsène said: “We have a good strong home record. We are very close to the top.”

Arsenal beat Newcastle United 3-0 (Koscielny, Ozil and Giroud) on Monday at the Emirates Stadium.

According to West Brom, centre-half Craig Dawson is “not fazed” by facing Champions League-chasing Arsenal on Sunday, after passing one of the toughest tests of the season against Andy Carroll.

The team said that while “the Baggies are not yet mathematically safe a win against the Gunners would guarantee their place among England’s elite next term.”

Craig said: “There are obviously three games to go now and nine points up for grabs. We want to finish as high as we can and get as many points as we can.

“We’ll be preparing, as always, for Arsenal, and working hard on the training pitch to be get the best possible result at the weekend.

“We’ve got a great squad and a bit of confidence…and the fans are right behind us.”

• Sunday’s penultimate Premier League game of the season against West Bromwich Albion kicks off at Emirates kicks at 1.30pm.