London Colney: Arsene Wenger prepares for fight from Sunderland in Premier League clash
PUBLISHED: 10:33 24 October 2014 | UPDATED: 10:33 24 October 2014
Theo Walcott has won praise from Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, but the forward won't be on the pitch for tomorrow's (Saturday ) Barclays Premier League clash against Sunderland.
At today’s press conference at the Gunners’ training grounds in London Colney, Arsene said while a few players had to be checked, there are no major injuries from Wednesday’s match.
However Harpenden’s Jack Wilshere is suspended for tomorrow’s clash.
Looking ahead, Arsene highlighted Sunderland’s strengths, despite the team’s 8-0 defeat at Southampton last weekend.
Arsene pointed out that, historically, the team was relatively consistent and had a “great finish last year”.
He added: “When you go to Sunderland you expect commitment and fight for 90 minutes and we have to prepare for that.
“The result of last week would have dropped their confidence and increased their resolve to defend well.”
Asked whether Theo is being used in the U21 team this week and if so, why that was better than bringing him back for this weekend, Arsene replied that he had to get used to contact again.
The Gunners’ boss went on: “He has been out for nine months. It was a big injury.
“It takes time to get settled, to get used to being kicked again. And he has a game that exposes him and he needs to feel completely confident. But fitness-wise he is there to play a part in the game, but on the contact front he needs a bit more time.”
Praising Theo, he said: “He is a very polite, social guy, but he is also mentally very strong and for what he has gone through in the last nine months, you gain more respect for him. He has done extremely well.”
Arsene said that Aaron Ramsey has had a, “good rest, and we expect him to produce his performances that he has produced last season”.
Arsenal beat RSC Anderlecht 2-1 in Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League game.
After the surprise win, Jack Wilshere is quoted on the team’s website admitting that: “It wasn’t our prettiest performance, but we won the game and that’s all that matters.
“That’s the best way to win [in the last minute].”
A delighted Lukas Podolski, celebrating his goal, described it as a big win, adding on Twitter: “We fight until the end!! Thanks to all the fans who support and believe in me.”
Emiliano Martinez has paid tribute to goalkeeping coaches Gerry Peyton and Tony Roberts after making his Champions League debut on Wednesday night.
The Argentine stopper performed well in the Gunners’ dramatic victory against Anderlecht, and made an important save near the end to deny Steven Defour.
The 22-year-old was satisfied with his own performance and said the late turnaround in Brussels was down to Arsenal’s battling spirit.
“It’s unbelievable,” Martinez told Arsenal Player, “We controlled the game in the first half and conceded a goal from nowhere. They didn’t deserve the goal but that’s football. We kept going until the end and got our reward.”
Ahead of Saturday’s game against Sunderland, tactical expert Michael Cox said that while the team suffered an “embarrassing defeat” Arsenal should expect a strong reaction from Gustavo Poyet’s side and probably a few changes to the starting XI too.
• Sunderland V Arsenal, Stadium of Light, Saturday October 25, 3pm.