Wenger sounds pretty positive about Alexis + Arsecast 405

Arsecast - the Arsenal podcast

Good morning Arse-chums, welcome to Friday. The manager held his press conference yesterday as today the team will have their final training session before travelling to Manchester ahead of Saturday’s early kick off.

There was a lot of emphasis on the fitness of Alexis Sanchez, and Arsene Wenger revealed that the Chilean had been in touch by text to say that he was ‘in good shape’. Having come through the game in midweek without seemingly aggravating that hamstring, and with two beautiful goals to his name, he could be in flying form to help us do what’s required at Old Trafford, but there was just a note of caution to Wenger’s words:

He always says he is okay! It is a very difficult one because I am sure he will come back saying he is alright. What I will consider is the risk of injury, because he played while recovering from a hamstring injury. I’ll consider the way he feels as well. On that front, you depend on the honesty of the player, how they feel and how they recover.

However, he seemed to be encouraged by what he saw of Sanchez’s performance on Tuesday night:

I know him so well, like all my players that I observe every day, so I will be able to see if he was playing with a restriction or not. But the first goal he scored, he ran from the halfway line – if you are really injured with a hamstring you cannot do that.

So, it sounds mostly positive, with the obvious caveat that Alexis didn’t arrive back to the UK until yesterday afternoon, a 15 hour flight from Santiago under his belt. As much as we like to think he’s super-human, he’s sadly just an actual human and prone to tiredness and fatigue like the rest of us. He’ll have some kind of assessment today, which will probably go something like:

Medical staff: Are you ok?

Alexis: 100%

Medical staff: Are you sure? You appear to be one of the Walking Dead and you are feasting on the brains of Vic Akers.

Alexis: I am ready to play!

And then Arsene Wenger will pick him in the starting XI on Saturday. Elsewhere, however, the news was not so good. There was confirmation of Hector Bellerin’s injury, an ankle problem that will keep him out for around four weeks, an injury sustained in the last few seconds of the North London derby thanks to a ‘strong tackle’ from Danny Rose. I’ve watched it again and it is a strong tackle, not necessarily a terrible one or anything, but I don’t want to dissuade anyone from adding to the list of reasons why the Sp*rs full-back is a thoroughly dislikeable fellow, so have at it.

It is a blow for the player and for us, as Bellerin’s importance down that right hand side has grown as he has matured as a player. I did like the list of possible replacements in a poll on the official site though. Carl Jenkinson is obvious, but Francis Coquelin, Gabriel and Ainsley Maitland-Niles don’t really seem like genuine candidates ahead of a game at Old Trafford. So, it’ll likely be Jenkinson’s first appearance in an Arsenal shirt at Old Trafford since that dismal day back in 2011, when we got thumped and he picked up a red card. Some ghosts to lay to rest, for sure.

It’s not great for Santi Cazorla either, with neither the manager or the player sure of when he’s going to make a comeback from his Achilles problem. Santi says:

I still don’t know the exact time. I am trying to return as soon as soon as possible to be with the team again but I cannot say if it will be soon or if I still have a few weeks left. That is what I don’t know, but hopefully it will be as soon as possible.

He’s not currently in training, so it seems like we’re some way away from seeing him again. If there is a silver lining it’s that midfield is an area where we have plenty of depth, so his absence shouldn’t hurt us the way it might have in the past.

Also, as predicted in yesterday’s blog, there were attempts to stir up some stuff between Wenger and Mourinho. Would the Arsenal manager shake the hand of his rival before the game tomorrow, the eager denizens of the press corps were keen to know? His reply:

Of course. I respect the ritual that is so important in the Premier League.

Haha. Right, for some extra reading today, check out Tim Stillman’s latest column, which touches on the influence of TV and media on the game, generally not for the overall benefit of fans or indeed the sport itself. Then there’s a nice interview with former Gunner Rabi Shaaban, carried out by Arsenal Gothenburg, and translated for you here on Arseblog News.

Time now for this week’s Arsecast and ahead of the game tomorrow I get a Manchester United perspective from Musa Okwonga (@Okwonga), before we look at things with Arsenal eyes with Andrew Allen (@aallensport). How will United set-up? Will Alexis play? Can we break down the many hoodoos that hover over this particular fixture? It’s all in there, along with lots of the usual waffle including that bizarre Gallas/Nasri taser story, and lots more.

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There’s also one day Fantasy Football with FanDuel – sign up now at fanduel.co.uk using the promocode ARSEBLOG WARCHEST, deposit £10 into your account, and they’ll give you £5 free credit every Friday for the next 4 weeks!

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Right, that’s your lot. We’ll be back tomorrow with a full preview of the United game, all the match coverage and more. Until then, have a great Friday.

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