By Editor Wayne Veysey
Arsene Wenger has warned that a mounting casualty list could derail Arsenal’s Premier League title charge over the coming months.
The Frenchman is preparing for Sunday’s north London derby against Tottenham without nine first-teamers and possibly a tenth if Laurent Koscielny fails a late fitness test.
Wenger has outlined his concerns that the absence of so many important members of his squad will have an impact during the packed festive fixture list.
“I’m very concerned because we are only in November and we have so many players out,” explained the manager today. “We go into the Christmas period and I am concerned because we have too many players out.”
Arsenal have 10 fixtures in the Premier League and Champions League between now and the new year, including games against Spurs and Manchester City, plus must-win European matches with Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiakos.
Koscielny, who is widely considered to be Arsenal’s best centre-back, will be put through his paces in a final training session tomorrow morning as Wenger makes a late decision on the selection of his injury-ravaged team for Spurs.
The treatment room already includes Bellerin (groin), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hamstring), Theo Walcott (calf), Mikel Arteta (ankle/foot), Aaron Ramsey (hamstring), David Ospina (shoulder) as well as long-term absentees Jack Wilshere (ankle), Tomas Rosicky (knee) and Danny Welbeck (knee).
A row with Chris Coleman over Ramsey’s hamstring injury continues to rumble on, with Wenger today rejecting the Wales manager’s accusation that he took a “cheap shot” in the row.
The Arsenal manager is unhappy that Ramsey played the full 90 minutes of the Euro 2016 qualifier against Andorra on October 13 – a dead rubber considering Wales had already qualified.
Asked about Coleman’s comments made on Wednesday, Wenger responded: “I didn’t blame anybody. I said it would make common sense to not use Gareth Bale or Ramsey once they have qualified, just bring on for 20 minutes to thank everybody. I don’t believe there is anything spectacular.
“I didn’t see (Coleman’s comments) so I cannot say too much about that.
“I said I cannot call all managers. I didn’t blame him especially. I just analyse the reasons players get injured and you always think if a player can get one game less in a period like that it is all right.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain has not given up hope of being involved against Spurs even though Wenger has said he will not return until after the international break.
The England international suffered a hamstring injury against Sheffield Wednesday 10 days ago but the problem is believed to be relatively minor.