ARSENE WENGER maintains he will “have nothing special to say” to Aaron Ramsey as the Arsenal midfielder prepares to return to Stoke for the first time since his injury nightmare at the Britannia Stadium.
The 20-year-old Wales captain was out for nine months after suffering a double leg fracture following a tackle by Ryan Shawcross last season, but marked his return to regular first-team action for the Gunners with the winner in last weekend’s 1-0 win over Manchester United.
With captain Cesc Fabregas still struggling to overcome his thigh problem, Ramsey is set to feature again tomorrow, when he is likely to come up against Shawcross.
However, Wenger insists Ramsey will not need any extra words of encouragement for what is set to be a stern mental as well as physical test.
“If you respect Aaron let him prepare the game and play his game. I have nothing special to say,” Wenger said.
“The foul happened more than a year ago and we cannot prepare for football games thinking like that.”
Wenger hopes the whole issue will not distract from the bigger picture, which sees Arsenal in need of victory at the FA Cup finalists to maintain their drive for automatic Champions League qualification. “I said many times that only Aaron can forgive Shawcross. He has been hurt and I don’t think that is a needed debate before the game,” Wenger added.
“Aaron is 20 years old, he has a long career in front of him, so the earlier he plays in Stoke the better it is.
“The only thing that is important is to focus, to play well and win the game.”
With United hosting Chelsea tomorrow and only three points ahead, mathematically at least the Gunners could yet overtake both the teams above them.
However, Wenger: “There is very little chance the title will happen.
“However, I do not want to come out of the season and to think if we had won at Stoke, then also our last two games, we would have made it.”
Shawcross will not be fazed by the prospect of facing Ramsey, according to Stoke’s assistant manager Dave Kemp.
Kemp said: “Ryan is an excellent professional.
“In any player’s career you will have ups and downs and things you have to deal with. I don’t expect anything to affect his performance.
“Everyone is pleased Aaron Ramsey is up and running and playing well and scoring the winner against United. We don’t want him scoring on Sunday, but we wish him well.”
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