No distractions for Wenger

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will not concern himself with whatever issues are facing rival boss Jose Mourinho at Chelsea when the two men go head-to-head again this afternoon.

Chelsea head into the televised clash in need of a kick-start to their Barclays Premier League campaign, which has seen the champions beaten three times already and down in 17th place.

While there may have been speculation concerning reported dressing room unrest and just how Mourinho sets about overhauling what is considered to be an ageing squad, Wenger will focus on getting the best out of his own players.

“I don’t want to talk about that, it is not my problem,” said Wenger when pressed on the issues now facing Mourinho.

“You have to find the right players and the right balance. It is the same for everybody.” The rival coaches squared up in the dugout last season during the Blues’ 2-0 win and then following Arsenal’s victory in the 2015 FA Community Shield at Wembley there was no handshake between the pair.

However, despite the intense media focus on the pair’s simmering rivalry, Wenger refused to be drawn on the dynamics during yesterday’s pre-match press conference.

While Chelsea enjoyed a 4-0 Champions League win over Maccabi Tel Aviv at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night, Arsenal opened their European campaign with a disappointing 2-1 defeat at Dinamo Zagreb, where striker Olivier Giroud was sent off.

Wenger defended his decision to rotate the squad, with goalkeeper Petr Cech on the bench and Aaron Ramsey and Hector Bellerin not travelling to Croatia.

The Gunners boss also insists the extended journey time back to London through the small hours of Thursday morning, which included a two-hour drive across the border to Ljubljana airport in Slovenia, cannot be used as a get-out for any shortcomings today.

“We have to deal with that and we have to forget about that and just focus on the game,” he said.

“No (it does not give them an excuse), they prepare well enough.

“You never know what kind of consequences that is but I think we are prepared to deal with it.” The Gunners boss feels matching the Blues power will be “part of the key of the game”.

However, he stressed: “But as well you want to do that without destroying your game. We have a good natural balance between physical and technical quality so I will not change too much.” Cech returns to Stamford Bridge for the first time since his £10million summer switch to Arsenal.

Wenger reckons facing their former team-mate could have an impact on Chelsea’s approach, “You know you have to score the perfect goal in front of him,” the Arsenal boss said.

“On my side I just want him to focus on this game and not be influenced by that, but he is so experienced that I don’t need to talk to him about it.” The Gunners’ parent company yesterday announced a profit of £24.7million and a cash reserve of £193.1m The results, covering the year ended May 31 2015, put the group’s total turnover at £344.5m, up from £301.9m in 2014.

The robust financial figures must be backed up by results on the pitch, says the chair of the Arsenal Independent Supporters’ Association.

“Arsenal’s financial results at least show that the club has produced one good performance so far this week,” said Lois Langton “There is little doubt that the club is well-run. What supporters want to see, however, is that the financial results are matched by results on the pitch – and it is unfortunate timing for Arsenal that the results have followed hot on the heels of a woeful performance in Europe.

“Spending money in the transfer window isn’t always the answer; one quality signing is often better than several average signings.

“However, in a week where many supporters have spent considerable money following the team into Europe only to see a below-par performance, the financial figures will only add fuel to the fire for those calling for further squad investment.”


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