Wenger bemoans Gunners injury crisis

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger revealed that his plans for the north London derby against Tottenham have been thrown into chaos with players battling injury.

Giroud's diving header doubled Arsenal's lead...

The Gunners host their fierce rivals in need of a confidence boost following a dip in form which has seen them win only two in the previous seven Barclays Premier League games.

However, Wenger indicated preparations for the match had been hampered by fitness concerns over key men like Theo Walcott, Mikel Arteta and in-form striker Olivier Giroud, who has returned from midweek international action with France carrying back and hamstring problems.

"There are so many - I think we need a few doctors this morning," Wenger said.

"We have so many players who have come back with injuries or small injuries.

"We will see this morning [Friday], but it is difficult to give you a clear idea of who will be available tomorrow [Saturday] or not."

Arsenal will also assess goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, who could be back in the side for the first time since September after recovering from an ankle problem, while midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hip) is another who will be monitored.

Wenger revealed there were also concerns over whether to throw Bacary Sagna into action once again following the France full-back's return from a broken leg.

Midfielder Jack Wilshere should come back into the side after he was suspended for the Fulham game, provided he shows no ill-effects from his England appearance in Stockholm.

"Jack arrived here at the age of nine and that means this game is in his heart, in his brain, for the whole season every year. From the youth teams up, the rivalry exists," said Wenger.

Wenger said: "Jack had not played for 17 months and the fact that he just has got over the first three, four games without any setback is very important."

Wenger, however, was less than impressed by the globe-trotting of midfielder Santi Cazorla, who jetted out to Panama with Spain only to be an unused substitute.

"They had 30 degrees there, so it was (good for) sunbathing," the Arsenal boss said.

"What do I make of it? At the moment, if you are selected you have to go, unless you say you're injured.

"I understand completely that in Spain, the competition is so high that if a guy turns it down and there is suspicion there, the next time he will not be called up.

"Could Cazorla have done without that trip? Of course. He could have got injured, so I personally don't complain, but he must not be very happy."

Wenger continued: "It will be interesting to see who will play over the weekend and who will not play, of all those who have been injured over Europe. I would personally put £10 on 90 per cent playing.

"It is difficult as well for the national coach, but it shows you one thing - that this international friendly is not in the best position."

Arsenal will have the perfect opportunity to kick-start their season tomorrow [Saturday].

Wenger said: "Every London derby is important.

"We dropped some points recently and we want to come back in a more consistent way of results. That's why, of course, it's a good opportunity to do that tomorrow [Saturday]."

"For some time, we were winning championships and Tottenham were not in the top four at all, so of course they have got closer in recent years, but fortunately we managed always to get above," said Wenger.

"Tottenham have a good side every year and they are a team who are now fighting with us.

"It is important in the end to have consistency, and certainly the results in the two derbies can have a big influence as well on the qualifying spots for the Champions League."

Arsenal drew their last home game 3-3 with Fulham, having looked comfortable when 2-0 up midway through the first half.

Arteta saw a penalty saved in stoppage time which would have won the match.

Critics claim had that spot-kick gone in, the victory would merely have "papered over cracks" in the current Arsenal squad.

Wenger, though, insisted his players were up to the challenges ahead.

"If you call 'cracks' for lack of unity, I don't believe it at all. This team has a fantastic spirit," he said.

"If the results are not at the moment completely what we want then I agree, but we are not in a desperate situation.

"It is down to us, the season will be what we make of it now, it is as simple as that."



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