Arsenal's Wenger to keep watching brief on Jack

AFP, Friday 25 Oct 2013

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will keep a close eye on Jack Wilshere's ankle problem, but said on Friday it should not stop the midfielder from maintaining his fitness

Jack Wilshere
Arsenal's Jack Wilshere


Premier League leaders Arsenal will assess Wilshere ahead of Saturday's cross-London trip to strugglers Crystal Palace after the 21-year-old was substituted during the second half of the midweek Champions League defeat by Borussia Dortmund.

Wilshere's ankle injury ended his hopes of playing at both Euro 2012 and the London Olympics, but Wenger said careful management could ensure plenty of game time for his rising star.

"No it is not a major problem, but as I told you before the season started I will have to monitor him until he is completely through that period with any doubts and that is what I tried to do," Wenger said.

Midfielder Mathieu Flamini will be available having missed the Dortmund match as a precaution after suffering a mild concussion in the 4-1 win over Norwich.

Meanwhile, Wenger said club-record signing Mesut Ozil had played on Tuesday despite suffering from a virus, which may well have explained why the German playmaker wasn't at his best against Dortmund.

"He was sick before the game and he was not at his best on the night," Wenger added.

"He said he was all right, but in the two days before he had a virus and you could see that physically he was not at his best."

However, the Frenchman refused to blame Ozil's illness for Arsenal's defeat.

"It is simple. Dortmund was organised to stop us from playing our game and one of their game plans was to stop Ozil from getting into the game and they did that way," he said.

"We want to respond quickly. We have faced that already in our season.

"I am confident in that capacity of my team to respond very quickly in a very strong way. That is the target tomorrow (Saturday)."

Arsenal face a Palace side who this week parted company with manager Ian Holloway following the Eagles' 4-1 thrashing by Fulham on Monday.

A drained Holloway said he felt he no longer had it in him to help reverse a tide of results which has seen second-from-bottom Palace take just three points from their opening eight league games this season.

However, Wenger said he felt "the mutual consent" decision that saw Holloway leave Selhurst Park had been "very quick".

"It is very difficult to do that and I find it very quick and very early to separate with Ian Holloway. For me, he has exceptional talent to manage a football team," Wenger said.

"He is a football man, has something that belongs to him that he is special, but you feel there is a strength in there that can take people on board with him."

Wenger added: "Defeat after defeat when you want absolutely everything to win it can drain you down, that can happen to everybody and when you are a bit older you can maybe deal with it a little bit better, but what is the killer in our job to lose a succession of games and when you lose five, six or seven on the trot that is difficult to swallow."

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