Friday, 10 February 2017

Arsenal still not sure if Hector Bellerin will play on Saturday

Arsenal will have to wait until hours before their game against Hull on Saturday before knowing whether Hector Bellerin will be able to feature.

The Spanish full-back was substituted early in the first half of Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at Chelsea after taking an elbow to the head from Marcos Alonso as the Blues wing-back scored the opener. 

Bellerin is still being assessed as part of the graduated return to play protocol for players who suffer concussion – manager Arsene Wenger confirmed after the defeat to Chelsea that the 21-year-old had been unaware of the score when he was taken off – and has yet to return to training.

Whilst Wenger’s options in midfield have been swelled by the return of Mohamed Elneny from the Africa Cup of Nations he will not be able to decide on Bellerin’s involvement until Friday at the earliest.

“From last Saturday we have Elneny back available in the squad,” Wenger said. “Apart from that, we have the question about Hector Bellerin.

“He’s going for tests and the process every day and we’ll only know tomorrow if he gets the green light from the medical people to practise or not. At the moment he has not practised.” 

With Arsenal taking on Bayern Munich in the Champions League round of 16 four days after Hull’s visit Wenger will be reluctant to gamble on the preparedness of Bellerin, who is crucial to his side in attack and defence.

Should the Spaniard miss out then centre-back Gabriel would once more be expected to step in.

Elneny resumed training at London Colney on Wednesday after recovering from a calf injury that ruled him out of the Afcon semi-final.

The 24-year-old suffered heartache in the final, scoring the opener to set Egypt on course for an eighth continental title only to see Cameroon snatch the trophy with an 89th minute winner.

Wenger is backing Elneny to overcome his disappointment and will need him to swiftly settle back into the rhythm of club football, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain the only other option to partner Francis Coquelin in Arsenal’s midfield on Saturday.

“He trained yesterday with the team. He’s fully focused and as always, a fantastic player with a great mentality.

“He is disappointed that Egypt lost in the final but we had a quality session yesterday.”

Arsene Wenger has refused to be drawn on whether he will sign a new contract

Arsene Wenger has refused to be drawn on whether he will sign a new contract with the club.

The Frenchman's current deal is due to expire at the end of the season but he has yet to commit to new terms and, asked again about the issue today at a press conference, Wenger would not confirm if he had even been offered a new deal.

"Look, what matters is ideally you want everybody to be happy, but as well I think Arsenal is made of special strengths and that strength is to be united when it doesn't go as well," he said.

"It's very nice for you to take care of how I feel, but it's not the most important. I am a professional and I have to do a job and that's what I want to do.

"My future is in front of me every time I make a half turn. What is important for me is that Arsenal football club goes well and I dedicate my whole energy for the club to do well. 

"Nothing has changed compared to last week and that's basically it. I've nothing to add to what I said last week." 

Reports in recent weeks have claimed that Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri is in 'advanced talks" to replace Wenger at the Emirates this summer.

Hull City will provide "tough opposition" on Saturday says Arsene Wenger

Arsene Wenger has said that relegation-threatened Hull City will provide "tough opposition" when they visit the Emirates on Saturday.

The Tigers endured a tough first half of the season under Mike Phelan but have begun to find form under new manager Marco Silva, taking two wins and a draw from their last four Premier League games.

That run included a draw at Manchester United and a shock win over Liverpool last weekend, and although his side claimed a 4-1 victory at the KCOM earlier this season, Wenger is wary of coming up against an improved side.

"I felt they played well since the start of the season but they've not always had the results," he told reporters.

"The Premier League is difficult for everybody and they lost some games, a bit unluckily sometimes. They are a tough opposition for us.

"In the Premier League every team is absolutely difficult to beat, we know that. 

One of the very few positives we have learned from the last week is that every game is difficult, especially at the Emirates. 

We have to prepare well and to face a Hull team where there's more confidence than when we played them last, so we have to prepare well." 

Arsenal enter the game after back-to-back defeats in the league.