Saturday, 28 January 2017

Claude Puel has a lot of respect for former manager Arsene Wenger

Claude Puel is eagerly awaiting the chance to lock horns with managerial mentor Arsene Wenger once more as Arsenal travel to Southampton in the FA Cup.

Wenger coached Puel at AS Monaco between 1987 and 1995, the pair winning the Ligue 1 title in the now-Arsenal manager’s debut season.

In two meetings as Premier League managers so far results have been balanced, Arsenal winning in the league and Southampton knocking the Gunners out of the EFL Cup at the quarter-final stage in November.

On both occasions Southampton proved formidable opponents for Arsenal, with only a last-minute penalty from Santi Cazorla securing all three points for Wenger’s men when the two sides met at the Emirates in September.

When the Saints visited the Emirates in the EFL Cup in November they were even more impressive, Jordy Clasie and Ryan Bertrand securing a comfortable 2-0 win.

“I have a lot of respect for my former trainer,”Puel said. “It’s a pleasure to see him again – for the first game in the EFL Cup it was a good thing for us.

“I imagine he’ll come to Southampton with a strong will to take a good result. All the competition is on the pitch, off the pitch I respect Arsene Wenger a lot.”

Arsenal travel to the south coast without the suspended Granit Xhaka and injured Santi Cazorla but with former Southampton forward Theo Walcott back in the squad after over a month out with a calf injury.

Wenger’s numbers have also been swelled by the returning Danny Welbeck, Kieran Gibbs and Hector Bellerin whilst Puel noted his own sizeable injury list, the second longest in the Premier League.

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