Wenger defends 14-minute flight to Norwich

The Gunners have been criticised by an environmental group for choosing to fly to Norwich but Arsene Wenger says they had little option

Arsene Wenger has defended Arsenal’s decision to take a 14-minute flight to Norwich for Sunday’s game with Alex Neil’s side.

The Gunners’ travelling party are due to fly from Luton airport to Norwich on Saturday, despite a train journey from London taking just two hours and a journey by road taking only slightly longer.

Wenger, who opted to take the same journey by plane in 2012, has been branded “ridiculous” by environmental group Plane Stupid, but the 66-year-old insists the flight is a necessity given traffic issues in Norfolk.

“When we made the decision there was some roadworks planned,” he said. “Sometimes the access to Norwich is difficult, so we decided to fly. But it’s not a lot of difference.

“We do not fly a lot any more. We take a train or coach. This is an exception. Now, we have a new coach.

“When you go to Birmingham, we took the train a lot because the traffic was impossible on a Friday afternoon on the M1.

“Now we found a solution is that we have dinner here and travel afterwards. So we go 7.30 to 9.30 and that usually goes well. We have no traffic problems.

“Before, when you left at 3 o’clock, we never knew when we would arrive.”

Ramsey to continue in unfavoured wide role

The Gunners boss confirmed that the Welsh international will not be used centrally, suggesting that a wide role gives the team more balance

Aaron Ramsey has been told by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger he will continue to be used in his unfavoured position on the right wing.

Wales international midfielder Ramsey recently voiced his frustration at not playing in his preferred central role to his coach and was expected to be given the chance to line-up in the position against Norwich City on Sunday following injuries to Francis Coquelin and Mikel Arteta.

However, Wenger believes the 24-year-old and Santi Cazorla are too attack-minded to play alongside one another in a central position.

“I use Ramsey on the right. That’s where I will certainly continue to use him, unless the game demands to attack,” the French boss said.

“He is more an offensive player. He is not a tactical, defensive player. I will use him sometimes there [centrally], when the game demands.

“I used him on the right because he gives us a balance because we have Ozil, who is an offensive player, we have Sanchez, we have Giroud or Walcott and Cazorla, so we need to balance a bit defensively.”

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The news will be a blow to Ramsey, whose most prolific campaign came in 2013-14 when he scored 16 times from a central midfield position.

Wenger revealed he tried utilising Ramsey in a deeper role during pre-season, but found no benefit.

“If you take that [attacking mindset] out of him, and you say, ‘Look, you have to sit now. Sit there and wait,’ you kill his strengths. He can do it, but he can do it with Coquelin. And Cazorla can do it with Coquelin. But Cazorla and Ramsey is a bit too adventurous.

“You also know in my mind I have seen that the turn of our results last season was when I went for a bit of stability and put Coquelin in there. Now I am a bit cautious on that front and I do not want to unbalance the team.”

Norwich City v Arsenal: Wenger demands response after West Brom setback

The Gunners bounced back from defeat to West Bromwich Albion by beating Dinamo Zagreb and Arsene Wenger wants more of the same on Sunday

Arsene Wenger wants Arsenal to put their “nightmare” defeat to West Bromwich Albion behind them once and for all when they take on Norwich City at Carrow Road on Sunday.

The Gunners slipped two points behind Premier League leaders Leicester City as a result of the 2-1 loss in which Santi Cazorla missed a penalty and Mikel Arteta scored an own goal.

Wenger believes “everything went against” his side against Tony Pulis’s men, but was happy with the response shown in the 3-0 win over Dinamo Zagreb in Tuesday’s Champions league clash.

And the 66-year-old is now looking for a similar performance against a Norwich team he has beaten seven times in nine top-flight games, telling a media conference: “It was a bad result – but on the day everything went against us. 

“They had one shot on target and scored two goals – that will not always happen.

“On top of that we missed a penalty and scored an own goal, so we had a nightmare. It was an unlucky day, that can happen in a season but after it is how you respond to that and we did that well on Tuesday.”

Last week’s narrow defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge left Norwich just three points above the relegation zone after 13 matches, but manager Alex Neil is nonetheless relishing the challenge of taking on Arsenal and opposite number Wenger.

“I would like to think I could manage at 66. It is a long time, I might not be alive, never mind managing,” the Scot said.

“It is not even the longevity that I admire. It’s the way his teams play. The way they play is fantastic to watch as a football fan. You want to see teams be expressive and expansive and open the game up to entertain. I don’t think there is any better than Arsenal.

“In terms of his style and how he does things he is very up-to-date. It is a tough task for us but one I am looking forward to and so are the players.”

Arsenal head to Norwich with a lengthy injury list having lost Francis Coquelin to a knee injury and Arteta to a calf problem in that defeat to West Brom. Theo Walcott (calf), Danny Welbeck, Tomas Rocisky (both knee) and Jack Wilshere (leg) all remain out.

Alexis Sanchez suffered a hamstring scare in the win over Dinamo Zagreb but the Chile star is likely to be involved, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is available after returning to action as a substitute in midweek.

Neil has stated that Alex Tettey (thigh) is unlikely to be fit to play but Norwich will have captain Russell Martin back in the squad after he missed the Chelsea game due to personal reasons. Kyle Lafferty, who scored for the Under-21 side this week, is also expected to be fit.

Key Opta Stats:

– Aaron Ramsey has scored in each of his last two appearances against the Canaries in the Premier League.
– Mesut Ozil has provided an assist in seven consecutive Premier League appearances, a longer consecutive run than any other player in the history of the competition.
– Ozil now has 11 assists in the Premier League this season, five more than any other player, while no player in the history of the competition can equal that haul after a team’s opening 13 games.
– Arsenal have won 10 and lost just two of their last 13 Premier League away games.
– The Canaries have won just one of their last eight Premier League games (W1 D2 L5).
– Norwich have managed just one clean sheet in the Premier League this season, a joint-low total (along with Bournemouth).

Wenger: Sanchez and Vardy are like lions

The Arsenal manager has lauded his Chilean attacker for his explosive style, insisting the Leicester City striker plays in a similar way

Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez’s style is similar to a hunting lion, according to Arsene Wenger, who adds that Jamie Vardy is the same.

The Chile international is battling a hamstring injury he suffered during his side’s 3-0 Champions League win over Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday, when he scored twice and set up the other.

But Wenger expects Sanchez to be fit to face Norwich City in the Premier League on Sunday and the Frenchman lauded the 26-year-old’s desire and explosiveness and feels Leicester City star Vardy is similar.

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“Sometimes he finishes and you think, ‘He’s dead now’,” Wenger said.

“But then he recovers and gives 100 per cent again. You always see signs of exhaustion but it’s not, because two days later he’s fine.

“His style is very explosive. Jamie Vardy is a bit similar. They go when they go.

“They are like the lion. He has to catch the animal in the first 200 metres. If he doesn’t get there, after, he’s dead.

“They are these kind of killers. When they go, it is to kill and after they have to stop.”

Wenger said Sanchez was unlike the other players within his squad, who have helped Arsenal into fourth in the Premier League, stating his durability and consistency are at another level.

“His resistance is remarkable. What is also remarkable is that he goes to South America on international duty, he comes back Thursday night and on Saturday he can play without a problem, even if he’s jet-lagged,” Wenger said.

“He would have been a perfect tennis player.

“These are not players who have the traditional academic education that we give now to the players at 15,16. They have a physio every day.

“They are more street players, not pampered.”

Wenger: Now might not be the right time to rest Alexis

The Chile international has sustained a minor hamstring injury but is expected to feature in the clash with the Canaries this weekend, though Theo Walcott remains out

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has revealed Alexis Sanchez has picked up a minor hamstring problem ahead of the Premier League encounter with Norwich on Sunday, but is hopeful the Chile international can still play.

Alexis put in a sublime performance in the 3-0 Champions League win over Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday, scoring twice and setting up Mesut Ozil’s goal, and Wenger says he is unlikely to rest the Chile international, despite him featuring in every Premier League game thus far this season.

“Alexis had a little hamstring alarm. I will assess that later,” Wenger said at a news conference.

“But it might not be the right time to rest him.”

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Meanwhile, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could make his comeback after a spell on the sidelines due to injury, though Theo Walcott is unlikely to return, despite continuing his rehabilitation.

“Maybe Oxlade-Chamberlain could be back in the squad [for Sunday],” Wenger added.

“Walcott will not be ready for Sunday. He goes through a few [more] steps.

“He will have some tests Thursday. He started running again with no reaction and we hope he will be successful.

“And everyone who played Tuesday is available.”