Wenger on the Round of 16 draw in the Champions League

December 16, 2010

The Champions League knockout stage (Round of 16) draw is set to be held tomorrow. The draw will start at around twelve hundred hours (CET) in Nyon, Switzerland. Sixteen teams from eight groups have qualified for the knockout stages. The winners and runners up will be in separate pots from each of the eight groups.

The draw will put each winner of a group against a runner up with the condition that both the teams are not from the same association and from the same group from last round. The runners up will play the first leg of the round of 16 tie at home on 15/16 and 22/23 February and the winners will play the second leg at home on 8/9 and 15/16 March.

For us the possibilities are Barcelona, Real Madrid, last year’s runner up, Bayern Munich and Schalke. Barcelona and Real Madrid are currently in top form and will provide the biggest challenge for us if we are drawn against them. With Bayern Munich currently not doing well in the Bundesliga and Schakle also struggling, both of them may provide lighter oppositions.

But as far as Wenger is concerned, he isn’t thinking much into it as a lot can change in football in two months. When asked about the draw, Wenger said that he is going to take the result of the draw as they are as he doesn’t want to put undue pressure on his team by making preferences.

There are advantages and disadvantages on both sides. The German teams are going to enjoy the winter break and return fresher in spring.  And as Robben is going to get better for  Bayern, they can be a changed team. The Spanish gianst on the other hand are dominating but things can change quickly. It will be all down to the draw for who we face as we will find out tomorrow.

“There are advantages and disadvantages on both sides. The Germans have a good break in the winter and are fresh in spring.

“The Spanish teams are a bit more favourites at the moment but that can change in two months.

“The difficulty might be more or less but it is part of the draw. We will have to consider what we get and we will see that tomorrow.

“We take the draw as it is and I do not want to put my team in a position where they feel they have had bad luck or would have preferred somebody else.”

Wenger: No new injuries, Fabianski to undergo tests, Diaby back in training and Bendtner due to be a father

December 16, 2010

Well the defeat at old Trafford has seriously made the line quite visible among the supporters who doubt this team and the ones in favor (more on this later). I feel that what’s done is done and we must move on from it with of course learning from the mistakes we made there. The match against Stoke is next and we must focus our attention to it.

Arsene Wenger today gave an update on the squad for Stoke while speaking to Arsenal TV online. The manager revealed that there have been no new injuries and the same squad will be available for Stoke as it was against Manu. With Bendtner’s wife is in labour, his involvement is still in doubt as Wenger is unsure to include him.

Whereas the latest on Diaby is that he is in full training and he will be back soon but the manger feels that this weekend will be too early for him.

“We have not lost anyone else. Nicklas Bendtner’s wife is in labour and he is due to be a father today or tomorrow. So I don’t know if I will involve him. But otherwise the injury news is looking quite positive. Abou Diaby is back in full training and is not far away. But the weekend is too early for him.”

Almunia, surprisingly,  has twisted his ankle. I feel his time is done at Arsenal.

Fabregas and Van Persie are also getting better every day and they will be available.

As for Vermaelen, the manager revealed that he might be back in January (I hope so). 

“Manuel Almunia has twisted his ankle but Cesc Fabregas and Robin Van Persie are getting better and better. Also Thomas Vermaelen could be back in January we think.”

Besides that, Fabianski is still to undergo tests as he injured his hip muscle just before last match. As a result, if he doesn’t pass his tests, we might see Szczesny in goal against stoke after an impressive performance against United.

“We have to test [Lukasz] in next two days. He has a hip muscle injury.”

Wenger has often been criticized for not having world class keepers but in the past couple of months we have seen some good performances form Fabianski and Szczesny alike. With Mannone also doing well on loan at Hull, the situation of keepers looks under control. 

Wenger spoke about this as how the keepers are proving their quality.  

“But Wojciech did well. People always questioned the goalkeeping position at Arsenal Football Club. But I always said we had four good goalkeepers – look at how well Vito Mannone is doing at Hull. We have plenty of quality.”