Arsenal: Sunderland team news; Wenger Ballon D'Or criticism; Benfica right back linked

There was bitter-sweet news on the injury front for Arsenal fans this morning, as Arsene Wenger discussed team news at his pre-Sunderland press conference this morning. Lucas Perez has been ruled out for six to eight weeks with ankle ligament damage after a nasty kick late in Tuesday’s EFL Cup tie against Reading.

With Alexis Sanchez flourishing as a centre forward this term, Arsenal’s summer signing has been on the fringes of first-team action so this is a cruel blow for him. On the upside for the Gunners, his injury coincides with Olivier Giroud’s return to action which gives them a completely different option in attack. However, there are three other fitness concerns ahead of this weekend’s trip to the Stadium of Light:

“We have a few uncertainties with Walcott, Monreal, Cazorla but they will have tests today,” Arsene Wenger confirmed.

“[Olivier] Giroud is back available, Aaron Ramsey will be in the squad so it’s good to have them back.

“I have to be a bit cautious, especially with Aaron Ramsey.”

 

Many fans fret over how Wenger can ‘fit’ certain players into his first XI, but over the course of a season all members of the squad will get football because of wear and tear. Arsenal have had a formula that has worked well so far this term, principally around the new front three of Theo Walcott, Alexis Sanchez and Alex Iwobi. How successful they will be this season will depend on how quickly they can adapt if this formula is unavailable to them. Ramsey, Giroud and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain are fine players, but very different in style to the present incumbents of their positions. Arsenal can’t afford to spend five games getting used to a new system.

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Elsewhere, Wenger also poured scorn on the importance of the Ballon D’or awards saying that they go against what football is supposed to be about- the team. Some have taken his comments as a slight against players like Cristiano Ronaldo, but his comments were really just a broad point about the competition. The Frenchman is far from the first manager to say he has no interest in the award, with Jose Mourinho saying much the same thing last year. Wenger said:

“We have seen many people only thinking about themselves because they are obsessed by Ballon d’Or and not by the team performance.

“And I believe football is a collective sport and we live already in a world where everything is individualised.

“We want to respect what football is about, first and foremost about the team effort.”

 

Finally, Arsenal are reportedly keeping tabs on 22-year-old Benfica defender Nelson Semedo, along with Manchester United. Semedo is a well regarded full back, and some might say this is an insurance policy in case Hector Bellerin is sold. However, with Mathieu Debuchy exiled uncertainty over whether Carl Jenkinson is good enough to make the grade, Semedo might be targeted to give Bellerin competition.

Featured image: All rights reserved by Emrah Partal

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