Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger admits that a Christmas program which features games against struggling Wolverhampton Wanderers, Queens Park Rangers and Fulham could define the club’s Premier League season.
Arsenal, who face Wolves today, are just two points ahead of sixth-placed Liverpool, but only one behind fourth-placed Chelsea.
“We know we have an opportunity to gain a better position on the table. It’s down to us to do our job,” Wenger said. “In the Premier League, the Christmas period is vital to get your points. We have responded well to our defeat at Man City with a win at Aston Villa, so now it’s down to us to do the job at home and get the points against Wolves on Tuesday.”
Meanwhile, Wenger believes his lack of cover at leftback is worrying — but he is yet to make any inquiry about a short-term replacement. Wenger was left without a recognized leftback after Kieran Gibbs had surgery on his groin on Thursday. Gibbs is expected to be out of action for a month and he joins fellow defender Sandro on the sidelines.
Wenger is currently making do with centerhalf Thomas Vermaelen at leftback and he admitted he may have to enter the transfer market in the beginning of next month. Wayne Bridge, who has played one match for Manchester City this season, has been mooted as a potential loan target for Arsenal.
“It can only be a short-term solution for us because we have bought Santos, we have Gibbs, we have Vermaelen, who can play there, so we do not need a long-term solution,” Wenger said. “Long term, I am sticking to Santos and Gibbs, I love both of them because they have a quality I like, which is to attack. I haven’t made any inquiry yet [for Bridge], so for the moment not him or anyone else.”
Defender Johan Djourou is still a doubt for the Wolves game, but apart from long-term absentees Gibbs, Santos and Jack Wilshere, Arsenal have no injury issues.
On Wolves, Wenger added: “They have the Mick McCarthy spirit and attitude, they never give up.”
“They play a very positive game, so we know what to expect. They fight to stay in the league and you know it is always an intense game,” he said.
Wolves midfielder Karl Henry has branded their position in the table “not acceptable” as they prepare to head to the Emirates Stadium.
McCarthy’s team begin the festive period in 17th, a single point clear of the bottom three following 10 defeats in their last 14 games, but they could slip into the relegation zone by the time they play today if results went against them yesterday.
“Have Wolves under-achieved this season? One hundred percent. I don’t think anyone is in disagreement about that,” Henry said. “We know it’s not acceptable where we are in the league. If you had asked us where we wanted to be at the start of the season, it certainly wouldn’t be in or just above the relegation zone. We expected more points than we’ve got and it makes it hard every game you go into now. Yes, we need more points.”
However, manager McCarthy insists last year’s win at Liverpool during the Christmas period proves they should not be written off against the Gunners.
“We’re always planning three or four games down the line and I went to watch them against Manchester City,” the Wolves boss said. “I don’t know if that’s given me information or made me a bit more fearful of going to Arsenal, because they were awesome against City.”
Wolves will be without midfielder Jamie O’Hara, who has been ruled out for up to six weeks after surgery on a double hernia.
Chen Jifang hits the gym for at least two hours every day and has the physique to prove it. At nearly 70, she is being held up as a shining example as China orders its vast population to get fit and lose the bulge. The grandmother from Shanghai has become a minor celebrity in in the past few months after her newfound and unlikely love for working out made national headlines. After becoming a gym regular in December 2018, Chen lost 14kg in three months, and now sports the kind of flat stomach and toned muscles that people decades younger aspire to. She
TAIWANESE TO PLAY: Jason Jung faces Frederico Coria in the men’s singles first round today, while in the women’s singles, Hsieh Su-wei is to take on Barbara Haas Novak Djokovic is to renew his love-hate relationship with Roland Garros in the knowledge that it is himself rather than seemingly unsettled 12-time champion Rafael Nadal who could pose the greatest threat to winning a second Paris title and 18th Grand Slam crown. The only man to beat Djokovic this year is Djokovic after the Serb’s hair-trigger temper prompted a sensational disqualification from the US Open. The 33-year-old arrives in the French capital with a 31-1 record this year after his New York brain-fade was followed by a record 36th Masters title in Rome. Djokovic’s 2016 triumph at Roland Garros allowed him to
Taiwan’s Jason Jung was knocked out of the first round of the French Open in straight sets on Sunday, while Andy Murray said it was going to be “difficult” for the former world No. 1 to reach his level of old after he also fell to a lopsided defeat by fellow three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka. Jung fell to a 7-5, 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (7/3) defeat to Argentina’s Federico Coria in 3 hours, 19 minutes at Roland Garros, despite hitting 55 winners. Jung served for both the first and second sets, then failed to convert two set points at 5-4 in
Michael Schumacher’s son Mick said that the prospect of Lewis Hamilton equaling the Ferrari great’s all-time record of 91 wins has given him something to aim for when he gets to Formula One. Hamilton, who replaced Michael Schumacher at Mercedes in 2013, can take his 91st victory in today’s Russian Grand Prix in Sochi — a race he has won four times previously. “One sentence my dad always used to say was: ‘Records are there to be broken.’ It’s everybody’s aim in this sport to do that,” Formula Two championship leader Mick Schumacher said on Friday. “I think Lewis had a very, very