Arsene Wenger has warned his hot-headed Arsenal players not to lose their composure again when they face bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the English League Cup third round tonight.
Wenger’s side head to White Hart Lane for the first north London derby of the season after two successive defeats featuring three red cards for the Gunners.
France striker Olivier Giroud was dismissed in last week’s UEFA Champions League loss against Dinamo Zagreb, while Brazilian defender Gabriel and Spanish midfielder Santi Cazorla were sent off in Saturday’s painful 2-0 defeat at Chelsea.
Wenger largely blamed Chelsea’s Diego Costa for provoking Gabriel into the kick that led to his dismissal.
However, the defender has since been charged with improper conduct for his protests after being sent off, and the Arsenal manager said his team need to do a better job of keeping their emotions under control even in the face of extreme provocation.
“It is true that we played the last two games with 10 men in the second half and I hope we play the next one with 11 versus 11, but it is another derby and that is not guaranteed as well,” Wenger said.
Yet there are few more testing environments in which to do that than White Hart Lane on derby day, when the hatred and bile is likely to pour down from the stands toward Wenger’s players.
Another factor that could negate Wenger’s attempts to clamp down on the rash of red cards is Arsenal’s desperation to get back on track after a pair of defeats that raised renewed questions about their ability to win the English Premier League and Champions League.
While Arsenal’s spluttering start to the season has taken a turn for the worse over the past week, Tottenham have recorded three consecutive victories to revive hopes of a successful season after a sluggish opening.
Tottenham’s Belgian defender Jan Vertonghen believes boss Mauricio Pochettino is building a young team capable of great things.
South Korea forward Son Heung-min, 23, is the new idol of the Lane after his first Premier League goal — and third in just three appearances in all competitions — clinched a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace on Sunday.
Son’s fine start following his transfer from Bayer 04 Leverkusen is part of a youth movement also including 19-year-old Dele Alli, 21-year-old Eric Dier, 22-year-olds Ben Davies and Harry Kane, and 23-year-olds Erik Lamela and Christian Eriksen.
“Things are looking very good. We have great young players and a good mix, so there are great things for the team if we can keep working like this. It looks very good for the future,” Vertonghen said.
However, one concern remains the usually-prolific Kane’s disappointing form, with the England striker without a club goal so far this season.
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