Arsene Wenger has confirmed Nicklas Bendtner will play against Coventry City in tomorrow night’s FA Cup fourth round game with Coventry City and stressed that his squad won’t rest on their laurels after last year’s shock defeat to Blackburn Rovers.
Speaking to assembled press at London Colney this morning, the boss noted: “We had a good warning against Blackburn last season. I know much more than you think about Coventry. I’ve had many difficult games against them.
“We have to prepare for this game seriously. We are on a good run and we want to gain respect.”
Surprisingly Tomas Rosicky’s broken nose keeps him sidelined for the game, despite the fact he was on the bench at the weekend, while the boss also confirmed that Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta won’t return to full training until Monday. It remains to be seen whether the duo are available for Tuesday’s Premier League encounter at Southampton.
“I haven’t decided whether to start Oxlade-Chamberlain [against Coventry]. I will assess him today, but he is close,” he added.
The boss was also asked for an update on negotiations with Per Mertesacker, Bacary Sagna and Tomas Rosicky and strangely, having been positive on all three last week, he remarked: “Close on most of them, but not all of them.”
You suspect Bacary is the sticking point.
Weirder still was his reaction to a question about Thomas Vermaelen’s future. “I’m ready to extend Vermaelen’s contract. He is a quality player and I’m open to it,” said the boss of a player who has slipped down the centre-back pecking order despite being club captain.
“We want Thomas Vermaelen to be happy and have the number of games a player of his class deserves. I have huge respect for his quality and his attitude.
“We will speak about that. At the moment, we are all on board to achieve something that is respectable and at the end of the season, I can sit down with Thomas and decide what he wants to do.”