Diaby Doubtful, Sagna and Gibbs Out for North London Derby
Arsenal midfielder Abou Diaby’s participation in Sunday’s North London derby is doubtful due to injury, coach Arsene Wenger has revealed.
The 26-year-old midfielder picked up a calf injury in last weekend’s 2-1 defeat of Aston Villa and failed to finish that game. He is struggling to shake off that knock and now faces a late test to prove his fitness to the coaching staff.
Arsenal.com have quoted Wenger as saying: “Abou is an uncertainty. He has a calf problem, a minor one. It is question of days. He will have tests and then we will see if we can use him on Sunday or not. It is a 50:50. Actually, maybe a bit more for him playing.”
In addition to the oft-injured Frenchman, the Gunners will also be without both of their first-choice full-backs Bacary Sagna and Kieran Gibbs.
“(Sagna) is not ready for Sunday. It is too short for him. Kieran is not back. That was as we expected,” Wenger added.
Sagna to Be Replaced with Janmaat
Arsenal have identified Feyenoord defender Daryl Janmaat as a potential replacement for Bacary Sagna, according to a report published by Metro.
Sagna’s current deal with the Gunners is set to expire at the end of the current season and talks between him and the club over a new deal have broken down. If he leaves on a free transfer, then the North London giants will purportedly move for the aforementioned Feyenoord right-back.
The paper also claims that Arsenal have some kind of an agreement with the Eredivisie club which will give them an edge over other clubs in landing Janmaat in the summer.
When Voetbal International asked the player about Arsenal’s potential interest in signing him earlier this week, he said: “Arsenal’s interest in me? I’m only thinking about Feyenoord right now. Much remains to be played this season before thinking about the transfer market at the end of the season.”
Diaby Claims Arsenal Have Edge over Tottenham
Abou Diaby feels Arsenal hold a psychological advantage over their bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur because of their 5-2 mauling that took place earlier this season at Emirates Stadium.
The third-placed Spurs currently have four more points than Arsenal and are riding high at the moment due to the heroics of their star attacker Gareth Bale. Meanwhile the Gunners have struggled for results of late and barely managed to win last weekend’s home encounter with the lowly Aston Villa. Despite the two clubs’ contrasting run of form, Diaby still believes that his side will have the edge when they line up against Tottenham this Sunday.
The French midfielder told Arsenal Player: “We all look forward to these big games because they are not only important to us, but to the club and the fans. It is more than a game. The atmosphere around the game means we all want to win, so that makes it very exciting. That is why I think there are so many goals.”
“It will be difficult because they play at their ground and have the crowd supporting them, but we just have to deal with that. Of course [we have a psychological edge] because from the last game against them we took some lessons and we know them well. We know how to deal with them.”
Cazorla Knows North London Derby’s Importance
Santi Cazorla says that Arsenal players are fully aware how big a game the North London derby is for the club and is hoping that he and his teammates could step up their level of play at White Hart Lane this Sunday.
In a recent interview with The Daily Star, the Spaniard said: “We know how important it is and I hope we can rise to the challenge. To beat them and get into the top four and the Champions League, which is our aim for the season, is essential.
“It is very important, not just because it is a great rivalry or that it is Tottenham versus Arsenal but the fact that they are a side with great players who are fighting with us for a top-four spot.”
Bale’s Warning for Gunners
Tottenham Hotspur star Gareth Bale has warned Arsenal that he wants to avenge his side’s 5-2 loss and will be fully determined to do so when the two sides meet at White Hart Lane this Sunday.
The Welsh winger, who has been in sublime form of late for Spurs, said: “It’s one we want to win. We started well last time [in the 5-2 defeat] and the sending-off was a problem. We want to rectify that score now and hopefully get the three points.
“We go into the game full of confidence, looking for three points to boost our hopes of getting into the Champions League. It’s massive. We know how big it is – not just for us but for the fans.”