Football

Wenger: Rashford killed us last season

Wenger plays down Ibrahimovic's absence and his history with Mourinho

MAN UNITED 
v ARSENAL

(Tomorrow, 8.25pm, Singtel TV Ch 103 & StarHub TV Ch 228 - Eleven Plus HD)

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger downplayed the absence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic for tomorrow's clash with Manchester United by highlighting the threat posed by Marcus Rashford.

Asked about the impact of the Swede missing the game through suspension, Wenger replied: "The guy who killed us last year was Rashford.

"I watched him against a Danish team (FC Midtjylland) in midweek (before last season's Manchester United v Arsenal game) and he scored and I thought this guy could be dangerous.

"His movement was good and he was strong.

"He took everyone by surprise."

It's no surprise, though, that the clash between Manchester United and Arsenal has been billed as the latest instalment in the rivalry between Wenger and Jose Mourinho.

The Manchester United boss famously called the Frenchman a voyeur and a specialist in failure while the largely serene Wenger uncharacteristically shoved Mourinho on the touchline in 2014.

But the Gunners boss was keen to highlight that tomorrow will see a clash between two teams and not their managers.

Said Wenger, who has never beaten Mourinho in the Premier League: "You know, we didn't always lose.

"We have beaten them and there were many draws as well. I think I have won against every manager in the world during my 20 years here and I do not make of this game a competition between two managers.

"It's between two clubs and two teams and I think I can understand that people want to create controversy, but it's not that that makes the audience...

"That will be down to the players who are on the pitch."

However, Santi Cazorla won't be on the pitch while Arsenal will assess forward Alexis Sanchez on his return from international duty with Chile.

Wenger said he will talk to the 27-year-old to see whether he feels fit and ready to face the Red Devils.

"I haven't heard a lot because we were in doubt 24 hours before (Chile's) game against Uruguay," he said about Sanchez's fitness.

GOOD SHAPE

"We didn't know if he'd play or not. In the end they decided to play him. He texted us to tell us he's in good shape after the game.

"I see him tomorrow morning and then I will see if he can be involved in the squad or not.

"What I will consider is the risk of injury because he played while recovering from a hamstring injury.

"I'll consider the way he feels as well. On that front you depend on the honesty of the player, how they feel and how they recover."

Cazorla, meanwhile, has not featured since picking up an Achilles injury during the 6-0 Champions League win over Ludogorets at the Emirates Stadium on Oct 19.

He told Spanish radio station Cadena COPE: "I still don't know the exact time frame... I cannot say if it will be soon or if I still have a few weeks left."

Despite the Spanish schemer's absence, Mesut Oezil is convinced Arsenal can beat any team.

The German, who former Gunners favourite Robert Pires believes has inherited Dennis Bergkamp's mantle as the club's maestro, told Arsenal Player: "(We need to) be successful against the big teams, like we were against Chelsea (Arsenal won 3-0).

"We have the quality to beat any team and that's what we want to show this season."

However, former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson doesn't believe the Gunners have the quality to pip England's big guns to the Premier League title.

He told The Daily Star: "No, I don't see it.

"They played Middlesbrough at home and were very lucky to get a result (0-0). They were 1-1 with 15 minutes to go against Sunderland (Arsenal won 4-1)." - Wire Services.


FUN FACT

0 Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger (right) has not beaten Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho (left) in the Premier League. The Frenchman has won just one of their 15 encounters, the 2015 FA Community Shield.

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