Wenger: Xhaka has to stay cool in derby

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admitted that he is concerned by Granit Xhaka's disciplinary record ahead of tomorrow's North London Derby at home to Tottenham.

The Switzerland midfielder is in line to play against the Gunners' fierce local rivals for the first time, with Santi Cazorla likely to be still sidelined with an Achilles problem.

Xhaka, 24, has picked up eight red cards for club and country since April 2014 and is returning from a domestic ban following his dismissal in last month's 3-2 win over Swansea.

He scored his first Champions League goal as Arsenal came from 2-0 down to beat Ludogorets in Sofia on Tuesday and progress into the last 16 for the 17th straight season.

But the number of cards collected by the £35-million ($60m) summer recruit is a worry for Wenger as Arsenal look for a first home Premier League win over Spurs in three years.

"Am I a bit concerned? Yes, of course," he said, when asked if Xhaka's record was an issue.

"The discipline is important and we want to be effective in all situations we face and, in the derby, it is important to keep control of your reaction and to have a strong discipline, because it is part of the effectiveness in these games.

"Normally he is a very composed and calm guy. Sometimes on the field, he has a reaction that is a bit impulsive and he knows that.

"It is not because you talk about that. He has to work on that and keep control of his reactions in the game."

Tottenham have yet to finish above Arsenal since Wenger took over 20 years ago, but they came closest to doing so last term.

Mauricio Pochettino's side were in the title race for much of the campaign but, having lost out to Leicester, they then fell to third behind Arsenal on the last day after a 5-1 defeat by relegated Newcastle.


Spurs are unbeaten in the league this season and sit three points behind Arsenal, who are level on points at the top with Manchester City and Liverpool.

And Wenger is anticipating another tight derby after both of last season's meetings ended in draws.

"It is an interesting clash because for us, it is a very important game because we are in a strong position in the league that we want to strengthen," he said.

"Overall Tottenham as well, so it is very tight at the top of the league. We are more focused that it is a home game, to win the game - whether it is Tottenham or somebody else.

"We want to win our home games because our position in the league is very important and we go into a period where we play big games and we want to win the big games."

Theo Walcott, Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal also missed the win in Bulgaria and face fitness tests.

Kieran Gibbs may also miss out after he suffered a shoulder injury in the victory over Ludogorets, while Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud will be hopeful of retaining their places. - PA Sport.

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