London – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admits he is considering bringing his German World Cup winners back into the squad ahead of schedule for the first leg of Tuesday’s Champions League play-off at Besiktas.
The Gunners travel to Turkey having made heavy weather of their opening Premier League fixture at home to managerless Crystal Palace, where a stoppage-time goal from Aaron Ramsey secured a 2-1 victory against a side reduced to 10 men.
Wenger had given German trio Mesut Ozil, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski extra time off following their nation’s triumph in Brazil.
But with Kieran Gibbs having suffered a hamstring injury against Palace and Jack Wilshere also taken off early following a heavy challenge, the Frenchman admitted he was tempted to issue a recall notice.
“The Champions League qualifier is a massive game for us against Besiktas, we have a short time to recover,” said Wenger.
“Normally the German players would not play in that game. We will have to see on Sunday but only in case of emergency.
“Because of the physicality and the organisation level of Crystal Palace it was very difficult for us. We conceded a goal from the first corner they had because we still lack a bit of pace in the final third when we build up into dangerous situations.
“But we kept going and it was enough to win the game. On the first day of the season we were the only team to win at home so that shows you it is difficult for everybody on the first day. We got the three points we wanted, let’s focus now on Besiktas.”
Marquee summer signing Alexis Sanchez endured a frustrating Premier League debut against a physical Palace side.
The Chile forward, who cost £30 million from Barcelona, looked like a player who was getting used to new surroundings.
“I am very happy with his attitude because he kept on fighting for 90 minutes, even if he is not completely ready physically,” Wenger said.
“Tactically he needs to improve his understanding with his partners but he looked lively and dangerous until the end.”
Palace were seconds away from securing a point having taken the lead through Brede Hangeland’s header from a corner, with Laurent Koscielny equalising just before half-time.
It was still level when Jason Puncheon was sent off for two bookable offences with a minute to go.
A draw would have been a remarkable result given that manager Tony Pulis had quit on Thursday night because the board had only given him three new players in the close season, of which Hangeland was one.
Caretaker manager Keith Millen made it clear that with the transfer window soon shutting a replacement needed to be brought in as soon as possible – and the players given a full explanation of the board’s plans.
“Tony loved working with this group day in, day out and you couldn’t ask for a group that works harder,” he said.
“But the players need to know which direction the club is going.
“Hopefully at the start of the week there will be some more answers. We know we can compete at this level but we have got to get more competition for places. The players are waiting to be given a new direction on the field and off the field.
“We’ve identified all the summer the areas we need to strengthen but for whatever reason that’s not happened.
“The three players we’ve brought in all had excellent debuts and have made us better but there are areas where we need to strengthen as a club. Tony knew what players he wanted and the club do.”
Millen is open to taking the job permanently but it is understood he is not being considered as a frontline candidate. – Sapa-AFP