Wojciech Szczesny to start for Arsenal against Boro, but Alexis Sanchez a doubt
Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Wojciech Szczesny will start in-goal for Arsenal against Middlesbrough, in the FA Cup Fifth Round tie at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
Wenger said at his pre-match press conference this morning. “He (Szczesny) will play. He is completely ready and determined to play.”
It will be Szczesny’s first appearance since the Gunners beat Brighton 3-2 in the last round of the competition.
Alexis Sanchez is a major doubt for Sunday, with Wenger admitting he could be a “little short” in recovering from the knock he picked up against Leicester City on Tuesday.
Gabriel Paulista is closing in on his Arsenal debut following his move from Villarreal.
Wenger said: “He’s very close. He is a player with ability. He likes to defend. He is good in the air, very strong.
“But it is better I don’t talk too much and let him show how good he is.”England boss Roy Hodgson admitted trying Shisha.
Wenger confirmed that Jack Wilshere has returned to training after a long lay-off, and that he needs competitive matches to speed up his recovery.
“He is motivated to come back as quickly as possible,” said the Arsenal boss.
“He has worked hard but he has been out for four months. It is competition that gives you that sharpness that training does not give you.”
Asked about Aaron Ramsey’s hamstring injury, Wenger said he will miss the match with Boro: “We haven’t found an underlying reason. There’s certainly a medical or biomechanical reason.”
He said: “It’s a big challenge but a big opportunity. If we qualify we are in the quarter-finals. We have the luck. The match is at the Emirates.”
“They are not afraid to take on the big boys. They are well organised, play good football and they are very creative.
“We won’t be surprised by them. We don’t have the excuse to be surprised as they beat Manchester City.”
The Gunners boss has also had his say on veteran Boro defender Jonathan Woodgate: “He is an intelligent player who understands the game very well.
“Unfortunately in his career he has had many injuries. He went to Real Madrid that means he has the potential if not the continuity needed at the top-level.”
Wenger almost made an amusing comment about Roy Hodgson’s claim to have used a shisha pipe: “I don’t know. I feel sorry for him but some people must love it because they do it.
“I’ve never tried it so I can’t tell you anything about it.”
Commenting about the new mega TV rights deal announced earlier in the week, Wenger said
“The extra Premier League money will contribute to getting more of the best players to play in England.”