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Wenger: The international break is not welcome

Olivier Giroud in action for France. Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images Olivier Giroud in action for France. Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Monday, November 11, 2013
8:35 AM

Arsene Wenger is worried that a host of Arsenal stars will return from the next fortnight’s international break “exhausted” and highlighted France’s World Cup qualifying double-header against Ukraine as his chief concern.

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Bacary Sagna, Laurent Koscielny, and Olivier Giroud will jet off to join Les Bleus – while other Gunners will join their respective nations - on the back of a 1-0 defeat at Manchester United yesterday, where former captain Robin van Persie scored the winner.

It saw the north Londoners lead at the top of the Premier League remain on two points after Liverpool narrowed the gap with a 4-0 win over Fulham 24 hours earlier.

Fatigue in his players is one fear but Wenger must also wait 12 days for his team next chance to atone for only their second defeat of the season.

“The international break is not welcome because when you lose a game like that you want to play straight away again.

“We have some players who go to play massive games, under massive pressure and will not come back after the break refreshed - they come back maybe exhausted because France plays against Ukraine - we have a few French players.

“All the other countries it’s a bit better.”

One consolation for Wenger might be that the Premier League is turning into the most unpredictable of affairs.

With Chelsea needing an injury-time equaliser to claim a point at home to West Brom, Tottenham losing on home soil to Newcastle and Manchester City suffering yet another away defeat, this time at Sunderland, the usual dominance of the top clubs has not been established this term.

This inconsistency, coupled with Southampton’s presence in a Champions League slot has led to accusations of a sub-standard competition.

It is not a view Wenger agrees with.

“I don’t know about that,” he said.

“Southampton are close to the top, but they have three players in the England squad.

“In addition, Luke Shaw is not far away and they say [Nathanial] Clyne is the same.

“Maybe the whole quality of the Premier League has gone up.

“I don’t think necessarily players like Van Persie are not as good as last season or two seasons ago.”

Six points now separate the top eight teams and Wenger said: Six points is not too bad after 11 games.

“What we have learnt again today is that not only that Man United could beat Arsenal but everybody can beat everybody in this Premier League.

“Sunderland beat Man City and that shows you how much excitement you will have until the end of the season.”

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Arsenal

Nickname: The Gunners.

Ground: Emirates Stadium (capacity 60,361).

Founded: 1886.

Honours: First Division (until 1992) and Premier League: 1931, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1938, 1948, 1953, 1971, 1989, 1991, 1998, 2002, 2004.

FA Cup: 1930, 1936, 1950, 1971, 1989, 1991, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2005.

League Cup: 1987, 1993.

Fairs Cup: 1970.

Cup Winners’ Cup: 1994.

Leading goalscorer: Thierry Henry, 228.

Leading appearances: David O’Leary, 722.