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Wenger gives Koscielny derby chance, rules out Bellerin

Laurent Koscielny could return to the Arsenal defence against Tottenham but manager Arsene Wenger will be without right-back Hector Bellerin for Sunday’s north London derby.

Centre-back Koscielny dropped to the bench as a precaution against Bayern Munich on Wednesday due to a hip problem, looking on as his team-mates suffered a chastening 5-1 defeat at the Allianz Arena.

The France international is in with a chance of bolstering Arsenal’s backline when their near neighbours visit Emirates stadium, although a groin complaint means the match comes too soon for Bellerin.

“Koscielny may be back but Bellerin is ruled out already,” Wenger told his pre-match media conference.

Koscielny would be expected to start if fit, with Wenger once again laying the blame for the Bayern defeat upon his defence – as he did immediately after the match.

“When you play against Bayern they are Bayern,” he said. “I watched the game again and not a lot has changed since my analysis after the game.

“I believe we created a high number of chances but we had not our usual defensive performance. Especially on the first two goals.

“They are maybe the best team in Europe but if we’d had our usual defensive performance we could have repeated our performance [from Arsenal’s 2-0 win over the German champions last month].”

Arsenal’s prospects of qualification for the knockout stages of the Champions League are now remote, but they remain excellently placed in the Premier League – level on points with leaders Manchester City.

“From one competition to the other – I believe in the Premier League we have a strong confidence and we want to reproduce it on Sunday against Tottenham,” he added.

“They have always in my memory had strong teams. It will be a tough opponent just like every year.

“They are a side that are strong defensively and can play at a a high pace in a committed way.

“They’ve done well. They’ve lost only one [Premier League] game. They’ve had a few draws but overall they’ve looked stable.”

Fri 6 Nov, 2015
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