A loss on Wednesday night and a long trip back from Croatia isn’t exactly a great way to prepare for a big Premier League game.
Arsène Wenger knows as much but, ahead of Saturday’s trip to Stamford Bridge, the Arsenal manager isn’t looking for any excuses.
Wenger rested a number of players for the 2-1 defeat to Dinamo Zagreb, which may well have knocked the upbeat mood in the Arsenal camp. A long journey home later and the Arsenal manager is keen to move past what happened, with the focus solely on the Chelsea game during Friday morning’s press conference.
“In football you have to forget always cheap excuses and focus on what matters on the day, which is the performance on the day,” said the Arsenal manager. The performance on Wednesday wasn’t good enough, but Saturday provides a great chance to hit back.
“If you want to make a career at a club without any disappointment, or individual disappointment, it is not possible. Your career is decided by how well you perform on the day that you have to perform. That is what matters on Saturday.”
Rotating his side so heavily on Wednesday proved to be a mistake, but Wenger was quick to say that was irrelevant ahead of the weekend. Moreover, he insisted that travelling back from Croatia in a quirk of the fixture list is not something we can complain about.
“I don’t use that (travelling from Croatia) as an excuse. I knew before the game in Zagreb that time would be short and I took decisions a little bit linked with that. We are in a position where we can perform tomorrow.”
Though the Gunners lost in midweek, Wenger’s selection did ensure that Héctor Bellerín and Aaron Ramsey – both left in London – will be fresh at Stamford Bridge. Petr Čech and Nacho Monreal also didn’t feature, while Francis Coquelin and Theo Walcott only came off the bench.
Hopefully that gamble pays off and we didn’t end up losing the game in Zagreb for nothing.