Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Arsenal's Travel Sickness a Big Worry for Wenger

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Arsenal's Travel Sickness a Big Worry for Wenger

Article excerpt


Schalke 3 Arsenal 1

THEY closed the roof on the futuristic Schalke Arena last night as Arsenal completed the first phase of their Champions League campaign. By the time that Polish referee Ryszard Wojcik brought their match to an end, Wenger must have feared that same roof was going to cave in on him any minute.

It had been that kind of day followed by that kind of night.

The morning had not been promising.

For all the protests, petitions and rhetoric, Arsenal's attempt to spare their French contingent of Robert Pires, Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and Sylvain Wiltord from the rigours of a 46-hour round trip to Melbourne for a friendly against Australia on 11 November appears to have fallen on deaf ears.

France manager Roger Lemerre was as good as his word when he announced his squad - it was the strongest he could select and that included Wenger's quartet.

"Usually, you're proud when your players are chosen, but I am disappointed they have been selected," said Wenger who held back from further comment until FIFA decide if France are within their rights to demand the release of the players.

The indications are not good. If he thought the final match against Schalke 04 was going to provide some comfort with a win that proves Arsenal can cross the Channel without disintegrating and could also boast a strong second string, he was to be disappointed.

It was taxing enough that a whole cluster of peripheral players were on parade while a sizeable collection of talent rested back in London.

The cause was not helped when Arsenal were again forced on the back foot by yet another moment of indiscipline. In Palma, it was Ashley Cole who lunged ill-advisedly to give away a 10th minute penalty and gain a red card.

Last night it was the turn of Ukrainian fullback Oleg Luzhny to lose his cool. He took umbrage at an off-the-ball challenge by Jorg Bohme and hit out.

It was spotted by the linesman and the card was red. Ten minutes gone and Arsenal once more down to 10 men.

Wenger said: "It's difficult enough to play teams like Mallorca, Panathinaikos and Schalke away when you have 11 men. …

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