Centre-back Laurent Koscielny has been deeply affected by the Paris terror attacks and may be rested for Arsenal’s visit to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, manager Arsene Wenger has revealed.
Koscielny was part of the France team that was playing Germany at the Stade de France at the time of the attacks and while he then faced England on Tuesday, Wenger acknowledged that the player’s mind was elsewhere.
“He had a fantastic game against Germany. You could see that on Tuesday night he was not himself,” Wenger said.
“It affected him deeply and I didn’t recognise the player I saw on Friday night on Tuesday night. I will talk with him.
“What I will want from him is that he’s completely committed and feels ready. If not, I will not play him.”
Striker Olivier Giroud was also involved at the Stade de France and the manager added: “You have to trust the player in these kinds of situations.
“Sometimes it hits you more two or three days later than on the night. On the night you try and protect yourself or not know what’s going on.
“But slowly you realise the shock is always a bit after. They have gone through that game, but I will talk to them to see how much they are up for it.”
Arsenal start the day level on points with leaders Manchester City and can increase the pressure on Manuel Pellegrini’s side by claiming three points at the Hawthorns immediately before City face Liverpool.
By then, fourth-place Manchester United could have moved to the top of the table following their early kick-off at Watford, which illustrates that the leading teams have little margin for error.
Wenger will hope that his side can return to the form that brought five successive league wins before the hard-fought draw with Tottenham Hotspur immediately prior to the international break.
– Berahino ‘really sharp’ -The form of Mesut Ozil was key to that run, with the Germany international enjoying his most consistent run since arriving at the Emirates Stadium from Real Madrid in 2013.
Wenger has revealed that the club will open contract talks with Ozil and Alexis Sanchez following the turn of the year.
“At the end of the year they have two and a half years left on their contract so we still have some time,” he said.
“We are not in a hurry. Of course we want them to stay here at the club and we will start the negotiations at some stage. At the moment we have not started them.
“From the New Year to the summer we will certainly start it with all the players who have two years to go at the end of the season.”
West Brom suffered back-to-back defeats before the international break and head coach Tony Pulis is already preparing for Saido Berahino’s future to dominate discussion around the club again.
Pulis hopes for a fully fit squad for the weekend, with the exception of goalkeeper Ben Foster, who is still battling back from a serious knee injury.
And he is expected to recall Berahino, who was dropped to the substitutes’ bench for the 2-0 defeat at Manchester United in the Baggies’ last game after Pulis questioned his fitness.
Berahino, who was eager to join Tottenham in the close season, was linked this week with Chelsea and Albion expect bids from Premier League rivals in January.
But the 22-year-old has spent the international break trying to fine-tune his fitness and first-team coach Ben Garner said: “Tuesday’s session is the best I’ve seen Saido in training since I’ve come to the club.
“He looked really sharp, he looked hungry and he was excellent, which is great.”