Belfast Telegraph

Wenger denies playing games over Lacazette


By Mark Mann-Bryans

Arsene Wenger insists he was not deploying mind games by naming Alexandre Lacazette in his Arsenal side to face Manchester United despite ruling the striker out with a groin injury.

The France international was a shock inclusion in the 3-1 defeat to the Red Devils after Wenger had categorically stated he would miss the game.

Ahead of Arsenal's final Europa League group game at home to BATE Borisov, Wenger was asked about United manager Jose Mourinho's comments regarding "the truth" on injured players.

"I thought he wouldn't play," said the Gunners boss. "In the end, he could play. What did you want me to do, leave him at home?

"I'm always honest. I thought really that he wouldn't play, that's what I had been told.

"After, he had a test on Friday morning and went to the game. We weren't sure he would play but he tried and he played, that's part of football."

The Gunners welcome Belarusian Premier League champions BATE tonight having already sealed top spot in Group H.

Wenger has made mass changes throughout the competition, handing valuable game time to the likes of Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere and Olivier Giroud and, asked how winning the group would affect his team selection, Wenger said: "Not too much, because I have many players available who need competition."

The Arsenal boss also reacted to pictures of Wilshere, a player with a history of injuries in the previous three years, ice skating with his family earlier in the week.

"It's not ideal," he added. "For your balance it's not bad but for a footballer I don't think it's great. It depends as well on what you do.

"You can do ice skating by bringing your child on and just making sure nothing happens to him, or (you can do) ice skating violently, I don't think he did that."

Belfast Telegraph

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