By Richard Clarke in Barcelona
Arsène Wenger has refuted suggestions that he was playing “mind games” by including Robin van Persie so late in his squad for the game at Barcelona.
The Arsenal manager made no mention of the Dutchman’s involvement when he spoke to the media before training on Monday morning. However, a few hours later, the striker was named as the 19th man in the party.
It transpired that Van Persie wanted to have a fitness test during training that day and came through OK. He faces another examination on the morning of the Champions League Knockout Round second leg tie at the Nou Camp and remains very much touch-and-go to feature. However Wenger says he was not dealing in disinformation.
“I am very bad at mind games,” said Wenger at the UEFA press conference on Monday evening. “The whole truth is what I have given you here. We’ll see tomorrow morning. The medical team will assess him and I would like him to play. But I will only play him if he is 100 per cent fit. OK, I will consider 99.5.”
Wenger omitted Cesc Fabregas from his side at the Carling Cup Final eight days ago when he was struggling to return. However the manager outlined why the circumstances are different with the Van Persie.
“For me these are two problems,” he said. “Cesc had a muscle problem. Robin has a ligament problem. There is more risk for a muscle problem. So it is just whether he feels he is fit to play. There is not the same risk of recurrence like there is with a muscular problem.”Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source