Pre-Match Report

Wenger on Song, West Ham and rotation

Arsene Wenger says he doesn't need reminding about Alex Song's qualities because he had faith in him when others didn't.

The Arsenal manager brought the Cameroon international to north London in 2005 and gave him his Premier League debut at the age of 18.

It took time for Song to win over the fans and the critics - he was lambasted after struggling badly in a defeat at Fulham - but Wenger stuck with him and saw him emerge as the bedrock of Arsenal's midfield.

"We need to prepare quickly, focus quickly and that is an ability we want to show at West Ham"

Arsene Wenger

Song left Emirates Stadium for Barcelona two years ago but, after struggling for game time, he was loaned to West Ham United in summer. Song has helped the Hammers rise to fifth place in the Premier League and is set to face Arsenal at Upton Park on Sunday.

"He didn't play on Friday against Chelsea," noted Wenger. "He was certainly rested for us. I think he was a very good player when he was here but he didn't play a lot when he was in Spain.

"I brought him here at the age of 17 and kept him despite all the opinions against him. You don't need to convince me he's a good player."





Arsenal's win over Queens Park Rangers on Boxing Day kept them in touch with the teams immediately above them in the Premier League table. West Ham are a point ahead of the Gunners, and fourth-placed Southampton are two clear.

Both can be reeled in over the next week with Arsenal travelling to Upton Park on Sunday and then St Mary's Stadium on New Year's Day. But Wenger does not expect the turn of the year to be decisive.

"I don't give importance to the table at the moment," he said. "There's 20 games to go.

"It's very tight and it's down to consistency now. We know every game now is down to consistency and reproducing the performances. We need to prepare quickly, focus quickly and that is an ability we want to show at West Ham.

"The plan is to sleep well and recover. We want to stay in the game. We'll train on Saturday morning and on Saturday night we go to the hotel. It's very quick and interesting as well."



Alexis Sanchez scores the opener against QPR

Alexis Sanchez scores the opener against QPR




A run of five games in 14 days will require Wenger to shuffle his pack at times. He made two changes for the Boxing Day clash with QPR and will be forced into at least one change at West Ham with Olivier Giroud suspended for three matches. There could be more.

"[Laurent] Koscielny has a chance, he will have a test tomorrow," said Wenger. "He has a little chance. [Alex] Chamberlain has an even smaller chance.

"[Theo Walcott] was in the squad on Friday but it was difficult to bring him on when it was tight and we had to defend. He's not far away."



Theo Walcott

Theo Walcott


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