Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has admitted that there is no striker in Europe better than Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane at the moment.
Wenger’s side face Spurs in the Premier League on Saturday with Kane, who has scored 22 league goals this season, one of the big stars in the North London Derby.
When Wenger was asked during his pre-match press conference on Thursday if there was a better striker in Europe than Kane right now, he answered: “If you look at the numbers, no.
“Our strikers are top class as well and we want them to express their talent.”
Wenger recently brought in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund for a club record £57m and Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Manchester United in a swap deal for Alexis Sanchez and the manager has backed his new stars to keep on performing. They both shone in last weekend’s 5-1 EPL win over Everton with Aubameyang scoring on his debut and Mkhitaryan claiming three assists.
“Once the game has started, these guys have top-level experience,” Wenger said.
“They know what’s important and that’s to focus on their performance.
“These guys are top quality players. Why should they not repeat the performance [vs. Everton].
“Henrikh has a very professional attitude in training and matches. I’m not surprised by that – to me, it’s completely normal.”
Wenger then hinted at his plans to stop Kane from scoring at Wembley.
The Frenchman said: “I can talk and talk and talk, but it’s the numbers (Kane’s goals) which will show that (he needs to be stopped).
“The best way to defend is to have the numbers and take the game to them.”
On Arsenal’s mentality going into the big derby, Wenger said: “You have to find a good balance between rational and emotional. You have not to let the emotions take over. At the end of the day it is down to making good decisions on the pitch.”
The Arsenal manager then provided updates on Petr Cech, Danny Welbeck and Nacho Monreal, who have all had injury concerns.
“Basically, we should have a similar squad to what we had last week against Everton,” he said. “Maybe Danny Welbeck will be back. We had a few problems with Petr Cech, who we are not sure about at the moment because he’s not trained. I don’t know if he will be available. Nacho Monreal looks alright again. It should be a similar squad.
“I will not take any risk if Cech is not 100 per cent fit, for sure, because I have full confidence in David Ospina.
“I have no problem with [selecting Ospina]. David Ospina or Petr Cech: I will make that decision tomorrow.”
Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino raised a few eyebrows recently when he appeared to defend diving by his players.
On the issue of diving, Wenger said: “I don’t tell my players to dive. I don’t encourage them to dive at all but if you look at the situation, sometimes you do not want to provoke a dive but you want them to be intelligent and play a little bit with the rules.”
Arsenal are sixth in the Premier League table with 45 points, four worse off than fifth-place Spurs.
When he was asked if he prefers the North London Derby being played at Wembley over White Hart Lane, Wenger said: “Yes, because we have a good record there.”
Arsenal have not lost at Wembley since an FA Cup final defeat to Chelsea in 2009 – and have won nine consecutive matches at the venue since.
Wenger believes that will help Arsenal will feel comfortable in front of the 80,000-plus crowd.
“[Playing at Wembley] has a little weight in it because we feel we have a good level of performance there,” he added.
“It won’t feel too much ‘away’ in that situation.”