Arsene Wenger will urge Granit Xhaka to get control of his emotions during Sunday’s north London derby.
Xhaka will be available again after a three-match ban against Tottenham on Sunday, and with Santi Cazorla still struggling with injury could go straight back into the starting XI – as he was in the Champions League win over Ludogorets.
But Wenger admitted that he is concerned about the Swiss midfielder’s discipline in such a fiery game, with Xhaka having picked up three yellow cards and two reds in only 13 games this season so far.
‘I am a bit concerned, yes, because discipline is important,’ Wenger said on Thursday.
‘We want to be effective in all situations we face. In a derby it is important to keep control of your reaction and have a strong discipline, because it’s part of the effectiveness in this kind of game.
‘He’s normally a very composed and calm guy. Sometimes on the field he has the reaction that is a bit impulsive. He knows that.
‘He has to work on that and keep control of his reactions in the game.’
Xhaka is likely to partner Francis Coquelin at the base of Arsenal’s midfield after Wenger revealed that Santi Cazorla is still a doubt through injury.
‘He has not practiced yet,’ explained the Arsenal boss. ‘We will try and go out today and see where we go from there. He is a doubt yes.’
Hector Bellerin should return, after Wenger confirmed that he could have played in Bulgaria in midweek but was not risked, while Theo Walcott is also likely to be fit. Nacho Monreal and Kieran Gibbs are both doubts.
Tottenham come into the game without a win in their last six games, and having been beaten by Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League on Wednesday.
But while Wenger expects a response from Mauricio Pochettino’s side he insisted the game is ‘more than a derby’ in the context of a Premier League title challenge.
‘It’s an interesting clash because for us it’s a very important game. Overall Tottenham are also in a strong position. We are focused on winning the game, if it’s Tottenham or somebody else, we want to win our home games.
‘At the moment I’m focused on the fact that this is more than a derby, it’s an important game for us. It’s a home game that is big. We want to show that we can have an interesting role to play in the Premier League and can win these big games
‘At the moment what is important is to focus on ourselves and the quality of our performances. We know that we have done very well away from home, we can do well at home, and we know that the success of our season will depend on how well we do at home.’
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