Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admitted Tottenham’s Harry Kane is currently the best striker in Europe but believes his own frontmen can shine in the north London derby this weekend.
Kane bagged his 100th Premier League goal in Spurs’ dramatic 2-2 draw at Liverpool last time out and spoke earlier this week of how being released from Arsenal’s academy as an eight-year-old left him with a “chip on his shoulder”.
He has a fine record against the Gunners with six goals in seven appearances but Wenger is looking to his forwards to take the headlines on Saturday lunchtime.
When asked whether there is a better striker in Europe than Kane at the moment, Wenger replied: “If you look at the numbers, no, because he has high numbers but I believe what you want in a game like that is to keep him quiet and for our strikers to express their talent.”
Arsenal overcame Tottenham at the Emirates Stadium earlier in the season but sit four points behind their fifth-placed neighbours in the Premier League.
But Wenger is optimistic his side can make up some ground on Spurs, as he said: “We want to win this game, we have a good opportunity and we want to take it.
“It’s a big game because we are behind in the table and we have to catch up.
“It is more important for us to come back mathematically than it is emotionally-charged.”
Wenger will make a late call on his goalkeeper, with first choice Petr Cech a doubt for the Wembley clash because of a calf injury he suffered in Arsenal’s 5-1 win over Everton last weekend.
However, Wenger has full faith in back-up Colombian custodian David Ospina.
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Wenger added: “We had some problems with Petr Cech and we are not sure – he hasn’t practised.
“I will not take any risk if he is not 100 per cent because I have full confidence in David Ospina.
“David Ospina or Petr Cech, I will make that decision tomorrow.”
Wenger claims English players are now the “masters” of diving, with simulation in the headlines this week following Dele Alli’s booking for diving at Anfield last Sunday.
Wenger has already escaped the wrath of the Football Association on the subject this season after claiming Raheem Sterling “dives well” following a 3-1 defeat at Manchester City in November.
Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino said on Tuesday that ‘tricking’ an opponent was now part of the game but, while he believes he knows what the Argentinian was getting at, Wenger went on to point the finger at home-grown players.
“I am convinced that he wanted to say that tricking your opponent is to say that you have to be clever,” he said when asked about Pochettino’s comments.
“How far was it an apology for diving? I’m not sure at all. I don’t think he would. In my personal case? No. We have to get the diving out of the game.
“I remember there were tremendous cases here when foreign players did it but I must say the English players have learned very quickly and they might even be the masters now.”