Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny to miss trip to Montpellier

Arsene Wenger says Vito Mannone is 'very close' to claiming the number one jersey

Arsene Wenger has every confidence Vito Mannone holds the “mental strength” to put his Champions League nightmare behind him when he returns to top-flight European action in Montpellier tomorrow

Wojciech Szczesny suffered an ankle injury in the 6-1 Barclays Premier League win over Southampton at the weekend, which was his first game back since a rib problem.

The Italian had kept two clean sheets, at Stoke and Liverpool, deputising for the Poland international earlier this season - in marked contrast to his last European performance for the Gunners, when he produced a calamitous display in the defeat at Olympiacos last December.

A productive four-month loan spell at npower Championship side Hull built up the confidence of the 24-year-old once again, though, and Wenger has no issue with throwing Mannone straight into the action at Stade La Mosson.

"Vito is very close (to the Arsenal number one jersey), and he gets another opportunity now," said Wenger as the squad prepared to leave Luton Airport this afternoon, with midfielder Abou Diaby fit again following a hip problem.

"He has belief and he has the mental strength to deal with that."

With Lukasz Fabianski also sidelined because of injury, and Argentina youth international Damian Martinez not on Arsenal's Champions League squad list, 21-year-old Academy product James Shea will take an unexpected place on the bench tomorrow.

"He was on the list as goalkeeper number five at the beginning of the season and now he is number two. That shows you how quickly football can change," said Wenger.

Szczesny's error saw Arsenal concede a first Premier League goal of the season against Southampton on Saturday.

While not putting that down to any fitness issue, Wenger accepts it would have perhaps been better to rest the Pole again after he suffered the new problem during the warm-up.

"He says not, but of course we had a question in our minds before the game: do we change him or not? We decided to leave him on - maybe it was a mistake," Wenger said.

Arsenal may be Champions League veterans, now playing in the elite European competition for the 15th straight campaign, and Montpellier only just starting out having won the Ligue 1 title in May, but Wenger warned against any complacency tomorrow night when taking on a side who have lost three from the first five domestic games.

"What they did [last season] is a miracle because I think three years ago they were in the second division and one point away from relegation to division three," he said.

"It is difficult to know why they have not started well this season. Maybe because they were champions and now they are the team to beat.

"People have maybe a little less urgency and everybody is a bit more cautious against them."

Olivier Giroud netted 21 goals for Montpellier to be the joint-top scorer in Ligue 1, which prompted Arsenal to make a £12million move for him in the summer.

The France international has yet to score for his new club and Wenger is aware of the added pressure tomorrow's fixture will bring.

"It can be positive, but it can be negative and it is never easy to handle," he said.

"No matter what you do, the less time you give the player to think about it, the better it is."

Wenger will watch from the stands tomorrow night as he serves the first of a three-match Uefa touchline ban, imposed after he confronted referee Damir Skomina in the wake of last season's Champions League defeat by AC Milan - his third sanction in the space of a year.

Former Arsenal centre-half Steve Bould is set to take charge of the team, having become assistant manager this season following Pat Rice's retirement.

Wenger said: "Steve is doing his job very well.

"Don't forget that the basis of our team is a very offensive philosophy so sometimes, if we concede goals in the future, it will not be Steve Bould's fault.

"It will only be a consequence of the way we see football."

Wenger added: "Steve is a very similar coach to how he played - clear in his mind, well focused and intelligent."

PA

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Lewis Hamilton walks back to the pit lane with his Mercedes burning in the background
Formula 1
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con
comic-con 2014
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
News
A rub on the tummy sprang Casey back to life
video
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
people
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
News
Tovey says of homeless charity the Pillion Trust : 'If it weren't for them and the park attendant I wouldn't be here today.'
people
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little