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

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power