Win the only gift Wenger is hoping for

Arsenal manager turns 60 on Thursday but is focused on European victory tonight

Arsène Wenger turns 60 on Thursday. Please, no cards, the Arsenal manager is trying to pretend it will not happen. "I have nothing to celebrate," he said when asked if he would mark the occasion with a party. He will spend the night watching Europa League football on television and appearing at the club's AGM. There he should have something to celebrate, and not just a victory against AZ here tonight which would all but ensure Arsenal's progression to the knock-out stages of the Champions League.

Regardless of the result he should enjoy a warmer welcome than the shareholders gave him in May when his faith on young players, and resistance to spending heavily on transfers, was rudely questioned with Mikaël Silvestre branded "geriatric" and one shareholder telling him: "I just don't understand your mindset." Afterwards Wenger said: "What was not enjoyable in that meeting was that it was disrespectful to some players and I don't accept that."

Yesterday he said he believed he had answered their criticism – "the fans believe we have a chance this season, that was not the case last season. We have a chance to win the league which was not the case at this time last year."

Arsenal have won their last seven matches to be four points off the top of the Premier League with a game in hand, and control Champions League Group H. All this despite continuing injuries, especially to attacking players. The latest of these, to Theo Walcott, has angered Wenger. The England winger suffered a knee injury in Saturday's defeat of Birmingham after a heavy challenge by Liam Ridgewell and will be out for "three to four weeks".

Wenger did not go as far to say he thought Ridgewell meant to injure the striker, who had only just returned from injury, but he left the thought hanging. "It was a double tackle. The first part is a very good tackle, but the second leg was more dangerous. He cut through with his second leg. that did the damage. Was that deliberate? Only the player knows."

Alex McLeish, Birmingham's manager, was quick to respond. "It was an excellent and perfectly timed challenge. It was firm but fair, as referee Lee Probert thought too as no free-kick was awarded."

Walcott, said Wenger, will miss England's friendly against Brazil in Doha next month, which, depending when Fabio Capello finalises his squad, may leave him only one further match to secure his World Cup place. Wenger admitted: "I believe Theo is worried about the World Cup, but I don't think there's any reason to. He will be in the squad. He will be fit." Also absent from the party that crossed the North Sea were Tomas Rosicky, Nicklas Bendtner and Eduardo, who were the front three for Arsenal's last Champions League away tie, in Liège. With Samir Nasri's recuperation from a broken leg only reaching the stage where he can play in the reserves this week, Wenger has five offensive players out.

Arsenal should be too much for an AZ team reeling from the financial woes of Dirk Scheringa, their benefactor. Scheringa owned, and was chief executive of the DSB Bank which was declared bankrupt yesterday. Wenger, who has always stressed clubs should grow within their own means, predicted a difficult future for a club which had successfully challenged Dutch football's big three, Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord. Manuel Almunia is likely to be recalled by Arsenal, allowing Vito Mannone to take a break.

Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
tvGame of Thrones season 5 episode 1 review
News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want it for the fitness tech, or for the style
News
i100
News
people
News
Astronauts could be kept asleep for days or even weeks
scienceScientists are looking for a way to keep astronauts in a sleeplike state for days or weeks
Sport
Fabian Delph celebrates his goal
footballChristian Benteke and Fabian Delph turn semi-final after Liverpool goal
Life and Style
Model wears: top £29.50, leggings £25, jacket £29.50, bag £25, all marksandspencer.com
fashion
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary
music
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.

Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace