Terry saga not a distraction says Wenger

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger maintains the John Terry saga will have no bearing on Sunday's clash with Barclays Premier League title rivals Chelsea - and believes the role of a captain is overplayed within the English game.

Terry's position as skipper of the national team has been the subject of intense scrutiny since a gagging order which prevented details being reported of an alleged affair with the former girlfriend of Wayne Bridge, a current England team-mate, was lifted.

Debate has raged as to what impact the continuing frenzy will have on both Chelsea's campaign and the England dressing room ahead of the World Cup.

England manager Fabio Capello is set to meet Terry later today, but Wenger insists all off-field issues will have little impact when the two London heavyweights clash at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

"I don't want to go into that stuff about role models that you hear everywhere. It is quite a bit tiring," said the Arsenal manager, whose team will be looking to bounce back from last weekend's 3-1 home demolition by Manchester United.

"We do not have to interfere with Chelsea's problems.

"I believe Chelsea will play at their best, we expect that, and that is why we just want to focus on our own performance.

"We have seen last Sunday when we do not play at our best we do not win the game and that is why the key is more on our side."

Wenger added: "It [captaincy] is over played, without a doubt.

"Maybe it has historical roots in battles, fighting. Traditionally in the history of England the captain certainly had a big role and a big importance.

"I like that, but team sport is linked with recent history, the 20th Century. Before that, it was all fighting, and so maybe it is linked with historical roots.

"In some other sports like rugby the captain has a bit more freedom and importance than in football.

"It is always an instant decision in a very quick time and the captain has no time to interfere with the individual decisions of the players on the pitch."

Wenger took direct action within his squad last season when he removed the captain's armband from William Gallas, replacing him with Cesc Fabregas, after the French defender questioned the spirit of the young Arsenal team.

In May, striker Nicklas Bendtner issued a public apology after he was photographed leaving a nightclub with his belt undone and jeans pulled down before being helped into a waiting car in the early hours after Arsenal had just been knocked out of the Champions League semi-finals.

Wenger has some empathy with the difficulties facing modern-day professionals.

"I believe more than footballers, human beings cross the line, and many of us do," he said.

"Who has not done that in life? We have all made mistakes."

French coach Wenger, 60, has been in England for more than a decade, and understands the media culture.

"It never surprises me because the headlines are quite predicable," he said.

"It must provoke an interest for people because if a newspaper writes, it is because people read it and there must be a demand for it.

"But I am interested in football more, what is happening on the pitch, a good pass, good vision, a good team spirit.

"If people like to read it, why not? But I am not a big fan of that."

Arsenal could blow the title race wide open with a second successive victory at Stamford Bridge, which would move them to within three points of Chelsea.

However, by the same token, suffer defeat and the young Gunners' championship ambitions will look to be all but over once again.

Wenger, though, remains calm.

"I believe we should be more relaxed at this time because at the start of the season nobody expected us in the top four or in the title race," he said.

"Now, instead of being intimidated, I believe we have to really have a go because we are entitled to have it.

"The biggest regret I have from Sunday against Manchester United is that we gave them too much freedom and allowed them to play too much in a game where we should have been dictating.

"My team wanted it so much that sometimes you can be a little bit restricted and our target is to get that freedom to play against Chelsea."

Wenger concluded: "I am convinced that we are capable to win everywhere in the world, but of course we need to turn up with a good performance."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us