Arsene Wenger has stated that he does not discriminate between selecting English players and foreigners for his Arsenal side after choosing Sweden's Rami Shaaban to play in goal instead of Stuart Taylor for the north London derby today.
The Arsenal manager has given a Premiership debut to Shaaban while David Seaman recovers from a groin injury.
Shaaban, who kept a clean sheet in the goalless draw with PSV Eindhoven in the Champions' League on Tuesday, is selected in preference to Taylor, who is English and impressed as Seaman's deputy last season. Arsenal ended the PSV game without an Englishman on the field but Wenger said he has no intention of constructing his side that way.
"When you pick a team for Saturday, you don't look at the passport," the Frenchman said. "If I spent what I did for Francis Jeffers, it shows I am conscious of the problem and I want some English faces but it would be offensive to the English players if I said that you are playing because you are English. I hope I might never have to say that to anyone."
One Englishman Wenger will welcome back into the side tomorrow is the former Spurs defender Sol Campbell, who returns after a back injury forced him out of the PSV match. Last season Campbell suffered intolerable abuse when he went back to White Hart Lane where the sides shared a 1-1 draw, with Arsenal winning 2-1 when they played at Highbury.
"When you play Tottenham, it is prestige and rivalry, the same excitement but a bit different," Wenger said.
His Spurs counterpart, Glenn Hoddle, said now is as good a time as any for his team to be facing their rivals. "The game against Arsenal is always massive, whenever it comes up, whatever form you're in. Form goes out of the window to a certain degree.
"There is a lot of pride at stake. We've come off a draw and two losses and are having a bit of a blip. We have got to turn it around. There is no better way to turn it around than winning against Arsenal. They are not in the greatest of shape, having won only one game in the last six or seven."Reuse content