- Premier League
Wenger: Arsenal won't focus on Bale
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has insisted his side do not fear Gareth Bale ahead of Sunday's crucial North London derby at White Hart Lane.
The in-form Bale, who has scored six of Tottenham's last seven Premier League goals, appears to be the primary threat to Arsenal's ambitions of closing the gap on their local rivals to one point this weekend, yet Wenger is keen to play down the threat posed by the flying Welshman.
"Bale is not the subject of our worry for the next two or three days," stated Wenger. "It would be a complete mistake to focus on any player from Tottenham.
"There is nobody special that you least like to face. All players have different qualities. There is no player you are absolutely scared to face. As a manager, over the last 15 years, you focus on your team preparing the best and focuses on the football we love."
He added: "I don't speak about the numbers (transfer value for Bale). In England, it's always about numbers. I think when you speak about a football player, I don't see a number on his shirt. I see his qualities, his deficiencies and what he can improve, how good he can become.
"I love football, the rest and the numbers is of very little interest to me."
Bale has been linked with a £50m summer move to Real Madrid or Barcelona, but Wenger suggested the Spurs star does not need to make a move abroad to fulfil his potential.
"Everybody wants to come to England," he continued. "We have the best league in the world here, the most passionate and the most passionate as well, so I don't see any reason why a player should go abroad. All the players who have gone abroad, when I speak to them, they want to come back."
Wenger went on to suggest remaining calm will be the key to his side's ambitions at White Hart Lane on Sunday and he has come up with a novel way to solve his team's tendency to start big matches slowly.
If second half performances were used to make up a Premier League table, Arsenal would sit top, with Wenger urging his players to change their mind set ahead of a game his team dare not lose.
"I believe it will be important to be calm and focused and to get the two together right," he added. "The nerves always play a part in this kind of game and we have to get it right. The general team feeling will come from every individual being calm.
"We will work on it (Arsenal's slow starts in games). We will imagine we are not at the start of the game, but that we are in the second half.
"Our players are ambitious and they want to play in the Champions League, so they will be focused, of course. The game on Sunday will have an important psychological impact on the rest of the season.
"Anything can happen, but let's not forget that there are not only two teams involved. Chelsea are involved as well and Man City may be a bit too far (ahead), but you never know."