Arsene Wenger is delighted that Arsenal will be facing a Chelsea side without Didier Drogba for the first time in eight years.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is pleased to be facing Chelsea without Didier Drogba

By Graeme Bailey

The legendary Ivorian striker left Chelsea for Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua in the summer, and Wenger is delighted to see the back of him.

Drogba had a great goalscoring record against the Gunners, hitting 13 goals and losing just once in 14 games.

So it is little surprise Wenger is pleased not to be facing him on Saturday at the Emirates.

“I don’t know if Chelsea miss him, but we don’t miss him. He did a lot of damage against us,” said Wenger.

Wenger has a near full strength squad with Thomas Vermaelenready to return, whilst Jack Wilshere and Bacary Sagna are back in full training – but neither will feature on Saturday.

“Jack will play on Monday night for the [Under-21s], he will play an hour. We have to be patient,” he continued – confirming he would not be available for England’s World Cup qualifiers next month.

“I think that [the England games] will be too early for him.

“Vermaelen is available for selection, Sagna is back in full training but won’t feature against Chelsea. Rosicky is two weeks away, Szczesny is two or three weeks away.”

Wenger is delighted with how his squad is now shaping up, adding: “I have selection solutions, not selection problems. You want two players in every position.”

Wenger: ‘Rosicky is two weeks away, Szczesny is two or three weeks away.”

Home strength

Wenger admits that Arsenal need to make sure they beat their top-four rivals at home, starting with Chelsea.

“‘If we do well at home against the strong teams it will have a big impact on our chances,” he said.

“We will know more about us on Saturday afternoon, but much more about us after 10 or 15 games.”

Wenger praised Chelsea’s summer signing Eden Hazard, insisting he has not been surprised by his immediate impact at Stamford Bridge.

“I am not surprised that he has gone to Chelsea and is straight away one of their stars,” he said.

He was also about the retirement of Chelsea captain John Terry from his international duties.

“It was a surprise to me. If it’s how he feels you have to respect that decision,” he said.

He also expects Terry to play, despite his ongoing FA hearing, adding: “Yes [I think he will play] because he was involved in the League Cup.”