Premier League

Wenger considers Arshavin bow

Boss to assess Russian's fitness and plays down transfer doubts

Arshavin: At Wenger's disposal

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Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has hinted that Andrey Arshavin could make his debut in the North London derby on Sunday.

The Russian playmaker completed his protracted move from Zenit St Petersburg a day after the transfer deadline, and has received a work permit in time for the weekend.

Arshavin has not played competitively since November, but Wenger, who has a number of key players currently absent through injury, will assess his fitness ahead of the crunch clash at Tottenham Hotspur.

"I believe he is talented, intelligent and motivated. When you have these things together, you always have a chance to make an impact," he said.

"But you have to give him time as well. He is not fit at the moment because he had only 10 days preparation after a long break.

"I will have reservations [about playing him], yes because the worst thing for a player is not being ready to play in a game of that intensity, or getting injured before having kicked a ball for the team.

"I will see what kind of shape he is in on Saturday to see if he will be involved in the squad or not. We are not in a hurry with him."

The deal

Wenger also insisted the club have 'nothing to hide' over Arshavin's transfer, after Reading manager Steve Coppell labelled the saga "a sham".

"It was done in the last minute, but regularly. We have nothing to hide," he said.

"We just did the deal very late in the afternoon, sent it to the Premier League and they ratified it.

"Of course, we want everybody to question the deal. If the deal was not right we would have cancelled the transfer and accepted it. We have done nothing wrong.

"We were not the only one in this case. In every transfer window you have at least 10 or 15 clubs who have to wait until the next morning usually to get agreement from the Premier League.

"We just didn't want to announce it as long as it wasn't officially accepted."