Wenger has faith in Mannone
Arsenal boss praises keeper ahead of Montpellier clash
Last Updated: September 17, 2012 5:53pm
Vito Mannone: Has the backing of Arsene Wenger ahead of the game against Montpellier
Arsene Wenger is confident Vito Mannone has the mental strength to perform well in the absence of Wojciech Szczesny when Arsenal face Montpellier on Tuesday.
Szczesny suffered an ankle injury in the 6-1 win over Southampton at the weekend, which was his first game back since a rib problem.
Mannone had kept two clean sheets in the Premier League whilst deputising for the Poland international, and will now get the chance to impress in the UEFA Champions League.
He has unhappy memories from the European competition, having produced a calamitous display in the defeat at Olympiakos last December, but Wenger has no worries about the Italian.
"Vito is very close (to the Arsenal number one jersey), and he gets another opportunity now," said Wenger.
"He has belief and he has the mental strength to deal with that."
Arsenal may be Champions League veterans, now playing in the elite European competition for the 15th straight campaign, and Montpellier only just starting out having won the Ligue 1 title in May, but Wenger warned against any complacency when taking on a side who have lost three from the first five domestic games.
"What they did [last season] is a miracle because I think three years ago they were in the second division and one point away from relegation to division three," he said.
"It is difficult to know why they have not started well this season. Maybe because they were champions and now they are the team to beat.
"People have maybe a little less urgency and everybody is a bit more cautious against them."