Arsene Wenger to fine Arsenal's Alex Iwobi for 'unacceptable' partying
LONDON -- Arsene Wenger says Arsenal forward Alex Iwobi will be fined for staying at a party until early Saturday morning ahead of Sunday's FA Cup loss at Nottingham Forest, and called the 21-year-old's behaviour "unacceptable."
The Sun reported on Tuesday that Iwobi attended a party in an apartment in Soho with friends on Friday night and stayed until at least 2:37 a.m. He then played the full 90 minutes in the 4-2 loss at Forest on Sunday and was one of several Arsenal players criticised for a sub-par performance.
"That is true. He will be fined," Wenger said about the report. "It is impossible to go out 48 hours before a game. It's unacceptable."
The Arsenal boss said he still needed to talk to Iwobi to get the full story, but rejected the notion that the Nigeria international had taken any alcohol or drugs at the party. The Sun described the event as "a drug-fuelled house party" and claimed other party-goers were smoking cannabis and inhaling laughing gas.
"First of all you have to be cautious with the news coming out. When you read what is reported it is like he has taken drugs," Wenger said. "He is not involved in that at all, he has been out at a birthday party. How long has he stayed? That is important. After, I will decide what happens.
"If your neighbour takes drugs, what can you do about it? You are responsible for your behaviour, not for the behaviour of your neighbour."
Wenger did not say whether Iwobi will be involved in Wednesday's Carabao Cup semifinal first leg against Chelsea, but could be forced to call on him again given Arsenal's injury problems. Wenger said none of the club's injured players will return for the Chelsea match, meaning he will again be without defenders Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolasinac, midfielders Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka and striker Olivier Giroud.
However, he confirmed he will pick a stronger lineup than he usually does in this competition, and is determined to win the only domestic trophy that has eluded him in England.
"Yes, I would love to win it because we are now in the semifinal and if it's an opportunity we will try to take it," he said.
Arsenal were widely praised for the solid defensive performance in the 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge this season. That game had a very different character compared to the 2-2 draw between the clubs at the Emirates last week, but Wenger said he would not necessarily use the first match as his blueprint for Wednesday's meeting.
"In the championship both teams have one game to get the three points. In this tie, over 180 minutes, it's always a bit different. You want to go there, be solid and try to take advantage of every mistake, of every weakness to win the game," he said. "We also know there is another game after that, and we need to be solid defensively too.
"It is difficult to predict what will happen, but we are not a team who can sit in our own half and wait for the 90 minutes -- we are a team who has to go forward and we have not to forget that is part of our strength as well."
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.