Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has accepted an apology from goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny for smoking Rich Apple cigarettes but has hit out at claims made by German striker Lukas Podolski after his move to Inter Milan.
Szczesny remains in contention for a return to the Arsenal side for tomorrow’s visit of Stoke despite smoking a cigarette following the New Year’s Day defeat at Southampton.
Wenger has spoken out against the habit in the past, with England midfielder Jack Wilshere having been pictured smoking on two separate occasions. But the Frenchman will still consider Szczesny, who was at fault for both the goals conceded at St Mary’s, after he apologised for the incident.
“I haven’t selected the first XI yet. I take everything into account,” Wenger replied when asked if the 24-year-old would return to the team.
“I don’t want to talk about that because what happens in our dressing room stays in our dressing room — apart from the fact that it doesn’t stay in there.
“Of course (he has apologised). He is a serious boy who works very hard, he doesn’t need all that. He made a mistake, he is not the first one or the last one.
“You can do what you want at home. You have a freedom. My issue is that the players here are judged on their performances. Ideally, the best way to have as high a level as possible is to behave as close to the rules.”
Szczesny’s father came out in defence of his son this week, pointing the finger at the rest of the Arsenal defence for the goals conceded at Southampton. But Wenger, who will have Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil back from injury for tomorrow’s game, dismissed any criticisms and does not believe the actions of Szczesny have damaged the image of the club.
“Ideally, you want everyone to behave in the perfect way. I like him as a person, when he makes a mistake he stands up for it. He has contributed a lot to the good image of Arsenal Football Club,” the Frenchman added.
“I don’t need to make a big fuss of it. Every club has internal discipline and rules and it does not have to be public. I don’t want to talk more about it. I don’t listen to the fathers, mothers grandmothers or grandfathers.”
Wenger did move to respond to claims made by Podolski this week.
The German World Cup winner has completed a loan move to Inter having failed to hold down a regular place in the Gunners’ side this season.
Podolski accused the Arsenal boss of a “lack of respect” for not wishing the player well at the San Siro, a claim Wenger said holds no truth.
“I deny completely (that I didn’t say goodbye),” he said.