Press Association The Gunners manager has come under increased pressure after a 3-1 home loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League in midweek. A top-four Barclays Premier League finish is likely to offer their only hope of returning to the competition next season and they look set to go an eighth season without winning a trophy. Arsenal have long been out of the title race and face an uphill battle to overhaul north London rivals Tottenham to get back into the top four. “We want to be in the Champions League,” the Frenchman said. “Financially we can live with [not qualifying], but on the sporting front, no. And the sporting front is the priority.” FA Cup and Capital One Cup exits against lower-league opponents have also marred Arsenal’s season, but Wenger, whose side hosts Aston Villa on Saturday, believes his players can regroup and have a strong end to the season. “What we need is to be united and strong, and not to be destabilised by people who have strong opinions after one game,” he said. “I believe what is important is that the club always goes with the guidelines we have and does not change direction every time we lose a big game, that would lead to a disaster. “A bad period for a club is also a good opportunity to show how united and strong you are. We have a good history of that at Arsenal.” The club’s regular board meeting on Thursday was attended by majority shareholder Stan Kroenke, who also watched the Bayern game on Tuesday night. Yet Wenger insisted it was very much a case of business as usual. He said: “The meeting speaks about many things: commercial, ticket prices, long-term plans. I make my report as well on the technical side, so it was the usual thing. Of course we had no euphoria because we have gone through a disappointment on Tuesday night, but apart from that we are responsible people who know what it is to fight.” Full-back Bacary Sagna will miss out against Villa because of a knee problem, but defender Nacho Monreal is available again after being cup-tied in Europe. Despite Villa’s troubles at the wrong end of the table, Wenger expects a tough test at the Emirates Stadium. “We have to prepare ourselves for a battle,” he said. “They are fighting to avoid relegation and it is a typical Premier League game. There is no easy game for anybody.” Arsene Wenger is confident Arsenal can survive a season without Champions League football but warned that playing among Europe’s elite must remain the club’s priority.
It follows the departure of Seamus “Cheddar” Plunkett.The Portlaoise man quit after two players featured in a club challenge game against his wishes this week.
Scrum-half Will Genia starts, as does Israel Folau and star openside flankers Michael Hooper and David Pocock.The former Leinster boss says it’s important his whole squad gets involvement in the tournament early on. Robbie Henshaw should be fit for the game having missed out against the Canadians.Meanwhile Australia head coach Michael Cheika plans to use all of his players in their opening two group games – before matches against England and Wales.He’s named a strong side to face Fiji on Wednesday.
The Los Angeles Police Department officer stopped in his tracks late Sunday afternoon.He took a long look at me as I came toward him on the Dodger Stadium loge level with what may have appeared to be a lethal weapon.I was merely carrying, on a tray that was beginning to buckle, one the newly created Dodger Playoff Dogs.It was loaded. I was definitely handling it without a proper permit. “Good luck with that,” he offered. He could have at least handed me a card to explain self-adminstered CPR.This is the time of year at Dodger Stadium when you can’t even get arrested. Except for a cardiac arrest.My non-aggravated assault of the dog took 4 minutes, 23 seconds, without any PETA protesting. Considering the first three innings of Sunday’s game took about an hour and a half, followed by a mad rush to the restrooms on every level of the park, it was worth the nutritional investment.Usually, the “Loaded” dogs go for $7.75, ranging from the Doyer Dog Jr. (Nacho cheese, chili, pico de gallo and jalepenos) the Kim Chi Dog (with, of course, Kim Chi), Frito Pie Dog (Fritos, chili, cheese), the Big Kid Dog (gooey Mac and Cheese with Fritos) and the classic Heater (buffalo wing sauce and blue cheese cole slaw).Taking things to the next level — because that’s what you do with your eating game when October comes around — meant a bigger gulp, reassessing your health insurance plan pre-Affordable Health Care and then sizing up your appetite for success.This foodie investment is probably longer lasting than sliding the charge card for a $30 playoff cap or a $30 playoff T-shirt that will be outdated by the end of the month.The only problem we had with the whole transaction is that instead of “Playoff Dog,” the words “Pastrami Dog” came up on the concession register.Are the computers not playoff-ready?The concessionaire had no answer for that. Her arms were tired from carrying it the two feet from the kitchen shelf window to the counter.An usher watched as I planted myself behind the back row of the loge level and attempted to get into post-season mode.“Do they give you a knife and fork with that?” she asked.Yes, but it was buried underneath this Rose Parade sized beast — perhaps this is what Vin Scully will be riding on come January 1.As if I needed it anyway.“Somehow, they forgot to include a fishing harpoon,” she added.This is the time and place to check your pulse. And your blood pressure. When your stadium seats vibrate from the rocking after a Carl Crawford home run as much as from the rap music coming out of the center-field speakers.It’s a stadium already in full “Let’s Go Dodgers” pregame chant, shouting down some clown on the field with his Dodgers hat turned backward yelling into a microphone that it’s time to get loud because it’s time for the TV cameras to come on.You don’t need to light up the “applause” sign this time of year.A crowd full of blue towel-waving fans trumps red foam tomahawks on any perfect fall night when the temperatures are in the high 70s, the San Gabriel Mountains glisten that certain shade of purple in the background, and even Chris Capuano can go to the mound and look like Clayton Kershaw for a few amped-up innings.Not even Larry David could curb his enthusiasm when put up on the video screen.In the 2013 playoff baseball buffet, the Dodgers may end up treating the Atlanta Braves like cheap hors d’oeurves. Just don’t mistake them for cocktail franks. We’re going super-sized this time. Pass the onions. Next round, we’re adding fresh blue berries to the recipe. The problem was I couldn’t get a hold of my doctor at the moment, since he was most likely in a club level suite and out of cell range. And my cholesterol medicine had a child-proof cap, so I might as well be DOA.The crime wasn’t the fact I actually paid $9 for this creation at the Extremely Loaded Dog concession stand — this foot-long all-beef wiener on a pretzel baguette was already topped with pastrami, a few squirts of mustard and a sliced pickle. It was that I went ahead and added a scoop of onions to the whole mess, possibly vandalizing the work of postseason art.Guilty, but just a force of habit.How hungry are Dodger fans for an extended playoff run? Evidenced by the fact I wasn’t the only one in line for one of these beauties, plenty.“If you handcuff me now, and didn’t allow me to eat this, you’d be doing your duty to protect and to serve,” I told the officer who, at this point, couldn’t walk far enough around me. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error