Arsenal Vs Blackpool, Sat 21 Aug 2010

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Arsene Wenger accepts transfer speculation is unsettling Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia - but warned competition is part of life at a top football club.

The Gunners have been heavily linked with Australian international Mark Schwarzer all summer, with Fulham maintaining they have turned down two bids for the 37-year-old, believed to be in the region of #2million.

Almunia played in the opening game of the new Barclays Premier League season at Liverpool, where he made a crucial save from Steven Gerrard's free-kick after a last-minute own goal by Reds goalkeeper Jose Reina hauled Arsenal level.

However, the Spaniard afterwards admitted the constant rumours surrounding his position were distracting, and hinted if an experienced stopper like Schwarzer came in then he would consider his own future at Emirates Stadium.

Wenger will keep faith with the 33-year-old for the visit of newly promoted Blackpool, but maintained no one player can be guaranteed a place in the starting XI.

"For us what is important at the moment in front of a big game is that we focus on the players we have," the Arsenal manager said.

"Almunia is number one - it is important that we give him the needed confidence, that we trust him, that we focus on the Blackpool game."

Wenger, though, accepted: "It is a very sensitive subject which is difficult for me to talk about.

"You can understand that he is unsettled by that situation, but on the other hand, when you play at Arsenal, that is what you have to deal with.

"You have to be strong enough to deal with that and I believe he is.

"Jens Lehmann had to deal with that situation because at some stage I took him out of the team and played Almunia, so competition is part of our world. We have to accept that."

The Gunners have included captain Cesc Fabregas, striker Robin van Persie, midfielder Alex Song and defender Johan Djourou in their squad.

However, summer signing Laurent Koscielny is suspended after the centre-back's dismissal at Liverpool and Brazilian midfielder Denilson is still out with an abdominal injury.

Winger Samir Nasri will be sidelined for a month after minor knee surgery while youngster Emmanuel Frimpong is set to miss most of the campaign after tearing knee ligaments.

Nicklas Bendtner (groin) and Aaron Ramsey (leg) remain out.

Meanwhile, Blackpool boss Ian Holloway admits he has not enjoyed the transfer window at all and could yet follow Karl Oyston out of the club.

Holloway tied up deals for six new players last week, just days before the Seasiders got their maiden Barclays Premier League campaign under way with a trip to Wigan.

Several of those signings - most notably, two-goal hero Marlon Harewood - then played a key role as the team pulled off a spectacular 4-0 victory at the DW Stadium.

With Israeli defender Dekel Keinan arriving this week as a seventh new recruit, it would appear Holloway is having no trouble strengthening his squad and that the future looks bright.

However, prior to the recent influx, Blackpool spent most of the summer struggling to finalise transfers and Bournemouth confirmed on Friday that striker Brett Pitman had failed to agree terms over a move to Bloomfield Road.

It has been a steep learning curve for the Tangerines since their promotion from the Championship in May and on Wednesday Oyston, who had previously spoken of his disillusionment with the business side of top-flight life, resigned as Blackpool chairman.

He will remain as acting chief executive of the club until the end of the season or a new appointment is made, and Holloway indicated he may have to reassess his own position once Oyston has departed.

"I think Karl and I will be working together for at least this season," Holloway said.

"The day he leaves I'll have to consider my future because it is all about our relationship."

In light of the club's troubles over the last few months, the manager said he will relieved when the transfer window finally closes on August 31.

"I'll be really delighted when the window slams shut," Holloway said.

"I haven't enjoyed it at all. It has been very educational but something I wouldn't really want to do again and hopefully we can get the club in really decent shape heading towards the next window in January.

"We don't want to have to do much business in that one because that is the one where people panic."

Keinan could be in line to make his debut after completing his move, but goalkeeper Paul Rachubka is sidelined after having an operation on his knee, as is striker Jason Euell.

Keith Southern (knee), Louis Almond (shoulder) and Billy Clarke (knee) are the more long-term absentees.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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