Per Mertesacker has revealed that Arsenal’s players were “knackered” as they laboured to a draw at home to rivals Tottenham. “Over a short period you can replace a couple of players, but with two games a week – and the intensity will not lessen – you need a lot of players who can replace each other and come and give energy. “That is important. It is how we beat Bayern Munich, Theo (Walcott) played for 75 minutes and then Olivier (Giroud) came on and gave us a different style and had a massive impact on the game. We need game changers. “That is why with injuries we suffer a bit, but I’m convinced that after the international break we will have more options and therefore more confidence. “At times we need to give more and be more convincing with our game plan. There is room for improvement but we are in a good position and we want to continue that unbeaten streak. “Obviously with players coming back we will gain some more energy. You could see today how great it was to have Gibbs on the bench – he gave us a big lift we he came on, he was fresh and gave everyone a lift with the goal.” One concern for Wenger will be the travel times for the likes of Alexis Sanchez and David Ospina, who will link up with Chile and Colombia respectively, while fit-again defender Laurent Koscielny has been called up by France and could come up against Gibbs, who is in Roy Hodgson’s England squad. But if they and Arsenal’s other internationals come through unscathed, the FA Cup holders will be in a strong position to continue their Premier League title tilt in the run-up to Christmas. Press Association The Gunners had Kieran Gibbs’ first Barclays Premier League goal in more than three years to thank for rescuing a point after Harry Kane had given Spurs the lead in the north London derby. Sunday’s 1-1 draw at the Emirates Stadium was not enough to take second-placed Arsenal to the top, but means they remain unbeaten in the league since defeat at Chelsea on September 19. This result came on the back of a 5-1 Champions League thrashing against Bayern Munich and, with seven injured players on the sidelines, Mertesacker believes those who are in the side have been feeling the strain. “It was fun to play but we all looked a bit knackered, especially in the first half,” he said. “We gave absolutely everything to get a draw here and we will enjoy next weekend off, a few of us, then back to duty the next week. “We stayed with the same line-up as against Munich apart from Gabriel, and even (Tottenham) played on Thursday but they looked fresh in the first half and then suffered in the second. “It is difficult to explain but to sum it up both teams gave their all on the pitch and that is why it was a joy not only to watch and a joy to play, especially in the second half.” Aaron Ramsey, Hector Bellerin and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could all return soon after the international break to ease the injury concerns of manager Arsene Wenger, who conceded ahead of the game he was worried by the sheer number of players on the treatment table. Mertesacker, too, feels there is only so long the Gunners can paper over the cracks, with the World Cup winner looking forward to welcoming his team-mates back. “It is very important (to have them back),” he said.
Despite a second-half comeback attempt by Penn State, the No. 5 Wisconsin men’s basketball team outlasted the Nittany Lions in State College, Pennsylvania Wednesday night 55-47 to capture its ninth straight victory.Wisconsin (24-2, 12-1 Big Ten) was led by junior forward Sam Dekker, who had a team-best and season-best 22 points on 9 of 13 shooting (3-for-6 from three) Wednesday along with five rebounds. Senior forward Frank Kaminsky was the only other UW player in double figures with 16 points and nine rebounds.The Badgers took a 31-24 lead into halftime over Penn State (15-12, 3-11 Big Ten) and extended that lead to 16, 46-30, with eight minutes and 52 seconds left in the second half. Earlier in the half, the Nittany Lions went on a more than six-minute scoring drought, staying at 26 points and helping Wisconsin extend its lead.But from there Penn State responded with a 13-3 run that pulled them within six at 49-43 with a little over three minutes left in the game.However, Wisconsin made its free throws from that point on to leave State College with a win and a program-best 24-2 overall record.Penn State guard D.J. Newbill, who entered the game as the Big Ten’s leading scorer, had a game-high 29 points and was the only Nittany Lion to score over seven points.Wisconsin sophomore forward Nigel Hayes hauled in a game-high 13 rebounds along with nine points.Neither team shot particularly well, as Wisconsin was just 20-for-51 (39.2 percent) while Penn State went 21-for-54 (38.9 percent) from the floor. Both teams struggled from beyond the arc, as well, with Wisconsin shooting just 22.7 percent (5-for-22) and Penn State shooting only 15.4 percent (2-for-13) from three.The Badgers will now turn their attention to their next game on Saturday against Minnesota (16-11, 5-9 Big Ten) at the Kohl Center.With the regular season coming to a close — Wisconsin has just six games left until the Big Ten tournament and postseason play begins — the Badgers can finally start to look toward clinching their first regular season conference championship since 2008. As of Wednesday night, the Badgers have a three game lead over three teams (No. 16 Maryland, Michigan State and Purdue) in the Big Ten conference standings.It is possible for the Badgers to clinch at least a share of the Big Ten regular season Saturday. If Wisconsin can defeat the Gophers at the Kohl Center and either Maryland, Michigan State or Purdue loses, the Badgers will clinch a share of the conference title.But first they’ll have to take care of their border rival Saturday. Minnesota fell to Northwestern 72-66 Wednesday night to give them back-to-back losses after falling to Indiana Sunday night. Gopher senior guard Andre Hollins led Minnesota with 12 points, six assists and four rebounds Wednesday.Hollins leads the Minnesota scoring threat, averaging a team-high 15 points to go with 4.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. The 6-foot-2 guard is deadly from deep, making 43.8 percent of his shots from three, which is good for third best in the Big Ten.Wisconsin and Minnesota will square off at 11 a.m. Saturday afternoon at the Kohl Center. The game will be televised on ESPN.Game VitalsNo. 5 Wisconsin (24-2, 12-1 Big Ten)Big Ten: 12-1, 1st place by three games over Maryland, Michigan State and PurdueLast Game: Defeated Penn State on the road, 55-47Probable Starters: G – Bronson Koenig (6-4, 7.5 ppg), G – Josh Gasser (6-4, 7.3 ppg), F – Nigel Hayes (6-8, 12.4 ppg), F – Sam Dekker (6-9, 13.0 ppg), F – Frank Kaminsky (7-0, 17.6 ppg)Key Reserves: G – Zak Showalter, F – Duje Dukan, F – Vitto BrownMinnesota (16-11, 5-9 Big Ten)Big Ten: 5-9, 11th placeLast Game: Lost to Northwestern at home, 72-66Probable Starters: G – DeAndre Mathieu (5-9, 8.3 ppg), G – Andre Hollins (6-2, 15.0 ppg), F – Joey King (6-9, 9.0), F – Charles Buggs (6-9, 3.8), F – Maurice Walker (6-10, 11.7)Key Reserves: G – Nate Mason, G – Carols Morris, C – Elliott EliasonWho – No. 5 Wisconsin vs. MinnesotaWhen – Saturday, Feb. 21, 11 a.m.Where – Kohl Center (17,230); Madison, WisconsinTV – ESPN