Crystal Palace boss departure “surprise” to Arsenal’s Arsène Wenger

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger (Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger (Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images) - Credit: Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Arsène Wenger has revealed his “surprise” at the shock departure of Crystal Palace’s manager just two days before the start of the new season.

At today’s (Friday) press conference at Arsenal’s training grounds in London Colney, the Gunners’ boss told reporters: “It was a complete surprise to me. [Tony Pulis] has done a remarkable job last season, and he made the miracle; I don’t really know why he left.”

Arsenal’s Premier League opens at home to Crystal Palace tomorrow (Saturday).

But news of Tony, 56, leaving Crystal Palace, apparently by mutual consent after tense times with chairman Steve Parish, just 36 hours before the start of the season, has taken Arsenal’s boss aback.

He said: “I haven’t seen that before. I was in a management meeting with Tony on Monday and nothing indicated that he would not be here tomorrow afternoon.”

Asked whether it would have any impact on the upcoming match, Arsène said: “I don’t know. That is very difficult to know, what kind of consequence that will have on Crystal Palace.”

But he was quick to add that his players knew they would be facing “tough opponents”.

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Asked whether his squad would be the same as that which won the Community Shield, Arsène said “it could be, approximately”.

Arsenal took on Premier League champions Manchester City in the Community Shield last Sunday (10), beating the team 3-0.

Arsène said: “We are positive and confident, but we know that the performance tomorrow will depend on the way we can start strongly, concentrating on our performance, which is why we are on our toes.

“The reality is tomorrow when you start the game when you show you are up for battle.”

Arsène agreed a “fast start” was needed against Crystal Palace, as the London-based English Premier League football club would be “focused and motivated”.

Asked about further club signings, Arsène said that he was “happy” with those recently joining the squad, “because of their quality and attitude” and they had integrated well into the team.

“We are not destabilised. It is a strong reinforcement of the squad,” he added.

However he admitted the Gunners might be “short in some areas of the game”.

Arsène went on: “I am very excited because we have a good togetherness in the team. I believe we have a chance. It’s difficult to know how much better the other teams will be.”

New signing Alexis Sanchez is in line to make his home debut against Crystal Palace and there is a firm belief that he will add to Arsenal’s attacking ability this term.

Arsène said: “He should be very quick to adapt. And he is very keen, he is a player who is proactive, and makes things happen.”

Laurent Koscielny, who had a knock on his Achilles, should be available for Saturday.

And Mikel Arteta has gone on record, on the Gunners’ website, to say he is determined to get some early points on the board.

Meanwhile, fresh from their success in Brazil, Mesut Ozil, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski returned to London Colney on Wednesday to start their preparations for the new season.

• Arsenal V Crystal Palace, Emirates Stadium, Saturday August 16, 5.30pm.