Jamie Vardy's rejection of Arsenal: Wenger says 'no reason given' in London Colney
PUBLISHED: 10:33 18 August 2016 | UPDATED: 10:33 18 August 2016
Arsene Wenger admitted to having a “difficult week” following a backlash from fans, in the wake of last weekend’s loss to Liverpool in the Gunners’ opening game of the Premier League season.
Facing reporters today (Thursday) at the club’s training grounds in London Colney, Wenger said: “We are of course disappointed, and are trying to analyse what has happened, and check our injuries, because we have two different injuries, and to focus again on our next game.”
And he admitted to being unsure about why Leicester City star Jamie Vardy decided against joining the Gunners.
Looking ahead to this Saturday’s clash with Leicester City, he said the challenge would be to ascertain whether the Premier League champions “have the same quality they had last year, they were very quick … on defence, they work well as a unit, and so we have to address our defensive weaknesses from last week - and without compromising our style of play”.
He said that the challenge facing Leicester this season was for them to, “do well again, and show that last year was not a one-off and show they can be considered to be one of the top teams in England”.
When a reporter asked whether Vardy gave a reason for rejecting a move to Arsenal, Wenger replied: “No. You have to respect decisions of people, that is part of it.
“You should ask him that question, I can’t answer for him.”
Asked whether the rejection had set the team back, Wenger dodged the question, saying that it was “difficult” finding players to strengthen the squad.
Wenger also deflected a question on whether it would be poignant if Vardy scored against Arsenal this weekend, saying, “I don’t think that is something special against us.”
He said that Aaron Ramsey is out for two-to-three weeks following last Sunday’s game against Liverpool, but “it isn’t a bad injury; he should be back after the break”.
Ramsey suffered a hamstring injury in the game, while midfielder Alex Iwobi suffered a thigh injury.
When asked whether, given last weekend’s loss, it was more important than ever to sign a central defender, he admitted it was “difficult to identify people, and to find them.
“There are many examples in England of people who have spent huge amounts of money, for central defenders, and that is why everybody is on the market for the same players – very few players are available.”
However, despite repeated questions from reporters, Wenger refused to be drawn on any individual players.
But, he confirmed: “We are ready to spend the money we have, not the money we don’t have, and it’s not my money!”
He said that bringing in new players seemed to “calm the fans down of course [but] it is important to spend money the right way”.
Asked further about the fans’ anger, Wenger said he was not, “surprised by anything anymore. I can understand everything in the human reaction, it was disappointing of course. But that is part of our job.
“People are more demanding, intelligent, better informed, with strong opinions, and that is what you have to deal with, but that … means you have to be stronger and determined to do things you feel are right. It is more difficult, but important to make the right decisions.
“I say (to fans) that I do 100 per cent what I feel is right.”
He also disputed a report that Thierry Henry’s believes that Arsenal is no longer first choice for players.
Wenger said: “I don’t feel that, no, we have plenty of players who want to join us and I would say even the older players who have left, 99.5 per cent of the players who have left have asked to come back – he is one of them. I believe it is not difficult to attract players.”
In team news, he said that Laurent Koscielny was “close to returning”.
• Leicester City V Arsenal, Premier League, King Power Stadium, Saturday August 20, 5.30pm