Arsenal latest from London Colney: Arsene Wenger says after 20 years “I want to win absolutely everything”
- Credit: Debbie White/Archant
In a week where the world of football has been rocked by scandal after scandal, there was a far calmer scene today (Friday) at Arsenal’s training base in London Colney.
Celebrations for Arsene Wenger’s two decades as manager were the focus of the weekly pre-match press conference, with attending media receiving a special pen to mark the anniversary.
The Gunners’ boss, showing his usual humour and humility at the conference, cracked a joke upon striding towards a black cross marking where he was to stand for the television cameras – “where’s my chair?” he asked the comfortably seated press.
Then, Arsenal chairman Sir Chips Keswick gave him a glass memento on behalf of the board “and everybody on and off the pitch”, thanking him for his years with the club.
Sir Chips added: “You should have yourself photographed next to me more often, because it makes you look very young.”
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Wenger said it was a “great honour” to have spent 20 years at Arsenal, adding, “I think it shows total commitment from the club, and a faith in me through some good times and less good times.
“It’s a great privilege to last for such a long time. I am very honoured.”
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As sports journalists in the room congratulated the Gunners’ boss, he personally handed out silver pens to the media, and joked they were being given to encourage journalists “just to write good about the club”.
He thanked Arsenal’s board for “standing by me. I believe that this club is brave, and that is one of the values of the club”.
Wenger said his longevity showed that you could have “togetherness” and that Arsenal has shown it can “keep its feet on the ground.
“What I have learned in my job is to focus on the next game; that is important.”
One reporter asked him whether he realised that the “whole of football in this country and around the world is impressed at someone at top level lasting for 20 years”.
Wenger replied: “It is very unusual, because now we are much more used to seeing new faces, but I think stability is very important as well.”
Asked whether he expected to receive anything from the players at the training grounds, to mark the 20th anniversary, he replied: “No not at all, I want the players to train and focus on the next game.”
In team news ahead of this Sunday’s (2) match with Burnley, Wenger said that Olivier Giroud will be out, and Francis Coquelin “is looking much better than we expected.”
He added that the latter player’s injury was not as bad as feared, and “he is keen to start again, but we have to be cautious.”
Aaron Ramsey is out of the away squad, but he should be back after the international break.
After speaking about the growing popularity of football across the globe, Wenger added that, following wins against Chelsea and Basel, Arsenal had recently “moved forward in the quality of our game and so it is down to attacking and defending, we know that our drive is always to go forward, and that the team at the moment has more belief in what we do.”
Asked how ‘dangerous’ Burnley was, he replied: “The danger will come from the fact that they are very efficient in some aspects of their game, and very organised defensively - they showed that against Liverpool and Watford, and they have dangerous set pieces as well.”
A question on whether Wenger would be celebrating his 25th anniversary with Arsenal was met with a somewhat hesitant response: “Ah, I don’t know. I think I have one quality, a passion for the game, and I have always desired to be better tomorrow than I was yesterday. If I look back at how I manage today, it is not the same as five years, 20 years ago. And, how long can I do? I don’t know.
“I rule nothing out because I want to work, and I accept as well that it is a love story, and with a love story you expect it always to last forever, but it can stop any day.”
While pondering highlights over the past 20 years at Arsenal, Wenger said: “I do not look back. What people will keep [recalling] is the Invincibles [season], maybe, but for me, the job of the manager is to do the maximum with the team you have available, and that is what I try to do – like a marathon, you do one step after the other.
“When you look back, you have made the distance, but you are always obsessed with the next game, and that is what you always expect, the perfect game, it is what you work for.”
Asked what else he wanted to achieve, he replied: “I want to win absolutely everything. And, play the perfect game, in every single game. It’s my dream, and to get people to enjoy what they see, and the players to enjoy what they do.”
• Burnley V Arsenal, Premier League, Turf Moor, Sunday October 2, 4.30pm