Arsene Wenger spoke about a number of issues at his press conference ahead of Arsenal’s derby against Crystal Palace. Here’s some of what the Gunners boss had to say.
Injuries and illness
“Mustafi is fit again. We have one or two uncertainties – we have a few with flu.
“Kieran Gibbs has a knee problem and Walcott has a calf problem, which is short term but I don’t think he will be available for Sunday.
“Gibbs bumped into the knee of his opponent and has some inflammation. I think it’s a question of days. It looks short.”
“He’s fit. He’s sharp. He is in training and looks good.
“Will I involve him in the short-term or will I play him first in a game with the Under-23s? I have not decided yet.”
“I would assess it in two parts. We finished second in the league – it was Leicester’s year. Overall for us it was disappointing for us not to win the league.
“After that, I think we have moved our level up. But we are in the middle of a championship now and although it was very promising, with the best managers in the world all in the Premier League competing – it promised to be an exceptional year – until now I think it has been disappointing on all levels.
“The Premier League games have not produced the (type of) games I remember and I’m convinced that in the second part of the season the level and the spectacularity of our league will go up. We have some responsibility to do that.
“I just feel there is more in the league than we have produced – and I include myself in that.
“We have the best managers and I believe in the second half of the season teams will go for it.
“It’s not wait and see, it’s go and take now. I think in the second half of the season we will see spectacular games.”
Olivier Giroud’s role
“For me it is always a big role, because even when he didn’t start the games he had a big impact when he came on.
“We are a squad where everybody has their moments and it’s down to me to use the players well.”
Facing Crystal Palace
“The levels of confidence and urgency always go up when a new manager comes in, of course. It makes the games more difficult
“When you look at their squad it’s a talented squad because they have potential going forward, are quick on the break and versatile. It’s a team that can be dangerous.”
“At the moment Chelsea is the super-favourite, but we can make a big difference.
“It’s theirs to lose, as we say in England, but they can still lose it. There’s still a long way to go.
Chelsea potentially matching Arsenal’s record winning run
“It’s fantastic if they do it. It’s absolutely marvelous because nobody expected that at the start of the season – they had a little bit of a dodgy start.
“Since they changed their system they have been on a run and confidence plays its part.
“If they do it, you can only say ‘well done’. Record are there to be beaten. If somebody does better than you you have to acknowledge it.
“They have addressed the problems they had well, to find the solution that has balanced their team.”
Mathieu Debuchy claiming Wenger stopped him joining other clubs, including Manchester United
“They never made an offer for him. That’s completely untrue. It’s sometimes surprising to hear things like that.
“It’s a little bit of a frustrated article from a player who is injured. When you are injured you cannot play.
“He was injured when Bellerin was injured. I cannot do anything about that.
“Last year I gave him the opportunity to go to Bordeaux on loan, but we had nobody come in for him during the summer period.
“There are some things that are not true in this article. You have to take this article with a bit of distance.
“We never blocked him going to Fiorentina nor to Espanyol. They had no interest in him at all. We checked that.”
“He is of course a huge player with all the ability.
“I believe he has improved his commitment and works much harder than people think he does.
“As well this season he has scored more goals, and personally I believe as well that he creates more chances for himself than ever before.
“But I still think there’s a gap between his potential finishing and the way he finishes. In training he finishes much better than he does in the games.
“I’m convinced his percentage of finishing will go up in the coming months and that he can have a huge contribution to the team, not only with his passing but also his finishing.
“He works hard but in one or two games this season, especially when he was frustrated – the one that comes to mind was the Man City game, where he was criticised after – but overall his contribution has been fantastic.”
The futures of Ozil, Alex Sanchez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
“No (update). We are going to face a lot of wrong (media) information. We have to live with that, but we cannot influence that.”
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