Arsene Wenger spoke to SFR Sport this week. This is a transcript of what he had to say.
Journalist : You seemed absolutely delighted after the City game, What did you feel at the final whistle?
AW : Happiness, it was an outburst of joy, when you play a big game, you don’t know who is going to win and then you have a couple of seconds during which you just let it go, because I knew City could score anytime. We also reach the final of the FA Cup, and City were favorites for the semi. So basically it’s the happiness of the manager. Which doesn’t last very long, be sure of that (laughs)
Journalist : You could win the FA Cup for the seventh time, which would be a record. Do you think about it?
AW : Of course I do, but I don’t only think about that, I think that when you play the final, you want to win it. The game against Chelsea will be the same kind of game we had to play against City. It will be a very intense fight, and we’ll have to be the winner of this fight.
Journalist : When you look back at the season Chelsea is having, no European football, would it be that bad for Arsenal if the club didn’t play in Europe next season?
AW : I don’t know, but teams (not playing in Europe) have a big advantage over the ones who do. Look at Chelsea and Liverpool this season, Leicester last season… The intensity of the Premier League plays a big part in that. And teams who get knocked out of the Champions League, especially the way we got knocked out against Bayern, dramatically, it had a very negative effect on the team, and we needed time to recover.
Journalist : You recently changed your formation, you play with 3 players at the back. Firstly it brought more stability and secondly, was it an opportunity to show, even after so many years at the same club, that you can still change, evolve?
AW : It was mainly to reassure the team, because when you start doubting, results don’t go your way, you have to change something, so the players can focus on something else, to reassure themselves. We conceded 3 goals at Liverpool, West Brom, Palace, Bournemouth, and at some point if you keep conceding so easily so many goals, even the strikers think that, even if they do the job and score, that won’t be enough since the team will concede again. You have to make the right decisions to stop a downward spiral. I knew it was very risky, but it has helped us a lot so far.
Journalist : I know have a question from Emmanuel Petit
Emmanuel Petit : Arsenal has a structure not to overpay players in terms of wages, the Premier League has never been so competitive, the academy isn’t really « producing » players for the first team, not to mention the lack of results and titles, and the fact that Arsenal doesn’t splash the cash to get players, there is a lot of negativity around the club (fans, media), so what are your solutions for the future of the Club?
AW : Very good question, maybe he can solve the problem! (laughs)
I think that there are things that won’t change, we’ll only spend the money we have, we can probably improve the results of younger teams, but also improve our scouting. When you mention Mbappe, maybe we can have him when he’s younger, we have to improve in this area. Because Griezmann, Kanté, we could have signed them, but we missed the opportunity to do so, not necessarily because of our financial restrictions but because we weren’t rapid enough. That is something we must improve, to sign young players before they become stars because at that moment all the clubs know them and want to sign them.
Journalist : The NLD is coming this week end and for the very first time since you joined the Club, Spurs should finish above Arsenal this season, it is purely anecdotal ?
AW : No it’s not, they have often been above us recently. But we could still catch them, we will have to win all our games, they will have to stumble, the way they did last year.
The target of the Club is to win the league, not to finish above spurs. And we have to build a team to do so.
Journalist : I wanted to talk about the future of Alexis and Ozil, how important is it that they stay at Arsenal?
AW : They have to stay here since they’re both world class, and it’s extremely hard to find this type of players, even when you have a lot of money. Now, many clubs have a lot of money, and as a consequence you don’t easily sign world class players. Look at Mbappe, all the clubs want to sign him, and he has only played 20 games. But now everybody knows everything, so you simply can’t lose your best players. In our situation we can’t lose them and we also have to sign other top players.
Journalist : You mentioned Mbappe, are you following him?
AW : Of course we are, it would be ridiculous and it would be hypocritical to tell you we aren’t following him, but he may already be on the radar of clubs with more financial ressources than us.
Journalist : Can Monaco beat Juventus?
AW : They can, I admire the quality of their work, what they’ve done is fantastic. You have PSG and now Monaco, and they play a very good football, you can only enjoy watching them, I love watching them because what they manage to do looks so easy, and effective. The way they counter attack is fantastic, that is why they can beat Juve.
Thanks to @BGunners42 for the translation