Arsene Wenger says Arsenal have many exciting challenges ahead in 2018 but admits that the current January transfer window has had a destabilising effect like never before.
The Gunners have endured a tough start to the New Year, drawing twice with Chelsea in the league and Carabao Cup, exiting the FA Cup at the third round stage and losing to Bournemouth.
Despite their recent travails the boss says he has no intention of walking away from his two-year contract in the summer and instead urged his players to focus on their upcoming challenges.
“That’s not the way I respond,” said Wenger when asked if he might quit Arsenal in May.
“I agree completely that 2018 until now has not been very positive. I’m long enough in the job to know that what is important is how you respond to it and to focus on the performance. My personal situation is a bit secondary to all that.
“What is important is how the team responds and what we [now] make of 2018. We have many challenges. It’s difficult at the moment, but as well, very exciting.
“We have many exciting challenges in front of us. We can come back to [qualify for] the Champions League. We have the semi-final [of the Carabao Cup] next week and the Europa League as well. It’s another target.
“We have to very quickly get over this transfer period. For us, especially, this period has been more disturbing than ever. Why? Because we have big players at the end of their contract and that’s the first time it happens that we have such influential players who are as close to the end of their contract. It has been more destabilising than ever.”
Given Arsenal have manufactured the current situation, it’s pretty rich that we’re proffering it as an excuse for recent poor performances. It was much the same last season when the boss allowed speculation about his future to affect the squad’s balance. Something he later admitted to. It would be nice to get through a season without quite so much off-pitch drama…but for that to happen we have to seriously up our game in the corridors of power. Hmm.
Wenger was also quizzed on how stressed he gets during these periods where everything, both on and off the pitch, is analysed so closely.
“I have no stress measurement at all,” he joked. “It occupies you on the pitch, off the pitch and at night as well because you are very busy.
“After that, I think I can deal with the kind of stress that it creates. The experience I have helps me to focus on what is important and at the right moment.”