‘Never has been an EPL like this’
CARSON — Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes there has never been a Premier League quite like the current one, in terms of the sheer amount of world-class managerial talent now plying its trade in the English top-flight. “No, never. And that makes it interesting as well, because all these managers come with big reputations and big trophies,” said Wenger to Yahoo Sports. Next season Wenger will be matching wits with some of the biggest managers in the modern game, including incoming Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool, Antonio Conte at Chelsea, and his old rival Jose Mourinho, who returns to the Premier League to take charge at Manchester United. “But at the end of the day, we can talk all day, only one will win it.” The Frenchman was in Southern California and gave a wide-ranging press conference ahead of Arsenal’s preseason exhibition match against Chivas de Guadalajara. “It makes the whole thing a bit more interesting because the preparation of the league, everybody expects to win, and when you don’t win the championship, you are guilty. So it will be the same for everybody, and if I don’t win it, I will be of course extremely disappointed.” The long-serving manager, whose team is coming off the back of a 2-1 win over the MLS All-stars, admitted that despite the fact that the upcoming Premier League season might be among the most challenging of his career, he still thrived on the competition. “It’s always been difficult, look at my hair and my wrinkles and you’ll see it has always been very difficult. I think I enjoy it because I am a competitor and I like personally to progress and move forward.” With transfer fees going through the roof this summer, Wenger’s notorious frugality on the transfer market has been called into question once again. He offered some insight into why he often chooses to practice restraint, even in the face of the excess shown by other clubs. “I believe a big club is first, despite all the money we talk about, is first about identity, about values and to make these values win. We focus highly inside ou our club on being faithful to what we think is important in our game and of course personally, I do that as well. I’m for a long time at the club because I share completely the identity o of this club and the values of thi this club. Unfortunately in the moder modern game nobody speaks about that anymore.” Wenger’ Wenger’s press conference comes in th the midst of Paul Pogba’s record-bre record-breaking transfer from Juventus back to Manchester United. When pressed for his thoughts on n the notion of a player signing for in excess of £100 0 million, he gave a somewhat surprising answer.
“Look, it’s s completely crazy if you cannot afford to pay it. If youu can afford to pay it you can justify it,” said Wenger.er. “Since I am in this sport, I always thought it cannot go higher and I was always wrong. Maybe ybe in a few years it will be £200 million, £300 million, who knows?”
Arsenal have been linked with a number of players this summermmer and Wenger admitted the club were in the market for, among other things, a striker.
“We are still on the market for players, either at the front or at the back, we are in the market. Unfortunately we e are not alone.”
But whilee Wenger admitted the Gunners were “in the market,” ” he refused to be drawn on whether the club would actually move for the likes of Alexander Lacazette or r Riyad Mahrez.
“The best way to conclude transfers is not to talk about it,t, which is very difficult at a press conference. But as I just told you, we are in the market and I don’t like to talk specifically about any individual.”
Wenger also provided an update on the condition of f Arsenal captain and first-choice center-back Per Mertesacker, who injured himself in a pre-season friendly.
“The onlyy thing I know is that he will be out for a fewew months. Is it three or four? I don’t know. But certainly I don’t count that Per will be back before the end of the year.”
While Wenger enger seems open to signing a replacement for the German – Arsenal has lately been linked with Valencia’s Shkodran Mustafi – he e also felt the club is equipped to cope with thehe absence of the World Cup winner.
“We have e three young players who will compete for r the position; [Rob] Holding, who was veryery impressive the other night, Krystian Bielik, ielik, and Calum Chambers. I will have to make a decision who is the closest to that hat position.”
Arsenal finished second nd last season, son, 10 points behind champions Leicester City. The manager, whose last Premier League ue title win was 12 years ago, seemed ed to sug suggest that hat part of the reason eason the Gunners fell short last season may have stemmed from overconfidence.
“Thehe games we were expected to win completely we won, but the games where we fought against teams who were between fifth and 10th, like Southampton, Swansea, sea, you know we dropped too many points against st these kinds of teams. They are very good teams s but we thought maybe too much we would win the games.” ames.” Wenger,nger, who is now the longest-serving manager in thethe the Premier League by some consiconsiderable considerable distance, was circumspect when pressed on the North London club’s chances of ggogoing one better than last year’s second place finish and winning the league this time.
“We have to focus on our quality and try to strengthen our team. I think we had 18 teams behind us last year, we make sure we get 19 behind us next season.” — Yahoo
Arsene Wenger. Jose Mourinho. Jurgen Klopp. PEP Guardiola. Antonio Conte.