For bet­ter or for worse, it’s #WengerIn

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

LON­DON: Arsene Wenger, pic­tured, ended months of spec­u­la­tion about his fu­ture yes­ter­day by sign­ing a new two-year deal with Ar­se­nal that will keep the French­man at the Emi­rates Sta­dium un­til 2019.

“I love this club and I am look­ing for­ward to the fu­ture with op­ti­mism and ex­cite­ment,” the 67-year-old said in a state­ment is­sued by the Premier League club to con­firm the ex­ten­sion.

Wenger’s con­tract had been due to ex­pire at the end of this sea­son and he had faced reg­u­lar ques­tions about his in­ten­tions, with sup­port­ers di­vided on whether he should stay or stand down.

“We are look­ing at what we do well and how we can be stronger ev­ery­where. This is a strong group of play­ers, and with some ad­di­tions we can be even more suc­cess­ful,” said the French­man.

“We’re com­mit­ted to mount­ing a sus­tained league chal­lenge and that will be our fo­cus this sum­mer and next sea­son.”

Ar­se­nal came fifth in the Premier League this sea­son, the first time they have fin­ished out­side the top four and failed to qual­ify for the Uefa Cham­pi­ons League play since Wenger took over at the club in 1996.

How­ever, Wenger was given a boost by Satur­day’s 2-1 win over cham­pi­ons Chelsea in the FA Cup fi­nal and was given the back­ing of the club’s board at a meet­ing on Tues­day.

“Our am­bi­tion is to win the Premier League and other ma­jor tro­phies in Europe. It’s what the fans, play­ers, staff, man­ager and board ex­pect and we won’t rest un­til that is achieved,” said ma­jor­ity owner Stan Kroenke.

“Arsene is the best per­son to help us make that hap­pen. He has a fan­tas­tic track record and has our full back­ing.”

Wenger has been Ar­se­nal man­ager for 21 years, win­ning three Premier League ti­tles and a record seven FA Cup tro­phies.

But it is 13 years since his last league tri­umph, the 2003/04 sea­son, when Ar­se­nal went with­out a sin­gle loss and some fans have called this sea­son for him to be re­placed. Wenger’s first task now will be to de­cide on the fu­ture of two of his key play­ers, Ger­many mid­fielder Me­sut Ozil and Chile for­ward Alexis Sanchez, who have both been linked with moves away from the club and have just one year left on their deals.

He will also be ex­pected to sign new re­cruits to en­sure his side are back among the con­tenders next sea­son.

Ar­se­nal said the French­man and chief ex­ec­u­tive Ivan Gazidis had con­ducted a full re­view of the club’s on and off field ac­tiv­i­ties “to iden­tify ar­eas for im­prove­ment to build a sus­tained ti­tle chal­lenge.”

Gazidis said there was no com­pla­cency.

“Our goal is to com­pete for and win tro­phies here and in Europe. Ev­ery­thing we do is de­signed to make that hap­pen, and we will be work­ing hard on and off the pitch this sum­mer to im­prove and make a strong chal­lenge next sea­son,” he

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