English Premier­ship is des­tined for a chang­ing of the guard – Wenger

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FOOTBALL -

ARSE­NAL man­ager Arsene Wenger ex­pects big-spending Manch­ester City and much-im­proved As­ton Villa to turn the Premier League’s es­tab­lished big four into a big six this sea­son.

How­ever, the French­man warned it will not be easy for City, like Span­ish giants Real Madrid, to turn their newly-re­cruited group of su­per­stars into a bal­anced team.

“City look like they have made some great sign­ings and have a high-qual­ity squad, but it can take teams three months or more to find the right bal­ance and to click,” mused Wenger, who lost striker Em­manuel Ade­bayor and de­fender Kolo Toure to Abu Dhabi-owned City last month.

“Don’t for­get that Real Madrid fin­ished sec­ond last sea­son and have al­ready a very strong squad – they are not ris­ing from 10th like City will have to. And his­tory is on the side of Real Madrid as well.

“But I think City will be there and be strong and re­mem­ber that As­ton Villa were chal­leng­ing for the ti­tle (last sea­son) un­til they faded in the last 12 games.

“When I ar­rived, New­cas­tle were there, at the top, and then it was Leeds,” he said. “So I think the top four is not some­thing that is set for­ever.”

Speak­ing at the launch of Arse­nal’s char­ity part­ner­ship with Great Or­mond street chil­dren’s hospi­tal, Wenger main­tained he was con­fi­dent his team would again chal­lenge for all the ma­jor hon­ours.

He also had a slight dig at Arse­nal fans who have be­come rest­less at a lack of sil­ver­ware.

Asked what would be an ac­cept­able level of suc­cess for the sea­son, he said: “To win the league cham­pi­onship and to win the Cham­pi­ons League – any­thing else is a dis­as­ter – ac­cord­ing to our fans!”

Wenger said his team were over-crit­i­cised last sea­son for fail­ing to win a tro­phy and only reach­ing the semi-fi­nals of the FA Cup and the Cham­pi­ons League, los­ing to Chelsea and Manch­ester United re­spec­tively.

“I do not think it was a dis­as­trous sea­son,” said Wenger whose side fin­ished fourth in the League and are two matches away from the Cham­pi­ons League group stage. “We had a long un­beaten run, we played our foot­ball and we had no blips.”

Asked about a com­ment by Manch­ester United man­ager Sir Alex Fer­gu­son in which he did not men­tion Arse­nal when talk­ing of ti­tle ri­vals, he said: “Foot­ball is not as pre­dictable or sci­en­tific as some peo­ple think and some­times peo­ple are wrong in what they say.”

Wenger is in­ter­ested in adding one de­fender and one for­ward to his squad, at the right price, be­fore the trans­fer win­dow closes at the end of Au­gust.

“Don’t for­get that most of the busi­ness is done be­tween Au­gust 26 and 31, at mid­night,” he said. – Reuters

Pic­ture: GALLO IM­AGES

NEW ERA: Arsene Wenger, man­ager of Arse­nal, looks into foot­ball’s crys­tal ball and sees fresh chal­lenges for the Premier League’s ‘Big Four’.

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