Arsène Wenger Emirates Cup Interview

By Daniel Cowan
In Arsenal
Jul 27th, 2017

This weekend Arsenal play in the preseason closing Emirates Cup competition. This competition has been an almost ever-present fixture at Arsenal since the move to the current stadium and is a great chance to welcome in the new season as well as give those fans who can’t afford or obtain a season ticket the opportunity to enjoy a great value day out at the football.

The managers of all four teams have been speaking to the press ahead of this weekend’s matches; here is Arsène Wenger’s interview transcript:

on the fitness/sharpness in the squad…

Overall I think we had a long tour, a difficult tour but a very interesting one as well. Everybody worked very hard in very different conditions. I was very happy with the attitude, the focus and the quality of our games, and the intensity of our training as well. Overall until now it has gone very well.

on a step up in pre-season opposition…

I believe it’s important [to play big teams]. Rather than winning 10-0, and at the end of the game you don’t know much more about where you need to improve, it’s interesting for us this time to get good opposition. It makes it easier for us to understand where we want to improve. We played difficult games, sometimes with tired legs, and that is interesting.

on Austria training camps seeming like a long time ago…

It is a long time ago [since we went to Austria for training camps]. I must say I loved that, but times have changed and our sponsors and fans want us to travel all over the world. It is even easier now to organise difficult games away from home than at home, because no one is in Europe anymore [in the summer]. They are in the States and in Asia.

on the players coming back…

I would say that Gabriel is still a few weeks away because he has an inflammation of his bone. Jack Wilshere is close to coming back to training. Santi Cazorla, it is difficult to set a definite date but he is getting better every day. Overall those are the main injuries we have. Everyone else is back to fitness.

on Alexis and Mustafi’s returns…

Alexis and Mustafi, their first training session will be on Sunday, the day we play against Sevilla. They are practising on the day, yes. First of all you make a really good check up of where they are, how much they have worked during their break. After, once you know where you stand, they need an adjusted programme and to see how quickly you can fit them in again. Of course it depends as well on what is the need in the squad, what is their quality. All of these things together make your decision. Do you put them on the bench when they are not ready [to start]? It is easier to put a striker on the bench than a defender, sometimes. Because in a short period they can make an impact. We’ll see.

on who we may see playing in the Emirates Cup

You’ll see everybody because I will play two teams. One of the most interesting parts of the Emirates Cup for me is that I can give 90 minutes to most of the players in the squad. I will try to do that.

on which young player may come through this time…

This time, I believe that you will see Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock. Maybe Cohen Bramall as well. We also had Eddie Nketiah, who is doing very well, Donyell Malen, who is doing very well, on tour but there is not necessarily room for them to play. They have all shown interesting qualities on the tour.

on how much that tour experience will help them…

It helps them. It’s a unique moment where you can play players against big teams without big pressure. They learn a lot from that, from the players who have all done it before, the advice they get, to play against them every day in training sessions and to live with them together as well. On the bonding side, they lose their complexes so when they have to play, and have the chance to play, they are ready to play.

on what caught his eye on tour…

Overall, I played players like Elneny in a back three and he has coped very well. Maitland-Niles sometimes played at centre back as well, even in the big games against Chelsea. You see their strengths and their weaknesses, and you learn a lot about your players and your combinations too. The advantage we have is that we have a good stability in our squad, so I already know who I can combine with who, more or less.

on whether Elneny fits the bill as a ball-playing centre back…

Yes he does. Elneny is a player who has a fantastic mentality and attitude, and his main target is to help the team. When he plays there, of course he does extremely well.

on whether he needs to learn the role…

Of course. I always felt that a good central midfielder can be a good centre back. With the fact of course that when you’re playing in the back four you have to be decisive in the challenges, you have a bit more flexibility in the middle of a back three. He can do that.

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I am a South London born Gooner now living in Leigh-On-Sea, Essex. I'm a husband, daddy, podcaster, trainer enthusiast and aspiring author. My work is my passion and for that I will always be grateful. Here is where I write my thoughts and views on Arsenal Football Club, the greatest team the world has ever seen.

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