We're back at the Emirates on Sunday for the Premier League visit of Bournemouth. Want to get the manager's thoughts on it? Chris Harris previews the game, with the help of Arsène Wenger.
- 'It's normal that Jack wants us to lose'
- Team news: Santi, Lucas and Bellerin
- 'The qualities we've been missing'
- Wenger on Giroud, Gerrard and abuse
“I think we have something special and we want to develop it, take care of it and come back to what we love above all - winning the games.”
Riding high on an 18-match unbeaten run, or stuttering after three games without a win?
Both stats are accurate so, depending on which way you slice it, we’re either incredibly consistent or crying out for a victory.
OP = Outfield Players
The optimists and pessimists will continue their debate ahead of Sunday’s home game against Bournemouth, and Arsene Wenger has high hopes that they’ll all go home happy.
“Let’s marry the optimists with the pessimists!” was his suggestion after those stats were put to him. “I believe that what is most important is to build the momentum on a long run. But if you want to build the momentum for a long run, you know that you will not win all the games.
“When you go through a spell where you’re less good and you don’t lose, it’s still a sign of quality and of spirit. I think what you want is to acknowledge what we can improve. We have lost a bit of creativity, fluency and speed in our movement. That’s what we want to find back and keep our strengths. If you start to win again, the whole thing together will look great.”
That point about creativity is telling. No team has completed as many passes in the final third as we have, and yet it’s the pace and positivity of those passes that matters most to the manager.
|Arsenal: Bellerin (ankle), Cazorla (Achilles), Akpom (back), Mertesacker, Welbeck (knee)
Bournemouth: Wilshere (ineligible), Boruc (back), Cook (ankle)
“Yes, and the speed of our combination matters if we want to be efficient,” said Wenger. “We lost that a little bit. Is that down to the quality of our opponents? Certainly for a fraction. Do some legs start to be a little bit less fresh? Certainly as well, because you come back from international duty and we are in November.”
Tottenham, Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain, Bournemouth. This is where most would assume it will get a bit easier, but it probably won’t.
“No, unfortunately no,” said the boss. “The expectation level is certainly higher, but that doesn’t mean it’s easier. We have seen with the results Bournemouth have made, but as well all the other results the teams in the Premier League have made, that it’s not easy.
“But we would not have a run like this without resilience, without spirit and unity inside the squad. I think we have something special and we want to develop it, take care of it and come back to what we love above all - winning the games.”
one to watch
“I think we have a big enough squad to rotate a little bit because games like Paris Saint-Germain demand a lot,” said Wenger ahead of this weekend’s game. That’s a pretty big hint that there will be changes.
The boss tends to start some of those who warmed the bench in midweek so the likes of Granit Xhaka, Mohamed Elneny and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are in the frame.
The latter was largely responsible for our point at Old Trafford with a powerful surge down the right and a perfect cross for Olivier Giroud. It’s just one example of the end product that the Ox has added to his game this season.
“His cross [against Man United] was magnificent, like it was at Sunderland [for Alexis],” noted Wenger. “He can make a difference in every single game and I’m positive about Alex. Maybe from now onwards he will have a huge impact in the team.
“I have seen him take a step up and I must say, he doesn’t get the games he deserves. But I think he will get them if he continues, I told him that.
“Overall, he is a huge talent and I just wish he makes the career that is in his body. I think he believes more, he is focused on positive things now and overall I believe that he will take off from now onwards.”
We won’t have to take on Jack Wilshere on Sunday thanks to the Premier League's loan rules. But there’s no escaping Eddie Howe, who at four years and 47 days is the top flight’s second longest-serving manager.
That’s 16 years and 11 days fewer than Wenger but at least Howe has been given time to build something on the south coast.
“You must say he has done well, so that’s an encouraging example for the other clubs to follow,” said Wenger. “Overall I think he is a very young, promising manager who certainly has a bright future in English football.
“I would say Bournemouth is a team who has a good possession game, it is a team who tries to play in a positive way, who tries to go forward very quickly. And as well, a team where there is a good physical ability to cover distance, so we have to respond on that front.
“Of course [it’s a shame that Jack can’t play] but that’s the rule and you have to respect the rule. We gave him the opportunity to go there and unfortunately he can’t play against us, but that’s normal.”
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