Liverpool v Arsenal

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‘I deeply feel that Alexis loves to be here’


There has been plenty of speculation about Alexis’ future this summer.

The Chile international is entering the final year of his contract with us and, ahead of Sunday’s Premier League clash with Liverpool, Arsène Wenger had this to say about our No 7.

on whether Alexis returning will give our players a boost…
We are disappointed by our result on Saturday but we are not down. It is the first game we lost since the beginning of April and we feel we should have largely won this game. Alexis, when he is in the squad, he can score a goal for you at that is always good for morale.
on him showing his character by wanting to play…
He wants to play. It is difficult for me to know about the individual cases but sometimes players have been promised things that have not been kept. I can only tell you what happens here and Alexis works for hard and is focused to play.
on whether this is a chance for him to create lasting memories with us…
Yes, I think what is good is our mutual interest is that he does well for us. His interest is to do well, on top of that I deeply feel that he loves to be here and he loves the club and he arrives at a stage of 28, 29 and looks at the quality of his contract but I think he deeply loves to be here.
on it giving Wenger a year to persuade him to stay…
Look, in a professional job I always think that you have to make sure with your commitment that the guy who pays you gets what he is paying you for. Alexis is in that mode and I think he will be until the last day he is here, he will give his best.
on whether he will stay if we are top of the league in October, for example…
You cannot rule anything out, of course you are under threat as well. For me you have a sport decision, and the sport decision is easy – you keep him until the last day of his contract. Then you have a compromise to find if you can afford to do it because you lose a lot of money and at the end of the day my decision, which is purely sporting, is easy to make – I want him to stay, after that there is of course a lot of money involved as well and the club needs to make a financial sacrifice.
on who will have the final say…
I have always been followed by the board, but the final say belongs to the board.

on how much of a boost Koscielny’s return will give us… 
We lost the game on Saturday because defensively we gave a cheap goal away, and it’s good to have him back.

on how hard it’s been for Koscielny…
It’s been very hard, because I didn’t even consider him for friendly games, you know, because I had to play some defenders, I think what hurt him a lot was to miss the cup final. He had a reaction in the final game of the season against Everton that was unlucky, but sometimes… he’s a very quiet guy and sometimes he can get rushed, you know, because he realises, he thinks always he has the speed and the pace to win the tackle, in this case he didn’t.

on when he makes the decision to play those in the final year of their contracts…
To play them or not, no, I don’t consider their contractual situation to decide who plays and who doesn’t play.

on the ‘financial sacrifice’ in Alexis’ case…
The financial factor you sometimes have to prioritise, yes…

on Alexis and Ozil being a combined £150m ‘financial sacrifice’…
It’s still not an Mbappe, no! It is true, yes, I agree with you, that’s why I said, it’s a financial sacrifice for the club and at the end of the day you have to calculate what you can afford and what you can’t afford.


'Hitting milestone at Anfield would be special'

Olivier Giroud has scored 99 times for us since signing in 2012 - and the France international says it would be extra-special to join the 100 club this weekend.

The forward arrived in north London as the top scorer in Ligue 1 as Montpellier won the top flight for the first time in their history, but was quickly made to feel at home in N5.

The memories of that welcome remain firmly set in Giroud's mind ahead of Sunday's visit to Anfield as we take on Liverpool.

"Honestly, I feel very proud of this number but I really want to reach the 100 goals as soon as possible," Giroud told Arsenal Player.

"It could be nice even more, because when I signed for Arsenal, my second game was an away game in Anfield and I remember that the fans were singing ‘my song’, Hey Jude. 

"It was a very special moment for me and it was the first time I heard the song, so I felt very proud and it was a privilege. It’s a special stadium and it’s going to be a tough and important game, so if I can help the team to win this game I will do it with great pleasure.

"It’s always special [to hear my song] because I didn’t expect a warm welcome like that. When I signed for Arsenal, even if I won the league with Montpellier, a lot of people didn’t know about Montpellier and that we were champions so I came and some of the fans didn’t even know me. 

"I was just starting my international career with the French national team and it was the beginning of a nice story for me and it’s always a great feeling. Like, for example, against Leicester when I came on and scored the winner, it was maybe one of my best moments. I still believe that there will be more and more to come."


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‘He doesn’t shoot a lot - when he does, he scores'

Alex Lacazette and Arsène Wenger

It only took Alexandre Lacazette 94 seconds as a Premier League player to make his mark.

The France international opened the scoring in our 4-3 win over Leicester City and had a goal disallowed after a marginal offside decision at Stoke City last week.

Arsène Wenger has been encouraged by Lacazette’s start to life in London - but believes the best is still to come.

“He is still in an adaptation period to the team and to the league,” the boss said. “He is a bit surprised by the intensity of it all in training and in the games. He will get there because he is brave and he is intelligent. 

“The intelligence of his runs and the quality of his technique is very good. Overall I don't worry for him. He is just in the [early] phase... at the start he was completely taken by the intensity of it and he slowly adapts. I feel every week he is getting better and stronger.

“He was very unlucky to get the goal cancelled out at Stoke. Incidentally a supporter wrote to me, ‘Why did he wear yellow boots? If he had black boots...' He was not stupid at all! I am not sure the linesman saw his boot at all.

“He is a player when you look at his numbers, his assist numbers are good as well and he is not an absolutely obsessed, selfish striker. You have many types of strikers and he is the one who is more of a combination player than a finisher.

“But if you look at his numbers, the quantity of his finishing compared to the rest of Europe is a bit below.

“That means he plays more in situations where he could have taken a shot rather than others. But the quality of his finishing is top.

“He is a guy who doesn’t shoot a lot but when he shoots, he finishes.”


‘Alexis and Ozil combination looks so strong’

Mesut Ozil and Alexis are in line to start a match together for the first time since the Emirates FA Cup final when we visit Liverpool on Sunday.

Sead Kolasinac is yet to play alongside Alexis - but finally doing so is a prospect which excites the Bosnia international. 

“It is very important to have him back,” Kolasinac said. “He can make real difference in games. 

“Alexis is a very important player for us. I have seen that in training with his presence, his speed and how easily he can go past players. 

“He is important when it comes to his combinations, especially with Mesut, which looks really good in training. We are pleased to have him back and I hope he can help us as soon as possible.”


‘Welbeck needs a little bit more viciousness'

Danny Welbeck

Danny Welbeck is already off the mark this season, but Arsene Wenger knows how he can improve in front of goal.

The England forward scored in our Premier League opener against Leicester City and could have doubled his tally with a strike against Stoke City last weekend, were it not for Jack Butland denying him twice.

Welbeck could have also appealed for a penalty when he was challenged in the box by Mame Biram Diouf and Kurt Zouma, but elected to stay on his feet under pressure from the Stoke duo.

“Danny’s completely honest,” Wenger said. “There will be a penalty on him but he’ll never dive. He won’t go down. He needs to gain a little bit of viciousness. 

“He needs to have a more streetwise attitude to finish. He has improved a lot with his finishing. He works a lot in training. I am confident he will get there. 

“At the moment, he is a bit in between on the flank and being central but at the end of the season I liked him through the middle.”


Check out our best goals away to Liverpool

We are back in action this weekend as we travel to Anfield to take on Liverpool on Sunday afternoon. 

We have scored a number of memorable goals on the red side of Merseyside in the past, but which of these is your favourite?

Click the ‘Play’ button above to check out our top five, and then don’t forget to vote in the poll below:  

Press conference

Wenger gives the latest on Ox and Alexis’ futures

With just a week to go until transfer deadline day, Arsene Wenger was quizzed about the futures of two members of his first team on Thursday.

With Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Alexis entering the final years of their contracts, there has been a lot of speculation about them.

This is what the boss had to say:

on whether he has a meeting with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain…
We all have our agendas that are quite busy but we do not publish them. Some people look better informed than I am! My secretary has my agenda, I will check what I have to do today.

on whether the Ox has indicated whether he wants to stay…
All these conversations that I have [I say] that I want him to stay and be one of the big players of the future of this club. He is one of the players this team has to be built around in the future. Personally I want him to commit to the club and to be one of the carrier of the values of our team.

on whether there have been any bids for the Ox…
I know every bid we have of course but the best for us is to focus on Sunday.

on if he’d sell him to Chelsea…
I want to keep my best players. I only have one target: to keep everybody on board. I think we invested a lot of time, confidence and money on players like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who we bought at a young age. For me, they have a responsibility for the future of this club because Alex will be one of the big English players in the coming years. I personally am highly determined to keep him here at the club and I hope he will commit.

on Alexis’ attitude…
He has always been focused on his job, he loves to play football and I don’t think he is too disturbed by all the [external] noises that happen. Players at that level are used to it now, some deal better with it than others but I don’t think he is too bothered by that.

on if he is happy to stay…
He is very focused, very happy and as I told you before, the fact that he goes into the last year of his contract does not mean we have no chance to extend it. At the moment we have not managed to do it, but we just want to focus as a team and not look too much at the individual conditions of the contracts of everybody because what is important is what you want to achieve forever.

on not giving up on extending his deal…
Let’s not go too far, let’s focus on Sunday.

on whether Alexis will travel with Chile…
Yes, of course. Chile are at an important part of their qualifiers, they are not through yet and he is available to travel to Chile.

on whether he will be an Arsenal player when he comes back…

on how much harder it is to keep hold of Alexis with inflated transfer fees…
I had to deal many times in my life with big departures, big players. I always focused more on the team and to deal with all the rest. No matter what, Arsenal and the team is important. Of course you want to keep your best players but you always think if it happens you have to find a way to survive at the top level and to find a way to make the team efficient. You don’t focus too much on individual players, you focus more on how the team can be strong enough to deal with what can happen.

Press conference

Wenger on whether Alexis will start at Anfield

Is Alexis fit for our game against Liverpool on Sunday? If so, will he start the match at Anfield?

Those were some of the questions Arsene Wenger was asked in his pre-match press conference on Thursday, and this is what he said:

on the team news…
The early team news is that Koscielny is back available for selection and Alexis has worked very hard to be back again and he is available as well.

on how Alexis has looked in training…
He works very hard, focused and gives absolutely everything. He loves to play so much that is is sometimes difficult to stop him but he looks absolutely ready. he has not played for a long time so I will have to decide what I do with him but he looks ready to play.

on whether Alexis will start…
I will have to make that decision. It is Thursday today and we play on Sunday and he looks in good shape, he has worked very hard.