'Granit's performance was encouraging'

Arsene Wenger at the MLS All-Star game

Arsène Wenger spoke to the media after Arsenal beat an MLS All-Stars team in San Jose on Friday.

Here's what he said:

on the game…I believe it was tough for us. We are in a very hard training programme at the moment. You never know how tired the players are going to be in the game. So it was good to see we are in good shape. We had two hard days in the training sessions before we played today so we did well.


on Granit Xhaka…He did adjust very well. His passing was clean and technically he did well. Overall I believe his first game was encouraging.

on Rob Holding…He has adapted surprisingly in a very good way. He reads the game well and understands what's going on. He anticipates well and that's a quality, at such a young age, that you don't find a lot.


Rob Holding representing Arsenal for the first time

Rob Holding representing Arsenal for the first time


on the performance…In the first half we had a good balance between keeping possession and going very quickly on the transitions behind the defence in the final third. That was positive. It was also an opportunity to see many young players. Also in the first-half Chamberlain was always very dangerous and exceptionally strong. The players who just joined us - Holding and Xhaka - did well too.

on playing Iwobi and Akpom together in attack…At the moment, I do not have too many attacking options. Let’s not forget that there are still a few players at home, and that a few players didn’t play today, like Cazorla. Then of course you have Ozil and Ramsey at home, even Giroud is not here. We have options, but we still look outside to find one more.

on Drogba’s goal…Drogba is a poacher - he can do that in the box. When I see him in the box, fighting with young defenders, I always think there is danger because you know that he can get the upper hand and score a goal. That’s what he did.

on how different it was to play against MLS All-Stars, as opposed to a settled team…I would say overall it’s less aggressive. These players come here for a show and [the attitude] is it’s not life or death, like when you play against a club. The contacts are a bit less strong and it’s more of a friendly game than it is usually when you play against a club. But on the other hand, you have top-quality players on the pitch together and you feel that every time you make a mistake, they can take advantage of it.

on if a top-four finish this season would be enough…It’s never enough. I personally believe that no matter what you do, it’s never enough. You have to give absolutely everything to take the best out of the team. I believe that we know what we have to do, because we were second last year, we had 18 teams behind us. It’s a big ask, because when you look at the Premier League, every club is hugely ambitious. You look at the cheques that everybody signs and it’s quite scary. That’s what the Premier League is about at the moment.

on if he’s planning to take any young players from the MLS…At the moment, I don’t plan to take any players back. I’m more focused now on preparing for the season, because we are at July 29 and start on August 14. We have a very short time to prepare now, so my focus is on my players.

on the All-Star team…The MLS team was exceptionally strong. Look at the results the MLS All-Stars have made in recent years. [Before playing Arsenal] in the last four years, they won three times. I looked at the players on their teamsheet and thought it could be a very difficult game for us, and it was.

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