Arsene Wenger’s final act at his pre-match press conference was to sit down with journalists from the daily newspapers.
On the agenda were the futures of Santi Cazorla and Per Mertesacker, the penalty conceded by Granit Xhaka at Bournemouth and the terms of Jack Wilshere’s loan.
Read on for the manager’s answers:
on Mertesacker being close to a return… No. He had a little calf problem. He’s on the pitch but not close. He’s still three or four weeks away, not more.
on whether Mertesacker and Cazorla’s contract are dependent on their fitness… No. We have an option on both of them and I think we will take it.
on whether he could have used Jack Wilshere now… Yes, I could use him now. But if he had not played until now, he would not be ready to play now. What looks unfair is that at some moment in the season you know you could need the player. But even at the start of the season you need to have the right balance between competition and numbers and chances for the player to play. And still today I think it was the right decision for him to go to Bournemouth.
on whether he could have loaned Jack until January… In the Premier League, I think no. It’s season-long loans in the Premier League.
on Xhaka conceding penalties… He has conceded a few and I agree he has to stop that. But always it’s… is it really a penalty or not? I think he was unlucky on both occasions, but he has to adapt. Especially on the other night it was a really soft challenge. Because if it’s a penalty, why is it not a foul on Hector Bellerin [for Bournemouth’s third goal]? It’s not even similar. The challenge on Hector was much bigger. Xhaka was a bit unlucky but he has to correct that.
on if Xhaka’s Bundesliga reputation precedes him… I don’t think so. You can see in his game he is not a dirty player. Overall I am quite happy with his defensive evolution. He is less spectacular in his tackling and he stays more on his feet. He uses his body better to win the challenges and his recovery runs are stronger when the ball goes behind him. He is much more focused defensively than before. He has improved a lot on that front.
on why he wants to keep Santi and Per… For their qualities as football players firstly but as well for their mental guidance. We need to have a balance between youth and experience. They are important in that.
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