Arsene Wenger faced the media on Friday ahead of his side’s crucial Premier League clash against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
The Arsenal manager discussed his side’s mental preparation, sitting in the stands and the Blues’ tactical evolution.
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This is what he had to say:
on why the players weren’t mentally ready against Watford…
I have spent the last three days thinking about that. But it’s subconscious, you know, I don’t think it’s a lack of professionalism. The players prepared properly. In the Premier League it is like that. No team dominates for 90 minutes without having to defend at some stage. But we were not ready to win the challenges. We were dominated in the duels. Did the weight of the Chelsea game after come in? Maybe in the subconscious mind.
on whether some fans’ reaction is over the top…
It’s difficult for me to come out on that. We live in a society that is like that and it is difficult for me to change that. I focus on what I can influence. I live with the response of society. You [the media] are more the captors of what is going on, the waves in society. Are we going the right way? Maybe. But if you look at society all over the world, we are not really sure.
on whether it is worse now than in the past…
Yes, of course, because everybody can express their frustrations in a fraction of a second and there is no time to take any distance from what happened.
on whether he would change system like Conte did at Chelsea…
Of course. But you have to look after the strength of your players. Can they adapt to a different system? What is their weight in the results of the team? Can you afford to get them out? He created a different system and played his strong players in the team. The system suits his players that are strong. I don’t think it is necessarily the system but the fact they found a good balance and Matic and N’Golo Kante came into the team and gave them good defensive stability.
on why more managers don’t choose to sit in the stands…
Yes, you are right. At Highbury I felt close. Highbury for me was short to go up and down, much more homey. After, I changed it because it was not possible. Overall I think one half up, one half down is a good compromise.
on whether he will change his approach in the future…
I’m not sure. You are at a disadvantage with modern stadiums. Big stadiums. You have to leave two or three minutes before you are in the middle of the crowd because everybody goes out at half time. Then you have to come up a bit later when the game has already started in the second half and you have to go out early again before the end of the game where you don’t really want to go out.
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