Press conference

Press conference round-up: Mbappe, Ozil and more

Arsene Wenger spoke to the media on Thursday at his first press conference since that forgettable day at Anfield.

The transfer window, Mesut Ozil’s social media posts and suggestions of a “crisis” at the club were all on the agenda. Here’s what the boss said:

on how close we were to signing Mbappe…

I believe that we were on the case last year already, he was close to join us, maybe closer last year than this year because the competition to get him was a bit smaller than it is today.

He is in a position… I personally believe that for 90 per cent of players their career depends completely on where they choose to go and for 10 per cent of the players they can go where they want, they will still make a great career. For me, he is in the 10 per cent, he could close his eyes and choose ‘I go here to Real Madrid, or here to Arsenal or Man United’, and he will have a career because he is an exceptional football player.

on how close we came…

I cannot tell you that… you should ask him. I think he was closer last year than this year.

on having self-doubts after a result like the Liverpool defeat…

If you ask me do I suffer with performances like that, that’s obvious. If it makes you happy that I suffer, I can tell you that you can be very happy, but overall I think unfortunately it’s part of your career.

You want ideally your team to perform at the top, top level and of course you question your decisions, you question your preparation and absolutely everything. But overall I believe as well we have played three games and there are 35 games to go.

on if Arsenal are in ‘crisis’…

I never could understand what a crisis is. To lose a game? Then I’m in a crisis. What’s important is that you focus on what’s in front of you in our job. For me every single defeat is a crisis, yes.

on if this is the lowest point…

Look, we had a performance like that at Liverpool a few years ago. Not long after we played them again and we beat them easily at the Emirates. Football is made of that as well and you have to expect that performances swing. Life is movement. Quality of the performance can change from one week to another. 

That doesn’t put me in any denial that our performance was not good enough. Sport is sport and I must say I love my players, I believe in my players and we have a good opportunity to show that we have the quality that people want from us. 

We are in a part of the season where we want our fans behind the team. We can come out of this game and come to a quick conclusion that we are not good enough, or they can say ‘Let’s see what is happening’ and stand behind the team. That’s what we want.

on if he will sacrifice principles for winning ugly…

That’s where I think in England you come to the wrong conclusions always. If England has not won on an international level in over 50 years, it’s maybe time at some stage to come to the right conclusions. To convince people that to win you have to play ugly is for me a wrong debate. If you take the biggest teams in the world, they all play football. Brazil has won how many World Cups? They play football. Germany play football. Real Madrid play football, Barcelona play football. Yes, we didn’t play well enough the way we want to play, I agree with you, but to come out to a conclusion that you have to kick the ball into the stand to win football games is the wrong conclusion.

on if he’s communicating that the players need to roll up their sleeves…

I believe at some stage that what is important is that you stick to your principles, even if it doesn’t go as well as you want it. Do you question yourself? Yes. But don’t question things that are absolutely not obvious because you lose one game. That’s where I believe it’s important that people around the team continue to believe in what we do.

on if a win gives him breathing space with fans being on his back…

You [the media] work very hard to get our fans on our back and you do that very well. I believe our fans are naturally with us and that they were disappointed is completely normal. Situations like that are a good opportunity as well to show that we are strong, united and decided.

on whether it’s a good time to play Bournemouth…

It’s never a good time to play anybody. It’s a good time for us to focus on our performance and show that we are united. We have played three games. We have played two away games and we have 35 games to go in the championship. We will catch back [recover] the points we lost away from home. It’s important we continue our form at home. It’s important to put things into perspective. Sometimes even the press has problems in taking a little distance in things going on. 

on Mesut Ozil versus Arsenal ‘legends’ on social media…

I always have problems understanding what a legend is and what a legend isn’t. I’ve had all the players here and we speak today, but they all had their weaknesses as well. Don’t worry about that. They had their weak games as well, and their weak behaviours as well. Nobody was perfect. 

We have to take a distance with that as well, focus on our performance and not be dragged into any animosity. We are all grateful for what they have done for the club, but what matters is always the players on the pitch who can defend the pride of the club.

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