Arsenal v Huddersfield

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Press conference

 Wenger - I always do what is best for Jack

Another press conference, another set of questions about Jack Wilshere.

Arsene Wenger has been asked a number of times about the England midfielder’s future this season, and Tuesday’s media briefing was no different.

This is what the Arsenal manager had to say:

on how crucial this period could be for Jack’s long-term future…
For him, I’ve repeated it many times, it’s just about being fit. He’s considered like any other player in the squad. He’s at that level now that every opportunity he gets is a good chance for him to commit for a long-term future.

on whether he will allow him to leave in January…
At the moment, I just think about the interest of our next game. I don’t think long term. For him, I always considered his interest because for me he’s an Arsenal player and has been since he was a kid. He’s a football man and I will always decide what is best for him, that is my first priority no matter what kind of decision I make. I have to consider the interests of Jack Wilshere and Arsenal Football Club together.

on that possibly meaning Jack staying or going…
If I think his best interest is to stay here then I will absolutely fight 100 per cent for him to stay here because he’s a guy who is top-quality and is back fit now. For me, when you have a top-quality player, you want him to be at Arsenal Football Club.

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‘Defending as a unit makes a big difference'

Since returning from the international break, we have taken six points from six in the Premier League and kept two clean sheets.

Firstly we kept the much-feted Tottenham strikeforce quiet as we won the north London derby, then stood firm to secure a last-gasp win at Burnley.

Laurent Koscielny puts this defensive resilience down to the fact the whole team is working as a unit… even if he understands that it can be “boring” for some members of the side.

“When you are 11 players who fight together, it is easier for us at the back to defend,” he said. “We could see in the first half against Burnley that when they had no pressure up front, they could play long balls and travel at the back. 

“In the second half, we put more pressure on their centre backs and were higher because we take the ball quicker and can be more of a danger for our opponents. It is a collective job.

“With the quality we have, it is the mentality we need to keep very high and push ourselves more. I can understand defending is sometimes boring for some players but we need to have them with us because it can be a big difference on the pitch when we defend together.”

The Breakdown

The Breakdown: Arsenal v Huddersfield preview

We are back in Premier League action on Wednesday night when Huddersfield Town are the visitors to Emirates Stadium.

Ahead of the game, tactical expert Michael Cox and former Gunner Adrian Clarke examine our opponents in detail.


MC: David Wagner made his name as an understudy to Jurgen Klopp at Dortmund, and in some respects demands a similar style of football. But whereas Klopp’s system is based around counter-pressing – winning the ball immediately after it’s lost – Huddersfield use a more traditional press, with a high defensive line and more consistent pressure in advanced positions.


MC: Wagner uses a 4-3-3 system, with the defensive midfield role perhaps the most uncertain. Danish youngster Philip Billing is a good ball-winner but is out injured, so Jonathan Hogg is likely to anchor the midfield, rarely straying from in front of the defence.

AC: I thought they were really good against Manchester City with a good gameplan and they sat ever so deep, and frustrated Manchester City by limiting them to not many shots on target. They might come to Emirates Stadium and try to replicate that.


MC: Huddersfield are capable of breaking very quickly. Centre forward Laurent Depoitre is very quick on the turn, and attempts to transform simple passes to feet into dangerous through balls by rolling defenders, which should be a crucial part of Huddersfield’s counter-attacking.


MC: The discipline of Huddersfield’s holding midfielder gives Aaron Mooy license to break forward – he’s been outstanding so far, scoring a memorable curled winner against Newcastle and another important goal against Manchester United. He breaks forward to the edge of the area dangerously.


MC: Centre back Christopher Schindler has a tendency to get himself into trouble with referees, while captain Tommy Smith pushes forward from right-back and sometimes leaves space in behind. Huddersfield have also looked somewhat vulnerable to set-pieces recently, conceding two goals in this manner against Bournemouth and another versus Liverpool.

AC: Away from home, they’ve not been good to be honest. They’ve not scored many goals since their opening-day win at Crystal Palace, which was phenomenal. Since then they’ve not been brilliant on their travels, so they have tailed off to some degree.


Pictures: First team train ahead of Huddersfield

Arsenal train ahead of Huddersfield

After Sunday's late win against Burnley, our first team were back in training on Tuesday morning to prepare for this week's visit of Huddersfield Town.

Mesut Ozil joined in with the session after missing last weekend's trip to Turf Moor, while Theo Walcott was also involved.

Our photographer was there and sent back these pictures:

Press conference

Wenger - Ozil and Alexis will stay in January

With the January transfer window a little over a month away from opening, speculation is already rife about Mesut Ozil and Alexis.

The Arsenal pair are both in the last year of their contracts, but Arsene Wenger insists they will not be leaving mid-season.

This is what he told the media on Tuesday:

on whether Alexis and Mesut Ozil will be here on February 1…
Yes, of course.

on it being a relief for Arsenal fans…
Yes, of course that’s what we said many times.

on whether they’ll be here at the start of next season…
I am not the only one who can decide that. They have a part to play in that as well. If it’s my decision, yes.

on whether he is now ruling out Ozil and Alexis leaving in January…
Yes, I rule it out.

on whether that means a decision has been taken…
I do not think about that every day. At the moment, as long as they are here, they have to give their best for the team and for the club. In my head, they stay until the end of the season and that’s a decision that was taken at the start of the season. Unless something unbelievable happens, I can’t see why that would change.

on him saying Arsenal would make a decision in December…
We are not in December yet, we are in November.

on whether there’s still a chance they could leave in January…
In a press conference, you’re always confronted with many speculations over the psychological state of transfers but for me, they’ll stay until the end of the season. That’s what I decided at the start of the season. They’re into the final year of their contract. Will they stay longer? That’s impossible to answer today because I don’t know. They have a contract until the end of the season.

on Alexis contributing to 17 goals in 18 games v newly-promoted PL sides…
I don’t know if it’s just against these sides. Maybe it’s because we dominate the games more and we have more of the ball, but also because of his exceptional quality to make a difference. He can go individually, he can score from a distance and he can create chances as well. Certainly, most of it is down to his individual quality.


‘Cech has lost weight… he’s fitter than ever’

Petr Cech

 He may be approaching his 36th birthday, but Petr Cech is still producing match-winning performances week in, week out.

The former Czech Republic goalkeeper made two crucial stops to preserve our clean sheet against Burnley, and help us secure a third late win in as many games against the Clarets.
It was Cech’s sixth clean sheet of the season and Arsène Wenger says our goalkeeper is in better physical shape than ever before.
“He gets older, we all do that,” the manager said. “But I think he is fitter than ever. He puts a lot of attention into the preparation. He is slimmer than before. I think he benefits from that.
“He has lost some weight. Not too much, two, three kilos only. But it’s a lot if you want to make a horse lose a race, you put a jockey with one or two kilos more on the back, and the horse is quite big.
“He looks after his whole lifestyle because he feels better and because he wants to be at the best. Petr Cech is a perfectionist. And you don’t make a career he has made if you have not that obsession, always to be at your best.
“I remember Edwin Van der Sar at Manchester United, I compare them. They are intelligent, they have great similar size, similar quality. And Van der Sar stopped at the end because he decided to stop. Because Manchester United wanted him to stay one more year longer. I don’t rule out [Cech playing until he is 40], but that will only be down to the performances.”

Press conference

‘They have come from hell… they will fight’

Arsene Wenger knows just how tough Huddersfield will be on Wednesday night - because they fought their way “out from hell” in the Championship.

The Premier League new boys have made a strong start to life in the top flight, and were only beaten by leaders Manchester City on Sunday after conceding a late goal.

Now they visit Emirates Stadium - where we have won 11 league games in a row - and the Arsenal manager had this to say in his press conference:

on how tough Huddersfield will be…
It’s a massive game for me because I watched their game against City, they didn’t deserve to lose. This team has come out from hell, you have to play 46 games in the Championship to get out of it, and you need to be ready for a fight. With all the teams that come up, you realise that especially in the first season they have that kind of fighting spirit that makes them dangerous for every Premier League side, no matter what kind of names you have on the teamsheet.

on winning 11 PL home games in a row - best run since 2005…
We have been a bit more patient, better defensively as well, more secure defensively and could make the differences many times in the second half. Then you build the belief and the strength that comes from the history of the team at home as well. We feel that we can turn it around, no matter what happens. Certainly, the home support makes a difference as well.

on whether the Emirates is becoming a fortress like Highbury…
That’s the target. It’s too early to say that because I don’t think the period is long enough to assess.

on whether his team selection will be influenced by the game v Man United…
[I will have] zero eyes [on the Manchester United game]. The most important game is tomorrow night, no matter what happens after. We have a good chance to take three points at home tomorrow and that is the only thing that matters. I have a big enough squad to deal with the rest after this game.

Press conference

Wenger on Lacazette, Man City and the title race

Arsene Wenger was quizzed about a range of subjects in Tuesday’s press conference, including the impact made by new signing Alexandre Lacazette.

The France international has made a good start to life in England, and the Arsenal manager had this to say - as well as discussing the Premier League title race:

on Alexandre Lacazette being subbed off nine times…
First of all I would like to say that in my job you sub strikers more than defenders, because they have to create, they have to provoke, they have to be incisive in every run. Secondly, I think he adapts physically to the Premier League and I’m very happy with the work he does for the team every time he is on the pitch, and thirdly I do that as well because I have other options on the bench who are fresh and can give us another variation in our attacks.

on how big a jump the Premier League is physically…
Physically, the Premier League is very demanding. It demands a huge intensity of work and if you look at the other teams, they take off a lot of strikers as well after 70-80 minutes, between 60 and 80 minutes most of the teams change their strikers because first of all many times they have to work on their own up front against two or three people. Up front you provoke and at the back you respond, so it’s completely different and much more exhausting physically and mentally.

on whether he believes that Arsenal are in the title race…
Look, at the moment we are far apart, but the only way we can keep that alive is for us to win the games and that’s why the next game is so important for us.

on whether Klopp and Pochettino get an easier ride than himself…
I don’t compare things like that, I just focus on doing my job. I can live with any opinion, I think I have shown that in my 21 years and I know that it is not what people think. What can I do for Arsenal - that’s my only worry.

on whether everyone in the PL is just playing for second place…
No. I don’t think so. It’s too early to say that. I feel that every team has its vulnerabilities, even Manchester City. They had a good start but it’s too early. We are in November and you win the championship in May.

on whether it’s good that we have such a dominant team…
No, it’s not good. What is interesting for everybody is that it’s very tight and very close, and that every game is uncertain. What makes the attraction of the Premier League is that every game is intense and unpredictable.

on when Wenger realised his side could become Invincibles…
I felt that with five or six games to go. We won the championship with five games to go and then there’s usually a decompression where people relax. That was the most difficult part, to keep the team alive to continue to work hard, to continue to be focused. They had that celebration and then they had the next game. That’s always difficult.

Press conference

‘He was a good character who wanted to learn'

Arsene Wenger has paid tribute to former Arsenal academy coach Dermot Drummy, who has passed away aged 56.

Drummy spent more than 10 years at the club, before leaving to join Chelsea in 2009 and then later taking over as Crawley manager.

“It is very sad news and I would like to express my condolences to his family and of course everybody around him,” Wenger told Arsenal Player.

“He was a very competent man, very respected here and it is really difficult to understand what happened. We are very sad here today and would like to thank him for all the great work he has done here.

“He was a good character and a sensitive and sensible man. He was always willing to learn, always wanting to improve the quality of his coaching.

“When he left us it was very sad news at the time, he had done an excellent job here, and I would say today as well that many, many, many young players that he has coached are sad because he has contributed a lot and that is why the whole football world and all of us at Arsenal are very sad.” 

Press conference

Team news: The latest on Ozil and Iwobi

Arsene Wenger has revealed the latest team news ahead of Wednesday’s Premier League clash against Huddersfield.

The Arsenal manager discussed Mesut Ozil’s availability and provided an update on Alexis Iwobi - and this is what he said:

on latest team news…
For Sunday’s game, we had no Ozil. It’s planned for him to train again today and we’ll make an assessment of him after the training session. Alex Iwobi got a dead leg, a kick on his leg. We’re not sure that he will be available for tomorrow. Everybody else should be available again.

on whether Ozil’s illness is the same as what Theo Walcott had…
No. It’s not a virus, no.

on Santi being the only long-term absentee…
Santi Cazorla is still out.


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