Arsenal v Newcastle United

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Press conference

Wenger on Man City, Newcastle, Ozil, systems

As usual, Arsène Wenger’s pre-match press conference covered a variety of topics.

The manager was asked about Manchester City and if they can be stopped, how he expects Newcastle to line up on Saturday, the latest on Mesut Ozil and whether he’ll persist with three or four at the back.

Here’s what he had to say:

on whether City are uncatchable…
Look, we had no petrol but ideas, they have petrol and ideas, so that makes it more efficient and overall yes they are like that, so everybody expects and projects that they will last. Why not? It can happen, but there is still a long way to go. At the moment I think everything goes for them inside the games, but maybe as well they have the quality to turn it in their favour.

on petrol and ideas…
They have resources… [Money?] yes. Money and quality is what I wanted to say and in their management and players they have everything that is needed to be successful. It’s still not easy, they still have to respect that achievement.

on if Ozil etc will stay in January…
Yeah. I can tell you a global answer: yes.

on if he thinks they will all stay…
They will all stay. It’s very difficult for me to tell you because I will analyse every case individually and separately. Overall I would say my wish and my desire is that everybody stays. After, if you come and tell me ‘look, that’s what I offer you for this player’, I will say yes or no.

on strong home form…
We have been absolutely very strong at home and I think it’s the basis, the foundation of a good season. We want to continue that. That’s why, despite the fact that we were disappointed that we couldn’t win at Southampton or West Ham, at least we haven’t lost. If we can transform our home games into win, that will not be too bad.

on Newcastle potentially playing like West Ham did… 
They will do, of course. Newcastle are in a difficult period as well, so they will want to defend well. I watched them against Man United and they were quite dangerous going forward as well. They are a team who will certainly be very sound defensively. Benitez has a lot of experience and they will come to the Emirates and certainly try to be organised defensively.

on how close Ozil is to a new deal and links to Man United…
How close? I don’t know how close.

on if he’s talking to Ozil about a new deal…
We have never been approached by Man United anyway, so I don’t see why that came up and who found that. It’s always something that has been created.

on if he’s sure Ozil will stay…
Until the end of the season, for sure. The rest is open.

on if back four is way forward…
I will adapt a little bit to the problem we face. I played a back four at West Ham because I thought we’d have a lot of the ball and wanted one more offensive player in the team.

on if motivation is an issue for AFC with City’s lead at the top…
The motivation shouldn’t be a problem because I would say you’re more motivated to reduce the distance between you and them. But it’s true that recently in recent games, the distance has suddenly become very big. They are flying at the moment because they are full of confidence and their opponents certainly are a little bit more scared to have a real go at them as well.

Gallery

First team train ahead of Newcastle United game

Arsenal train ahead of Newcastle United (h)

Our first team were hard at work in training ahead of Saturday’s visit of Newcastle United.

Shkodran Mustafi joined in with the session after recovering from the injury he suffered during our defeat to Manchester United earlier this month.

Our club photographer was at London Colney on Friday too - and sent back these pictures.

Pre-Match Report

Arsenal v Newcastle United: The Brief

Much has been made of our travails on our travels this season. So it’s comforting to be back at the Emirates this weekend.

Before that defeat to Manchester United we’d won 11 consecutive home games in the Premier League - our best run on our own patch since Highbury was a fortress for nine months in 2005.
 
Let’s be honest - we probably should have won the United game too. We certainly had the chances. So the challenge on Saturday is to be rather more ruthless against a different United - from Newcastle.
 
You’re in the right place for a comprehensive pre-match briefing. On this page you’ll find classic goals, our exclusive interview with Arsene Wenger, the latest team news, match facts and a chance to test your knowledge.

Arsène Wenger on Ainsley Maitland-Niles

ONE TO WATCH: NACHO MONREAL

“It looks to me that centre back is his best position now,” said the boss. “He has plenty of experience on the flanks, but it's a bit more demanding there now, physically.
 
“Also I like to have a right-footed and left-footed player in central defence, because that's where it all starts, and the distribution is better balanced when you can have that.” 

TEAM NEWS:

ARSENAL: Ramsey (hamstring), Cazorla (plantaris)
 
NEWCASTLE: No injuries 

THE OPPOSITION: 

Former Gunner Adrian Clarke on Newcastle: 

“They’re in relegation form. They’re plummeting like a stone. They’ve got a Championship squad and if they didn’t have Rafa Benitez, we’d be expecting them to go down. I was really surprised that they didn’t spend more money last summer. 

“They desperately need new bodies in January. It’s never easy to play against Newcastle but I would definitely fancy Arsenal to swot aside a Magpies side that are low on confidence. 

“They’re not defending brilliantly and their midfield unit isn’t functioning superbly either. Up top, Dwight Gayle has found a bit of form but I’m not convinced that he or Joselu are real Premier League class.”


THE FINAL WORD… ON BREAKING DOWN OPPONENTS

“We have to continue to do what we do but we have to do it quicker and better,” said the boss. “That means providing our game with more pace, with more penetrating runs, by getting deeper behind the defenders. That's the target.
 
“Newcastle are going through a difficult period at the moment so they will first of all try to defend well. It's down to us. I believe we have to focus, first of all, to continue to keep clean sheets, and as well at home we know we can create chances and that's what we want to continue to do.” 

Matchday Show - Newcastle United (h)

Matchday Show - Newcastle United (h)

Press conference

Team news: Updates on Mustafi, Ramsey, Walcott

Arsène Wenger discussed the fitness of Shkodran Mustafi, Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott at his pre-Newcastle press conference on Friday.

Read on for an update on the trio:

on team news…
Mustafi is back in training today. I don’t know if I will include him tomorrow, it’s still a little gamble and apart from that we will have to see how everybody recovers. We’ll see today in training, but we have no basic problem. Of course Aaron Ramsey will not be available, I said that he will be out for a little longer and that will be maybe three weeks that he is not in contention.

on why Walcott wasn’t picked at West Ham…
He had a little groin problem. He would have been in the squad at West Ham. He will not be available tomorrow I think as well.

on if Walcott’s injury kept him out of Southampton and West Ham…
It’s not a bad one. I think he has a little chance to be available against West Ham [on Tuesday].

Press conference

Wenger - Why Jack impressed in midweek

Jack Wilshere made his first Premier League start for us since May 2016 in our goalless draw at West Ham United on Wednesday.

The midfielder won more duels than any of his team-mates, had a 90.3 per cent pass-completion rate and recovered possession on six occasions. Many fans were impressed by Wilshere, and they weren’t alone.

“I think it was an encouraging performance,” Arsène Wenger said. “He suffered certainly a little bit in the last 20, but we were in a position where we had to attack, so I left him on the pitch because of course he can contribute to that, but overall it’s a positive. He has been very patient and worked very hard.”

Will Wilshere start on Saturday?

“I don’t know yet at the moment, but we will see how everybody will be recovered,” Wenger added. “We play on Tuesday again and have four games in basically nine days so will have to assess how everybody recovers, but he had done well in the game we played.”

Press conference

How we can improve our offensive efficiency

In our last three Premier League games, we’ve had 66 shots - but only scored twice.

How do we regain our offensive efficiency? Here’s Arsène Wenger’s take.

“At the moment there is a difference between points we get and the domination we have in the game,” the boss said. “Of course it is down to the fact that we’ve played recently against two teams who defended extremely well at home.

“West Ham have shown that against City and against Chelsea. Maybe we have to speed up our passing and have more penetrating runs in the final third to create more chances. Maybe we need support for our central strikers in the box as well. 

“We want to continue what we do well and improve the finishing, be a bit sharper in our finishing. Overall, that’s what we want to be inspired with. 

“When you speak about the problem, it has to look natural to finish. At the moment, maybe we are in a position where we want to force the situation a little bit too much.”

Olivier Giroud started up front in midweek and has more Premier League goals against Newcastle than any other team. Will that record have an influence on the manager’s team selection?

“No, because every game is different. I believe that he had a good game, he gave a lot as well, but was isolated in the middle of three centre-backs. As I said, I try especially up front to rotate a little bit. We will have to see as I haven’t decided what exactly I will do.”


Press conference

Wenger on our dedicated charity matchday

We’re holding our annual Arsenal Foundation matchday against Newcastle at the weekend.

The first-team squad and Arsène Wenger will each be donating a day’s wages to the cause, and the manager has reinforced why contributing to the foundation is so important to the club.

“It is an important quality at our club, to contribute to the Arsenal Foundation,” he said. “It’s part of the historical values of our club and we are very happy to contribute on our side too, on a day like that. 

“Overall I think it shows how much we care about that at the end of the season and I think as well that Arsenal Foundation does a great job."

News

Tune in for LIVE coverage of the Newcastle game

Matchday Show - Newcastle United (h)

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