Press conference

Wenger on why Alexis started on the bench

There was a lot of speculation pre-game about why Alexis was only on the bench for the game at Stamford Bridge - so what was the thinking behind it?

Arsene Wenger addressed it in his press conference after our Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, and this is what he said:

on whether he can reveal why he benched Alexis and started Iwobi…
No, not really.

on Iwobi…
Yes, it is one thing to punish someone individually and the second thing to punish everybody. If I think he can help the team to win it has nothing to do with the fact that he can be punished separately and individually.

on whether Alexis being benched had anything to do with Manchester City…
No, no the team selection had nothing to do with the transfer market.

on why he benched him…
Why not?

on whether he is his best player…
I have not to justify every decision I make, I made over 1,000 games and I made over 1,000 teams and got it wrong every time. I have to make a decision.

on whether he is confident Alexis will stay this January…
Yes, that is what I want, I want him to stay for longer because I believe he is a very important player for us and I believe that when he came on tonight you could see that he created danger straight away. You have to accept as well when you play so many games, and Sanchez plays every game, that sometimes a breather in the middle of the season helps them a little bit.

on Alexis being able to speak to foreign clubs - and if Wenger is aware of him doing that…
No. Are you aware? I am not. You just gave me the rule. He doesn’t need to tell me that he speaks to anybody else, because that’s the rule. He doesn’t need to alert the club, he can do it on his own. People don’t know Alexis well - this is a guy who is completely focused to play football. Have you seen how he came on today, how he warmed up? Like a player who wants to play football. He can make a difference between what’s going on outside and what’s going on on the football pitch, with facts, not psychological theories. The fact is when you turn up on the pitch, you play football and you give 100 per cent. That’s what he does.

on Alexis’ reaction to not starting…
I don’t want to talk about that. We have to keep at least some things a little bit private.

on if Alexis wants to play for Arsenal…
Of course - he didn’t play for anybody else now.

on if it’s better for everyone to know where Alexis’ future lies…
Yes, of course. I can understand that, yes.

on if it’s better for Wenger to know on Alexis’ future now…
Look, I have no problem if he signs now or in June. What is important for me is the next game and that you can rely on him. The only thing I want to say is the performance of Alexis and the commitment does not depend on the duration of his contract, it just depends on the fact that when he’s on the pitch he wants to play.

on if Alexis’ commitment depends on if he wants to stay…
I don’t understand the way you see things. You know why, because it doesn’t matter how long on my contract I have to go if I play the next game for Arsenal. I want to win the game and I commit like I stay forever. You say basically that the commitment of a player is linked with the length of his contract. I don’t believe that at all.