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‘When I hear them speak, I listen twice!’

Judging by his performances on the pitch, it’s no surprise to learn that Sead Kolasinac has made a swift adaption to life in England.

The Bosnia international has become an instant fans’ favourite with his full-blooded approach, and he is making progress off the pitch too - even if some of his new team-mates can be quite hard to understand.

“That’s really, really difficult,” Kolasinac told Arsenal Player. “When I listen to the English players, like when Ox talks to Danny, I need to listen twice because it’s so quick and it’s hard through the accent! But I’ve got time to learn it and I will do that.

“Everyone has welcomed me so well and speak a lot of English with me to help me learn the language. I’m pleased that I get on so well with everyone. 

“Everyone has impressed me, everyone has their own personality and I’ve got to know that. There hasn’t been a negative experience with a team-mate yet where I’ve not got on with them. 

“I’m pleased to have had the chance to get to know them on tour and until now I’ve got on really well with everyone.”

Press conference

Team news: Mustafi, Coquelin, Jack, Alexis

Arsene Wenger has provided a team news update ahead of Saturday’s Premier League clash against Stoke City.

The boss revealed the latest on Shkodran Mustafi, Francis Coquelin, Jack Wilshere, Per Mertesacker and Alexis.

This is what he had to say:

on the team news…
Early team news is that from last week I think Mertesacker will be available again. For Alexis it looks a bit early, but he works hard in training. Our medical people think Saturday comes too soon but he should be available for the next game against Liverpool. 

on Alexis’ recovery…
His recovery is going very well, he is working very hard but we have to be cautious. It was a muscular strain and [its important] not to have any setback on it.

on Mustafi and Coquelin…
They will be in the squad, yes.

on Jack Wilshere…
Well, for him it’s good that he’s back and available. I think he needs games now. He might play again on Monday night but overall, what is important for him is the natural progression to be completely fit. He is not far away now.


Press conference

Wenger on why he is so determined to keep Alexis

Arsene Wenger has made his position very clear on Alexis this summer: the Chilean will stay at the club, no matter the interest from elsewhere.

The Arsenal manager was once again quizzed about the Chilean’s future at Wednesday’s press conference, and he once again reiterated his stance.

on Alexis and whether he’ll sign a new contract…
Look, at the moment no, because we have not progressed on that front. At the moment he is a player who goes into the final year of his contract and prepares for the season. We have not made any progress on the other front.

on whether he is really willing to let Alexis leave for free next summer…
That is a consequence of what I say, yes, unfortunately. But we have to make a choice between efficiency on the field and financial interest and most of the time if you can find a good compromise, it’s better. But in this case, I think I prioritise the fact that he will be useful on the sporting side.

on whether there’s any comparison with Diego Costa at Chelsea…
No, I don’t think that Costa has only one year to go. I don’t think there is any comparison at all, because we want him to be with us and Chelsea does not necessarily want that.

on whether he would support an early closing of transfer window…
I support it, of course. For the regularity of the season, it’s better because you can have a player who you could play against three times if the transfer window is not closed when you start the season. That doesn’t look normal. Also, for the psychological comfort and focus of the manager. It’s difficult to start the season with a team and have some players in the squad who are not completely on board. You can understand that, once everyone’s on the train, they stay on the train. 

on whether it would give foreign clubs an advantage…
Do you give some foreign clubs an advantage? No, not really because you have enough time. I spent my whole summer in the transfer market, so I think six or eight weeks… we basically had 10 weeks. What people will do is adapt. What makes them decide is that there is only three or four days to go and suddenly everybody comes out of the bushes to say, ‘Yes, we are alive, we are here and we want to buy’. If the timing is shorter, they will adapt to that as well.


Wenger - Why I enjoy watching the NBA

There are a number of big basketball fans in the Arsenal squad - but what many people might not know is that Arsene Wenger is one of them.

The manager enjoys watching the NBA, and says that he was first attracted to it when some of his compatriots joined the league.

“I like team play, so [I watch] basketball because we have as well many French players who go and play in the NBA,” he said. 

“So I follow as well the French players. I like Tony Parker and before him Michael Jordan of course. 

“I think Tony Parker opened the way for many French players to join the league.”


'It is a sacrifice that you have to calculate'

Arsene Wenger was asked about Alexis, Mesut Ozil, holding stars to their contracts and whether player power truly exists when he faced the media on Wednesday.

This is what he had to say:

on whether it’s his decision on Alexis…
It’s my decision, but after the board has to of course agree with me. And if they don’t agree we have to consider it as well, and I will accept it. But the board is behind me on that.

on the clubs having to make a financial sacrifice in this situation…
It is a financial sacrifice. It is a sacrifice that you have to calculate how much it costs. If you let the player go and you buy somebody you spend maybe more than you lose. And as well if you extend the contracts it costs you maybe more than you lose when you keep the player. So you have to consider the length of the contract as well that the players want. So all that is in consideration, the financial sacrifice is not as heavy as it looks.

on whether it’s an impossible equation to calculate…
You cannot. Anyway, you can have an estimation of what it costs if you lose the player, what it costs if you extend the player, and all that. What it costs if you buy a new player. You can do that, approximately. After that, the ratio between what the player will cost, what he brings back, this has gone. How can you quantify today what Neymar costs? Will he bring €300million back? It’s impossible to say. There is a part that is rational, and the other part is completely irrational: it is passion, ego, pride, you can call that how you want. How much is that worth financially? Maybe that’s down to every club.

on focusing on football rather than finances…
Of course. I am a football manager, I want Alexis to stay, and that’s it. After that, all the financial implications, for me, are less important. But at the end of the day you have to afford it as well, you must afford it. I want him to stay, I want him to extend his contract. But as well you have to be able to afford to pay him.

on football breaking the rules of economics…
There is a part that is not rational, that is called success. How much are you ready to pay for success? But on the other hand, you face a reality as well. At the end of the month, you have to face the fact that you have to pay your players and everybody at the club.

on not strengthening title rivals…
Look, every club has a different policy and you have to respect that. You analyse the age and the money you get, and I don’t say I never do it because I did it as well with Robin van Persie at the time when he was at the end of his contract and Man Utd paid good money. It’s not ideal because you strengthen your opponent and you weaken your team.

on whether he regrets selling Van Persie…
I just say I do not say never, because every situation is different and sometimes you are in a position where you have as well to consider the financial aspect of the situation. He had a good season, Van Persie. Did he make Man Utd win that year? I don’t know, it’s difficult to assess that.

on whether he is more more optimistic on Ozil signing a new deal than Alexis…
I am optimistic on both. Both players are happy at the club. So that, for me, after you have to meet their needs. Their needs are their desire for success and their needs are as well financial. I think if we can meet their needs on the pitch, there is more chance to extend their contracts.

on whether player power exists when clubs own the contracts…
Every club is different on that. I believe that the player power is there, but the clubs have as well resources to make their contracts respected. I think sometimes the media go a bit more in favour of the players maybe. So that makes sometimes the situation a bit more uncomfortable for the clubs. But overall, I think the powers are quite well balanced. You have a contract, the player has to respect the contract. You cannot really say it is player power.

on whether he is 100 per cent sure the Ox, Alexis and Ozil will stay…
One hundred per cent never exists, because never in our job never exists. But today, yes. And I think all the three will stay. I will fight for them to stay.


Kolasinac - The fans have been brilliant

Scroll through any of our social media channels this week and one theme in particular remained constant: praise for Sead Kolasinac.

The defender produced a commanding display when making his competitive debut against Chelsea in last week’s Community Shield, and marked the performance by becoming our first player since Sanchez Watt in 2009 to score on his first appearance.

Fans have nicknamed Kolasinac ‘The Tank’ in light of his combative style, sending us a series of GIFs and pictures depicting the Bosnian. We showed them him at the training ground this week - and he loved them.

“I’ve seen some photos on Instagram which fans have edited, and I found them really funny,” he told Arsenal Player. “I’m happy to have had such a good start here.

“In Bosnia they call me that [The Tank] too! I’m happy to have such a cool nickname.”

Kolasinac was delighted to equalise in the Community Shield. 

“It’s an indescribable feeling,” he said. “I think that’s why we play football and I believe that’s what characterises the sport. 

“You enjoy it when you run out, especially at somewhere like Wembley and it’s sold out with over 80,000 fans there. That’s something very special and that’s the dream of every footballer. 

“That’s why you work so hard, to experience moments like that.”


Wenger - The way I read a player’s ‘hunger index’

During his near 21 years at Arsenal, Arsene Wenger has introduced many phrases into the English footballing lexicon.

His latest refers to how a player responds to when they are in the final year of their contracts - but contrary to popular belief, the boss does not feel it should have a detrimental effect.

“I personally think the real question we have to answer is does the hunger index increase or decrease when you have a short contract or a long contract?” Wenger said. 

“I would on that front be on the opposite side. That means the hunger index is higher when the contracts are shorter and it decreases naturally when the guys have long contracts.”


Cech - Why I’m excited about Jens’ arrival

We may have signed Sead Kolasinac and Alexandre Lacazette this summer, but Petr Cech believes another addition could prove just as important.

Jens Lehmann’s arrival as a first-team coach caught many people by surprise, but our goalkeeper is convinced he will make a big difference.

“It is kind of exciting for me,” Cech told Arsenal Player. “I used to play against him, now obviously he will be on my side. 

“He’s with the team and sometimes with the goalkeepers as well, so that’s good and you can have the exchange of experience and the way you do things. 

“I believe that with his experience and his career, he has a lot to offer. We had met a few times out of the pitch but mainly we knew each other by facing each other. 

“It’s a completely different thing when you speak to someone as a respected opponent or when you speak to someone on your side, as a coach who tries to improve you and helps you as well.”


Asano features in Stuttgart win

Two of our loanees were in action for their clubs this past weekend - and this is how they fared.

Takuma Asano played for 55 minutes as Stuttgart beat Energie Cottbus on penalties in the DFB Pokal after drawing 2-2 in normal time. Fabio Viteritti gave Cottbus the lead, with Maximilian Zimmer doubling the advantage before half-time. A second-half strike from Josip Brekalo reduced the deficit, before Jose-Junior Matuwila levelled the scores. Stuttgart won 4-3 in the shoot-out.

Marc Bola was an unused substitute as Bristol Rovers lost 4-1 at home to Peterborough United. Jack Marriott struck twice for Posh before Steven Taylor made it 3-0. Rory Gaffney pulled one back for Rovers but Marriott completed his hat-trick in added time to make it 4-1.


‘Jack has the talent to be a regular here’

Having come through our academy to rise to global stardom, Jack Wilshere will always have a special place in the hearts of Arsenal fans.

But what does the future hold for him? Arsene Wenger has been discussing the England international and his return from injury.

This is what he had to say:

on whether he expects him to stay...
That decision is not completely made, I want him to have a chance to play somewhere as well. We have to decide that a bit later. I wanted first for him to come back, he is coming out of a fracture. It is the first week he is back in full training and we have to sit down together and see where we go from there.
on having always wanted the best for him…
I made him start at a very young age. He has gone through difficult times, I want him to have the career he can have and I am quite open on that.
on whether his time has passed at the club…
It is not passed because he has the talent to be regular, but he has to come back to competition in a consistent way.


Wenger - Why I’m a big fan of the new diving rules

Arsene Wenger

The Football Association last month confirmed that retrospective punishment for players who dive will be introduced next season.

If found guilty of simulation, the offending player will receive a two-match ban, while the FA also have the power to rescind a yellow or red card given to the player who was deemed to have committed a foul during the game.

But what does Arsene Wenger make of the new rules? 

on whether he is pleased with the new diving rules…
I’m a big fan because you want to get the cheating out of the game as much as you can and I would say you have to respect for the fans who pay money. They come to watch football, not to come [watch] people who dive. They want to see the game. We demand a lot of money from our fans now so we want to make the game as clean and fluent as possible.
on whether his opinion has changed since the Eduardo situation…
The criticality is that it was all based on him and you had some other people diving in the league, who were not ostracised as much. He was diving and he was guilty, but he was punished, he was punished. We accepted the punishment.
on whether he thought it was a dive at the time…
I am still not sure today. A good diver creates a doubt in your mind, there are good and bad divers. What I want to say is, you cannot be against the rule because the rule basically you want to get the cheating out. Where the difficulty comes is to judge.
on the difficulty of judging what is a dive and what is not…
Exactly. It has to be completely obviously and that will be down to panel, because sometimes a guy touches your leg, you have to fall down, but you make more of it. To make more of it is a bit playing with the rules that is normal and part of the player. To dive when nobody touches you, you have to get that out of the game.