The Big Match

Football: Wenger asks Gunners to bounce right back

Arsene Wenger

Arsenal manager expects his team to return to form in 'top-level game' against Man City

LONDON • Arsene Wenger wants Arsenal to reinforce their title credentials by beating Manchester City in the Premier League tomorrow and called on his players to show no fear at the Etihad Stadium.

The Gunners' 14-game unbeaten run laid strong foundations for a determined tilt at the festive fixture list, only for Wenger's men to come unstuck in Tuesday's 2-1 defeat by Everton.

Arsenal slipped to third in the table after the loss, while fourth-placed City recovered from last weekend's 4-2 defeat by Leicester City by beating Watford 2-0 on Wednesday.

The loss at Everton was Arsenal's second league defeat of the season and Wenger said his players needed to show more courage on the ball and take their chances if they wanted to avoid another reverse.

"What is important is that we respond straight away," the Frenchman told a news conference yesterday. "Big games against Man City mean defending well together and not being timid when you get the ball."

Arsenal's free-flowing, possession-based style has been compared to Pep Guardiola's all-conquering Barcelona team of 2008-2012, and Wenger said it was only a matter of time before the Spaniard began to make his mark at City.

"He brings his philosophy through," Wenger added. "You expect him to put his print on his team.


What is important is that we respond straightaway. Big games against Man City mean defending well together and not being timid when you get the ball.

ARSENE WENGER, the Arsenal manager, rallying his Gunners ahead of tomorrow's Premier League clash against rivals Manchester City following a midweek loss at Everton.

"What you want of a top-level game is that it reaches the expectation quality-wise. I think that will happen because I am a positive man."

City are missing striker Sergio Aguero due to suspension, but Arsenal have a host of absentees as well. Defender Shkodran Mustafi, midfielders Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey, and forward Danny Welbeck are unavailable.

"Look, I don't deny Sergio is an important player for them but they have other important players... we also have plenty out," Wenger said.

The 67-year-old, however, pointed out that Welbeck is close to a return to full training sessions with the first team, having been out since May with a knee injury.

But due to the lengthy lay-off, the Englishman will be gradually eased into action and may not feature for the first team for some time, Wenger clarified.

"Danny Welbeck is one week away from completing normal training to be back in the squad. Of course, that will take some time as he's not played for a long, long time," said the Arsenal manager.

Wenger, who is never shy to point out refereeing mistakes in his post-match news conferences, also pushed for the quick introduction of video technology in the Premier League to help officials make decisions during games.

The technology is being tested by Fifa at the ongoing Club World Cup in Japan.

It involves off-field video assistant referees monitoring the action and calling the referee's attention to "clear mistakes in match-changing situations" such as goals, penalty decisions, red cards and mistaken identity.

"I am a long-time fan," Wenger said.

"The speed of the game - referees need help. I would like to see it tomorrow morning."



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 17, 2016, with the headline 'Wenger asks Gunners to bounce right back'. Print Edition | Subscribe