Records await pep, but it's Wenger's au revoir

A promotional poster for the official match-day programme of the Arsenal-West Ham game on April 22, when news first broke that the Frenchman would be leaving the club after 22 years in charge. Wenger said his successor will have to make the club "the
A promotional poster for the official match-day programme of the Arsenal-West Ham game on April 22, when news first broke that the Frenchman would be leaving the club after 22 years in charge. Wenger said his successor will have to make the club "the priority of his life and commit completely and totally like he owns the club".PHOTO: REUTERS

Guardiola tells City players, fans to celebrate 10-month campaign, as Frenchman exits EPL

LONDON • Pep Guardiola and Manchester City continue their assault on the Premier League record books when they face struggling Huddersfield at the Etihad Stadium today, with the manager telling players and fans alike to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime occasion.

City captain Vincent Kompany, fit and back for the game following a minor injury, will lift the Premier League trophy at the end of the fixture, thereby allowing the club to formally celebrate a title that was confirmed three weeks earlier.

With City's success being all but a certainty since the turn of the calendar year, virtually the only significant interest, for neutrals at least, has surrounded their re-writing of the Premier League's record books, with more marks potentially falling to Guardiola's men this weekend.

Victory will take City past the record points tally, the 95 recorded by Chelsea in 2004-05, while two goals will better the mark of 103 scored by Chelsea in 2009-10. Yet another win would also set a new best for the greatest number of victories in a Premier League season, surpassing Chelsea's 30 last term.

Guardiola, who announced that midfielder Yaya Toure will leave the club next month, made no attempt to conceal his intention to enjoy the occasion.

"The records are a coincidence," he said. "We are having to think about winning another game.

"It will be a special day, 10 months fighting every week, a lot of games for this. I've told the players to enjoy it, the fans too, for a lot of us it will be the first time.

"Twenty players have never won the Premier League, a lot of staff and we are going to enjoy it."

Huddersfield, with one win since the end of February, have been dragged into the relegation battle. And, unlike City, the Yorkshire club is playing for far more than records.

"We have now three great opponents and exciting matches in front of us," Huddersfield manager David Wagner said of their run-in, which includes games against Chelsea and Arsenal. "Nobody expected us to stay up, three games to go and we have everything in our hands."

His men will wrap their maiden Premier League campaign up at home against the Gunners.

But first, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will bid farewell to a stadium he helped to build in more ways than one. The Frenchman will lead his side out at home today for the final time, against Burnley.

While the Emirates was intended to give Arsenal the financial resources in the long term to compete with not just England's, but Europe's elite, it significantly hampered Wenger's ability to challenge in the short term.

His final season after 22 years in charge is destined to end in disappointment after Thursday's Europa League semi-final exit to Atletico Madrid. Sixth-placed Arsenal are out of the running for a top-four finish, and could yet finish in seventh.

Whoever succeeds Wenger will have to work around the club's absence in the Champions League, which will cost around £45million (S$81.1million) in lost revenue next season.

"(The next Arsenal manager) will need to make this club the priority of his life and commit completely and totally like he owns the club," Wenger said. "There is no other way to manage a club of this stature than to think that my life depends on what is going on here."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

MAN CITY V HUDDERSFIELD

Singtel TV Ch102 & StarHub Ch227, 8.30pm

ARSENAL V BURNLEY

Ch103 & Ch 228, 11.30pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 06, 2018, with the headline 'Records await pep, but it's Wenger's Au Revoir'. Print Edition | Subscribe