LONDON • Arsene Wenger's hunger to lead Arsenal is stronger than ever before, according to his assistant manager, Steve Bould.
Arsenal are set to finish their 14th straight season without winning the Premier League title and Wenger's future remains the hottest topic of discussion at the club, with a section of fans adamant that he should stand down after another underwhelming season.
The Frenchman, for his part, has made it clear that he intends to see out the final season on his contract in 2018-19.
The 68-year-old was unable to attend his media conference before Sunday's home fixture against Stoke because of a sore throat and he sent Bould in his place.
Bould, who has been the assistant since 2012, having previously coached the club's youth players for 11 years, was evidently under instruction to say little. But he did have warm words for Wenger, which resonated in the climate.
"He is remarkable," the former Arsenal defender said. "Behind closed doors, I've never known someone who's as hungry and determined to win football games. It's as big as I've ever seen, for sure.
"I admire him immensely. He takes unbelievable stick off an awful lot of people and he's just one of the great managers. It's a pleasure for me to sit next to him. I understand that he's doing a great job, as far as I'm concerned, and has done a great job for an awfully long time."
Wenger took charge of Arsenal in 1996 and has led the club to three league titles and seven FA Cup triumphs but has failed to win in Europe - losing one Champions League final and one Uefa Cup final.
Arsenal are sixth in the league with 48 points from 30 matches. Their hopes of silverware lie in the Europa League where they face CSKA Moscow in the quarter-finals next week.
Midfielder Jack Wilshere was training without any problem after missing England's international friendlies against the Netherlands and Italy last week with a knee injury.
Striker Alexandre Lacazette is also back in full training after minor surgery on his left knee last month.
Relegation-threatened Stoke are second from bottom with 27 points from 31 games. They beat Arsenal 1-0 in the reverse fixture earlier this season.
THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS