Football: Arsene Wenger shrugs off crisis talks

Alexis Sanchez goes past Bolivia defender Gabriel Valverde during Chile's 1-0 loss in the World Cup qualifier. The Arsenal star, whose move to Manchester City did not materialise, is not yet fully fit but Gunners manager Arsene Wenger expects him to
Alexis Sanchez goes past Bolivia defender Gabriel Valverde during Chile's 1-0 loss in the World Cup qualifier. The Arsenal star, whose move to Manchester City did not materialise, is not yet fully fit but Gunners manager Arsene Wenger expects him to be 100 per cent committed to the club's cause.PHOTO: REUTERS

Arsenal manager backs his players to return to winning ways after two straight defeats

LONDON • Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has brushed off suggestions that the north London club are in the midst of a crisis three games into the Premier League season and called for perspective after their 4-0 defeat by Liverpool in their last league game.

The loss was Arsenal's second in a row, but Wenger backed his team to respond when they host Bournemouth tomorrow.

"I could never understand what a crisis is," he told a news conference yesterday. "It is important to focus on what is in front of you. Every single defeat is a crisis, yes?

"I love and believe in my players and we need our fans behind the team... We will win back the points we have dropped away from home. It is vital to take some perspective."

He also backed forward Alexis Sanchez to get back to his best after his proposed move to Manchester City failed to materialise on transfer deadline day.

Sanchez stayed after Arsenal were unable to sign Monaco's Thomas Lemar as a replacement in time and the manager said he was confident the Chile international was committed to the team's cause.

"I have no doubt about Alexis' mind and mentality," the Frenchman added. "He needs to come back to full fitness which he was not at Liverpool. He's strong mentally and hopefully he will back to his best."

While Sanchez remained with the Gunners, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain left for Liverpool, after Wenger had promised "100 per cent" that the England midfielder would not be sold. But the manager admitted that the club had to "sell somebody", with Sanchez, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mesut Ozil having entered the final 12 months on their contracts.

"You make decisions in which you choose one or the other one," Wenger said. "We had to sell somebody and, overall, I believe that we are today in a strong financial situation, as always, and we have a good enough squad to compete."

He believes that the transfer window should be shut before the season begins, prior to the decision made by the Premier League yesterday. He insisted that allowing uncertainty over the futures of key players to spill over into the start of the season was hurting the game.

"Players have no clarity," he said. "They could be tapped up in the afternoon of the game. It is uncomfortable and not the way to work.

"Every manager would agree that it should be kicked out before the first game. Then you wouldn't have a player half in the dressing room and half out."

Arsenal are also looking forward to the full recovery of long-term injury victim Santi Cazorla.

"Santi is having his first run today," Wenger said of the the Spanish midfielder, who has not played since suffering an ankle injury last October. "Now it's time to get him back to full fitness without any setbacks."

REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2017, with the headline 'Wenger shrugs off crisis talk'. Print Edition | Subscribe