Date: 9th March 2017 at 9:02pm
Written by:

Manager Arsene Wenger has held his pre Lincoln City press conference, and having dealt with the questions about his future, the FA Cup clash this weekend actually featured.

Speaking to the Official Site as he met with the media ahead of the quarter final clash against our second non league opponents of the season, Wenger covered a range of subjects from squad harmony, Theo Walcott’s comments earlier in the week about a few arguments in training and the future of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with ongoing speculation about his own future at the club.

Beginning with Walcott’s comments, Wenger played down the story suggesting his words had been exaggerated in the media.

‘No. A lot has been said about that which is exaggerated. We have a good, united, determined group. When you go through disappointing results, you always have some disagreements but overall the best way to respond is always in the game. We have to show how united and determined we are. Overall, on that front I don`t worry. In our job, you have to be competitive and competitiveness doesn`t always mean love. It is about performing. In the past, it`s not the team who loves each other the most who is the best on the football field.’

As for the speculation suggesting that Oxlade-Chamberlain would be moving on this summer, Wenger was surprised with the recent stories – but of course with starts and game time, the speculation of him moving on isn’t exactly new.

‘I haven`t seen that. I`m surprised by that because I believe that he has been developed well, he is developing well at the moment and he has been given his chance. When you are somewhere, you have to want to be there first. After that, the only thing I can say is that personally I rate him highly. I showed that in the way I keep faith in him when he spent long times out injured. He`s developing very well at the moment.’

Wenger went on to say he was hopeful that he’d be at the club next season.

‘I personally wish that he stays at the club, because I think he`s a very promising player who has developed very well and who looks to me to have the values that we rate at this club.’

With Champions League disappointment in midweek once again, the gaffer was hoping to put smiles on the faces of fans and book our place in the semi finals at Wembley against Lincoln.

‘The FA Cup is the next game, and of course, when you`ve had a disappointment like we had in the last game, it`s important to respond. We are favourites, but when you are at a big club, you are favourites 90 per cent of the time and you have to deal with that. It`s the next game and in the next game, people expect us to win, so there`s a pressure there of course.’

Per Mertesacker was also in front of the media, talking about the magic of the Cup and how Lincoln have epitomised that so far this campaign with their own journey.

He also reflected fondly on the trip to Sutton and their Gander Green Lane in the last round.

‘I know those places and those kinds of games, but it`s always good to get a reminder. We all started there and once you get into the first divisions in your country, the locker rooms get bigger and bigger. It`s not always better, it`s different, but we`ve all seen this before, so it was fun for us. It was very crowded, dark and very small, but at the same time we were a unit, laughing and that`s what football is about. It`s about being compact, being together. That was brilliant for us, that experience. We need to take advantage to that experience to feel humble enough that we have state-of-the-art facilities and dressing rooms here.’

As for Lincoln more specifically, he went on to say that he felt it would be a very tough match with them overcoming Burnley at Turf Moor in the last tie.

‘That`s what the cup`s about, that`s the beauty of it. They were all buzzing to meet us at Sutton. They gave us a good reception, both their players and fans. This time we know our home ground better and we are excited to play in front of our home crowd on the way to Wembley. But the way they went to Burnley and won, in that fashion, that needs to be respected. We cannot underestimate any side in any league in this country, and that`s what I`ve learned. When I played in the German cup, it was the same. The only advantage here is that in Germany we would`ve travelled to Lincoln because they have home-court advantage. That would`ve been more interesting, but at the same time they won away from home in the previous round.’

Arsenal Blogger
Join The Vital Debate