Arsene Wenger was joined by Olivier Giroud for his pre-match press conference ahead of the match against Ludogorets this evening. The pair talked about the importance of finishing top of the group and what Olivier Giroud has to do to get his place in the team back from Alexis Sanchez. As always, we have the press conference in full (via Arsenal.com).
Matchday: Team News – Predicted Lineup – Betting Preview
Match: Ludogorets v Arsenal
Stadium: Ludogorets Arena
Kick-Off (GMT): Tue 1 Nov 19:45
Was the 6-0 unfair on Ludogorets?
The result was flattering on us because we scored many goals but I don’t forget that we are facing the truth, Ludogorets had chances in the first half when the game was very tight and we will need a strong defensive performance because they had good chances as well.
Do you expect the game to be different to the last fixture?
It will be different of course because it’s a new game and you never can predict what will happen in a football game that’s why we love it. But overall I think what will be expected is that the two teams will have a positive attitude and try and win the game.
Do you have one eye on the upcoming fixtures against Tottenham and Manchester United?
We have very important games in front of us but let’s continue to do what we did until now and focus on the next one and try to win it. We have Tottenham on Sunday and the best way is for us to continue our strong run, and it’s important to keep a good balance between vigilance and confidence. That’s what is at stake.
We have had some difficult months in November but we’ve had some positive ones as well in our history. The most important is not to deal with the past but with the team, we have here at the moment. What I think is that our destiny lies in the mind of the players, how strong they are focussed, how hungry they will be in every game, starting tomorrow.
Cazorla, Bellerin, Monreal and Walcott didn’t travel, all for more or less injuries, some of them are very close like Walcott. Bellerin had a little incident in the last minute of the training so they are all not here. For us it’s a big game, you said if we win we can qualify but if we lose we can be in a difficult situation, we know the importance of the game is massive.
How important is it for Arsenal to finish top of the group?
It’s our prime target. First let’s go step by step, let’s qualify first. We had a draw away from at PSG, we play PSG at home so if we win against Ludogorets we have a good opportunity to do it.
How does finishing first help you going forward?
It is an advantage because you play the second game in the last 16 at home so you know exactly what to achieve, you have the support if it goes to extra time, if it goes to penalties. So it’s the little advantages that add to one another. As well if you can finish first then why finish second? That’s what we always try to do. We have paid the price many times by finishing second and playing against Barcelona or Bayern Munich, of course, we think it’s important.
Has it been frustrating watching the team do so well?
Yes obviously I prefer to be on the pitch but I came a bit late from the Euros and I was not fit enough to play straight away. Fortunately, after I had an annoying injury and I had to take my time coming back and get back as soon as possible and I’m pleased to be back now.
Are you looking forward to coming up against Claudiu Keșerü?
Actually, I have not seen him playing since I left him in Tours, the second division in France with Laurent Koscielny as well. He’s a very good player with a very good left foot, very good technically with an amazing complicity with him on the pitch.
He’s a good player but a good guy as well and I’m very pleased to see him, I’ve seen him against Romania in the Euros, it was a very nice time for us and the destiny is that we play again in the Champions League. Hopefully, we’re going to play him and myself tomorrow together on the pitch.
How do you assess how well Alexis Sanchez has done up front?
In every big club, you have a lot of good strikers with different qualities. We can play together, he can play up front and I do as well but the thing is that the team is doing very well from the start of the season. It’s cyclic and I hope to come back and work hard at training.
I’m happy as long as we win. We have very good team cohesion and I’m not questioning myself too much personally and I’m focussing on the team.
What do you have to do to get back in the team?
As I told you before, I just need to play more and be good in training to show I’m in good form. That’s what I try to bring to the team. When I come on against Sunderland I try to help the team to come back in the team because it was 1-1 and we needed the win so fortunately I have been efficient and I finish well the work of the team.
I feel good on the pitch, the injury is now behind me and I want to look forward now and qualify for the next stage in the Champions League. We have a big game on Sunday and I just concentrate on what I have to do to get on the pitch. My turn will come.