Arsene Wenger has given his regular pre-match press conference ahead of this Saturday’s clash against Swansea City. The boss gave updates on the fitness of Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud before commenting on the future of Hector Bellerin. As always we have the conference in full (via Arsenal.com).
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Match: Arsenal v Swansea City
Stadium: Emirates Stadium
Kick Off (GMT): Sat 15 Oct 15:00
Giroud will not be available and Aaron Ramsey will not be available. They have been out in the last game and Francis Coquelin is back available for Saturday. I have not seen everyone coming back from international games but apparently we had quite good news.
When will Carl Jenkinson be available?
He will be playing tonight for the under 23s. After that it is down to getting more competition, he’s been out for a very long time but he is available now to play again.
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How is he doing?
He has been very tough because he had the knee and after that the shoulders. He’d think it would be endless at his age but he needs to stay patient and he has been patient, resilient. He has a fantastic mentality and has worked very hard to come back. He had the support of everybody at the club and I think he has done extremely well.
Do you regret International breaks and the effect it might have on players like Theo Walcott?
I hope not, he had not the most positive experience but I think it was a difficult game. I have not seen the first game, I saw the game against Slovenia and I think he was quite lively but they never got going. Then it’s more difficult for the strikers because they lead from the balls they get. One of the main qualities from Theo is the quality of his runs so it depends so much on the quality of the service as well.
He was almost unrecognisable wasn’t he?
I wouldn’t say that, you’re a bit harsh there. I think it was a difficult game for England, Slovenia played extremely well, it’s a heavy pitch there, they have a good team, it was a difficult game.
Does it weigh heavily on the England players from what you’ve seen?
I don’t think so. I think the players make a difference between the club and country at the end of the day England made four points. It’s quite acceptable.
Do you feel you’ve fully ruled out the England talk or is still a distraction?
No I focus on my job, that’s what it is about.
Did Gareth Southgate handle the press conferences well and is he too nice?
Quite well. He has accumulated experiences first with Middlesbrough and now with the federation. He was a good observer of what was going on in the England national team and after that of course you are in a job where people question you, especially when you have less experience. The only answer he can give is that our job is selection and decision making so show that the decisions you make are right and you have the strength to do what you believe is right.
Is he the outstanding candidate for the job?
Yes he is. I think at some stage that is the difficulty with England is that there is always a demand for big names but for me the most important thing is the competence of the person. If the person is competent then he can make a name for himself and he has an opportunity to do that. I’m happy that he has an opportunity to show he has the quality.
Any words of wisdom for Bob Bradley?
No I think Bob Bradley has a lot of experience, he’s not a beginner. He has travelled a lot, he has accumulated experience in the States, he has been in Egypt, he has been in France just recently and he is coming to England in what is certainly for him a fantastic opportunity. It’s as well good for the Premier League because the Premier League is taking off in the States and certainly to have an American in the Premier League will create even more interest there. I believe overall he is equipped well.
People are sceptical of an American in charge, is winning games the best way to stop that?
Yes, just after playing us it’s the best way to deal with that but I believe you do not want to create scepticism because of where a person is from. What is important is that you’re qualified for the job no matter where you’re from.
You just told me that I have experience and because I have a lot of experience I am cautious. We had last year a very negative experience against Swansea which basically killed our opportunity to win the championship last year and we have a good opportunity to show that we have learned from that and we are capable to deal with this kind of opponents. That’s what is at stake for us. We need to refocus because a lot of our players have been away – we had nobody here basically – and show that we can deal with the kind of fixtures where we are the favourites and we were not always capable of doing that last season and we want to show that we have moved forward.
Is Mesut Özil fit?
He told us he is completely fit. We will see that today, I see him later.
Expecting him to play?
I expect him to be available especially because he has played only one half so he doesn’t need to be rested on Saturday.
Are you disappointed with the Aaron Ramsey news?
Yes, I must say I am disappointed because he has worked very hard and he had a few little setbacks that forced us to be cautious with him. He’s not far away now, he’s on the last stage to build up his fitness and he’s not far away.
Frustration with the international break disrupting rhythm?
Yes but I am used to that. Maybe the quality of a Premier League team is the ability to refocus quickly for the top teams coming back from international games. That’s what’s at stake for us is to show that this kind of interruption we can restart at the same level we had before.
Is that an area you’ve struggled before?
Yes. Overall if I look at the results after international breaks it’s not negative. For us it’s not just that which is at stake, we play in a difficult Premier League and what is important for us is that we can move up to the next level now and continue to improve, we have some room for improvement and the quicker we refocus on our targets the more chance to do that.
Is it better that you’re getting goals from all over the pitch?
Well in my opinion if I look back at the teams who were successful, they could score goals from everywhere. Even if you have one talisman, we had Thierry Henry of course who scored goal after goal but around him we had players who could score and that’s a good basis.
Will Aaron Ramsey be back next week?
Next week will come too early.
What is the problem?
It’s a vicious circle. The fact that he had a setback so we rest him and the longer that lasts the more time you have dedicate to his fitness because he’s been out for six weeks then you have to create a new three weeks or preparation to get him up to the level he was before the injury. It’s more the time it takes to rebuild his fitness. We have decided that we will give him a complete pre-season now even if he misses one or two more games.
What about Giroud?
Giroud is a little bit the same. He has been out now he has still not been on the pitches. I think he has a jog today for the first time so he’s been interrupted a lot in his preparation.
Is he over the injury then?
We have to build his fitness up again, yes.
How far has the team come since you lost to Swansea last March?
I think that’s what is at stake now for us. We have a home game on Saturday against Swansea and that’s a good opportunity to show that we have moved forward. We were a little bit in a difficult period at the time and we were a bit unlucky on the day I must say but it will be a similar game.
Regarding the speculation, are you happy to keep Hector Bellerin?
Yes of course. That’s why I’m surprised by the speculation.
Any plans to offer him a new contract?
Look, he has nearly three years to go and we always try to get the players to a level we think they deserve to be so we try to extend his contract. For me his long term future is here.
He’s been a success story hasn’t he?
Yeah of course, he has been absolutely fantastic. Let’s not forget that his first game he had a nightmare when I played him he was the year before at Watford and he didn’t play. His progress has been absolutely spectacular. Because he has absolutely top mental strength I think he loves as well to be here and has responsibilities in the dressing room for such a young age, it’s something remarkable.
Do you have any worries about his future long term considering where he was born?
No I think in life you do not necessarily have to play where you were born, and modern life is not exactly like that. What is important is that the players’ needs are met where he is and his values and I think he integrated the values of our club very well. He came at a very young age, 15, 16 years of age so I think he is now a real Arsenal player.