Arsene Wenger is one of the few people in football who can deliver a damning punch while seeming to praise someone and that’s what it looks like he’s done with Mathieu Debuchy.

Reading through Wenger’s pre-match comments, I was struck when he said this about Debuchy, “Look, Arsenal is one of the 10 biggest clubs in the world. You cannot think there is no competition. We are in a highly competitive world, we have chosen this job and we accept it. We cannot be pampered and think just it’s our right to be there. It’s competition, that’s what we want, that’s what we love and that’s what we go for and Mathieu Debuchy has a fantastic mentality. He’s a great competitor.”

Doesn’t seem like much at first glance and he even throws in a compliment at the end, but the sentence, “We cannot be pampered and think just it’s our right to be there,” seems very pointed, especially when you remember that Debuchy is a player who admitted he expected to walk back into the Arsenal first team when he returned from injury and has shown general disgust at losing his place to Hector Bellerin.

Speaking at the start of the year, Debuchy said, “Yes, I’m a little bit annoyed by him [Wenger]. It’s his choice [not to give me playing time]. I came back well this summer, I had a good preseason.

“At the end of the transfer window they came in. They contacted my agents. I was disappointed, obviously. If I had the chance to go to Manchester United it would have been magnificent.

“”Unfortunately it wasn’t the case. I discussed it with the coach too, who said that obviously he couldn’t help out a rival.”

This obviously fits with the stories doing the rounds this week about Wenger/United/Debuchy in which people are pretending this wasn’t covered nine months ago.

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Back in September, 2015, Debuchy made the comments I referenced at the start of this post. He said, “It is difficult. Even if I had not played a lot last season, in my head I would return to start after my recovery. But, at the Community Shield against Chelsea, Wenger chose him, Bellerin.

“It was a surprise and a disappointment. Let’s say it crossed my mind (leaving)… But I want to be at Arsenal and to take my place.”

That, of course, didn’t happen.

Many people were wondering why Wenger opted for Carl Jenkinson against Manchester United rather than the French man, but he’s been injured all season and only made his comeback against Spurs with the u23s on Friday night. There’s no way he could have played against United and will need time to get fully up to speed.

That time, however, will also allow Bellerin to get back to fitness and the transfer window to open. There were no shortage of clubs linked with him in the last two transfer windows. There’s seems no reason to believe it will be different in January.