A look at Arsenal’s depressing week in quotes.
Aaron Ramsey kicked off what would be a depressing week for Arsenal, yet again, by claiming that stranger things have happened than the Gunners catching Chelsea at the top of the League table.
“There’s still a lot of football to be played,” he said.
“Stranger things have happened in football before.
“Chelsea have quite a gap at the moment but it only takes a couple of games and everybody is right back in it again.
“We have to get back to winning ways, compete again and go on a bit of a run.”
Ramsey’s Wales manager, Chris Coleman, publicly defended the midfielder from criticism in the press. No, not for insinuating that there’s a chance Arsenal could actually win the title, for being a scapegoat whenever the Gunners don’t perform well.
“Since he moved from Cardiff to Arsenal he’s had one or two people quickly jumping on the bandwagon to criticise him,” said the Wales boss.
“He’s an easy target and he’s had one or two criticising him but he’s a great player.
“I’ll always wonder [what would have happened] had we had him for the [Euro 2016] semi-final.
“I know how good he is and how good he was in the tournament. Under that type of pressure against that type of opposition he was absolutely magnificent. He’s one of the best players I’ve ever worked with — and I’ve worked with some good ones.
“When you take that type of quality out of any team then you are going to feel it.
“We definitely need him if we are going to do what we did before.”
Meanwhile, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain told us what we already know: Alexis Sanchez is a football addict.
“You get to know someone over the years and play with them but he’s definitely one of those players who will tend to bring out the best in you because he’s very demanding on himself and on everyone,” the 23-year-old said.
“The number of times we come off the pitch and we’ve won, but he’s still not happy with something.
“The Crystal Palace game for example, obviously we won 2-0 but right at the end of the game he’s cut in, passed it to me and then I shot, but Hennessey just about saved it.
“The boys were all happy in the dressing room but Alexis came to me in the shower and he’s like ‘My friend are you going to score?!
“Oh no my friend… I passed you the ball, you have a cup of tea, you wait… and then you shoot!’.
“I was just laughing like ‘Yeah, sorry my friend…’ He always wants assists, he wants goals and that’s what makes him the player he is.
“He’s always hungry for that and he passes that onto us all. We’ve got a lot of those sorts of characters in the team.
“Alexis is probably one of the strongest ones that will voice his opinions at all times.
“He is one of those that keeps demanding and trying to bring the best out of you.”
And Kieran Gibbs claimed that Danny Welbeck is fitter and stronger than ever.
“You can tell from his story and his background that he’s a winner and he’s really had a big impact coming to the club. He’s looking the fittest and strongest I’ve ever seen him,” Gibbs told Arsenal Player.
“It’s important we keep him fit and make sure he comes back at the right time and not rush it too much. Someone as powerful as him – when he’s well managed – he can be a force for us.”
Ahead of the Liverpool clash, Arsene Wenger was his usual quotable self, saying, “I am a specialist in masochism. You get 90 per cent aggravation and 10 per cent top satisfaction and have to give everything in your life for that.
“I always say to all the young people who want to go into this job, ‘Are you ready to sacrifice your life?’ It’s like being a priest – you’re a football priest.
“But it is also a fantastic opportunity in life to go for what is really great in human beings, to get yourself to the next level always, to improve, to invent yourself, to push your limits further and not to have an average life.”
He also commented on Claudio Ranieri’s sacking.
“I was like everybody else in football – surprised and disappointed,” he said.
“I take this opportunity to wish him well and congratulate him on what he has achieved with Leicester.”
He added, “What will be remembered is what they achieved last year. What will happen to Leicester in the future? I don’t know. That’s in the players’ hands and they responded well against Liverpool. Overall, it’s very difficult to predict what will happen. They are in a fight to stay in the Premier League but I think they have enough quality to stay in the league.”
Skip to Saturday evening after Liverpool had beaten Arsenal 3-1 at Anfield and Wenger was back to the cliches, saying, “I felt in the first half we suffered from a lack of rhythm and competition, which I thought would happen. But it was a game of two halves. In the second half we responded very well and could have come back to 2-2. I felt we were a bit unlucky and a bit unlucky with some decisions as well. So overall, that’s what the game was today.”