Arsene Wenger addressed issues about Olivier Giroud’s playing time, contract situations, his team’s defenders and sumo wrestling.
Wenger addressed the press before Arsenal’s game against West Ham on Wednesday night.
The gathered press quizzed him on him Olivier Giroud’s playing time, the contract situations of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, why his side keep conceding early goals and the week’s hot story: Milk-gate.
As always, Wenger gave some measured and reasonable responses. Here’s what we learned from his word.
1. Wenger insists Giroud isn’t a sub despite using him as a sub
“No, he’s not a sub for me. He’s a very good player but I have plenty of good strikers and you cannot play them all together,” said Wenger about Olivier Giroud, in a clear case of ignoring the blatant truth.
Wenger may consider Giroud an important member of his squad, and could view the term “sub” as disparaging of his striker’s talents. However, facts are facts: Giroud hasn’t started a single Premier League game this season, but he has appeared a substitute 13 times.
By definition, Giroud is a substitute. As for not being able to play all his strikers together…well, he’s certainly tried to, hasn’t he? Arsenal ended the game against Southampton with Giroud, Danny Welbeck and Alexis Sanchez all on the pitch together.
Against Manchester United, he had those three and Alexandre Lacazette all on the pitch together. They may not all start together, but you can be sure they’ll all see the pitch if we need a goal.
2. Wenger’s office must have a revolving door
“Look, negotiations are always going on with everybody. I see people who are two years to go, one year to go, three months to go. Our door is always open. For the rest, I cannot tell you much more,” Wenger said when asked about Mesut Ozil’s contract situation.
Unfortunately, given the lack of progress the club has made on extending contracts recently, I have to assume that players pop into Wenger’s office and then leave straight away.
Contracts take time to be sorted but the clock is ticking. Ozil and Alexis’ situation may be pressing, but beyond them the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Danny Welbeck will soon be looking for a renewal. Wenger is going to be seeing a lot more people at this rate.
3. Wenger wants his players to be like sumo wrestlers
“I don’t know what happened really,” Wenger said on the post-match fracas at Old Trafford after the Manchester derby. It is difficult to take when you lose a big game to see the 100% celebration on the other side. It is always experienced a little bit like an offence.
“That is why when I was in Japan I admired sumo because in sumo you can never see, never tell the guy who wins. He doesn’t show his happiness because of respect for his opponent, you know.”
Unfortunately for Wenger’s sumo vision, football is entrenched in a celebration culture. There have certainly been cases of over-exuberant celebrations, and while Wenger is right about showing the appropriate level of respect, his own team are hardly angels in this respect.
His players may not party with confetti after a derby win, but dressing room selfies and sly digs at the opposition have been the norm for some time.
There’s much to admire about sumo wrestling, but if a football team can’t enjoy a win after being written off for so long – and if a football club can’t send a gif on Mesut Ozil sipping from a tea cup to a journalist – the game would be a lot less fun.
4. Arsenal concede early goals because teams refuse to play
“We had 70% possession,” Wenger said on the Southampton game. “The team stayed at the back and tried to get you on the back and refuse to play. If you accept the gamble to play you have to be very cautious to defend very quickly if you lose the play.”
Gripes from frustrated managers about the opposition refusing to play aren’t a new thing. As annoying as team parking the bus can be, complaints often ring hollow when your own side conspires to hand such opposition goals on a silver platter every game.
Manchester United and Southampton both scoring early goals against Arsenal in identical circumstances is quite something for teams who apparently refused to play.
Wenger must be aware of the issues plaguing his team and should know that West Ham, Newcastle, and every other team coming up will do the same thing. December will be a long month if we don’t stop being so generous.
5. Wenger content to let contract sagas play out in public
“I don’t want to talk about that because the best way to deal with these kind of things is to keep it discreet as possible,” Wenger said on Ozil and Alexis’ contract situations.
Silence is the the Arsenal way when it comes to transfers and contracts, but leaving it to the public’s imagination creates all sorts of misunderstandings.
The club does not want to contribute to speculation, but at the same time vague responses and half-truths do little to quell the noise. If the answers can’t come from the club, then the fans will turn to the only other source of information: the media.