After 18 seasons in charge and with the challenge for Champions League spot still on, we now find Arsenal as the only rival to Real Madrid for longevity in the Champions League. As such there was a general disbelief in the football world that he could possibly leave at this time even at the age of 64.
Manchester United have the record number of consecutive participations in the Champions League with 18 from 1996–97 to 2013–14, with Real Madrid having participated in 17 consecutive campaigns from 1997–98 to 2013–14 and will make it 18 next season. Arsenal have 16 consecutive campaigns from 1998–99 to 2013–14 and will hopefully make it 17 next season.
Indeed in an interview broadcast on Talksport, Mr Wenger suggested the issue had never been in doubt, but like so much else in football, the issue had been nothing other than the hype of the media, bolstered by their fellow travellers. As Mr Wenger said, “I have said that many times already, I have given my word to this club and that I want to continue where I am … that means to stay.”
Obviously the Everton defeat has given us all another boost ahead of Monday’s game against Newcastle. Thomas Vermaelen should be ok after his hamstring injury, Kieran Gibbs is still out with his hamstring problem, and Jack Wilshere is close, but not quite ready.
Meanwhile it seems that Bac Sagna is really intent on moving on. Man City and Monaco who having seen the concern of Uefa over their spending are keen to bring in free transfers, look to be the most likely target. On this subject Mr Wenger said, “At the moment, the talks are not progressing. We know what we want from him, he knows what is on the table, and that’s where we are.”
Asked if he was less confidence about re-signing Sagna he said, “Yes, the ball is not in our camp any more. It is in his camp, and he needs to come back to us.”
I think most of us would like Sagna to say, given that he has been so solid at full back, but ultimately there is a question of loyalty. If a player wants to follow the money, no matter what, then there is nothing one can do when the oil clubs come in.
There is also talk that Thomas Vermaelen may want to move on, and Lukasz Fabianski has already said that he will find another club. Both players have found themselves slipping down the order, and I think it can be said that even when Vermaelen has played of late he has not shown himself to be as stable in the centre as Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny. But he is a valued backup at full back and in central defence, and there is no reason to think his earlier form will not return.
Overall I would still argue that what we have to do is increase the size of the squad to cope with the number of injuries we will get from the constant lack of protection given by referees. Unfortunately this is hardly something that can be said to professionals, as it draws attention to the fact that Arsenal players do suffer many more contact injuries during matches than players of other clubs
The last bit of news, as we try to catch up from all the time in which Untold has been unavailable, is that we have secured our first FA Cup final ticket – with hopefully some more to come. 5th row back, upper tier, just by the half way line. I shall give a way.
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
- Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal
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