Ahead of today’s North London derby, Arsene Wenger talked exclusively to BT Sport about all things football.
Q: You’re as passionate as ever aren’t you about this job?
A: Of course. The pleasure is absolutely fantastic. That has nothing to do with history. Why does Federer win 20 grand slam and somebody else none and somebody else only one after is tired of winning you know? That is the motivation.
Q: is that the biggest problem? Consistency…
A: I would say that we have been a lot… first of all, we have not the defensive stability since the start of the season that you need to have to be completely efficient at our level. We have produced offensively a lot of goal chances but we have not finished them well. So we have been a bit inefficient where it matters. And as well there was a lot of uncertainty around the team with the Sanchez case, the Ozil case. For the whole season that was the really difficult case. In hindsight maybe despite the fact we couldn’t have brought somebody in we should have cut that earlier.
Q: Should of what? The Sanchez situation?
A: Sanchez, for him it was very difficult because as soon as he had game that was average he was questioned about his commitment & that is not his case. When he is on the football pitch he wants to win. But it was a bit unfair to him I think.
Q: On reflection how unsettling was that to the rest of the team?
A: I don’t know, our results in the future will show that. What was a bit unfair to Sanchez: he was questioned every time “is he committed or not committed?” There was always a debate and then, of course, it starts to unsettle a little bit but I never questioned his commitment but it was a difficult situation.
Q: So the money was spent on Aubameyang & there was no money left for Jonny Evans?
A: You come to the conclusion you want you know? And I must say as well people don’t realise how much work is behind these transfers. How much uncertainty, how much energy, how much travelling, how much sleepless nights is behind that and it’s difficult to combine all that together and to make it all work you know? It’s so difficult. I made over 300 transfers in my Arsenal career but they’re always longer now, more detailed, more uncertain and you need more people to work around it. It’s not as easy as you know you come in and you give £10 & you buy something you know? It is a long process and a lot of work.
Q: Top 4, or the Europa League?
Q: Win the Europa League & finish top 4?
A: We want to qualify through the league first. Because you cannot bank on a cup success you know? That would not be reasonable. In top level sport you do not switch on Friday to play on Saturday and the day after you switch off for three weeks & you switch on again. It doesn’t work like that. The results are a consequence of a consistency of attitude and of focus of everybody individually and of the team as a whole.
Q: So you don’t feel at some point that you have to prioritise the Europa League over the Premier League?
A: There is no prioritisation at all. We want to win our Champions League spot through the league and as well if possible through the Europa League but today it is not tomorrow we play the final of the Europa League. We are at the start of the real competition now and we have still a possibility to qualify through the league so we have absolutely to try to achieve that.
Q: Do you sit here and absolutely believe next season you can win the Premier League?
A: If I start a season without believing I can win the Premier League it’s better I don’t start it but having said that you have many many clubs who have invested a huge amount of money who are as well far behind Man City at the moment because they have invested even more. My biggest regret in the modern game is that too much money is concentrated in too little clubs and that the unpredictability of the game has gone a little bit. And when you sit there and think the effort that is behind everyday work and in December you look at Europe & you think that in four of the five biggest leagues the championship is already decided. That is something that is not acceptable and not nice. I think football doesn’t go the right way on that front because the unpredictability of our sport is a very important quality.
Watch Spurs v Arsenal live on BT Sport 1 on Saturday 10th February from 11:30am.