AW: No trophies but my best years as boss

None of us need reminding of the silverware drought at the Emirates over the past four years. But reminded we are this morning in today’s Sun as AW claims the trophyless years at Arsenal have been his best as a boss.
The paper says the Frenchman insists moving to a new stadium and keeping the team challenging at the top on a budget has given him more satisfaction than winning trophies.
Arsenal last lifted the title in 2004 while their last trophy was the FA Cup win in 2004. But AW said: “The last four years have been the most challenging period of my career. But it is not linked with not winning a trophy.
“Moving into a new stadium and keeping the team at the top means, for me, my best period has been in the last four years. To move into a stadium with less resources, respect the fact we have still made some money every year without the team dropping down a level.”
Some good news in this morning’s Mail, which reports that Samir Nasri has escaped punishment despite a stamp on Hull City’s Richard Garcia missed by referee Steve Bennett but seen clearly by millions of TV viewers.
Our 3-0 win at the Emirates was shown live on ESPN on Saturday and BBC’s Match of the Day later focused on the flashpoint which triggered a mass confrontation of players, pushing and pulling at each other, says the paper. On the replays, Nasri can clearly be seen lifting his boot and sinking his studs on to Garcia’s ankle and foot during a stoppage. Garcia collapsed in pain and a skirmish broke out, it claims.
When he got the situation under control, Bennett showed a yellow card to Nasri and Stephen Hunt but told Hull’s players the pair had been booked for their roles in the fracas. The referee then admitted to the Football Association he had not seen Nasri’s stamp and agreed to examine the TV footage.
But, after reviewing the evidence yesterday, Bennett decided no further action was necessary because he could see nothing worthy of a straight red card for violent conduct.
The Mirror today claims an exclusive saying AW will come under increasing pressure in January to splash out on a top class striker in the transfer market.
They say AW is publicly insisting that he will only buy if the right deal becomes available but is acutely aware that some of the club’s hierarchy are very keen for him to make a signing. Shareholders have made it clear to board members that they believe Wenger should buy in January to appease fans and also show that the club are genuine title contenders.
And with the club’s ownership at the centre of a power struggle between US tycoon Stan Kroenke and Uzbeki businessman Alisher Usmanov, the board know they must keep influential shareholders onside. The paper says AW is keen to bring in a striker and has got West Ham’s Carlton Cole, Bordeaux’s Marouane Chamakh and Toulouse’s Andre-Pierre Gignac on his hit-list.
But the paper says AW steadfastly refuses to be bullied into making signings – especially if he feels his targets are over-priced. It adds that we can get Cole for around £9m because of West Ham’s financial problems, Chamakh is a free agent next summer and Toulouse want in excess of £15m for Gignac.
We are also said to be watching developments on Bayern Munich’s Luca Toni, who is available on a free transfer and may be a last ditch option as Nicklas Bendtner and Robin van Persie are both out injured.
One shareholder insisted to Mirror Sport that Wenger’s dealings in January could be crucial in keeping people onside with Kroenke’s takeover bid ahead of Usmanov. Kroenke has taken his stake to 29.9 per cent and may launch a full-scale takeover bid after next May. But Usmanov has also increased his stake to 26 per cent and may be able to buy Lady Nina Bracewell Smith’s 15.9 per cent stake.
Elsehwere today, the Times reports that the surgeon who operated on Robin van Persie’s ankle has promised the Arsenal forward that he will make a full recovery from the damaged ankle ligaments that effectively ended his season.
AW has revealed that the operation had been a success and that the Holland international could target May for his comeback. The Frenchman added that he had yet to relay the good news to his player.
“When you have such a big surgery, the opinion of the surgeon is important,” Wenger said. “Will he be the player he was before? We had a clear answer, ‘yes’.”
Van Persie damaged his ankle while playing for his country in a friendly international against Italy last month. “At the moment, he can’t do anything,” Wenger said. “He’s just sitting at home and waiting to work again.” AW added that Van Persie has an outside chance of being fit by April. “It’s virtually the rest of the season,” he said. “I haven’t said that to Robin. Hopefully, we’ll have a good surprise.”

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