Arsene Wenger facing serious questions ahead of Arsenal AGM
Arsene Wenger’s Churchillian call-to-arms has been a feature of Arsenal AGMs over the past few years.
But despite Saturday’s lacklustre slip-up against Aitor Karanka’s well-drilled Middlesbrough side, things are looking rosy enough in the final year of his contract that the Arsenal manager joked he might not even bother turning up today.
“Maybe the shareholders were not always happy but I think we have never gone into the AGM in a disastrous state,” he said. “Why? Because we have always, for 20 years, been in the top four.
“So let’s not go overboard about this draw. You don’t win on command and the AGM is not in your mind. What you want to do is do well and win the game and when you don’t win you deal with it.
“We prepare now for a game on Tuesday so we will be practising on Monday morning. So perhaps I can invite you, maybe, to make the speech for me?”
The club later confirmed Wenger would indeed be in attendance and one suspects if I had been asked to step into the breach my own speech would have included rather more of an apology to the shareholders than Wenger will offer for once again for failing to sign a world-class striker.
At the very least, Saturday showed the Frenchman clearly needed to secure somebody who offers a different alternative when the Alexis Sanchez-led system that has worked so well this season inevitably faltered.
For now, he is woefully short of options. Lucas Perez offers more of the same but with half of the confidence. Thankfully, Wenger’s only other out-and-out striker Olivier Giroud is finally in contention for some action against Reading on Tuesday so a Plan B may soon be on its way.
“Physically he has no problem, he’s still not completely there but he’s better and might be in the squad on Tuesday,” Wenger revealed.
“Honestly, after seven wins, subconsciously you can become less vigilant. It’s just that sometimes you are a bit jaded physically and I felt that we had to dig deep to get things going.”
Wenger singled out Adama Traore as a particular thorn in the side and admitted that in previous seasons, this is the sort of game Arsenal might have lost.
Petr Cech pulled off a series of important saves but is backing Wenger to get it right in time to secure a new contract.
“As for the manager and the players the future is always uncertain in football, but you work every day to be successful and this is what we can do,” he said, “If we are successful, if we keep winning games and we’re all going in the right direction, then everybody’s happy.”
Middlesbrough, understandably, were happier with the point, and Karanka believes it can mark a watershed moment in their Premier League campaign.
“I asked them afterwards if there was anybody left in the dressing room who thought we could not play against every single team in the Premier League,” he said.
Some players may need a bit more convincing. Certainly Adam Clayton is not about to ditch his lucky pants and socks.
“I wear my Batman socks every game with my tracksuit and the same boxers as well,” he said. “The first time I wore them, we won. It was the middle of last season and I have certain routines which I like to do.
“They do get washed though – the missus always makes sure I have my Batman socks ready!”
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