Wenger Full Press Conference Pre-Blackburn

Wenger talks team news, the importance of the FA Cup, Blackburn Rovers, Bayern Munich, Jack Wilshere, and Gareth Bale.

“Wilshere, Koscielny, have a test this morning and Vermaelen should be back. He has a definite test today, we have plenty of people in training today who have a test today, and we’ll see how well they come out of it.

“[Jack and Laurent are] 50/50 and Vermaelen, 90/10 [in favour].

“Well we’ll play a team who has a good chance to go through, with experience players, we have only big names in our squad so it will be a team of big names for sure.

“It’s just the next game that we want to win, and I believe that the FA Cup is an important target for us and we always take it very seriously and we’re on a good run and we want to continue the run, it’s as basic as that.

“Yeah [it’s a no-pressure game for Blackburn], we are the favourites, they are the outsider. They have nothing to lose and they have a squad of Premier League players. That’s why they are a dangerous outsider, but we want to win this game.

“[We] just want to win tomorrow’s game, the players who will not start are the players who have played many games recently, especially some of them the international games. Overall, Vermaelen had a good rest, he will play.

“[Vermaelen at left-back v Bayern] is one of the few options I have, yes.

“Andre Santos moved because he had lost a little bit confidence, and he needs to play, he’s a guy who is a very good football player but he didn’t get enough games and he is more at ease in my opinion, in left-sided midfield where there’s a lot of competition.

“Yes, he will back at the end of July.

“Of course he can have a future at Arsenal. That depends as well on the ins and outs in the summer.

“As a player, I think it will be now a bit difficult [for Thierry Henry to return as a player]. Any other function, why not?

“I don’t know what he wants to do, I believe at the moment you want him to focus on his career as a player, and when he’s finished his career as a player, he can still decide what he wants to do.

“80-90% of the players I had here are intelligent and they know football so that means they have the attributes to be a coach. After, do they really want it? Is it the direction in their life they want to take? That’s down to them to decide, and after as well, let people assess your competence because you never know how people behave under pressure when they are everyday in the job, but he has the qualities of course.

“It is not like that, that you choose [between the top-four and the FA Cup], I have said many times that the basic target is always the Championship, while the rest is cup. The real consistency of a team is a quality, and the quality is judged over 38 games, and that’s why I believe a real assessment of the quality of the team is the Championship.

“I told you already, the priority is the Championship, but the immediate priority is the cup as it’s the next game.

“[We have a great record against lower league teams] Because I’ve told you many times, I always have to convince you that we take the competition seriously, and that shows the best that we take the competition seriously. Overall, we prepare the game like a final, every time and that’s why we have done reasonably well until now.

“I don’t know [if I get the credit I deserve at Arsenal], I don’t know first how much credit I get, and I just try to do my job as well as I can and that’s all I do.

“No [football would never be interested in a Basketball conference v conference final]. Because we have a different culture, our culture here is based on competition, compete for something and less show. We always want to see Blackburn against Arsenal, because there is something to go for, because the tradition is there, because the competition is there, because the result has a meaning. I believe really in Europe people want real competition.

“No, I am not on the case [to sign Villa in the summer]. I like the player, but at the moment we have some immediate targets that are more important to us. That means a win on Saturday.

“What we said, 4-6 weeks. Gibbs has a small chance maybe to be fit for the second tie against Bayern, if all goes well.

“[Gibbs] is feeling determined to come back as quickly as possible, but certainly he is a bit down because it was a big blow to him. It happened at a moment where he played his best football. Always, to play your best game, the confidence in your body is vital. As long as nothing happens to you, you don’t even question yourself. But as soon as that happens repeatedly, it’s a problem for top-level sportsman, so I hope he will get over that very quickly, but it puts you down, t’s difficult to play your best every time you get injured.

“[I keep his spirits up] by making him stronger. This is always a good period to build up the strength of a player, when he is injured. We have now some experience in doing that. I am confident he will come back even stronger, but it will take him a while to get his complete confidence back in his body.

“I don’t know [if the FA Cup is the best chance of a trophy], you don’t know. If you compare it to the Premiership, certainly, we have more chances to do it because we are too far away in the Premiership. In the Champions League, I don’t know, we have a big game on Tuesday against Bayern. If we pass Bayern, we’ll say why should we not go further and win it? But it looks at the start that the FA Cup is more reachable than any other competition but you don’t really know how difficult it will be.

“Yes, of course [what happened at Bradford serves as a warning for us], but do you know in 16 years I don’t think we had upsets against lower divisions. We had one against Bradford on penalties, but we did take the game seriously, I said that straight away after the game and I maintain that and we analysed very deeply what happened Bradford, what we produced. We took this game really seriously, but in England it is like that, they have proven since that they are a team of quality, and we will take the game seriously again tomorrow, and of course with a huge desire to win it.

“I will not take a risk [on Jack Wilshere].

“With the rest of the season in mind, [not just Bayern] and with what happened to him before.

“No there was no big issue about [England’s treatment of Jack]. He played the whole game against Brazil, what I said after the game I can understand because England was winning, he was the best player. It is difficult to take the best player off when you are beating Brazil. Maybe it’s a friendly, but it still has a meaning for the confidence of the country, so I could understand that.

“Yes of course [the next few weeks will define our season], you go into the period in February, end of February, March, where every game will decide your season.

“No [it wasn’t a choice between Cole and Bale’s development], it was Walcott and Bale. We were at some stage on maybe taking the two if possible. We could get Walcott, and I’m very happy that we got Walcott.

“Look if I tell you the number of players we did not sign and we should have signed, you would be amazed. But it’s the same for every single club you know, you miss players.

“[Blackburn] were for long years, a stable club in the Premier League. Unfortunately for them they moved out of it last season. There was a lot of unrest, that didn’t help I believe, and the unrest was linked a little bit with the manager, with the ownership, but I don’t know really, well, why that all happened. But they have always had good players.

“I wouldn’t go as far as that [to say Bale is the third best in the world at the moment]. He has the potential to develop and to become the players that you compare him too. But Ronaldo and Messi. Messi has won 2 or 3 Champions League, few Championships, has scored 95 goals per year, lets not go too quick. You always very quick here, but lets slow down a little bit.”

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