Alexis Sánchez – To Not Achieve More is Disappointing

Alexis Sánchez helped Arsenal to retain the FA Cup this season, as well as to secure third place in the league, but is left thinking about what could have been after Arsenal’s failure to compete for the Premier League or Champions League.

Arsenal won the FA Cup in dramatic fashion with a 4-0 thumping of Aston Villa at Wembley, and also managed third place in the league, which is a slight improvement on last years fourth, gaining the team automatic qualification through to the Champions League.

But despite this, and a hugely successful first season in England for the Chilean, who bagged 25 goals throughout the campaign, he believes the Arsenal team have the talent to go all the way and win more, bigger trophies.

“It was an OK season, but it was bittersweet,” said Sánchez, who is currently on international duty with Chile ahead of the Copa América.

“I would have liked to have been in the Champions League final, to have won the Premier League title. I believe we have a bunch of skilful players so to not achieve more is disappointing.

“I had a breakthrough in my football life. Now I switch to the left, I make goals, I pass, I am evolving. And if I am put in at centre-forward, I will do it in the best way possible.”

Alexis has proven himself as one of the Premier League’s best signings, settling in so quickly and to do so well in his first year. But now Arsenal must push on and use this momentum to fight for the trophies the Chilean has eluded to.

However, Alexis tailed off a bit towards the end of the season, starting to look somewhat fatigued after last summers World Cup and of course, the amount of games we play in England, not to mention the increased intensity of them all compared to what he is used to.

The 26-year-old is now set to play in the Copa America, where Chile are set to start their campaign against Ecuador this Friday.

As one of the stronger teams in the competition, it is widely expected that Chile will progress to the latter stages of the competition, and this would mean Alexis does not rejoin the Arsenal fold until August, which could result in him missing the earliest part of the season.

Arsene Wenger will surely want to protect the player, and ensure he has a well deserved break before bringing him back into the team, we just must hope he does not suffer a fatigued-induced injury before then.

Ramsey Gunning For Cazorla’s Position

Get back out wide Aaron!

Aaron Ramsey has become increasingly frustrated with being played out wide, and wants to return to a more central and defensive position alongside Francis Coquelin, where Santi Cazorla is currently playing. 

The Welsh star has spoken out about his frustration and admitted that he has had several chats with boss Arsene Wenger about it, although accepts that he has done what he has needed to for the good of the team.

“I’m not hiding away from it, I want to be playing in the middle. I’ve had chats with the manager about it. I showed at Manchester United what I’m capable of doing when I go into the middle of the park.

“But the manager said he wants me do a job out there for the moment and obviously I’ll do that for him. But I prefer to play in the middle.”

However, he was glad to return to his preferred role for the Sunderland game on Wednesday despite a jaded performance from the whole team which resulted in a 0-0 draw, making it three consecutive games without a win at the Emirates after what had been the most successful run of form at the ground since it opened in 2006.

The 24 year-old wants to play alongside Coquelin so that he can help drive the team forward, but he has performed well on the right-wing despite an arguable lack of pace, certainly compared with the likes of Walcott, Sanchez and Chamberlain, producing a very good return of goals and assists from his time spent there.

Ramsey also said the manager was very willing to chat to him about and this epitomises the good spirit there is within the team.

“Santi Cazorla is the one in my position. He’s the one who plays alongside Francis Coquelin and tries to get forward. I am trying to get that back.

“I like to get the ball and drive the team forward. I’m not a No10, playing with my back to goal. I’ll try to play between the lines now and again if the game demands that and we’re pressing quite high. That can be a dangerous position to take up.

“But I like to start from a defensive position and drive the team forward with little one-twos around players. That’s where I prefer to play.

“The manager respects ­everyone’s opinion. His door is always open, which is a good thing. He’ll have his reasons but will also respect your reasons and value your opinions.

“It’s harder to get involved in the game when you’re on the wing, which is why I don’t really enjoy playing there. I’m used to getting the ball a lot more in the middle of the park.

“I like to be involved in ­everything, in starting attacks. I’m relying on other people to get me into the game. It is a bit frustrating. I am having an impact on the game but I prefer to be much more involved.”

Yet this shows his passion and desire to play and earn back his position in central midfield at Arsenal, which can only be a promising sign from an Arsenal fans perspective given the impending rumours that are set to come about with regards to his future, with the supposed £50m bid from Barcelona probably just the beginning.

Wenger’s Full Post-Villa Press Conference

Q: Was the result more important than the performance today?
A: “Yes, the result was vital today, because we had absolutely to win this game, we couldn’t afford to drop points for two reasons. The first, we are in a catch situation in the Premier League and as well we come out of two massive disappointments. It was interesting as well to see, because we were focused, united, a bit nervous. You could see we played a little bit with the handbrake in some situations. The second goal didn’t come. But as well we were strong because when Villa came back to 1-1 we found the resources and responded again and won the game. Overall, I feel the regret we have is we could have scored many, many goals today. We created unbelievable number of chances but didn’t score. But I’m proud of the attitude of the team, we went through some difficult days, and we got through in a united way.”

Q: How do you assess the race for the top-four with a difficult game at Tottenham next week?
A: “We cannot drop points. I said that many times, after the Chelsea game, and that is what is in our mind. No matter where we go and who we play.”

Q: Have these been the most difficult days in your 16 years here?
A: “I don’t know, but it was the difficult, it’s not the critics, it’s the fact we lost two games. I’m not here to lose games, I want to win football games and what hurts me the most is that we lost against Blackburn here at home, and against Bayern at home and when people come to the Emirates they have not to go away with wins. After that, all the rest honestly concerns me less.”

Q: You lost those games, but they’ve not been good games, it’s been a dreadful few days?
A: “Yes of course, but you do your job. You do your job and you focus on the next game, and try to win the next game and that’s what I did. I am not 30 years, in this job at the top level, and be destroyed by people saying I don’t know what I am doing. Because I would have stopped this job a long time. What is important is we have responsibilities and we have to stand up for it and go in the next game and fight and get the team ready to fight, that’s all.”

Q: You have to put the pressure on Tottenham, and hope they slip up?
A: “We are in a catch up situation, we depend a little bit on the results of the other teams. But last year on our consistency. The key for us is to be consistent, and that’s why today a draw would have been a very, very bad result for us today.”

Q: Some great performances today, notably from Santi Cazorla and Szczesny.
A: “Santi Cazorla played very well and delivered in a game that was very important. He is a great player, what you have noticed already since the start of the season, straight away he has shown he is a great football player and I’m happy and grateful he delivered these two important goals today.”

Q: You played Wilshere further forward today, is that a role you see him in the future?
A: “It gives us a bit more security defensively. I believe he can play a bit deeper but he has a little burst in the final third and still has the quality I think to play in there, but you want him to score goals there, you want him to give assists, I think he can do it.”

Q: Does Diaby have an injury?
A: “Yes. He told me he got kicked on the hip, after he felt his calf. I don’t know how bad it is.”

Q: Has Cazorla exceeded your expectations with 11 league goals this season, joint top with Walcott more than a number 9, or your number 9, Podolski?
A: “I didn’t expect him to score so many goals, no, because there’s still I think 11 more games to go, so he could get a few more. For me he is the complete football player, because he has as well spirit. He did fight until last-minute, he was a bit tired in the end but he did continue to fight. He is a good example to follow, because everyday he is happy to come and play, practice, and when he is on a football pitch he gives you absolutely everything.”

Arsenal Beat Villa to Keep Up Good League Run

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Arsenal beat Aston Villa 2-1, with a brace from Santi Cazorla. The second of which came just 6 minutes from full-time to the relief of Wenger and the fans. The Spaniard brought his total for the season to 11, the fourth top scorer for Arsenal.

Despite getting the vital three points that would see us gain on those above us and move away from those below us, many were still critical of the way Arsenal played, saying that they still lacked a number of things in their performance.

Getting a goal early on was perhaps the most important thing that happened for us in the game. If we hadn’t scored, chances are Villa would have and we would have lost our confidence. Even by not scoring we probably would started feeling sorry for ourselves again and then all the fans would get on the teams back.

Fortunately this wasn’t the case. Santi tried to play the ball in along the ground to the far-post for it to be cleared straight at him. He controlled it nicely with his chest, pushing it beyond.a couple of defenders before slotting it away past their ‘keeper.

Villa had a few chances but Szczesny who has come under heavy criticism in recent weeks was matched to them. However, midway through the second half, Aston Villa broke on the counter attack from an Arsenal corner and with 4 against 3, Weinneman had plenty of choices. He went with the perhaps, less obvious one of shooting. Luckily for him it paid off but Szczesny yet again failed to save a shot he really should be able to.

The 22-year-old has a lot of learning to do still, but it seems he has become worse. Perhaps a huge knock in confidence? It wouldn’t surprise me with the constant critics of his performances and rumoured replacements.

For someone who was very promising and full of the almost arrogant nature a ‘keeper needs, he has certainly taken a step backwards in his career. Fortunately he’s just a kid in goalkeeper terms.

The defence haven’t exactly helped his cause, with the back-four, and midfield don’t forget, leaving him completely vulnerable at some point during every game.

The passion and commitment from them is poor, the quality in their defensive skills is also poor, and their organisation and structure is more often than not, non-existent.

With no real defensive midfielder, or anyone holding, the back-four are consistently exposed. The Villa goal is a perfect example, but unfortunately one of many every game.

A player in this position is a must-purchase this summer.

The centre-backs have also had a torrid time. It’s hard to nail a single cause or problem, it is just so wide spread it touches every aspect. The bottom line is they aren’t good enough. Vermaelen perhaps an exception, giving him the benefit of the doubt after his outstanding seasons prior to this one. Hopefully he’ll be able to overcome these “nerves” Wenger talks about, and his injury will be completely cleared up. It seems like a combination of these things is having a negative effect on him.

We have also seen in recent weeks, how poor our strikers are. We possess no real threat up front, no one is a concern for the opposition. Our striker doesn’t exactly strike terror in to the opponents eyes like van Persie (sorry), or Aguero, or Suarez and so on.

We need a man up there who can do the business. A Cavani, a Jovetic, a Falcao. It’s unrealistic it will happen, but the reality is it’s what we need.

These are more positions that we need to buy.

Unfortunately we won’t be able to no matter how much money there is if we don’t get top-four.

The attacking midfielders though, they are something to savour. Hopefully we’ll be able to keep them throughout the summer too!

BRING ON SPURS!

Wenger’s Pre-Villa Press Conference

Q: Can we clarify the team news?
A: “Sagna, is out with a knee problem. Everybody else [from the Bayern game] should be alright.”

Q: Put the Villa game into context, it’s the calm before the storm almost?
A: “There is no calm. It is a game in the Premiership, and in the Premiership we are on quite a good run so we have not to forget that and take advantage of the fact that we play at home. We know we are in a position where we cannot afford to drop points. We will go into the game with of course a huge desire to get out the disappointments we recently had and especially to focus on getting points in the Premiership.”

Q: Can the crowd a play a positive role?
A: “The crowd play a big part. Especially after Tuesday night. It is important that we are all focused on this game, but let us have the needed attitude to get the crowd behind us. You know we go in the final part of the season, and now it’s for us important not to drop points any more, then the crowd will be behind us.”

Q: Aston Villa have shown some form in recent weeks, so you know you’re up for a battle.
A: “Always against Villa, it’s always a battle. They have recently made some good results. They came out with a draw at Everton, 3-3. We know what we want, they know as well certainly because they fight to avoid relegation. Very difficult Premier League games where today there is no easy game for anybody, and we have to prepare ourselves for a battle.”

Q: What’s the atmosphere been like inside the club?
A: “On the inside, disappointment, because we lost a big home game. Every time when you lose a big game, of course there’s a massive disappointment.”

Q: Have the troubles of the club been over-exaggerated in some quarters?
A: “What is exaggerated or not exaggerated today is difficult to say. We live in a world of emotion, of excess. It’s down to people who have responsibilities to put that into perspective, and keep solid and keep guiding the club into the right way.”

Q: Has the scrutiny of your position been unfair, baring in mind what you’ve achieved in this country?
A: “It’s not down to me to judge that, my responsibility is to keep the guidelines and guide the team and the club into what I think is right.”

Q: Do you feel it’s been unfair though?
A: “I will not come out with my feelings, because that’s not my job as well. I feel what is important for me is to focus on the next game and try to give my best like all the players.”

Q: Were there positive signs for you in the board meeting yesterday? Was the tone different with Kroenke there?
A: “No. No, in the board meeting speaks about many things. It’s about commercial, about ticket prices, about anything, about the long-term plans, and I make my report as well on the technical side. It was the usual thing. Of course we have no euphoria, because we have gone through a difficult disappointment on Tuesday night, but apart from that they are responsible people who know what it is to fight.”

Q: What help do you need to get the team back to the top of English and European football?
A: “What we need is just to be united and strong, and not to be too much always destabilised by people who have strong opinions after one game. I believe that what is important, is the club goes always with the guidelines we have inside the club and keep them and do not change direction every time that we lose a big game, because that would lead to a disaster. Bad period in the club is as well a good opportunity to show how united and strong you are, and we have a good history of that Arsenal.”

Q: How would you sum this week in your 16 years here?
A: “I think how I would sum it up is focus on the next game, and forget what happened behind. We are here to win football games and when we don’t of course it’s a huge disappointment. We lost 2 home games, I don’t know how many times it happened in my 16 years, but we have to get over that and focus on the next game. It’s not feeling sorry for ourself that we change the situation. We come back from a win at Sunderland, it’s important we get another three points tomorrow.”

Q: How are you feeling yourself? Have you calmed down since your Press Conference last week?
A: “I have calmed down, yes. I explained why I was angry. But I am calmed down, you have calmed me well down.”

Q: At any point have you thought about throwing in the towel?
A: “Never.”

Q: No one second?
A: “Not one second.”

Q: What do you make of Benteke?
A: “Well he’s their striker who’s strong in the air, strong force, great physique. I think he has been a success there.”

Q: What sort of obstacles do you think Villa will throw at you?
A: “It’s a very important game for both teams.”

Q: Is it more important for you given your week, or for them given their position?
A: “I don’t know. For us I can tell you it’s a very important game. But for them, they consider their interest. We consider our interests. For us, of course, it’s something that is vital, because we play at home and we want to come back in a strong position in the Championship. I feel it’s very open apart from Man United for all the other positions, it’s very open. It’s just down to us now to continue to be consistent like we have been. We had recently a good form in the Premier League, and we have to focus on continuing to get the points, because we cannot drop points.

Q: Have you had to put your arm round any of the players this week?
A: “These players care. They of course were very down after the game.”

Q: So what did you say to them?
A: “To show our strengths, and look at what is in front of us.!

Q: When you get up in the morning, what motivates you to keep going after all this time?
A: “The love for the game, and the love to win.”

Q: Is that always enough? It’s been 15/16 years, what keeps that spark?
A: “I don’t think that spark has nothing to do with the length of your life. It’s just that’s how you are. You motivated by how much you want to win and how much you are a winner. If I go out now and play with you one against one, you will see that I will beat you. At least if I don’t manage to beat you, I will want to beat you. So that will not change as long as I can move. ”

Q: Can we film that?
A: “We can organise that if you want.”

Q: The knee’s not what it was..
A: “Don’t make excuses before the game.”

Q: What was I going to say?… Did you see this period coming with the move to the Emirates? That you’d have to pay a heavy price on the pitch for everything off it?
A: “I prepared myself for some suffering when we moved into the Emirates, yes, because we were on restricted resources for a while, and the main target was of course to be in the Champions League because we had to pay back our stadium. But did I expect to go out against Blackburn and to lose against Bayern? Honestly, no.”

Q: With a player you try to tie them down with at least a year left, what about yourself with your contract running down?
A: “No, you see I have a contract until the end of 2014. At the moment we are on short-term plan. For two reasons, one is because I am here for a long time, and as well I have to consider what I want to do, but that will be decided in 2014, not before.”

Q: You were angry on Monday, is it sometimes the right response? Is it better to take the situation by the scruff of the neck?
A: “You can do both.”

Q: With everything that’s happened has it shaken your faith in your ability and the ability of your team?
A: “No.”

Q: Why?
A: “Because, every incident will not change completely your mind on people you trust. There is no possibility in any club to change direction every time you lose a football game. Or you don’t go anywhere. I think football is made of short-term and long-term, but long-term plan is vital. I know today in society it’s very difficult to push that through, but people who are responsible have to do that.”

Q: You talk about the long-term plan. How important will it be to qualify for the Champions League again? You can cope without doing it financial though can’t you? And still actively move the club forward?
A: “Yes of course, but we want to be in the Champions League. Financially, we can live with it. But on the sporting front, no. And the sporting front is the priority.”

Q: What’s your reading of Bacary Sagna’s situation and future?
A: “I haven’t had any contact with anybody. He’s not free in the summer, so he can only leave if we let him go.”

 

Q: His contract expires the following year?
A: “Yes, but the following year is not in the summer?”

Q: He’s been a great servant to the club, it would be a great shame if he left?
A: “Yes, but our desire is to keep Bacary Sagna, and he knows that.”

Q: Will there come a point where you have to sit down with him, maybe in the summer?
A: “Yes, of course. We will sit down with him. We did already sit down with his agent. And we didn’t get that vibe out.”

Q: Is there an offer on the table?
A: “Yes.”

Q: Your team’s been criticised for a lack of leadership, who do you feel your leaders are?
A: “No, I feel that we lack a little bit belief and confidence. You could see that when you look at the numbers. We are 12th in the league in the first half, and top of the league in the second half. That shows we have not a problem of quality, we have a problem of belief, and confidence, and that is noticed especially in the first half, again against Bayern Munich, we were 2-0 down and that happened a few times this year. After, it’s difficult, but I believe we have the basic quality. We lack a little bit what you call that kind of charisma that Bayern had, because they had basically not lost a game the whole season. People forget as well we played against a team who played two Champions League finals in the last three years. We didn’t play against a poor side, and overall it was a top quality game, the intensity of the game was unbelievable.”