Sunday 21 January 2018

Wenger not expecting any 'presents' from rivals

ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger has warned his side cannot expect any "presents" from their Premier League rivals next season as the Gunners look to mount a long-overdue sustained title challenge.

With the retirement of Alex Ferguson, Wenger is now the longest-serving boss in the top flight, while the managerial changes at both Manchester City and Chelsea could offer Arsenal the advantage of stability when the new campaign kicks off this weekend.

Wenger, though, warned against any suggestions life would thus be made somewhat more straightforward for Arsenal, who have not won a trophy since 2005. "The fact that of the four top teams last year, three have changed manager will certainly create the most interest to see how they all respond to that," Wenger said.

"These teams changed managers, but there is a stability there (in terms of the players), so that shouldn't create too much uncertainty. (But) let's not expect presents from these clubs because that would be the wrong way to go into the championship – let's just think they will be as strong as ever and make sure that we are strong."

Midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – who was one of three Gunners involved for England against Scotland at Wembley on Wednesday – also stressed Arsenal must deliver consistency, having gone on an unbeaten 10-match league run at the end of last season.

"We have got to focus on our job in hand," he said. "I am sure for the neutral looking in, with the managerial changes and players coming in, it always makes it exciting, that is what the Premier League is all about.

"I am sure it is going to be a really good season, another exciting one."

While the Gunners boss clearly is determined to bolster his squad, albeit not in time for next week's crucial Champions League play-off first leg against Fenerbahce in Turkey, Wenger accepts patience will be key as the clock ticks down towards the September 2 deadline.

"There are 18 days to go, so that is a long time in the transfer market and we will be active," the Arsenal manager said. "I cannot certify what the number (of players coming in will be), but we will be active until the end, that is for sure."

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