• Wenger won three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups with Arsenal
Mikel Arteta hopes to bring former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger back to the Emirates in some capacity after revealing yesterday that initial talks had taken place. The 72-year-old Frenchman won three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups during his 22-year spell in charge of the London club, which ended in 2018.
One of his most striking achievements was completing the 2003/04 Premier League season unbeaten — the last time Arsenal were crowned English champions.
Current manager Arteta, who played under Wenger, is keen to have the former manager’s expertise available to him and confirmed the pair had a conversation on the matter when they met at the premiere of Arsene Wenger: Invincible — a documentary about his ex-boss, who now works for FIFA as chief of global football development.
The Spaniard was asked at his pre-match press conference yesterday if a formal offer had been made. “There has been communication,” he said. “I saw him and talked to him when we went to see the film. It was incredibly pleasant to see him and chat to him — and hopefully we can bring him close. Because I think he will have a great time just seeing the environment that he can create around him (and) around this place. Because of the respect and admiration that everybody at the club has for what he’s done — and as well for what he represents as a person in this club.”
Arteta declined to elaborate on what kind of role Wenger could play, but added he would “like him to be much closer personally to me”. “Because I think it would be a great help — and it would be a great help for the club,” said Arteta, whose fifth-placed side host bottom club Newcastle tomorrow. “Things take time, and I think he has to dictate those timings. What I can say is from my side, and I can talk I think on behalf of everybody, that we would be delighted to have him much closer.”
A chastening 4-0 defeat at Liverpool last week, which ended Arsenal’s 10-match unbeaten run in all competitions, featured a touchline spat between Arteta and his counterpart Jurgen Klopp over a tackle. Asked if it was good for the players to see his passion, Arteta said: “I think you have to be spontaneous, and do what you do. I will always defend my club, my team and the players on the pitch.”
The Spaniard said he was pleased with his players’ response after their heavy defeat at Anfield. “There are always bumps in the road,” he said. “There are results, there are injuries, there are issues that you have to deal with and I really like how the team has reacted through the week.”
Arteta said there were no new injury concerns ahead of clash with Newcastle United. The Spaniard added midfielder Granit Xhaka is ahead of schedule in his recovery from a knee injury and hopes to call on the Switzerland international before the end of the year.
Xhaka, 29, was initially sidelined for three months after sustaining damage to his knee ligament in September’s derby win over Tottenham Hotspur. “He’s training and pushing himself and the staff so hard as he always does. He’s in a good place, he’s evolving well. I hope we can have him back before the end of the year,” Arteta said. Arteta called on his players to rise to the challenge of competing with the league’s best teams. “We have to raise our level to compete with these teams and match how consistent they are every game, but also how consistent they are throughout the game. They dominate every area and that is why they’re so successful,” he added. “We are really looking forward to the game. After a defeat, you want to put it right straight away.”
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