Arsene Wenger has revealed that his squad will likely remain unchanged for this weekend’s FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City. Whilst he expressed uncertainty over a recovery for Danny Welbeck, he did confirm that Shkodran Mustafi is still out. However David Ospina could be back in 10 days, though Lucas Perez remains on the long-term injury list, and is joined there by the unfortunate Jeff Reine-Adelaide who has suffered a season-ending ankle injury. On Jack Wilshere, he added that he hadn’t spoke to Jack yet, but that his understanding is that the fracture is minor, that it doesn’t need surgery, and that he expects Wilshere to be back training in July. I feel like we’ve all heard that before : (
On the state of the team ahead of the clash with City, Wenger said that they were “focused, highly-motivated [but] maybe not at the maximum of our confidence because we recently had some disappointing results”, but he did say his side were up for the challenge, adding that this was “a good opportunity to show how much we are ready for a fight and how much we are ready to go to the final because it’s maybe our only opportunity to get a trophy this season.”
On the Semi-Final:
“What I expect when I go in the semi-final, is to go in the final” – OKAY THEN!
On Man City:
Reflecting on the recent 2-2 draw with Guardiola’s men in the league, Wenger said that he expected an intense attacking game, saying of City that they “are a team that are very positive going forward, they like to have the ball, they like to take initiative and we do as well.” He felt that the league draw had been 50-50 in terms of possession, and he was anticipating a spectacular game “once the first goal was scored… so let’s hope it’s us!” (said with Arsene smirk + Arsene raised eyebrow)
Back 3 the Future?
AW was somewhere between non-commital and disinterested on the subject of the back 3, and played a killjoy par excellence when confronted by the media’s excited questions about the formation. “Will we be seeing it again?” “Does it make you more unpredictable?” “Does it show your adaptability?” All these were batted away with the same lack of enthusiasm he showed in the aftermath of deploying it the first time – he thought it would be useful to try away against Boro; he did it to arrest the concession of goals away from home; all top-level players need to be adaptable, otherwise they are not top-level players;
Essentially he’s being as hipster as possible about the fact that he’s gone and gotten himself a trendy back three.
On HIS future: * yawn *
AW remained steadfast with his rhetoric on the whole new contract / his future stuff. He said the usual stuff about him being absolutely committed and professional and only concerned with the future of AFC, and said that success in the FA Cup would have absolutely no bearing on his future.
This was typified by this exceptionally terse exchange with one journalist:
Journo: “Just to be clear on this Arsene, have you told your players or potential new signings that you’re staying at the club for two more seasons?”
Journo: “You’ve not told them or you’re not staying”
AW: “I didn’t tell anything to anybody”
That’s that then!