‘I wish Monaco well, but there is no interest there’ says Arsenal’s Wenger
Arsene Wenger insisted he’d no interest in returning to Monaco after seeing his Arsenal side finish the Premier League season in fourth place.
Arsenal warmed-up for this coming weekend’s FA Cup final against Hull at Wembley with a 2-0 win away to Norwich on Sunday that finally sealed their hosts’ relegation from English football’s top flight.
Although the 64-year-old Wenger, the Premier League’s longest-serving manager, has repeatedly insisted he will sign a new Arsenal contract and carry on his work with the north London side that started in September 1996, the fact he has still to put pen to paper has led to speculation about the Frenchman’s future.
But after Sunday’s win at Carrow Road, Wenger had no trouble in denying reports linking him with a return to Monaco, the club where he made his name as a manager by guiding them to the French title in 1988.
“I wish Monaco well, but there is no interest there,” he said.
Wenger reported no fresh injuries ahead of the FA Cup final, where Arsenal will be looking to claim their first major piece of silverware since lifting the knockout trophy nine years ago.
He also pronounced himself satisfied with a league campaign that had seen Arsenal occupy top spot for a significant portion of the season before falling away.
Premier League champions Manchester City finished seven points ahead of Arsenal and Wenger said. “We have won 11 games away from home – I think it’s the best in the league – and it (the win over Norwich) was our 17th clean sheet. That is remarkable as well.”
The Arsenal manager added: “We just wanted to finish the season well and we did it in a serious way so it’s a good basis to prepare for the FA Cup final next Saturday.
“Unfortunately it’s the first time in the Premier League that someone has finished fourth with 79 points and it was very tight.
“I believe that (runners-up) Liverpool can be frustrated, we can be frustrated, (third-placed) Chelsea can be frustrated because only one team can win it.”
Meanwhile Wenger said he expected Arsenal duo Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to be fit enough to play for England at the World Cup.
England manager Roy Hodgson will name his 23-man party for next month’s finals in Brazil on Monday and the Arsenal pair have been regular members of previous squads.
Midfielder Wilshere, 22, came off the bench for the final 27 minutes against Norwich but Oxlade-Chamberlain did not feature at Carrow Road, although he is expected to resume training following a groin problem on Wednesday, which would also put him on course for a place in the FA Cup final squad.
Wenger made it clear he had no qualms about Wilshere and Oxlade-Chamberlain being whisked from the treatment table to the World Cup finals in the space of a few weeks.
“Players like Oxlade-Chamberlain, if they are not overplayed, they can absorb competition to come back and need minimal rest before they start competition next year,” he said.
Norwich were left ruing a poor away record that saw them effectively relegated before this game.
They kicked off three points behind West Bromwich Albion but with such an inferior goal difference tally that only an improbably large victory over Arsenal would have been enough to spare them from the drop.
Norwich manager Neil Adams, only appointed last month after the club sacked Chris Hughton, faces an uncertain future.
But that didn’t stop him dropping record £8.5 million (Dh52.5m) signing Ricky van Wolfswinkel after the striker had contributed just one goal all season.
That sparked rumours the Netherlands forward, who wasn’t even on the bench on Sunday, had walked out in anger.
However, Adams insisted: “Nothing happened as such – he just wasn’t picked. I didn’t see a strop. He didn’t refuse to be a substitute.”
Published: May 12, 2014 04:00 AM