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Arsenal: David Dein on Wenger Legacy; Xhaka Faces Brother; Good News On Coquelin

Arsenal: David Dein on Wenger Legacy; Xhaka Faces Brother; Good News On Coquelin

Former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein has said Arsene Wenger will be an ‘impossible act to follow’ as Arsenal boss having finished in the top four of the Premier League in every season of his 20-year reign. Dein was instrumental in bringing Wenger to the club in 1996, having met the Frenchman several years earlier when he visited Highbury to take in a game during a short trip to London. The story goes that he invited Wenger to his house for dinner that night, and was impressed by Wenger’s affable personality and charisma; the former Monaco boss chose to act out Midsummer Night’s Dream during a game of charades. Dein’s departure from the club in 2007 is believed by many to be a turning point in Arsenal’s modern history, and that Wenger has suffered without this key ally and arch negotiator. Speaking at the Global Soccerex convention, Dein said:

“He won’t be a difficult to act to follow… he will be an impossible act to follow,’

“He’s been at the club for 20 seasons and every year has been in the Champions League (since 1998-99) so to anyone wanting to change the manager I say to them that the next person is highly unlikely to do that.

“I had the good fortune to have known Arsene for eight years before he became Arsenal manager so knew what he was like.

“The easiest thing is just to change – the hard thing is getting somebody better. Who could you get that is better?”


Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe has been linked with the job a few different occasions recently, and Dein added that it was not impossible that Arsenal would go down the ‘British route’. Numerous big name managers have moved to other English clubs; Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola and Antonio Conte. Guardiola looked in many ways the ideal fit, but whether or not there was any possibility of him joining is unknown.

He and Wenger certainly admire one another, but perhaps the deal that took him to Man City was tied up a long time ago. Diego Simeone is the next cab off the rank in terms of elite level managers, but he and Arsenal look an odd marriage. Thomas Tuchel at Borussia Dortmund is another name being mooted. Arsenal tend to revel in being contrary, so don’t be surprised if they go for somebody out of left field.

Elsewhere, Granit Xhaka has an opportunity to nail down a starting spot following Francis Coquelin’s injury and faces his brother in the Champions League this week. Taulant Xhaka lays for Swiss outfit Basel and has urged his Granit to stay patient and wait for his chance at Arsenal. Taulant plays his international football for Kosovo, while Granit plays for Switzerland. The elder Xhaka said:

“He needs to be patient but he knows this and I am sure he can progress there.

“Arsene Wenger is a coach who takes a lot of young players – he gives them confidence and also tries to help them as people.

“It was the same when he moved to Germany, he needed time but he learnt a lot. He changed, became more self-confident, more open to people.

“It was a good step to join Arsenal. Granit is very comfortable, very integrated. He is very happy there and he has already scored some super goals.”


There has been a great deal of change in Arsenal’s starting lineup this season, with a new centre back partnership bedding in and Wenger using Alexis Sanchez as a striker in a new look front three. As well as taking his time getting Xhaka up to speed, it seems that Wenger wanted some stability in the middle of the park amidst all this flux. Coquelin and Santi Cazorla have been a reliable partnership in the past, and Wenger has opted for this familiarity.

Finally, L’Equipe are reporting that Coquelin’s knee injury is not as serious as the one he sustained at West Brom last season and that he could be back after the next international break in mid-October. Gooners were baying for Coquelin’s blood a few weeks; mystified as to why Wenger was picking him with £35 million Xhaka sitting on the bench. However, the Frenchman was outstanding against Hull and Chelsea before getting injured. Coquelin might not be the smoothest technically, and can cause Arsenal problems with how they build play from the back, but no other midfielder at the club quite has his defensive skill-set.

Featured image: All rights reserved by Emrah Partal

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