Arsenal: Wenger admits lucky Gunners; why Sanchez is used up front; financial results
Arsene Wenger admitted that his Arsenal side got lucky, as they scrambled their way to three points with a 1-0 win over Burnley at Turf Moor. Despite dominating territory and possession for long periods, the Gunner’s play in and around the penalty was loose and careless.
Dropping two points would have been most frustrating, especially after league leaders Manchester City has lost at Spurs earlier in the day. However, in the third minute of injury time Laurent Koscielny met a Theo Walcott glancing header and bundled home a dramatic late winner.
The Frenchman has now scored 17 Premier League goals for Arsenal, and has a history of popping up at important times; he scored winners at West Brom and Newcastle on the final day of the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons to get Arsenal into the top four, has scored in a FA Cup final and away at Manchester City and Bayern Munich. Wenger said:
“They defended very well, they were very well organised in a very intelligent way and I give the merit to my team.
“We kept going until the end, we got a bit lucky as well, a bit fortunate to win the game in the end but you can only have the chance to win it if you keep going.
“It was the kind of game we could’ve won 1-0 and we could’ve lost 1-0 as well. Burnley makes everybody suffer here and I think that will last until the end of the season.”
It is not the first time that Arsenal have left it late this season, having beaten Southampton with a stoppage time Santi Cazorla penalty last month. Only Liverpool have scored more stoppage time winning goals than Arsenal in Premier League history. That said, there have been some fluent performances against Hull, Chelsea and Basel recently, so it would be wrong to suggest Arsenal are scraping by.
They were unfortunate to be without Olivier Giroud and Lucas Perez due to minor injuries yesterday, while Aaron Ramsey and Francis Coquelin were also absent with injury. Yesterday’s game was Arsenal’s fifth in 15 days, and with hindsight their team probably needed freshening up.
Elsewhere, Arsenal legend turned Sky Sports pundit Thierry Henry interviewed Wenger to mark his 20th anniversary in charge of the club and the Arsenal boss discussed his decision to use Alexis Sanchez as a central striker. Many thought his deployment through the middle was just a short term strategy until Giroud returned following an extended break after the Euros. Speaking to the Gunners’ record goalscorer, Wenger said:
“First of all I had big competition up front. I thought Danny Welbeck and Olivier Giroud would play there,
“I reflected at the end of the season and I decided to try it with Sanchez. He has similarities with (Luis) Suarez. He goes at you.
“Remember at the start many people questioned the decision. The few times I had tried him there before he was not convincing. In the first two games I was not convinced but now game after game he is growing into this position and getting better and better.”
Wenger clearly needed some time to be convinced by this plan also, because he has rarely used Sanchez as a striker during his first two seasons at the club. Recent reports have suggested that he grew frustrated with some of Sanchez’s selfish decision making and felt this would reap greater rewards in a striker’s role.
Finally, Arsenal released their financial figures over the weekend and they revealed that the club have cash reserves of £226 million which is more than Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich combined. However, chairman Sir Chips Keswick was keen to point out that £77 million of this was ring fenced for debt servicing and monies owed to other clubs for past transfers.
The club however, confirmed that over £90 million was spent in the summer with extra costs such as agent’s fees and performance related bonuses still to be accounted for. With Sanchez and Mesut Ozil in line for new contracts, there is still plenty of capital free to get them signed up.
Featured image: All rights reserved by Emrah Partal