Semi-final press conference: Arsene on Szczesny, Jack, Theo, Klopp and Reading
Arsene Wenger spoke to the media today ahead of Arsenal’s FA Cup semi-final clash with Reading at Wembley on Saturday.
Le Prof confirmed that Wojciech Szczesny will start in-goal for the Gunners on Saturday.
“This season he has played at Man United and he had a very good performance. I believe it’s important that the two goalkeepers get competition and he will get competition in the FA Cup now, as long as Ospina plays in the Premier League.”, Wenger said.
Wenger confirmed Jack Wilshere will be in the squad for Wembley, but that Mikel Arteta (match fitness) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (groin) are not available for selection. He confirmed that Oxlade-Chamberlain is at least two away from being fit for selection.
Arsenal needed penalties to overcome Championship Wigan at the same stage of the competition last season, and Wenger is expecting a similarly testing challenge from Reading.
“We won’t underestimate Championship opposition. It wouldn’t be intelligent to turn up thinking we’ve won.
On his opposite number Steve Clarke Wenger added
“He has good experience so he knows exactly what will happen. I’m sure he will prepare Reading very well.”
There has been a great deal of speculation surrounding Theo Walcott’s future. He has yet to commit to signing a new contract, and has struggled to regain a starting place since returning from his year-long injury lay-off.
Wenger though is hopeful he will stay. “I believe that Theo has a great future,” said Wenger.
“He is just coming back from a very, very difficult injury. Every week he is getting better, he is very young and I believe he will have a great goalscoring record in the future because of the quality and intelligence of his game, and therefore I would like him to stay with our club.”
Wenger also wants Mikel Arteta and Tomas Rosicky to stay at Arsenal. “Yes, I think they will be here next season. We’ll sort that out at the end of May,” he said.
But the manager says it’s too early to discuss summer transfer targets.
“I cannot give you any names because at the moment we are focused on achieving our targets until the end of the season,” he said.
“Every game is vital now and we just want to focus on our games. We have a massive squad, we have a big, big squad, we have 24 players at the moment and we have players like Podolski, Sanogo and Joel Campbell out on loan.
“So for us it will first be important to prepare well and get the right dimension of the squad and if needed to add what we can add.”
Wenger was also asked if he would swap an appearance in the FA Cup semi-final for four or five extra points in the Premier League. “It’s not a question about swapping – we are not in a negotiation in our job unfortunately. You do what you can do as well as you can in every single competition and we have done well in the FA Cup. We want to continue our run.
The decision to schedule the semi-final at the same time as Chelsea v Man United meeting in the Premier League has been widely questioned.
Wenger said “Let’s focus on our job. I’m a bit surprised that a game of the same stature is played at the same time. There is a bit of conflict there that is difficult to understand.
“Something should be done about it. I’m surprised that they did not analyse that in television deals because basically what happens there, it is something that should have been planned, that two television channels who pay a lot of money for football, have conflicted interests in promoting games. That inside the country shouldn’t happen.”
No, but you would like it to be the unique competition that is played. Especially a semi final and a final., you would want it not to conflict with other competitions. It is a surprise to me [that it goes up against a very big game].
Wenger got a little prickly when asked about Jurgen Klopp’s decision to leave Borussia Dortmund and whether he was likely to join a club in England “I’m not an agency to place managers and I like every manager and respect everybody, but I find that circus a bit ridiculous, said Wenger.
On whether the decision will impact on Dortmund retaining their best players, Wenger added “It’s down to every club to make the right decision and to respect Dortmund. Dortmund is a massive club and will survive, and has the ability to keep their best players. They have a big history linked with great results and great achievements so I don’t think that will stop for Dortmund.”
When asked what advice he would give to he’d give to foreign managers coming to the Premier League, Wenger said,
“Try to get your ideas through and adapt as well to the local culture, and respect it.”