ARSENE Wenger will have delighted Arsenal fans this week when he tipped his old club to make a shock title challenge this season.
As the most successful manager in the club’s history, the Frenchman knows a thing or two about winning silverware.
During his 22-year reign in north London Wenger won the Premier League three times, and lifted seven FA Cups.
Admitting that his life is still “definitely linked with Arsenal”, Wenger (pictured) can’t help but keep tabs on events at the Emirates – albeit from a safe distance. And the 72-year-old clearly has admiration for the job Mikel Arteta has done since taking charge as he backed the Gunners to upset the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool this term.
“I would say they are moving in the right direction,” said Wenger. “I honestly think there is no weak position in the team – they have young, promising players and they have bought well this year. There is no completely dominating team this season and Arsenal have a chance with the potential that is there. We used to be in the top four, and why not again? You cannot even rule out the fact that they can fight for the title. Hopefully they can do it.”
For Arteta the primary goal will be to guide the Gunners back into the Champions League. And the Spaniard, who captained Arsenal under Wenger’s tutelage, has made a near perfect start – winning five of the club’s six league games so far.
Next up is a testing away day at Brentford this Sunday, and Wenger will be as delighted as any Gooner if Arsenal come away with three points. But no matter how good life gets down at Ashburton Grove, Wenger is unlikely to return to the Emirates any time soon.
Speaking at an evening with David Dein to help the club’s former vice-chairman promote his new book, Calling The Shots, Wenger, who is now FIFA’s chief of global football development, added: “I haven’t been there since 2018. After 22 years as manager, maybe I arrived at the end of the road and people wanted a change. The club had chosen a different direction and I can understand that completely. Sometimes you need to have a completely new staff and my presence there could have been a problem.
“So I stayed away completely to give the club the chance to rebuild a new connection with a new manager. That’s why I never talked about Arsenal and never came back to the Emirates, because I didn’t want to be a presence that is maybe not good for the club.”