| 5.8°C Dublin

Wenger 'still L earning'


Arsene Wenger. Picture credit: Getty Images

Arsene Wenger. Picture credit: Getty Images

Arsene Wenger. Picture credit: Getty Images

ARSENE WENGER insists there is always reason to question himself and look for improvement, even though he stands on the verge of completing 1,000 games in charge of Arsenal.

The 64-year-old Frenchman, appointed in late September 1996, will reach the personal landmark at Chelsea tomorrow lunchtime, when the Gunners will be out to close up to within a point of the Premier League leaders.

Wenger has seen and done it all since arriving at Highbury as a relative unknown coach some 17 seasons ago, but the Frenchman insists the desire to better himself burns as fierce as ever.

"You learn from every game," Wenger said.

"You learn more from the lost games than the games won. Certainly because you go into deeper analysis, you question yourself more, you question the players more and you learn basically the most from the higher the level goes up, the more you see the limitations of your team and your players.

"You learn the most in the biggest games when the pressure is there, when the talent is against you and when the pace of the game is at the top, top level. This is where you learn."

There is genuine belief 2014 could finally be the year Arsenal are able to end their trophy drought, which is now fast approaching a decade, with an FA Cup semi-final against Wigan next month.

Wenger, though, does not intend to allow himself much time for nostalgia, with a special presentation understood to be planned for training on Friday as he aims to keep Arsenal in the title hunt.

"It makes you feel 'where did the time go?'. It looks to me like I started yesterday, I can't believe it is such a long time," the Gunners boss said.

"Why? Because you're always focused on looking forward to the next game and when you look back you think 'I made quite a distance there'.


"Despite that, your only interest is the next game, our drug is the next game, the hope for the next game, the desire to win the next one. You go step by step and finally when you look back it's a long time.

"I would just like to say for me it's an honour to manage a club of this dimension for such a long time, and I would like to thank everybody who is involved in the club for giving me such a confidence for such a long time."

Former France international Robert Pires was part of Wenger's all-conquering 'Invincibles' team which won the 2003/04 league title undefeated.

The 40-year-old, who is training at Arsenal's Hertfordshire base to maintain fitness levels, would view the opportunity to work alongside Wenger once again as "a dream".

Pires said: "I have not spoken to him about that because he has recently appointed another former Arsenal player Steve Bould to assist him, but for me it would be great.

"Coaching with Wenger is a good opportunity to learn. In the future you never know."

Wenger's contract is set to expire in the summer, and although the Arsenal board are understood to remain relaxed about the situation, there has as yet been no confirmation either way of the manager's intentions.

Nevertheless, Arsenal have continued to sign up key men on new deals, with midfielders Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla the latest to put pen to paper. Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny recently agreed a new long-term contract at Arsenal.


The 23-year-old, who came up through the club's youth ranks, cannot ever see himself leaving – and would fight for the gloves ahead of any reported summer interest in Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

Szczesny said: "If they give me a contract to the end of my career, I would sign it without any hesitation.

"I feel attached to the club and the coach who has given me a chance.

"I will play at Arsenal as long as am wanted here. I am not afraid to fight for number one with anyone: (Arsenal number two, Lukasz) Fabianski or Casillas.

"I hope I won't make the boss think, 'Wojciech's not number one'.

"It is all in my hands. I am in the best form of my life."