Sport Soccer

Monday 18 December 2017

Arsenal’s season starts here, says defiant Wenger

Arsène Wenger, the Arsenal manager, has claimed that "the real start of the season is now" following his side's dismal start to the Premier League campaign.

Arsenal currently lie 17th in the table with just one point from their opening three games and suffered a humiliating 8-2 defeat to Manchester United in their last match.

Wenger, though, remains defiant and believes the north Londoners can kick start their domestic season when Premier League newcomers Swansea City visit the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

"We were very disappointed and we were absolutely down after the [United] game but putting things into perspective, we were really weakened on the day," said Wenger.

"We had a very demanding [Champions League] game on the Wednesday against Udinese and then conceded four goals in the last 20 minutes when we were down to ten men.

"Of course it was difficult, but maybe the international break came at a good time. In between we could buy some players and could get some players back from injury. The real start of the season, where we can get the whole squad together, is now."

Following the departures of Cesc Fàbregas and Samir Nasri in late January Wenger was forced into the transfer market where he bought defenders Andre Santos and Per Mertesacker, midfielders Yossi Benayoun and Mikel Arteta and forward Park Chu-young.

Wenger denied the new signings were a knee-jerk reaction to the United defeat.

"What really incited me," he said, "was knowing that [Jack] Wilshere will be out for longer than expected, that [Thomas] Vermaelen needed surgery, that [Kieran] Gibbs having the whole season on his shoulders at left back with [Armand] Traoré leaving would be very difficult.

"With [Nicklas] Bendtner going out the possibility to buy another striker was also there.

"I wanted as well some more experience in the squad because on the bench at Manchester United we were very, very young. In a game of this stature of course it's very difficult for the players."

Wenger will be hoping for an immediate return from his new signings on Saturday to a side who have yet to score in three league games since winning promotion but are still above Arsenal with two points.

"Swansea are a good side who play good football, building out from the back," said Wenger. "Possession-wise they are very good, they are a team who plays football which is suited to the Premier League and that is why we must have a good performance."

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