Monday 20 November 2017

Arsene Wenger fully committed to Arsenal despite link to England job

Arsenal's Theo Walcott and Arsene Wenger
Arsenal's Theo Walcott and Arsene Wenger

Mark Mann-Bryans

Arsene Wenger watched his Arsenal side ease to Champions League victory over Basle before insisting the Gunners remain his priority following suggestions he will again be a target to become the new England manager.

Theo Walcott scored twice in the opening 26 minutes of Wednesday's contest at the Emirates Stadium as Arsenal secured a deserved 2-0 win to collect their first three points in Group A.

The hosts bossed the game and should have scored plenty more but a mixture of profligacy and a good performance from Basle goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik kept the result respectable for the Swiss Super League champions.

Wenger has once again been linked to the vacant England role after Sam Allardyce left the post after just 67 days and one game in the job following the emergence of secretly-filmed video footage which showed him making a number of controversial remarks.

The 66-year-old Wenger was believed to be a target of the Football Association before Allardyce was appointed in the summer and will again be a favourite among the bookmakers as his Arsenal contract expires at the end of the current season.

But the Frenchman said he will remain focused solely on Arsenal and confessed he was shocked by Allardyce's departure.

"I was focused on the game tonight so I didn't see too much about it. It was a huge surprise what happened to Sam Allardyce," he said.

"Who could have predicted that 48 hours ago? Nobody. The game's always full of surprises. My priority has always been this club and until the end of this season, I'm here. I'm completely focused on that.

"I've said many times that my priority has always been Arsenal Football Club and I have to assess how well I do until the end of the season."

Gareth Southgate will step up from the under-21s to take charge of England for their next four games and Wenger has said it will be difficult for the former Middlesbrough boss to overlook Walcott when he selects his first squad at the weekend.

"The best recommendation is his performances," Wenger said of Walcott's international chances.

"It's difficult to ignore him. If you take the best English players and you see him playing the way he did tonight, it's difficult to ignore him. I will leave that with Gareth Southgate."

Basle have a decent record on English soil but were thoroughly outplayed and manager Urs Fischer is hoping his players learn from the experience.

"There are a few things we have to improve," he said.

"Not only defending but opening up the game. We made too many mistakes and we were not precise enough.

"The second half was better for us but it could have been 3-0 before that. If we have a chance to score at 2-1, we have to take it.''

Press Association

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