Sunday 16 December 2018

Wenger: It's not a one-man show

Arsene Wenger wants Arsenal to compete as a team
Arsene Wenger wants Arsenal to compete as a team

Arsene Wenger does not believe Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema would automatically transform Arsenal into Barclays Premier League winners.

Arsenal's record goalscorer Thierry Henry has said the acquisition of Benzema, who has been linked with a move to north London this summer, would spur the Gunners to their first league title since 2004.

But Wenger, speaking ahead of his side's opener against West Ham at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, insists his squad should instead take a collective approach to their goalscoring duties this term.

"I respect Thierry Henry a lot for his football knowledge but it is not as mathematical as that," Wenger said. "We have to develop our collective game and depend less on one guy who comes in and scores all the goals."

Every Premier League title winner since 2009 has boasted one player who has scored at least 20 goals.

But while Wenger acknowledged the importance of a free-scoring striker, he called on players such as Mesut Ozil, in his third campaign with the Gunners, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who netted the winner against Chelsea in the Community Shield, to improve their scoring tallies from midfield.

"It is important but maybe we can share that," Wenger added. "I think Olivier Giroud would not have been far from 20 if he played the whole of last season and Theo Walcott as well.

"I don't see why a guy like Chamberlain should not have an ambition to score 10 goals, Sanchez can score goals too.

"Ozil has to fix himself a target of at least 10. For a guy who plays behind the striker you want more from him on the goalscoring so we can a little bit share that."

Arsenal will head into their opener against West Ham without Jack Wilshere after he was sidelined for up to four weeks with a hairline fracture to his left fibula.

It marks the latest setback for the 23-year-old, but Wenger is hopeful Wilshere will become less susceptible to injuries with age.

"Your body settles down at 23 and adapts," Wenger said. "I have developed many, many young players and many who were injury-prone at 19, 20, 21.

"You think they will always be injured, but at 23 suddenly their bodies adapted.

"Ashley Cole had ankle problems, Gael Clichy and Robin van Persie also had surgeries before the age of 23 but after that they suddenly settled."

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