September 20 2014 Latest news:
By James Cunliffe
Friday, March 21, 2014
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has told fans not to fear “uncertainty” over his expiring contract – because he wants to stay.
The 64-year-old will tomorrow take charge of his 1,000th game as Gunners boss, in a match that will shape the title destinies of both his side and rivals Chelsea.
Wenger’s own future, however, is unresolved as he is yet to sign a new deal that will keep him at the club into next season.
The Frenchman has led Arsenal since 1996 and is the longest serving manager currently in English football, and on the eve of his milestone match he dropped the biggest hint that his north London reign will continue beyond 18 years.
Asked about a new deal, Wenger said: “There shouldn’t be any uncertainty at all. My desire is to stay.
“It will be done soon but I want now to focus on the end of the season.”
That maintains Wenger’s consistent stance all season - that he wants to focus on the title race, with Arsenal once more in the reckoning as part of a four-way shoot-out between Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool.
He said: “The expectation level, the impatience is there and I want to do well.
“My commitment is full. I do not want to look somewhere else, I want to stay here.”
Victory for Arsenal at Stamford Bridge in tomorrow’s lunchtime kick-off would be a big statement of intent for Wenger’s class of 2014, not least because it would close the gap on league leaders Chelsea to one point.
The form book would paint a grimmer picture as Blues boss Jose Mourinho has never lost in SW6 during two spells in charge of the west Londoners and, as Arsenal legend Alan Smith told London24, the club have a “mental block” against the league’s big-hitters.
Wenger too, has the ignominious 10-game record of never having beaten a Mourinho team.
The two managers once again resumed hostilities earlier this year after a period of mutual respect that coincided with Mourinho’s spells at Inter Milan and Real Madrid.
However, while they were Premier League rivals, in the early part of the century, their relationship was frosty at best, with the Chelsea chief famously calling the Gunners boss a “voyeur”.
Last month Mourinho blasted Wenger once more, calling him a “specialist in failure” after the Frenchman passed fairly general comment on the title chances of not just the Blues but Liverpool.
As they prepare to face each other for the first time since that most recent spat, Wenger confessed of all counterparts managing title rivals: “You cannot be friends.
“The real sport on that front is rugby. They don’t kiss each other before the game, when they walk in the tunnel.
“They go out there ready for war and they become friends after the game.”
At the Bridge, he’ll probably get his wish for the first part, so let battle commence.