September 23 2014 Latest news:
By James Cunliffe
Saturday, March 22, 2014
Manager Arsene Wenger has admitted that the unexpected cash injections into Chelsea and Manchester City have been a major contributing factor to Arsenal’s nine-year wait for a trophy.
The Frenchman today celebrates his 1,000th match in charge of the Gunners with his side aiming to close the gap on their London rivals at the summit of the Premier League.
To do so would end Blues boss Jose Mourinho’s unbeaten 10-game hoodoo over the 64-year-old and could signal the return of Arsenal as a force for the first time since their last piece of silverware - the 2005 FA Cup.
By then the north Londoners were building their 60,000-seat Emirates Stadium and Wenger admits he knew the multi-million pound project would limit Arsenal’s financial resources.
What he could not have foreseen was the arrival of billionaire Roman Abramovich who had begun pouring his cash into Chelsea, starting a shift of power in the capital and, indeed, in English football.
Reflecting back on the decision at the turn of the millennium to seek a new home, Wenger said: “It was an important period but do you think for the future or the present?
“You have to make sure that the club grows as well and we made that decision knowing that we could suffer a little bit financially.
“But what was happening at the same time we made that decision, Man City made huge investments and Chelsea as well.
“We had a double effect, in fact, because we were not only competing with the clubs at the level that we were competing with them, but suddenly two other clubs came in.
“We did not, at that time, expect that.”
Despite being out-spent by their rivals, Wenger has never failed to qualify for the Champions League - something he feels is an achievement rarely acknowledge.
Instead, it has led to the accusation, often levelled at the club in the last nine trophy-barren years, that Arsenal’s profit margin has been more important than titles.
“It is not like that, football,” said the manager. “When you make a decision you do not want to say ‘we’ll invest in the stadium but we don’t want to win trophies’.
“You want to win trophies. For example, in 2006 we were in the Champions League final. Nobody speaks about it, but it’s still an achievement. It’s not a trophy but we did it without conceding a goal in the whole season [in Europe] and we only lost the game in the last 13 minutes of the Champions League.
“Can you say you have failed that season? I don’t think so.
“On top of that, we managed to stay in the top four [in the Premier League] that season. [In Europe] we beat Real Madrid with [Zinedine] Zidane and [David] Beckham, but nobody speaks about it. It’s like you’ve done nothing that season at all?
“Why? Because at the end of the season you don’t parade with a trophy?
“If we won the League Cup, people will say, ‘they won the League Cup in 2006’.
“But what is compared - to win the League Cup or to go in the Champions League final without losing a game? What is the difference?
“You have to take a little bit of distance with that and assess what is difficult and what is a little bit less difficult.
“I know that trophies are important but it’s not like if have not [got] the trophy and nothing happened in the whole season and you have been disastrous.
“You have still played football, [had] good games and bad games and in the seasons where you have won trophies, you have still won bad games.
“So, you have to take a little bit of distance with that, even if it is important.”