Arsenal vs. Swansea City: Arsene Wenger's Key Comments from Pre-Match Presser

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistMarch 1, 2016

Arsenal's French manager Arsene Wenger leads off his team at the end of the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford in Manchester in north west England on February 28, 2016. / AFP / OLI SCARFF / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.  /         (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
OLI SCARFF/Getty Images

Arsenal stars Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez are “not close” to signing new deals with the club, manager Arsene Wenger confirmed at his press conference on Tuesday.

The Frenchman was speaking to the assembled press ahead of the club’s crucial Premier League clash with Swansea City on Wednesday, and he revealed the pair remain a long way off extending their contracts with the Gunners, as noted by James Olley of the London Evening Standard

Wenger also spoke about the reaction to his side’s 3-2 loss to an injury-ravaged Manchester United team at the weekend, suggesting some of the criticism has been “excessive and emotional,” per Olley:

It was a result that left a lot of Arsenal supporters smarting. After all, the Red Devils fielded a side lacking Chris Smalling, Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial on the day, and they were still too good for the Gunners, who were close to full strength. 

Wenger conceded that the loss was a hammer blow, lamenting a lapse in concentration and hinting the midweek clash with Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League may have hindered their chances, per the Arsenal Twitter feed:

They’re claims that won’t wash with a lot of fans. After all, out of the Premier League’s current top three, this Arsenal squad is the most experienced and possesses the most quality.

If they were to lose out on the title this term, especially at the expense of either surprise package Leicester City or bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur, it’d be a substantial blow.

Arsenal were well beaten by Manchester United at the weekend.
Arsenal were well beaten by Manchester United at the weekend.Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Yet instances that have held this team back for years continue to materialise, including a degree of naivety from the manger and an inability to perform on the big occasion.

Naturally, Wenger has come in for a substantial amount of criticism. As noted by John Cross of the Daily Mirror, it’s not something that the Frenchman is letting get to him:

With Spurs and the Foxes facing difficult games against West Ham United and West Bromwich Albion in the week, this clash with Swansea is a vital one for Arsenal and a chance to get back in the title race.

Arsenal need to bounce back if they're to take the title.
Arsenal need to bounce back if they're to take the title.OLI SCARFF/Getty Images

In the wake of such a shocking showing at Old Trafford, there will be some fans expecting to see more from the club’s star players, including Sanchez, who has struggled for form since returning from injury; Wenger has called for patience when assessing the Chilean’s recent form, per Cross:

The Arsenal boss also provided updates on the fitness of a couple of key players in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Danny Welbeck:

A response is vital from Arsenal here. The club’s supporters have seen the team’s chances in two competitions suffer significant dents in the last week, and anything but three points on Wednesday will surely put an end to their chances of Premier League glory. There’s big pressure on Wenger to rally his players and breathe some life back into their campaign.

Swansea will be tough opposition, though. They haven’t won in four and are still far from safe from relegation, just three points clear of 18th-place Newcastle United. However, the Welsh side have won two and drawn one of their last four games at the Emirates Stadium; a positive result for them this week would leave Wenger under major scrutiny.