08 Dec Arsene Wenger admits talk of Arsenal title tilt is ‘unrealistic’
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger admits it is unrealistic for the Gunners to talk about winning the Premier League title.
After losing at home to rivals Manchester United last weekend Arsenal find themselves in fifth place, 15 points adrift of leaders Manchester City.
Wenger takes his side to Southampton on Sunday looking to bounce back from that loss and on the back of an emphatic 6-0 Europa League victory over BATE Borisov.
It is expected Arsenal’s entire XI will once again rotate as players such as Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud make way for the likes of Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Alexandre Lacazette.
Despite his ability to rotate his team between competitions, Wenger has been unable to keep pace with those at the business-end of the Premier League table and the 68-year-old has conceded talk of a first title since 2004 is not on the agenda.
“At the moment we have different worries than the title,” he said. “After such disappointment, you have to think about winning the next game.
“We are too far from the title at the moment to speak about the title. It’s not realistic. Let’s try to win our next game and over a longer distance see if we can come back.”
Wilshere again shone in the Europa League but he, along with Walcott, Giroud, Mohamed Elneny and Francis Coquelin, are likely to be kept waiting to make an impact in the league.
Although he will make sweeping alterations at Southampton, Wenger did question the fairness of playing the game at noon on Sunday.
“I have nothing against the fact that we have to do that, as long as our opponents have the same recovery days,” he said when asked about the time between the BATE and Southampton games.
“That was not the case last week and will not be the case again. Between three days and five days is a big gap on the recovery side. If we have to play every day I don’t mind as long as our opponents do as well.”
Another player enjoying a resurgence in the Arsenal side is defender Mathieu Debuchy, who got the ball rolling in the win over BATE as he scored his first goal in almost three years.
Debuchy, 32, said last year that he and Wenger hardly spoke as he angled to leave Arsenal – but now he could remain at the club.
“He is under contract (until 2019),” Wenger replied when asked if Debuchy has a genuine future at the club.
“That’s down to his performances now and I opened the door for him (to leave) many times because he didn’t play and because he has (Hector) Bellerin in front of him.
“I consider him like anybody else and I must say I have a huge respect for his professional side and how much he did fight to come back to the top. He’s a tough, tough guy. Tough worker.”