Arsene Wenger 1,000 matches: Arsenal manager stresses that landmark is not as important as getting a result against Chelsea
Wenger acknowledges his 1,000th match in charge of the Gunners is a 'big honour' but wants to recognise his success with the Premier League title
Arsene Wenger has admitted it is a “big honour” to reach his 1,000th match in charge of Arsenal this weekend, but has stressed that the game against Chelsea will be far more important to get a result that keeps them in the Premier League title race.
Wenger has been praised for the landmark – which he will reach when he walks out of the Stamford Bridge tunnel on Saturday afternoon – and he recognises the achievement in a job where defeat in the next game can cost you your job.
“It is a big honour to stay such a long time in such a big club, and (reaching 1,000 games), we cannot predict,” said Wenger.
“We are in a job where you go for the next game and try to do well in that next game. Then step by step, sometimes you get to 1,000.
“Honestly, I am conscious I represent my club and that is much more important than what is happening to me, so that game (against Chelsea) will not be important because it is my 1,000th game, but it is what is at stake for our season and for our club.”
However, the Gunners’ manager did admit that when he eventually retires, he can look back on his early years in north London with a lot of pride. He goes on to admit though that the last few years have not gone to plan, and he wants his current crop of talent to show “more commitment and strength” to end their trophyless run that stretches back to 2005’s FA Cup success.
“I believe that when one day I look back at the first years, I will be very proud of what I did - the second period has been a more difficult period, a trophyless period, but it has been much more difficult, much more sensitive and we needed much more commitment and strengths than the first part of my stay here,” he continued.
“I went for a change that I knew would be difficult because we had to fight with clubs who could survive losses of £150million a year, and we had to make £30million (to finance the new stadium payments) and on top of that we had people saying 'you have to beat them' - if I ask you tomorrow to race with Usain Bolt and win the race, you will realise quickly it is difficult.
“(But) I think we can be proud of the consistency of our achievement at the club.”
The 64-year-old also added that there was a time where he acknowledged the Premier League title was out of the club’s grasp due to their financial restrictions from building the Emirates Stadium, but explained that they now stand a realistic chance of winning the title they have not claimed since the ‘Invincibles’ of 2003-04.
“I accepted to stay here a long time knowing that we had little chance to win the Premiership, but I think now we are in a position again where we can fight with other clubs to sign big players,” Wenger added.
“I have the energy, believe me, and the excitement, but I want to do well.
“I do not stay here because I have been here a long time, but because I feel I respond to the expectation of our fans and of the people of the club, it is as simple as that.
"People want us to win the championship, people want us to win trophies, and that is what I want to do."
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