Arsene Wenger’s hunger to win trophies at Arsenal as strong as ever, insists his assistant Steve Bould

Jack Wilshere and Alexandre Lacazette are facing fitness tests for Sunday's Stoke clash

Jon West
Thursday 29 March 2018 12:31
comments
Bould stepped in for Wenger after illness
Bould stepped in for Wenger after illness

Steve Bould says Arsene Wenger's determination to win trophies with Arsenal is as strong as it has ever been.

Wenger hastily handed media duties over to his assistant after throat problems robbed the Frenchman of his distinctive voice.

The 68-year-old had been vocal over the international break however, claiming that his many critics were guilty of age discrimination in their demands that he should walk away from the club he has managed since 1996.

No Premier League crown since 2004 and a current campaign in danger of falling short of Champions League qualification for a second successive season means that Wenger's position will remain under close scrutiny, from supporters if not the club's curiously easy to please board.

But Bould, who helped the Gunners to a league and cup double in 1998 as the type of no-nonsense centre-back currently lacking at the Emirates Stadium, was adamant age had not withered his gaffer's will to win in any way.

“He's remarkable,” he said. “Behind closed doors I have never met anybody who is as hungry and determined to win football games. It's as big as I've ever seen, yes, for sure. I admire him immensely. He takes unbelievable stick off an awful lot of people. He's just one of the great managers. It's a pleasure for me to sit next to him.

“He's doing a great job as far as I'm concerned. And he's done a great job for an awful long time.”

Loading....

Wenger could yet have the last laugh should Arsenal emulate Manchester United and win the Europa League. That would not only bring a major trophy to the club but also secure Champions League qualification, something that seems all but impossible via the usual route as Arsenal host Stoke City tomorrow 13 points off fourth place.

The first leg of the Europa League clash with CSKA Moscow takes place at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday but Bould insisted the Gunners were not yet wedded to prioritising that competition.

“Of course it’s tough - we’re not stupid,” he said of the chances of finishing in the top four. “But you never know. If we are going to win a Europa League final it is better to win games now. The more games we can win the better the season becomes.”

Jack Wilshere has been passed fit despite missing both of England's friendlies with Holland and Italy. England manager Gareth Southgate said on Monday that the midfielder's knee problem was unlikely to rule him out of the Potters clash.

It had been suggested that Wenger accused the England coaching staff of over-working Wilshere, who has a long history of knee and ankle problems, in training.

“Jack trained yesterday so he’s OK,” Bould said. “Everybody else has come back okay as far as we’re aware. We’ll find out a bit more this morning, but Jack was okay yesterday. As far I'm aware there is no issue.”

Striker Alexandre Lacazette remains a doubt because of a knee problem but has returned to training so could be on the bench.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments