Sports Xtra


Arsenal's confidence came back with FA Cup win, says Arsene Wenger

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger felt his side showed against Lincoln City that they have their confidence back, following a heavy defeat by Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

The Gunners beat the non-league side 5-0 at Emirates Stadium on Saturday to reach the FA Cup semi-finals.

It came after they lost 5-1 to Bayern Munich at the same ground on Tuesday.

"We have been short of confidence after some disappointing results recently," said Frenchman Wenger.

"When the confidence was there in the second half, our quality came back.

"It was all us in the second half but you have to congratulate Lincoln for what they have achieved in the FA Cup."

Lincoln, 88 places below their Premier League hosts, were the first non-league side to reach the quarter-finals of the competition in 103 years.

'We had to respond'

This was a much-needed win for Wenger after a difficult couple of weeks for the 67-year-old.

Arsenal had lost five of their seven games prior to the visit of the Imps - including 5-1 defeats home and away to Bayern Munich and a 3-1 loss to Liverpool in the Premier League.

Wenger's long-term future at Arsenal is uncertain, with his contract due to expire this summer, and there were protests calling for him to step down prior to Saturday's game.

Arsenal initially looked nervous against Lincoln before Theo Walcott opened the scoring just before half-time.

Olivier Giroud put the hosts in control with a clinical strike, with an own goal from Luke Waterfall and goals from Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey completing the win.

"We were a bit nervous because your confidence drops when you don't have the results," added Wenger.

"The team was unjustifiably criticised for our last game against Bayern Munich because we had an outstanding game.

"The game was killed not by the fault of the players but we have to look at the bigger perspective.

"Overall, we had to respond and that's what we did."


Written by Gideon Sarpong

Arsenal avoid Sutton upset

Arsenal avoided an FA Cup giant-killing and spared manager Arsene Wenger further pressure with a hard-fought fifth-round victory over non-league Sutton United at Gander Green Lane.

Wenger made seven changes from the side thrashed 5-1 at Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie - and his players had enough to see off a team 105 places below them on English football's ladder.

Lucas Perez's cross-shot gave Arsenal the lead after 26 minutes and Theo Walcott doubled the advantage from close range 10 minutes after the break with his 100th goal for the club.

Victory set up a home quarter-final with another National League side, Lincoln City, who beat Burnley on Saturday.

Sutton had their moments, particularly when Adam May wasted a first-half chance from keeper David Ospina's poor clearance, and Roarie Deacon's fierce 25-yard drive struck the bar in the second half.

The result may have gone against them but the hosts emerged from this tie, and this FA Cup run, with huge credit.

Written by Gideon Sarpong

Arsene Wenger: Arsenal boss says he will manage next season

Arsene Wenger says he will definitely be managing next season, whether at Arsenal "or somewhere else".

Wenger, 67, was speaking at the end of one of the most turbulent weeks of his two-decade tenure as Gunners boss.

After Wednesday's 5-1 Champions League defeat by Bayern Munich, several ex-players said they believed his time in charge was coming to an end.

The Frenchman's contract expires at the end of this season and he said he would decide on a new deal in March or April.

"No matter what happens I will manage for another season. Whether it's here or somewhere else, that is for sure," Wenger said on Friday.

"If I said March or April it is because I didn't know. I do not want to come back on that.

"I am used to the criticism. I think in life it's important to do what you think is right and all the rest is judgement. I am in a public job and I have to accept that, but I have to behave with my values."

Wenger's main quotes

Wenger, who has been in charge of Arsenal since 1996, said: "We let everyone judge and criticise, we have to deal with that. We have to bounce back, that is what life is about.

"Even if I go, Arsenal will not win every single game in the future. It is not like before I arrived Arsenal had won five times in the European Cup.

"What is important is that the club makes the right decision for the future. I care about this club and its future and it is very important the club is in safe hands.

"The main emotion is everyone has a big disappointment. We have to regroup and refocus on the next game, and to take care of the consequences a disappointing result can have on everyone's spirit.

"We have to focus on the real problems and they are the way we play football, not my future.

"It is always important not to look for wrong excuses in life."

Wenger's 'lowest point'?

Arsenal have not won the Premier League since 2004, with FA Cups in 2005, 2014 and 2015 the only major silverware Wenger has secured since.

However, he has consistently qualified for the lucrative Champions League and the club has continued to grow financially, despite the pressures of building a new stadium.

The Gunners reached the knockout stage of Europe's elite club competition for a 14th year in a row this season, but the last-16 first-leg thrashing at German champions Bayern leaves them with little hope of progressing.

The performance, coupled with earlier damaging league defeats by Chelsea and Watford, prompted several former Arsenal players - some of whom played under Wenger - to suggest his time was up.

Former Gunners captain Martin Keown described the defeat as Wenger's "lowest point", while ex-defender Lee Dixon said: "This team is getting no response from him. I've never seen him like that."

In the Premier League, they are 10 points adrift of leaders Chelsea. After the Blues beat them 3-1 on 4 February, ex-England defender Danny Mills said Arsenal "have settled for fourth again".

Earlier, former striker Ian Wright, who scored 185 goals for the club between 1991 and 1998, said he believed Wenger's time as Arsenal boss was "coming to the end", although the Frenchman later denied giving any indication of his future plans.


Written by Gideon Sarpong

Funny Sports:Arsene Wenger to be rewarded with 'indefinate' contract extension

Arsene Wenger is set to sign a new contract extension to remain as Arsenal manager forever, as reward for the club's remarkable consistency in recent seasons.

The Gunners have qualified for the Champions League for the past 19 years under the Frenchman's management and have never failed to be knocked out of the competition.

After a turbulent period where the club was eliminated in quarter-finals, a semi-final and once came dangerously close to winning the trophy, Wenger managed to steady the ship.

Now the Frenchman is now on the brink of achieving an unprecedented seventh straight last 16 exit.

"People talk about Real Madrid as the benchmark in European football,"" said club spokesman Gunnersaurus. "But Arsene is on the brink of overtaking Madrid's incredible Champions League record.

"Madrid were only knocked out six seasons in a row at the last 16 stage (2005-2010), yet here we are about to eclipse that feat."

But some Arsenal fans have reacted angrily to the news Wenger's contract will be extended despite Man United, Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Liverpool all welcoming the news.

"Oga nhye hye won nyinaa", in otherwords "Fire burn all of them" complained one irate Arsenal fan.

Wenger, however, maintains belief in his team. Speaking after Arsenal's 5-1 defeat away to Bayern Munich, the Gunners boss said: "I believe we have character and mental strength in the team.

"OK, the character is Mickey Mouse and the mental strength is that of a goldfish, but I believe in the second leg we will do all will can to achieve a pointless 2-1 win.

"At the moment, everybody questions us, yet the fact is we are definitely closer to the final this year.

"Last season it was in Italy, but this time it will be in Wales and I might even be able to get a ticket.

"And no matter how embarrassing we are, you know we always finish above Spurs."



Written by Gideon Sarpong

Arsene Wenger: Decision on Arsenal manager's future at end of season

A decision on the future of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will be made at the end of the season - but a new contract remains on the table.

Despite Wednesday's Champions League last-16 first-leg thrashing at Bayern Munich, there is currently no prospect of Wenger leaving before the summer.

It is expected the decision for him to stay or leave will be mutual between the club and the Frenchman, 67.

Wenger, in charge since 1996, was offered a new deal earlier this season.

He typically makes his decisions at the end of a campaign, when he is able to reflect on how the year has unfolded and what needs to happen next.

His current contract with the Premier League club expires at the end of the season.

Arsenal have not won the league since 2004, though Wenger has consistently guided them to Champions League qualification, reaching the knockout stages 14 years running.

However, the Gunners will almost certainly exit the competition at the last-16 round for the seventh straight year after the 5-1 defeat at Bayern Munich.

The nature of the loss, coupled with successive league defeats by Chelsea and Watford, has prompted several former Arsenal stars - some of whom played under Wenger - to suggest his time at Emirates Stadium is coming to an end.

The Gunners ended a nine-year wait for a trophy by beating Hull City in the 2014 FA Cup final, and won the competition again the following season,

Speaking after the 4-0 win over Aston Villa at Wembley in 2015, Arsenal's players said they were convinced the consecutive titles would herald greater success, but failure to secure further silverware has seen pressure on Wenger grow.

After the Gunners lost 3-1 to Premier League leaders Chelsea earlier this month - a result that left them 12 points behind the Blues - ex-England defender Danny Mills said Arsenal "have settled for fourth again".

Earlier, former striker Ian Wright, who scored 185 goals for the club between 1991 and 1998, said he believed Wenger's time as Arsenal boss was "coming to the end", although the Frenchman later denied giving any indication of his future plans.


Written by Gideon Sarpong

Arsene Wenger: Arsenal 'collapsed' at Bayern Munich in Champions League

Arsenal "collapsed" in a "nightmare" Champions League last-16 first-leg hammering at German champions Bayern Munich, says manager Arsene Wenger.

The Gunners were beaten 5-1 at the Allianz Arena, conceding four second-half goals after losing defender and captain Laurent Koscielny to injury.

The Premier League side will now almost certainly go out in the first knockout round for a seventh straight season.

"It's difficult to explain," Frenchman Wenger told BT Sport.

"Just before half-time we had two good chances to score. We came back and played well.

"In the second half we lost Koscielny very quickly - he came off at 1-1 - and finally we collapsed. Bayern are a better team than us as well.

"The third goal was a killer for our players because after that we had no response."

Arjen Robben fired Bayern into the lead, but Arsenal fought back and equalised when Alexis Sanchez followed up and finished his own saved penalty.

However, in the second half the Gunners capitulated, as Bayern excelled in a 10-minute period during which Robert Lewandowski restored Bayern's lead before Thiago Alcantara scored twice.

Substitute Thomas Muller scored late on to surely put the tie beyond the Gunners.

"The real problems were after the third goal," Wenger added.

"We lost our organisation and we looked mentally jaded and vulnerable from that moment onwards. The last 25 minutes was a nightmare for us."

Asked if Arsenal require "miracles" to now progress, the 67-year-old replied: "Of course."

The Frenchman fielded only three questions in his official post-match interview, which lasted less than three minutes.

'We played really well but it is not the final'

Bayern Munich boss Carlo Ancelotti has been under a little pressure despite his side sitting seven points clear at the top of the Bundesliga.

Wednesday's result saw them break a Champions League record as they sealed their 16th consecutive home win.

But the former Chelsea and Real Madrid boss refused to say the tie was over before the return leg at Emirates Stadium on 7 March.

"The performance was good," said the Italian, who has won the Champions League three times as a manager.

"We played really well, but it's not the final. We need to play the second game unfortunately.

"The result is really important, but we don't want to make a mistake. We have an advantage but we have to prepare for the next game in London.

"We want to play like we did tonight - same intensity, same spirit, same concentration. We want to avoid problems."


Written by Gideon Sarpong