Wenger hints at new Arsenal deal
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has given his broadest hint yet that he will put pen-to-paper on a new contract with the club in the coming weeks.
Some reports had claimed Arsenal would toast the occasion of Wenger's 1,000th game in charge of the club at Stamford Bridge on Saturday to confirm the 64-year-old would extend his 17-year stay as the club's manager.
That announcement has not been forthcoming, but Wenger was drawn into admitting he is already looking to the future at Arsenal as he is relishing the prospect of challenging for major honours after so many years of battling against financial restrictions.
As reporters tried to push Wenger to confirm he would remain at the club beyond his current contract, he was quizzed over whether he would still be in charge for at least 1,010 games.
"I think so, yes," was his response. "I want to do well, and the expectation level and the impatience is there. My desire is to stay. My commitment is full. I do not want to look somewhere else. I want to stay here. There shouldn't be any uncertainty at all.
"It will be done soon, but I want now to focus on the end of the season. My loyalty to this club should never be questioned."
Wenger went on to reflect on the changes he has overseen at Arsenal since he arrived at the club back in 1996, with the culture at the club very different now than it was when he replaced Bruce Rioch as Gunners boss.
"I changed a few habits [of the players], which isn't easy in a team where the average age is 30 years," he said. "At the first match the players were chanting 'we want our Mars bars'.
"Then, at halftime I asked my physio Gary Lewin: 'Nobody is talking, what's wrong with them?' He replied: 'They are hungry'. I hadn't given them their chocolate before the game. It was funny."
Wenger went on to defend his lack of trophy success since 2005, as he offered a stout defence of the achievements he has managed to orchestrate in the last nine years.
"In 2006, we were in the Champions League final. Nobody speaks about it now, but it is still an achievement," he added.
"It is not a trophy, but we did without conceding a goal in 10 European games and we only lost in the last 13 minutes of the Champions League. Can you say you have failed that season? I don't think so.
"We beat Real Madrid (in the second round) with Zidane and Beckham and all those players, on top of that we managed to stay in the top four (of the Premier League) that season, but nobody speaks about it. It is like we did nothing that season at all. Why? Because at the end of the season we don't parade with a trophy.
"If we had won the League Cup that season people would have said 'they won the League Cup in 2006', but what is that compared to going into the Champions League final without losing a game? You have to take a bit of distance with that and assess what is difficult and what is less difficult.
"I know trophies are important, but if you don't have a trophy it doesn't mean nothing happened in the season and you have been disastrous -- in a season where you win trophies, you still have bad games."