December 12 2013 Latest news:
By James Cunliffe
Friday, November 1, 2013
Arsene Wenger would not be drawn on whether he was badly advised over Arsenal’s failed summer transfer pursuit of Liverpool’s Luis Suarez but insisted the club had considered the morality of trying to sign the controversial striker.
The Premier League leaders play host to the second-placed Reds tomorrow evening with the Uruguayan set to lead the line in the first meeting between the two clubs since the Gunners’ high-profile £40million plus £1 bid that proved unsuccessful in luring the forward to north London.
Suarez spent much of the summer courting a move away from Anfield, first to Real Madrid and then to Arsenal, but Liverpool refused to sell a player who has hit top form since his September return from a 10-match ban for biting Chelsea Branislav Ivanovic.
The audacious fee that the Gunners offered to the Merseysiders for Suarez was designed to trigger a supposed clause in his contract that would lead to his exit.
The Liverpool hierarchy denied that such a clause existed and steadfastly rebuffed all interest in their star man but it still turned into one of the sagas of the summer.
Asked if he felt badly advised on over the extra £1 bid, Wenger side-stepped the question, instead referencing last week’s revelation-filled autobiography from former Manchester United boss.
He said: “The details of all that will maybe come out one day. Maybe not in my book, in somebody else’s book.”
However, there was a point raised in Arsenal’s Annual General Meeting last week that questioned whether the Gunners should have bid for the forward at all, considering he was serving a ban for his attack on Ivanovic – the latest in a long line of misdemeanours and his second biting offence.
“I don’t want to come out on that,” Wenger said, adding: “The player has been punished for what he did and we have high moral grounds.
“Of course we take information about the moral level of the players and when there is any restriction about it we do not buy the players.”
Of the drawn out transfer tussle, Wenger insisted: “You [media] made it public. I didn’t make it public.”
But when pressed on whether he could return with a renewed bid for Suarez in the January transfer window, the manager said: “I’m not focused on that now.
“What is important for me, 24 hours before the game, is that I believe [Olivier] Giroud has proven since the start of the season that he is an exceptional striker and I am convinced he will be up for it, to show that tomorrow.”
He added: “He [Suarez] plays for Liverpool tomorrow and he is doing very well.
“What is important for me is players who play for Arsenal and not those who could play for Arsenal.
“What is very important is the players who will play tomorrow against Luis Suarez.”
Wenger went on to spend that £40million earmarked for Suarez on Mesut Ozil and he admitted: “I’m very happy with what I did.”
But the Frenchman will have to turn his attention to the threat posed by the Uruguayan – who has scored six times in the five appearances since his return from the ban – while his Liverpool strike partner Daniel Sturridge, who has fired 21 goals in 24 appearances.
Wenger said: “One of the targets of the game is to keep these two players quiet because they are certainly amongst the top strikers in the league.
“Our target is to have the ball and master the situation because we are dominating and have more of the ball than our opponents.
“If we have the ball a lot we do not need to worry too much about our opponents and that will be our target tomorrow.”
The Gunners will be hoping to avoid a third straight home defeat in all competitions tomorrow, having lost to Borussia Dortmund and Chelsea in the Champions League and the Capital One Cup respectively.
“The mood is very strong, very united and very focused,” Wenger said, adding: “We know where the priorities are, it is in the Premier League and the Champions League.
“We are in a strong position in the Premier League, that is why our mood is positive.”
Wenger added: “We want to be and I think we are title contenders, and Liverpool as well.
“You have four other teams certainly, or five, who will be title contenders this year.
“It is a big game for us, massively important, but I don’t worry about where the teams are [in the table].
“Between the team who is 14th and the team who is eighth, there are two or three points. At the moment, the table has no real significance.”