Arsène Wenger press conferences always help clarify a couple major issues heading into matchdays. Today’s was no different as the manager touched on loaning out Arsenal’s greatest ever Costa Rican, the new grappling rule that manifested in a notable way in last weekend’s Manchester City-Stoke clash and the youth players that could pick up first team playing time this season.
On Joel Campbell, Wenger lamented the squad had outgrown him:
I believe that he’s a bit of a victim of the size of the squad. He is now at an age where he needs to play more regularly and I don’t rule out that he comes back here and plays.
The 2015-16 season finally saw Campbell get some caps in an Arsenal kit since signing in 2011. He started 19 matches last year coming in as a sub in 10 others with four goals and five assists. Now with Sporting CP in Portugal’s Primeira Liga on a season-long loan, he’ll try to help them take the league after three consecutive top four finishes along with their Champions League Group F underdog dream with Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund likely crowding them out along with Legia Warsaw.
As for the new penalty rule and its enforcement, Wenger had more expanded thoughts:
We discussed that not only with the players but with the referees. I believe that could be interesting as well. What I see more and more is the position of the referees during the game, many times they are in the way of the game, of the pass or the next pass because they want to be too close to the ball. That is a very interesting debate, I think. The difficult on corners is sometimes you have three different fouls and the referee has to choose the most obvious one. What is not easy is first to see everything, when you watch a game you see only on slow motion that there were two or three other fouls on the corner. So what you want is that it becomes cleaner, yes. In the past there were many attempts to clear that out and it never worked.
I think the tail end is the long-term key. Is this something we’re going to see decide matches for the next month and by Boxing Day we’re asking, “What happened to enforcing the grappling rule?” Cause Lord knows the first time I see someone grabbing an Arsenal jersey, I’m gonna be screaming for a pen.
There was a bit of a passive-aggressive subtweet in a question about playing out of position at Arsenal:
I believe that to sign a contract with a club is firstly a social contract. That means social responsibility towards the club and the team and to serve the best interests of the club. If that coincides with your own interests, it’s even better. But the priority is of course first to serve the club.
I think that tidies that up just fine.
Perhaps the most interesting of all of the questions here was on which of the youngest players with the first team and the academy could feature this year:
We have a few who are had a very good pre-season like Chris Willock, Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Chuba Akpom. They are the three who have been outstanding - Krystian Bielik as well has done extremely well. They could play.
Willock, whose brother Joseph is with Arsenal’s U18 side and whose older brother Matthew is with Manchester United’s U23 squad, is still just 18.
JEFF is JEFF.
Chuba finally looks headed to an Arsenal season after a series of loan spells.
Bielik has reportedly advanced substantially since signing with Arsenal in January 2015.