Wenger: I’m not quitting Arsenal

Arsene Wenger celebrated Arsenal’s Uefa Champions League qualification by making it clear there is no chance he will quit the Emirates Stadium. Wenger’s side booked their place in Europe’s elite club competition without kicking a ball when Everton lost to Manchester City on Saturday and the Gunners maintained the feelgood factor 24 hours later with a 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion.

With fourth place wrapped up and a chance to end Arsenal’s nine-year trophy drought coming soon in the FA Cup final against Hull, Wenger’s future was the only issue that threatened to cast a cloud over an upbeat end to the campaign.

But the Gunners boss moved to head off speculation that he may accept a reported offer to join French club Monaco as he once again insisted he plans to extend his contract, which expires at the end of the season. 

“I’ve said many times my word is my word. I’m from a period where you didn’t need a pen to commit. You will see me again,” Wenger said. “It’s not linked to the FA Cup final. It was important, of course, to be in the Champions League – that’s for sure.”

“I’ve had no moments of doubt. If I had moments of doubt it would have been a few years ago when I had to say no to many offers and commit to this club and I was under a lot of pressure.” Wenger didn’t reveal when he will sign the deal or how long it will be for, but his commitment to the club he has managed since 1996 looks certain to extend for at least another season. 

‘You’ll get rid of me one day’
“Don’t worry, don’t be too impatient, my last time will come, you’ll get rid of me one day, don’t worry!” Wenger told the media with a wry smile. 

Olivier Giroud’s first half header was enough to see off lacklustre Albion and the victory ensured a positive reception during the traditional lap of honour by Wenger and his players to mark their final home game of the season. 

Arsenal’s fans took the opportunity to call on Wenger to keep French right-back Bacary Sagna, who is out of a contract at the end of the season and has been linked to Manchester City. Wenger said he will do everything he can to persuade both Sagna and Polish goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, also out of contract, to sign new deals, while also revealing that on-loan Swedish midfielder Kim Kallstrom will return to Spartak Moscow at the end of the season. 

“I want Sagna to stay and I hope the reception from the fans convinces him that we love him here,” Wenger said. “We have two players at the end of their contracts – Sagna and Fabianski. If it’s down to me, they both stay.” Loic Remy, the Queens Park Rangers striker currently on loan at Newcastle, watched the win over the Baggies from an executive box, fuelling rumours that the French striker could be high on Wenger’s list of transfer targets. 

But Wenger said: “Honestly, I’ve just been informed that Loic Remy was here. I have not invited him. I don’t see any sign of us signing Loic Remy. I hope he’s paid for his ticket!” 

No firepower
Wenger also blamed Arsenal’s failure to sustain their title challenge on a lack of firepower. “I would just say, to be brutal in our first analysis, we missed a few goals, compared to the teams who scored the most goals,” Wenger said. Third from the bottom Norwich’s 0-0 draw at Chelsea meant Albion, three points above the relegation zone but with a significant goal difference advantage, are effectively safe, barring two huge defeats in their last fixtures against Sunderland and Stoke. 

Boss Pepe Mel’s future is unresolved, but he said: “We’re aiming to keep West Brom in the Premier League and I would be extremely happy to be here next season. “After the Stoke match, we will have a meeting and then we will decide.” – AFP

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Steve Griffiths
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