- Premier League
Wenger hints at Van Persie impatience at Arsenal
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has admitted that some of his star players left the club in recent years because 'they did not believe they could win the Premier League' under his command, hinting Robin van Persie grew 'impatient' at The Emirates.
The Frenchman has responded to suggestions from former midfielder Cesc Fabregas that a lack of belief was one of the reasons for the Gunners' trophy drought in recent years.
Fabregas believed that Arsenal fell short in their trophy pursuits during his time at the club due to a lack of self-confidence in Wenger's dressing room, while the Barcelona star also hinted that he would relish the chance to start his coaching career at Arsenal.
Wenger welcomed both of those sentiments, as he accepted the likes of Van Persie left the club as they feared Arsenal were not equipped to compete for the major honours in the game.
"Some players [who left], sometimes were impatient," conceded Wenger.
"When they reach near 30, if they feel they cannot win the Premier League, they go somewhere where they feel they can win it.
"If we added all the players who have left, I would have a selection problem, but I still have one because I have plenty of good players now.
"Cesc was a different situation because he left Barcelona when he was 16, he is a Barcelona boy and Barcelona had the best team in the world. It was a little a little bit different.
"I hope he is right that he will come back one day. It shows that he has kept fond memories of this club and I am happy that players who have his intelligence and knowledge will come back some day. I will watch them from up there somewhere."
Fabregas also suggested that Arsenal's success in signing Mesut Ozil last summer had changed the mindset of the club, yet Wenger's £42.5 million club-record signing has been forced to deal with his first taste of criticism since he joined the club after his lacklustre display in the Champions League defeat against Borussia Dortmund.
However, Wenger has revealed that Ozil was unwell in the run-up to the Dortmund game, as he offered this excuse for his performance.
"He was sick before the game and he was not at his best on the night," revealed Wenger. "He said he felt alright, but in the two days before he had a virus and you could see that physically he was not at his best.
"Dortmund were organised to stop us from playing our game and one of their game plans was to stop Ozil to get in the game. They did that well. On top of that, Ozil was not at his best physically on Tuesday night."
Wenger also confirmed that midfielder Mathieu Flamini will return to action after he missed the Dortmund clash, as he urged his side to respond to the defeat that halted their momentum.
"We want to respond quickly," he stated. "We have faced that already in our season and I'm confident in that capacity of my team to respond very quickly in a very strong way. That is the target."
Wenger added that he sympathised with club captain Thomas Vermaelen, but offered warm compliments to the Belgian defender as he waits for his chance in the Arsenal line-up.
"I understand his frustration," he added of Vermaelen. "It is unfortunately part of our job that we frustrate people. He is a credit to his job if people behave like him. His time will come and in our job, the most important thing is to be ready."
Download ESPN's new UK sport app, a fresh and powerful new way to follow your favourite UK sports news, scores and video.