Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 December 2014

Wenger optimistic for next season

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is eyeing success next season
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is eyeing success next season

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger feels his squad will finally be able to get the right mental preparation to hit the ground running at the start of the next season following a summer without speculation over the future of key players.

Having endured problematic build-ups when captain Robin van Persie moved to title rivals Manchester United before the start of this season and when Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri left in August 2011, Wenger is hopeful of a more focused approach when the club heads off for a tour of Asia and then back for the Emirates Cup.

"It is a very important thing because, last year and the year before, the summers were of course very difficult, because of the Fabregas case, the Nasri case and last year the van Persie case," said Wenger. "We started pre-season, on camps, with every time a player being half in or half out and that is not the best way mentally to prepare the season."

Wenger has already started his planning for 2013-14, with France Under-21 forward Yaya Sanogo set to sign from Auxerre on a free transfer.

While specific targets could well be switched depending on Champions League qualification - with Fiorentina's Stevan Jovetic, Real Madrid frontman Gonzalo Higuain and England forward Wayne Rooney all said to be on the radar - Wenger believes Arsenal will "have a good chance" of mounting a long-overdue sustained title challenge.

"Let's first finish well on Sunday and then we will give ourselves a good potential chance to win the championship next year by doing well in the transfer market this summer," he said.

Following the decision of Sir Alex Ferguson to retire, Wenger, who took charge at Highbury in 1996, will next season become the longest serving manager in the English top flight.

While Manchester United have moved swiftly to name David Moyes as Ferguson's successor, just who else will be going head to head with the 63-year-old Frenchman at title rivals Chelsea and Manchester City come August remains to be seen.

Wenger thinks while the changes could prove "an opportunity", the Gunners boss insists a positive end at Newcastle is imperative. "When you finish the season strong - like we do - you prepare already next season, because you go with more certainty," he said. "Last year we had a new team and we have built up some belief and, of course, with belief we want to use it to win the game on Sunday.

"The game on Sunday is also for next season, to know when you have to turn up, you turn up, that makes your future stronger as well: the strength and belief that you can start strong again, that you are on a run and you don't interrupt that because of the summer break."

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